Clay is an earthy material of fine grained minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter.

Pottery can be created without the use of a potter's wheel. The potter's wheel did not appear in history until only 4 000 years ago. The main construction methods were pinch and coil methods.

Clay has been used for many things throughout human history: a writing surface, building material, money, storage containers, cooking vessels and serving plates, electronic device parts, ceramic shields or tiles are used on space ships. Ceramics is a major tool for dating cultures in archeology studies.

Three handbuilding techniques


Pinch pots are created by using your hands to shape the clay. Pinch pots are some of the oldest archaeological artifacts found on the planet.

  • Begin by forming a smooth ball that fits in your palm (fist size).
  • Press the thumb into the center half-way to the bottom.
  • Revolve the ball while pressing the walls out evenly with the other hand.


Coil pots are created by pressing coils of clay together.

  • Keeping the fingers flat, form clay into sausage shapes.
  • Roll them into ropes (coils)
    1/4" to 1/2" thick
  • Coils are pressed together creating a design. Gaps are filled in with small balls of clay.
  • Inside of the wall can be smoothed.
  • Join the walls & the bottom.


The slab building technique involves rolling out clay to an even thickness - usually 1 cm - then cutting shapes, folding, bending, manipulating and joining together to form a finished object.

  • Roll slabs of clay
  • Cut out the sides
  • Join the sides (score and slip!!)
  • Attach the bottom
  • Cut out the excess clay from the bottom slab.

Other techniques include:
wheel throwing, relief (high, low, sunken), mold making & slip casting, carving, sculpting, etc.

before you start:
(remove air bubbles)

throw wedge beat to form a ball

drying stages of clay

wedging, manipulating, sculpting,
throwing on the wheel...
leather hard
decorating, carving, etc..
bone dry
ready for bisque firing
(liquid form of clay)
casting and cementing pieces

firing stages

unfired pottery that is bone dry (most fragile state)

bisqueware (bisque)
unglazed pottery that has been
fired once

ware that has glaze applied and is waiting to be glaze fired

joining pieces

1. score 2. slip 3. attach & rock (or press)


Handbuilding techniques

signature mark & texture stamps

Carve in you personal ID mark to use on your art pieces.
Also, create 10 texture stamps for future project decoration.
pinch pot 1

Pinch Pots are created by using your hands to shape the clay. Small pinch pot with facial features.

pinch pot 2
Creating a larger size pinch pot with more complex decoration and texture techniques.
Basic coil pot  
coil pot
This is another technique using coils to construct a piece of pottery. This technique involve both making coils and pressing them into a pattern.
slab box
Slab box with feet and pattern imprints using stamps and find objects.
Slab house
Apply slab box building process - advanced level

Sculpting and carving, decoration techniques

4 animals sculpture
A grotesque sculpture that is made up of four animals.
candle holder
A fiunctional piece made by using any of the three handbuilding techniques.
Sgraffito technique to apply a design onto greenware.


home page



(used in this class)
cut-off wire
needle tool and fettling knife
modeling tools
rolling pin and guides


for materials we use in this class:

bisque firing
we use low-fire clay
Cone 04
Temperature 1940 F
glaze firing
we use mostly low-fire glazes
Cone 05-06
Temperature 1830-1914 F


  • apply at least 3 coats
  • apply coats evenly, wait for a coat to dry before applying the next one
  • do not apply glaze on a bottom surface - the one that will be in contact with the kiln's shelf.
    wipe it clean with a wet sponge before turning in for glaze firing
  • if your finished piece will be in acontact with food - look for food safe marking on a glaze jar.
    All glazes that are safe for food contact are labled with one of the following signs:




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