The Deceptively Simple Hand-Building Techniques of Pottery

When one talks about hand-building techniques of pottery — pinching, coiling and slab work immediately come to mind. These look and sound simple, but when it comes to execution, it tests your understanding of clay and its various stages.

In my opinion, one person who makes hand-building look deceptively simple is Richard Peeler. Look at this video to know what I mean:

I do think that Peeler is a master at what he does, and can, therefore, hand build with such ease. However, if we understand the very basics of hand building and related clay behavior, then the process does in fact become as easy as it looks. For example, one needs to be clear that coiling requires clay to be relatively soft, as compared to slab building when you let the slabs stiffen before joining them together.

I personally find hand building very relaxing. I can sit and continue working on a pot for hours together. I made the below pot using slab building, coiling and stamping.

It took me about an hour to wedge clay, roll out slabs and cut into desired shape. I left the slabs to stiffen for two days, before I came back to it. But when I did, I spent close to 9 hours finishing it. The beauty of hand building (and clay in general) is that I never feel tired working on it for long. In fact, I enjoy such days.


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