Hand Building

Hand Building

Slab Pots

Slab-pot building is a traditional, basic method of forming pots. Every slab pot starts out as a cylinder. Cylinders may look simple to make, but there is an art to making the walls straight and even. With practice you can make useful and attractive pots using this foundational hand building method.

To suit different functions, the width and height of the basic cylindrical form can be varied and other parts can be added. Cylinders are useful for holding a variety of small objects, from low dishes that hold household and office items, to taller cylinders that hold pens and pencils or, in a larger form that can provide countertop storage for kitchen utensils.

A slab pitcher—a cylinder to which you
add a handle and form a spout.

A slab mug—a basic cylinder with
the addition of a handle.

**Making a Slab Cylinder**

Step 1

Cut off a slab of clay approximately
1” x 5” x 6”.

Step 2

Place two flat sticks on either side of the clay slab and slowly roll the clay down to the thickness of the sticks. Turn the slab over and roll three times on the other side using firm pressure.

Step 3

Make a round pattern for the base by drawing a 3 1/2” circle with a protractor (or by tracing a 3 1/2” round object such a bowl) onto a piece of stiff paper or card stock. Cut it out. Make a rectangular pattern for the side walls by cutting a rectangle measuring 5” by 11” from a piece of heavy paper or thin cardboard. Lay both patterns on the rolled-out clay and cut them from the slab using the needle tool. Hold the tool straight up and down as you cut. Peel away any excess clay.

Step 4

Score the outside edge of the base and along the the bottom side of the wall upward, 1/4” from the bottom. Moisten the scored area with water.

Step 5

Carefully raise the wall and wrap the bottom of the wall around the base.

Step 6

Join the ends of the wall together by cutting the edges at an angle. Score the edges and moisten them with water before gently pushing them together.

Step 7

Smooth the seam with your finger. Also smooth both the outside and inside seam. When you apply pressure to one side of the wall, you will always need to support the clay on the opposite side with your hand or fingers.

Step 8

On the bottom inside, smooth the seam by pushing clay down from the wall onto the base.

Step 9

Set cylinder to dry completely before firing.

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