During my first year of graduate school, I noticed that the studio custodian used a plastic watering can to wet the floors before cleaning. If you’ve ever seen a plastic watering can, you know how awkwardly proportioned they can be. Seeing this watering can in use inspired me to make a sleek, ergonomic design of my own. This is a long process, so buckle up!
Forming the Body
Start by thoroughly wedging 3 pounds of clay for the body of the watering can and a ½ pound for the bell. Center and open the 3-pound ball to about 5 inches in diameter, compress the base, then define the walls before pulling them up. In three pulls, try to create a tapered cylinder about 9 inches tall with the base slightly wider than the top. Having the base wider than the top will keep the watering can from being tippy when adding the spout, bell, and handle later. You will be rasping the walls of the body, so make sure they are thick enough that clay can be removed.
Dry the pot with a torch so that it’s close to leather hard, remove it from the wheel, and set it aside.
Starting the Bell
Starting the Spout
Refining the Body
Finishing the Spout
Next, rasp the leather-hard spout into a squared shape with crisp edges to reflect the shape of the body (7). When the spout’s shape has been refined, cut it in half. Using a trimming tool, hollow the interior of the spout leaving inch along either side of the wall (8), smooth the interior, score and slip the two halves back together (9), refine the seams with a rubber rib, and set it aside.
Finishing the Bell
After the holes are made, align the spout, with the bell now attached, in the middle of one of the flat body panels and trace where it will attach to the body with a needle tool (13). Cut a hole at the mark, score, slip around the hole and the base of the spout, and then attach the two together.
Score and slip around the hole and the base of the spout, then attach the two together.
Adding a Splash Guard
Then, make a slab that is inch thick and drape it over the front half of the top of the squared body. Lightly press on the slab, molding it into a domed shape, and trace around the body of the pot where the slab will be cut to fit. The splash guard is upside down at this point. Cut the slab to fit, score and slip the splash guard and the rim of the pot, then join the two (14).
Pulling and Attaching a Handle
Let the handle dry to leather hard. Then, using a Surform, create a ridge where the handle changes planes from flat to curved (17). Take off any extra bulk, remove the tool marks, and refine the surface with a rubber rib (18). Finally, add a stamp or a maker’s mark. Cover the piece with light plastic to slowly dry.
I fire my pots in a soda kiln to cone 10 in reduction. I do a body reduction at cone 010 for 1 hour. After body reduction, I fire in a light reduction until cone 9 is down. Then, I spray two 3-pound rounds of soda into an oxidizing atmosphere within the kiln. I continue firing in light reduction until cone 10 is flat, shut the kiln off, allow it to drop to 1950°F (1066°C), turn the burners back on, and cool in reduction down to 1666°F (908°C). I typically try to drop about 75–100°F (about 24–38°C) per hour during the reduction cooling.
Carter Pasma is currently a second-year graduate student pursuing an MFA in ceramics at Utah State University. He earned a BFA in ceramics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. After graduating, he was a post-bac student at Montana State University for two years. In May 2022, he was named one of Ceramics Monthly’s Emerging Artists. To learn more, follow him on Instagram @cartersclay or check out his website www.carters-clay.com.