Tutorial for beginner and intermediate level students
Coiled pots are constructed by gradually stacking and joining coils of clay one on top of the other. The coils can be left visible or can be smoothed away depending on your desired aesthetic end result. It is important that the coils join well during construction to avoid cracking or separation during the drying and firing process.
To avoid cracking or coil separation, the clay is required to be soft and using the proper process to connect the coils together. You can use your thumb or index finger to smooth the coil into the lower level coil or use a wooden or silicon rib tool while the clay is still soft. If you want the coils to show on both, the inside and outside of the pot, slip and scoring is required but with no guarantee of surviving the drying and firing process without coil separation.
See a basic step by step example below where the coils are not visible in part of the pot and visible with surface texture on one side of the pot's rim. See Children's Handbuilding Projects
Premade extruded clay coils
How to Make a Coil Pot | Tutorial Construction and Tools Needed
1. Flatten piece of clay to about 1/4" thickness. Use rolling pin or a slab roller. Cut slab to desired dimensions. Ahead of time prepare clay coils by hand or with an extruder. Make sure your pre made clay coils are covered with plastic to keep them soft - coils dry out very quickly!
Make slab of clay with rolling pin
Or with a slab roller
Cut a slab base - 1/4" thick
Make coils by hand or extruder
2. Score and slip slab and lay the first layer of coil. Push the coil firmly into the slab. Cut first layer of coil as illustrated below to insure perfect fit around the parameters of the slab. Remove the unused coil pieces and blend the joint. Pinch / scrape the coil with one finger into the slab smooth using your finger, a rib or a wooden tool.
Score and slip base and apply coil
Cut coils as illustrated
Pinch coil into slab on the inside
Merging coils using both hands
3. Smooth the outside using a rib. We use Sherryll's Mud Tools red rib. Place the next layer of coil, pinch and smooth and in previous layer. When merging two layers, make sure that one hand is supporting the clay on one side while the other hand pushing / smudging the other side.
Do the same on outside
Smooth pinched coil with a rib
Place 2nd coil - no slip & scoring
Smudge coil into lower coil
4. Keep adding layers. You can add up to three at a time before blending and smoothing. When cutting a coil to fit, make the cut in a different place to insure that two joints are not directly one above the other.
Pinch outside of coil
Repeat with next layer
And with next
Join coils in a different place
5. To widen the pot, use longer coils. If taking a break cover your work and pre made coils so that the clay will remain moist and soft
Use longer coils to widen pot
Repeat the process
6. Use the same method as above to create the pot's rim. You may choose to leave the rim "un-smoothed" as illustrated below. If making a large pot, it might be too soft to hold it's full weight. Cover it and allow it to set for a while before proceeding. When starting again, the next coil added MUST be slip-and-scored to the existing pot.
Coiling the rim
Pinching the rim
Close up - rim with texture
7. Use a paddle to both shape the pot and strengthen the coiled wall. Dry slowly by covering the pot loosely with plastic before Bisquing.