Coiling pots is a great way to make beautiful, handmade pieces of art. In this how-to guide, we will go over the coil method and show you how to create your own coil pot! Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making coils – it’s easier than you think!
Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Coil Pot
The following is a step by step guide how to make coils and a coil pot
Start with a Lump of Clay
This coil pot is made by starting with a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel. The first thing to do is shape it into an even ball for your base and make sure you have enough clay in reserve so you can continue shaping down from there if need be. Next, take one end of the piece of cloth and wrap it around the ball tightly like a rope or bandage might go.
Creating the Coil
Make sure not to cover any part that will become exposed later–we’re only wrapping this first time so we don’t get too much material wrapped up in our coils! Now coil that looped-up bit around itself as many times as necessary until it goes back onto itself again (i.e., without coming undone). Once you coil it enough times, you should have a coil with something like the shape of an ice cream cone.
Now gently press down on the top end so it flattens out and holds its round shape while wrapping your next coil around it to make another layer–make sure that as you are doing this step, all parts of the first coil’s rope-like bit is still visible below or inside! Now we’re going to repeat that process until we reach our desired height for our pot (or “cone” in my example). If need be, once again wrap one side tightly around itself before coiling up from there with enough coils to cover any exposed bits. Then take a moment to smooth and squash everything down into its final form by pressing firmly against the clay all around.
Remove Pot from Surface
The next step is to carefully remove the coil pot from your surface, then push against it with one hand while holding a blade or knife in the other–push hard and quickly enough so that you can slice off any bits of clay coming up around where the coils meet. This will create a clean line between the topmost coil and those below.
After this is done, give your coil pot another good shaping by pressing it down all over again! The last thing we want at this point is for our work of art to start crumbling apart 🙂
Let it Dry
The final step is to leave your coil pot out for a few days, uncovered. This will allow moisture in the air to get inside and start forming its own natural glaze on your coils–adding another level of shine and beauty that you just can’t achieve with paint or glazes!
How thick should a clay coil be?
The coil should be about the thickness of your index finger. We want it to be thick enough that we can coil with a good, sturdy base and thin enough so that when fired in a kiln for our work will still come out flat.
- Thicker clay coils are best suited for smaller items like bowls or cups because they’re easier to handle on a small scale than thinner coils would be (since thicker coils have more weight).
- Thinner coils are better for larger pieces like plates or platters because there’s less risk of them cracking during firing since their surface is spread over greater area.
- If you plan on stacking two layers of coil pots together after one has been baked into pottery, use quite an even
What is the Slab Method?
The slab method is a pottery-making technique which involves stacking clay slabs to form pots. This can be done by hand, but also with the help of an electric drill and discs that are used for cutting out circles from dough. With this type of coil pot, one would create a long sheet using these strips before beginning to coil them up into pots or other desired shapes.
This process could take days if not weeks since everything depends on how thick you want your final product to be and how many rings in each stack (which should ideally not exceed 40). The thickness will depend on what size disc cutter has been chosen – those who use smaller cutters need thicker pieces while larger ones require much thinner slices.
What Do I Need to Coil Pots?
Coiling is an easy and fun way to coil pots. It’s all about using your hands or a tool like a knitting needle to coil clay around – it’s that simple!
- Clay (rolling pin optional)
- Rolling surface for rolling out the coils
- Knitting needles/thin dowel rod of some kind. These can be found at any craft store if they are not available in yours, but thick plastic straws work too. They just need something that is slightly thinner than your fingers so they don’t break when pushed through. We recommend painting them with acrylic paint before use so they do not crack or warp.
- A damp cloth or paper towel for clean up when working with clay (optional)
- Spray bottle of water to moisten coil before removing from the rolling surface and placing on a pottery wheel head for shaping
- Roughing out tools – these can be found at your local craft store, but if not we have some great tips in our blog post “How to Choose Coiling Tools”
- Cardboard cut into pieces so you can lay down coils without them sticking together while they dry/bake. These should be about an inch larger than your final product is desired to be across flat side. We recommend painting them with acrylic paint before use so they do not crack or warp.
What Can Be Made with the Coiling Method
The coiling method can be used to make a variety of types of pottery.
- coil pots
- coils (usually glass)
- coil beads
- coil jewelry (for example, a necklace with the shape of an S or infinity symbol)
The coil pot is one of the most popular types of coil pots. It is a type where coils are stacked on top of each other to form the shape and height desired for that particular pot. These can be made with any clay, but it is usually recommended to use white or light colored clays as these will show off complex textures well while dark colors hide them. The base, sides, and rim should also be coiled in order to mimic the look seen in various cultures globally such as Native American Pueblo people who would make their pots using this method.
Do I Need a Pottery Wheel for Coiling?
A pottery wheel can be used to coil pots, but it’s not necessary. For many beginners, a hand-built coil is more manageable and easier to make than first trying to control the clay on a spinning potter’s wheel. Hand building coils also enables you to create shapes that are impossible with a pottery wheel. The coil shape itself lends itself nicely as both an architectural or functional form for vases and containers which don’t need high decoration detail (such as soup tureens).
Potters who want better control over their coiling should use a rotating table instead of using hands alone. A rotating table has two sides: one for rolling out dough and another side where you can work on your coil once rolled out
What Kind of Clay Do You Use for Coiling?
Coiling pots are traditionally made out of white stoneware clay, which is a rigid clay body. The coil method can be applied to other clays as well, including porcelain or earthenware clays. Any other types of clay for coil pots isn’t recommended as the pottery may not be able to take a high firing temperature, and it’s more difficult to make coils since they need some degree of shrinkage in order to create their shape. Coiling is best suited for stoneware clays with low plasticity (so you can get your dough stiff enough). The lower the plasticity, the easier it will be to coil. High plasticity clay would slide around too much while coiling.
How old is the coiling technique?
The coil pottery technique dates back to the Neolithic period, around 2700 BC. It is a similar method to how animal horns were crafted and can be seen in other crafts such as basket weaving.
The coil potter’s primary tool for shaping clay pieces into pots are their fingers; they use no additional tools. The coils of clay on a piece will flow onto one another like waves until it reaches its desired shape or size. Techniques have evolved over time but this basic process has remained unchanged since ancient times.