The splendor of clay is its malleability–the ability to mold it into any shape possible. In the Bible, God says that just as a potter can mold clay into any shape he or she wants, so God has designed each of us to perfectly accomplish His purposes.
1. Size and Shape Decide what size and shape you want your coil pot to be. Use a plate, cup, can, cardboard, or other shape to make a heavy paper template–round, heart, square, free-form. For a kids’ class, keep it to 6″ or less in diameter.
2. Base and Lid Roll out stoneware or other clay 1/4″ thick. With toothpick or other pointed tool, cut two identical pieces of clay using the template. Hold the tool straight up and down for the cut. One piece will be the base of your pot and the other will be the lid.
3. Spirals Squeeze a hunk of soft clay to make a lumpy rope. Roll this on newspaper or other absorbent surface to make a smooth, even coil 1/4″ to 3/8″ thick. Roll coil back on itself to make a spiral 1 1/2″ in diameter. Pinch off extra clay and smooth end.
Make as many spirals as you need for the side of your pot. Many other shapes can be made as you become more skilled.
4. Scratch and Attach Every piece of clay must be attached to the others by scratching both parts with your toothpick and dabbing a little water where you want them to stick. If you forget or skimp on this step, your clay pieces may separate in the drying or firing.
I tell my students, Just scratch and attach only those parts you don’t want to fall off.
6. Lid and Handle This is where student creativity can shine. Dogs, horses, people, swirls, trees–anything can be a handle as long as it is no thicker than 1/2″ or has holes poked in it to allow air in and make sure no clay part is thicker than 1/2″. Scratch and attach all parts.
7. Flange This keeps the lid from sliding off easily. On the underside of your lid (being careful of your handle) scratch a line all the way around about 1″ from edge. Roll a coil this length, scratch and attach firmly. Write your name in the interior of the flange.
8. Finish Let your pot dry. Fire to bisque temperature–usually cone 06-04 for stoneware. Dip or brush on glazes appropriate to the maturing temp of the clay (usually cone 4-6 stoneware for electric kilns). Do not glaze bottoms of pot or lid. Fire pot and lid separately (so they don’t melt together).