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Got It Made

7 Steps to Making Your Own Pinch Pots (No Wheel Required)

Got It Made BY liz 01/10/2016

 

Like many potters, BTW’s Brooke Winfrey started out by taking a class just for fun...which led to clay staging a takeover of her entire life. One of the earliest things she learned was how to make a pinch pot by hand—and judging by our edition from her, we’re guessing she got an A+ on that assignment. Whether you have pinched a few pots already and need some new tips to nail your technique or are determined to finallllly try making something with ya own two hands, here’s Brooke’s step-by-step guide to forming a few baby bowls of your own. One note: In order to make a sturdy piece, you’ll need to fire it in a kiln, so ask your local ceramics studio—almost all of them offer this service for a small fee.

 

MATERIALS

Clay (Brooke’s favorite is porcelain)

Needle tool (or any other sharp, pointy tool)

Metal potter’s rib

Sponge

Water

Fine paint brush

Underglaze (optional)

High fire kiln

 

STEP 1: FORM A BALL.

“I start with a small chunk of porcelain and roll it into a smooth round ball, about the size of a tennis ball.”

 

STEP 2: INDENT IT.

“Using my right thumb, I push a hole in the center of the ball and leave about ⅜ of an inch of thickness at the base.”

 

STEP 3: PINCH—AND PINCH SOME MORE!

“I do a backwards pinch! This means instead of pushing out sides of the indentation with my thumb, I set my thumb in the center and my other fingers on the outside—then I pinch toward my thumb with my other fingers. While pinching evenly, I slowly rotate the clay in my hands and move in a slow spiral from the base to the top. Pinching the piece from bottom to top is repeated about 3 to 5 times. The last round of pinching is focused on rounding out the shape, so I pinch in some spots more than others to create the look I like, which is a little less uniform.”

 

STEP 4: DRY IT OUT.

“Do a little dance while the bowl air dries! Each bowl needs to sit for a couple of hours to become leather hard—which is exactly what it sounds like, i.e. strong enough to hold its shape. Once that’s done, I use a barely damp sponge to smooth out the rim and any little cracks or sharp finger angles.”

 

STEP 5: DECORATE IT (OR NOT).

“At this point, the bowl is ready to be fired, but I like to carve and paint decorative elements with underglaze. To make the lines, I use my needle tool to carve into the clay. Underglaze is painted into the lines, and then the excess is scraped away using a metal rib. I really like using this inlay technique because you can feel the lines—interacting with the texture as you're using the piece makes it even more special.”

 

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STEP 6: FIRE IT UP.

“The bowl is loaded into the kiln and bisque-fired, making it strong but porous.”

 

STEP 7: GET YOUR GLAZE ON.

I dip the bowl into a bucket of clear glaze and fire it one more time. And tada, you have a pretty little bowl!”

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