Altered Forms with Textured Surfaces with Bill Wilkey

In this installment of the Ceramic Arts Network Presents video Series, Bill Wilkey shares his techniques for creating wheel-thrown-and-altered, as well as handbuilt pots with layers of texture. Bill begins on the wheel with a simple diner mug, and then moves on to a more-complex...(Scroll for more.)

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…sugar jar. Each of these is softly squared off, then textured with layers of contrasting texture on each plane, and finished off with pinched handles that complement the overall piece. Bill rounds out the program with a large oval basket, which is handbuilt using a bisque mold and added coils of clay. He shares his insights for avoiding the pitfalls of working with large, wide bisque molds so that you will be able to tackle this challenging shape with ease. Throughout the video, Bill shares tips for creating work with exceptional function and craftsmanship.

Diner Mug

Drawing influence from the classic mugs found in diners everywhere, Bill’s diner mugs are sturdy – not too heavy, but not too light either – but that is where the similarities end. He takes the diner mug up a few notches by adding delicate curves and textured planes that show the mark of a true craftsman. Throughout the mug demonstration, Bill gives practical throwing tips that will help you improve your throwing and finished work.

You’ll learn how to:

  • use the “claw” move to easily move clay up walls
  • easily create a drinking edge with your finger and a rib
  • use bat pins to create symmetry when altering
  • give a form lift by carving out arches in the feet
  • pinch a small dog-bone-style handle

and more!

Sugar Jar

Bill’s aim for his sugar jar is for it to be a used and loved as much as the sugar jar he purchased a few years ago from Nick Joerling. So he put a lot of thought into how this piece functions. The bottom is slightly bowl-shaped so the spoon glides against it – no corners to get hung up on! The knob is textured and easy to grab, and the rims are rounded just right to avoid chipping.

You’ll learn how to:

  • form a gallery for a lid
  • tap center for easy trimming
  • use jar form to make a perfectly fitting slumped-slab lid
  • apply texture to the lid when it is still flat
  • create use various tools to create opposing planes of texture and more!


Bill uses a bisque mold for the base of his basket form and adds onto it with large coils. This additive and subtractive process allows him to tweak the form and create the exact curves and profile he is after. Making a large wide form in ceramics can be challenging and if you have struggled with it, Bill’s helpful tips will improve your success rate.

Techniques from this chapter:

  • how to avoid cracking when using a large bisque hump mold
  • a cool trick for evening out uneven feet
  • how to cut away a gentle curve in a rim
  • how to create a large handle that echoes the rough hewn edges of the pot and more!

About the artist

Bill Wilkey is currently an artist in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana. He earned his MFA from the University of Missouri–Columbia, and his BFA from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. Bill has also studied at noted craft schools such as Penland School of Crafts in Western North Carolina, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, on the coast of Maine. Bill’s work has been widely exhibited nationally. In 2014, he was chosen as one of Ceramics Monthly’s Emerging Artists. He has also been featured on the cover of Pottery Making Illustrated. To learn more about Bill and see more images of his work, please visit

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