Make a coil pot in 6 easy steps

July 29, 2015

The coil pot is one of the simplest and most recognizable forms of pottery. Try your hand at this fun project. Here's how.

Make a coil pot in 6 easy steps

1. Make the coil

  • Form a coil (or long rope) by rolling clay with your hands on a bench.
  • Apply very gentle pressure as you roll your full palm across the coil. Move from the fingertips to the heel of your hand.
  • As it lengthens, move your hands from the centre towards the ends.
  • If you prepare a number of coils in advance, make sure they're covered with plastic to keep them moist.

2. Cut the base

  • Place the clay on several layers of loose newspaper that can be smoothly and easily pushed around on your workbench.
  • To leave your hands completely free to work the clay, try a foot-operated banding wheel or turntable.

3. Join the base and coil

  • When you've made your first coil, roughen the bottom with a toothbrush dipped in water to help it join to the base.
  • Combine the two by putting the clay from the coil onto the base. For large pots, add an extra, finer coil in the inside of this first join. This adds reinforcement and prevents later cracking.
  • When working the clay, hold one hand outside to support the wall and maintain the shape.

4. Join the coils

  • Roughen the top of each coil before joining on the next one, pulling the clay with a finger or tool.
  • Add four or five coils. Join them on the inside by pulling clay across the joints.
  • The joint can be further smoothed by using your fingers from the base to the top.
  • Provide support with your hand on the outside of the pot.

5. Build your layers

  • Add coils one layer at a time to keep the form even.
  • Slice coils at a slight angle where they join for added strength.
  • The lower part of the shape is refined when the pot is leather hard, and strong enough to be turned upside down.

6. Finish it off

  • When the coils have all been joined, the surface can be finished off by using a paddle. This tool will smooth the pot out and refine the shape.
  • When smoothing the surface, keep a supporting hand inside the pot.
  • For an even smoother surface, finish the work with a rubber kidney.

The key to making a great pot is patience. You may not get something perfect on the first try, but practice and dedication will help you in the long run.

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