Making a pinch pot is a great introduction to ceramics. They're a great pot to make as a beginner, because they take more of a free form and do not need to be perfect looking. They are formed in exactly the way one would imagine, by pinching the clay and creating a form in this manner.
Because of the nature of a pinch pot, you do not need to use a pottery wheel or use too many specialist tools. It's one of the simplest forms of pottery. In this article, we will talk you through how to make a pinch pot at home, including the materials you might use and also how to fire the clay pot into a finished article.
Before you start
Making a good pinch pot is very much in the preparation. Before you begin, make sure that your nails are short. Long nails can dig into the clay, making it difficult to create the desired shape and generally getting in the way.
You should also make sure that you have a nice flat surface to work on and that your hands are cold before working with the clay. If your fingers are too warm , this can dry out the clay very quickly and cause it to crack.
Choosing the right material
Perhaps the key to making a successful pinch pot is selecting the right sort of clay. Clay with a high amount of grog in it is perhaps the best place to start in your search for clay. The beauty of this type of clay is that it is quite strong and therefore is less prone to cracking.
As you become more familiar with creating pinch pots, you can use a smooth, fine clay, which is a little trickier to handle but can create a better finished article.
In essence clay is the key ingredient to your pinch pot but you may also want to use a smoothing knife or similar tools such as a plastic card to help better shape your pot. This can help to smooth out your piece and also enable you to add texture and detail to the walls of your pot.
How to shape your pot
The first thing you'll want to do is to shape a small piece of clay into a ball, making sure that you keep it as smooth as possible with minimal cracks. Next, press your thumb into the center of the ball of clay, pushing your thumb about half the thickness of the ball down from the base of the pot. From there, use your other thumb and finger to start to shape the sides of the ball of clay.
You should work around the well created in the middle of the ball of clay, working upwards from the base slowly. You should employ the technique of keeping your fingers straight in order to ensure that you are forming the whole walls of the pot and not just applying pressure in one area. You should also turn the pot in your hands as you pinch it to make sure that one part is not too thick.
At this step, you should swap position, so that your fingers are inside the pot and your thumb is on the outside. This will allow you to gently craft and thin out the walls and create some height to your piece. The piece can now be shaped into your desired outcome, continually being pinched out to make the form of a pot around a quarter of an inch thick. You can also smooth out the base of your piece at this step so that it sits nice and flat onto a surface. You can use your wooden or steel knife to help the smoothing process.
How to create a rim for your pinch pots
One of the defining features of a pinch pot is the rim. One of the best ideas to form a rim is to turn the pot upside down and gently drop the pot on its head, which forms a rim! Alternatively, you can use your tool to create a lip, smoothing and turning your pot as you go.
How can you decorate your pinch pot?
At this step, you can either keep your pot as it is, or you can choose to decorate your pot with embellishments. One way to add decoration to your piece is to use coils. A coil is essentially a long sausage like shape, formed by rolling out your clay into a long shape.
You can then attach a coil as a rim or even as simply a decoration. To attach to your pinch pot you will need to moisten your clay and score the pot where you wish to attach the coil. You can also use a coil to make a foot ring, in order to make your pot more stable. Simply roll out another snake like shape, score the bottom of your pot and attach the ring, smoothing it out and flattening to ensure that it sits neatly on a surface.
You can additionally add texture to your pot through adding bits of clay, using a similar technique to that above.
How to dry and fire your pinch pot
So, once you are satisfied with your final design, you'll want to dry and fire your piece to finish it. You should firstly air dry your piece for 2-3 days to ensure that any moisture has dried out completely. You'll know when your clay is dry as it will be chalky and hard.
Further reading: How To Dry Pottery Clay: Process, Tips and Techniques
At this step, you can then either directly paint or decorate your air dried pot, or to create a very hard finish, you should consider firing your finished pinch pots in a kiln. Additionally, if you want to use your pinch pot for practical uses, particularly for holding water, then you will want to consider glazing, which additionally will require a kiln firing.
Your kiln temperature and settings will depend on the size, thickness and type of material you use for your pinch pot, so please refer to the manufacturer instructions in order to use the right settings.
Decorating your pinch pot
Whether you glaze your pot or not, you're going to want to paint your finished pot! You can use any type of water based paints to create your work of art but other paints such as metallic paint and chalk pastes are also suitable. There are a number of traditional patterns and ideas that can be used to create a striking piece.
What to do next
The next step in making a pinch pot is to try and speed up your technique. This will ensure that your hands do not get too warm and create a better and smoother outcome. You can also practice with different decorative techniques such as creating texture using dots, lines or grooves in your pot.
If you wish to fire your pinch pot, you may also need a home kiln to help take your home projects to the next level. At Soul Ceramics, we have a range of kilns suitable for home projects. Our range of kilns are also perfect for adding glazes to your finished pinch pot, should you wish to use it for practical purposes.
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Now, let's discuss the concepts mentioned in the article about making a pinch pot:
Pinch Pot Introduction
Making a pinch pot is a great way to get started with ceramics. Pinch pots are beginner-friendly because they allow for a more free-form approach and do not need to be perfect-looking. The process involves pinching the clay to create the desired shape. Unlike other pottery techniques, pinch pots do not require a pottery wheel or many specialized tools. It is one of the simplest forms of pottery.
Materials for Pinch Pot
Choosing the right clay is crucial for making a successful pinch pot. Clay with a high amount of grog (a material added to clay to improve its strength) is recommended as it is less prone to cracking. As you become more familiar with pinch pot making, you can use a smooth, fine clay, which can create a better finished article but is trickier to handle. In addition to clay, you may want to use a smoothing knife or similar tools like a plastic card to shape your pot and add texture and detail to the walls.
Shaping the Pinch Pot
To shape a pinch pot, start by shaping a small piece of clay into a smooth ball. Press your thumb into the center of the ball, about halfway down from the base, to create a well. Use your other thumb and finger to shape the sides of the ball, working around the well created in the middle. Keep your fingers straight to ensure you are forming the whole walls of the pot and not just applying pressure in one area. Turn the pot in your hands as you pinch it to ensure even thickness. Swap positions so that your fingers are inside the pot and your thumb is on the outside. Gently craft and thin out the walls to create height and shape. Pinch out the form of a pot, aiming for a thickness of around a quarter of an inch. Smooth out the base of the pot using a wooden or steel knife.
Creating a Rim for the Pinch Pot
The rim is one of the defining features of a pinch pot. There are a couple of ways to create a rim. One method is to turn the pot upside down and gently drop it on its head, which forms a rim. Alternatively, you can use a tool to create a lip, smoothing and turning the pot as you go.
Decorating the Pinch Pot
After shaping the pinch pot, you can choose to keep it as it is or decorate it with embellishments. One way to add decoration is by using coils. Coils are long sausage-like shapes formed by rolling out clay. You can attach a coil as a rim or decoration by moistening the clay and scoring the pot where you want to attach the coil. Coils can also be used to make a foot ring for stability. Additionally, you can add texture to the pot by adding bits of clay.
Drying and Firing the Pinch Pot
Once you are satisfied with the design of your pinch pot, you need to dry and fire it to finish it. Air dry your piece for 2-3 days to ensure all moisture has evaporated. The clay will become chalky and hard when dry. You can then paint or decorate the air-dried pot directly. For a very hard finish, consider firing the pot in a kiln. If you plan to use the pinch pot for practical purposes, such as holding water, glazing is recommended. The kiln temperature and settings will depend on the size, thickness, and type of clay used, so refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the appropriate settings.
Additional Tips and Next Steps
To improve your pinch pot-making technique, try to speed up your process to prevent your hands from getting too warm, which can affect the outcome. Practice different decorative techniques, such as creating texture using dots, lines, or grooves in your pot. If you wish to continue exploring ceramics, you may consider investing in a home kiln for more advanced projects and adding glazes to your finished pinch pots.
I hope this information helps you in your pinch pot-making journey! Let me know if you have any further questions.