Pottery Tips and Techniques
Follow My 40 Day Pottery Challenge
Trimming the foot of your pottery is a process filled with frustration.
If the pottery was not cut off evenly to begin with, the whole piece of pottery may tip a bit, like the leaning tower of Pisa.
It can also yield a warped bowl in the final firing, because uneven parts of the foot settle when the clay reaches maturity.
Other problems such as soft centers, bottoms that are too thin to trim and the sharp edges on trimmed feet and you will see some of the advantages to adding a foot instead of trimming one.
I always add a coil foot to the bowls and plates I make, because once it is mastered, adding a foot like this goes just about as fast as trimming alone and the result is a very controlled, smooth edged foot which can be placed on your pottery wherever you want it.
It is easy to make a foot tall enough to be glazed on the inside, leaving the amount of unglazed surface on the pottery small.
Throw your pottery so it is only as thick as you would like the finished pottery, probably 3/8 inch or less.
This will lessen the amount of clay it takes to make each piece of pottery, as well as reduce the trimmings which would need to be recycled.
Now, make your coils.An extruder might be very handy to make uniform sized coils, but I've never had one, mainly because of the expense and besides I wouldn't have that much use for it either.
Start by grabbing a handful of clay, squeeze it into a snake like shape in your hands before rolling on a smooth dry surface.
Spread your fingers apart as you roll because this will reduce the unevenness which results from rolling straight on.
As the coil gets longer, cut it in two if it's too thick and keep separating and rolling until you end up with coils the right length and thickness for your pottery.
I suppose you are wondering what is the right length huh?
Well, smaller bowls require a coil that is about a foot long and larger platters and bowls will take at least two feet.
The thickness of the coil will vary depending on how tall you want the foot to be.
As you make the coils, lay them on top of each other on a board long enough to allow them to lie straight.
If you work in a dry climate, keep the board wrapped in plastic to prevent drying, as the coils are relatively thin.
Center and secure the pottery to a wheel head or bat.
You can use a thin coating of water for this, it sticks the pottery on like a suction cup, wads of clay work well also.
Unless you were able to squeeze every bit of excess clay out of the shape when throwing, you will still need to trim a bit of waste on the outside of the pottery bottom.
This can be best done by working from the outside towards the center and will only serve to make the clay an even thickness throughout the piece.
A large trimming tool is better for this purpose than smaller ribbon tools.
If you use the larger cutting tool, you can use the same tool to trim and to score lines on the pot where the foot is to be placed.
You can also use a needle tool or other sharp pointed tool to do the scoring.
After scoring, add slip to the area where the coil will go.
Press the coil onto the scored area while slowly turning the wheel.
When you have reached the point of connecting the two ends of the coil, slip them and overlap the ends and attach them securely.
Pinch off any leftover coil.
Wet the coil with a sponge and slowly put pressure on the coil with a wet chamois.
This procedure is similar to centering, requiring steady hands and even pressure against the bumps.
Like centering, it helps to apply pressure in several directions at once.
I like to mold the coil with my index fingers pressing towards each other through the wet chamois and one thumb pressing downward in the same area.
Once the ring is not wobbly, more force is exerted downward to compress the ring and improve attachment to the pot.
Pressing with a rib or wooden tool at the joint areas will help reduce cracking loose when drying.
If the foot proves uneven, increase pressure so that the whole piece is pushed out from the chamois or you can trim a complete ring off with a needle tool and try again on the rest.
Using the chamois will give the foot a smooth rounded edge, which helps resist chipping.
That is the procedure in a nut shell.
With this technique it is possible to shape the foot to flare outward, which adds stability against tipping and also allows the potter to easily hold the pottery upside down by its foot for glaze pours.
If the clay is dry enough to come off the pot as flakes instead of ribbons, it may be too dry for this technique.
Slow drying of the pottery after adding any kind of clay attachments is very important.
Clay bodies vary in how well they take added parts without cracking.
Porcelain is notorious for this and may not work at all with this technique.
The foot of the pottery piece is a humble thing.
Sometimes you can't even tell if the pottery has a foot without lifting and turning it over.
The careful shopper does look over the entire piece of pottery and a foot which does its job well can be a real selling point.
The best part of added feet is the ability to glaze the bottom of the pottery, with the high foot ring keeping the bottom from contacting the kiln shelf.
You'll have to try it and see what it does for you.
Clay Projects -
Pottery Gallery -
Pottery Tools -
All About Clay
Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.
Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.
The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.
With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.
When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.
Stash It, Smash It, Crush It,
Tye Dye It, Fly Tye It, Simplify It,
Buy It, the OutBack Hat.
Pottery Magic Home –
Contact Us –