Beyond coils: How to make pottery moulds

Open up creative possibilities by creating moulds to shape and design what can't be done by hand. Follow the steps below to expand your pottery techniques.

Beyond coils: How to make pottery moulds

Making a drape or press mould

  1. Choose a shape with gently sloping sides.
  2. Cover the inside with thin plastic or fine material.  Note: It may be easier to place the flattened clay slab on the plastic or material before pressing both into the shape.
  3. Press the clay into the mould and smooth the inside with the heel of your hand. You can add texture once it is in the mould (for texture on the inside) or before you put it into the mould (for outside texture).
  4. You can precut your slab to a size which leaves the edges soft (and even slightly rounded over if you gently lower the slab into the mould). If you prefer a more precise shape and edge, cut the excess clay with a cutting wire once the clay is in the mould.
  5. To put a raised pattern on the outside of the slab, you can add coils or shaped slabs to the mould shape before you add the large slab. If you opt to use coils, remember to join the shapes so you do not lose your pattern.  Leave the clay to stiffen before removing it.

Making a hump or flop mould

  1. Begin with a gently curved mould (such as a wok). Roll out your clay slab to the necessary size, and texture the surface if desired. Invert the shape and cover with thin plastic or material. Allow the clay to flop gently over the shape.
  2. Once the shape is in place, add a footring using either a slab or coils. ­Alternatively, try adding to the pot by forming small ball-shaped pieces of clay, slightly flattening them and joining them to the base.
  3. If you have not precut the edge, trim it and leave the shape to stiffen before removing it from the mould.

The look of the pot's edge is important, so take care to make it even by smoothing it with a damp sponge.

As with a drape mould, it is possible to add clay in odd pieces or specific shapes to decorate a hump or flop mould. They can be precisely cut or torn randomly, depending on the look you want. Just remember to place the shapes on the mould before joining them.

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