3 Best Ways to Make Pottery Without a Wheel – Hand Building Clay

It is possible to create beautiful pottery without a wheel. Pinch pots and coil pots are two easy hand-building techniques. Also useful are molds, such as hump molds, slump molds, and press molds. Therefore, slab construction is a straightforward and flexible solution. Each method permits limitless personalization.

This article describes 3 simple techniques for making pottery without a wheel.

Alternative Ways to Make Pottery Without a Potters Wheel

  • Coil Pots
  • Pinch Pots
  • Pots Using Molds

It is commonly believed that hand-building pottery without a wheel is the simpler method, although this is not the case. The better your finished ceramics will look, the more attention you pay to the details.

Coil Pot constructing coil On Pots
Pinch PotMake a Ball Of Clay And Create a Hole
Pots Using MoldsPut Clay In Mold As Per Require Shape

1. How to Create Coil Pots Without a Potter’s Wheel – Coil Pots

This approach is perhaps the easiest and most enjoyable method for hand-building pottery without a wheel…

How to Make a Coil Pot

There are numerous methods for constructing coil pots. Methods can range from something as simple as a three-coil pot to something much more complex. Yet, they are all created from clay coils, which is not surprising.

First Things First: How to Make a Coil

There are various ways for potters to make coils. This method is effective for me, and I’m describing techniques that are pretty widespread.

  • Grab a piece of clay and roll it into a ball in the palm of your hand.
  • Once it has formed a smooth ball, compress it into a sausage shape.
  • To make it slightly longer, roll it between your fingers or palms.
  • Twist each end of the clay once it is long enough. If you attempt to roll the coil without twisting it, the coil may flatten as you roll. Hence, twist the ends of the clay every few rolls.
  • Move your hands towards the ends of the coil as you roll. This motion extends the clay, allowing you to form a lengthy coil as opposed to a sausage.
  • If your coil flattens and rolling becomes uncomfortable, pat it into a spherical form. Then use the previously described method of twisting the ends and continue rolling.
  • Moreover, if you notice wrinkles or fractures in your coil, simply smooth them out. Continue rolling until the coil is approximately the thickness of a finger. Some potters advocate creating the coil around one finger thick. Others suggest they should be the breadth of your pinky fnger. I employ a combination of both.
  • You can make a batch of coils before beginning construction. If so, it is prudent to cover them with plastic while you work. This prevents them from drying out as you work. I prefer to manufacture them incrementally, as I may vary the thickness somewhat as I construct a pot. Also, when you vary your method, it is easier on the hands and wrists and you avoid repetitive strain.

Making a Very Simple Coil Pot

Making coil pots is a versatile alternative to using a pottery wheel. Your coil pot can be as simple or complex as you choose.

To begin making a simple coil pot, it is best to roll out some clay using a roller. Put a wooden dowel on either side of the clay to get a uniform thickness. The thickness of your slab will be determined by the width of your batten. Also available are rolling pin guide rings. Often, I use these while rolling out a huge slab, but not with this small slab.

Cut a clay circle off the slab using a needle tool or craft knife. We use our finger to smooth the clay base’s borders. You may need to slightly moisten your finger.

Joining the Coil to the Base

You cannot simply press the coil against the base and expect total adhesion. It will separate as the clay dries or is fired if it is just placed against the base. It must be securely attached, and you can do it in one of two ways.

First, the two surfaces can be slipped and scored before being pressed together. This technique entails scratching the clay’s surface with a needle instrument and then soaking the surface that has been scratched.

Whether you want the coils on your pot to be visible or not is a creative decision. I enjoy the coil detail, so I smear and buff the interior.

Continue the process of putting coils on top of each other until you reach the desired height. Ensure that each coil is secured as you work by smearing or using slip and score.

Finishing touches

When forming coils, the clay is stretched out and put to considerable work. Little fissures in the surface of your clay are fairly uncommon. This is typical and there is no need for concern.

But, once you have completed your work, it is advisable to smooth out these fissures. If you do not, they may enlarge when the vessel dries or is burnt. Also, it improves the finish of your pot.

Avoid using a sponge to wet clay. When clay is moist, slip is created. The slip contains all the small clay particles that give your pottery its smooth appearance. Sponges absorb the slime, leaving the larger, gritty particles of grog behind. Hence, using a sponge to smooth out cracks can create a grainy appearance.

2. How to Create Pots Without a Potter’s Wheel – Pinch Pots

One of the simplest and quickest methods of hand-building pottery is pinch pots. After mastering the fundamental pinch pot technique, you can utilize it to create a variety of clay objects. Hence, I decided to compose a detailed instruction on how to create a pinch pot.

Get ready the clay.

This project requires self-hardening white clay or air-dry white clay. We utilized Crayola air-dry clay, but other brands are available as well.

If you desire a natural and homemade substitute, you can prepare the salt dough.

Create a Clay into Ball And Make a Hole.

Holding the clay ball with one hand, press the thumb of the other hand into the center of the clay ball. Push until your thumb is between 14 and 12 inch from the base.

Expand the hole.

Gently enlarge the hole by squeezing the walls together. Flip the piece slowly while pinching to maintain uniform wall thickness.

Create a bowl or a pot.

Continue drawing the walls to progressively form a bowl, pot, or cup. Bottom and wall thickness must be at least 14 inch.

Add tiny pieces of clay.

Optionally, you can add a handle or construct small clay embellishments, such as flowers. Just mould clay into the desired form, and then attach it to the main pot or bowl. Moisten and pat the clay around the new component to secure it.

For the handle of this vessel, I formed clay into a little sausage and attached it to the side of the vessel. I formed another long sausage to place around the rim of the saucepan.

Smooth the clay out.

To level the surface of the pot, pat the clay with slightly damp fingers or use a wet paintbrush.

Let the clay to dry then paint it.

Put the bowl or pot in a warm and dry location. A small work typically requires two to three days to dry completely. When the pot or bowl is totally dry, paint it using acrylic paint.

Use a sealant.

Spray the entire clay pot with clear acrylic sealant or apply 1-2 layers of decoupage material once the paint has dried (e.g. Mod Podge). Let the first coat to dry completely before applying the second.

3. How to Create Pots Without a Potter’s Wheel – Using Molds

The first two techniques I outlined require simply clay and your own imagination. Molds will be used in the third method of hand-building pottery without a wheel. Nonetheless, you may make this process simple by using a common home item as a mold. Read on to learn more…

Using a Hump Mold

The concept behind hump mold pottery is to drape a clay slab over a mold. Next, after a little shaping and trimming, you allow the vessel to dry before cleaning it up and firing it. You are using the mold to support and shape the clay. Examining this strategy in greater detail…

Many objects can serve as hump molds. You can purchase them, manufacture them, or utilize an existing item that fits the bill. They can be constructed from a variety of materials, such as plaster, wood, MDF, and plastic.

What You Must Have:

  • clay And A roller
  • A plaster mold you have manufactured or purchased, or…
  • A bowl or other type of dish. This might theoretically be made of pottery, glass, or plastic. I have discovered that flexible plastic bowls work best. This is because leather-hard clay is simpler to remove from the mold if it is slightly pliable. When removing a large pot from a pyrex or rigid plastic container, it may be more difficult.
  • A can or other container to support the inverted bowl. This might be anything from a bottle of glaze to a coffee jar. So long as the situation is somewhat stable.
  • It is OK to use a craft knife, Stanley knife, or needle tool as a cutting instrument.

Use of a Hump Mold:

Spread a slab of clay. The thickness of the clay varies somewhat according on the size of the mold. With a larger mold, you can get away with employing a thicker slab. A thick slab placed in a small mold can appear hefty. Yet, this is a matter of personal preference; perhaps you are trying for a bulky look! I often roll mine to a thickness of approximately 0.1 inch, or less for tiny pots.

It is advisable to roll out your clay on anything slightly absorbent. An example might be a piece of plywood or canvas that has been stretched. This will prevent the clay from clinging to the rolling surface, allowing you to simply remove the slab.

Use wooden battens on either side of the clay you’re rolling to achieve a consistent thickness. Instead, you can attach roller guides to the end of your rolling pin.

Polishing Your Ceramics

With a metal rib or a credit card-sized piece of plastic, smooth the surface of the pot. The procedure is then repeated with a softer rubber rib.

Use your wet fingertips or a piece of damp chamois leather to complete the process of smoothing.

The Process of Drying Your Pottery

Let your pot to get leather-hard before removing it from the mold. I would suggest slowly drying your ceramics on the mold.
It will contract around the mold, creating considerable tension in the clay. If the clay is dried too rapidly, it can crack like the dish on the right.

Joining the Foot Ring or Feet

You can now attach a foot ring or feet to your pottery. Cut your foot ring or feet to size. Finally, insert the ring or feet loosely in place, and bag the entire object.

Let the pot and the foot ring or feet to rest in the bag overnight so that they achieve an even level of wetness. Once the pot and the feet have reached leather hardness, slip, and score can be used to affix the feet to the pot

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