Thursday, July 11, 2013


I've always wanted to throw larger forms and have struggled with centering more than 4-5 pounds of clay on the wheel. Being fairly new to clay (three years into my fun now), I've been looking at websites, watching how-to videos and I finally decided on the slab-coil-throw method for some larger forms. Robert Compton's website provided a great picture tutorial about adding large coils and throwing, I highly suggest checking it out.
Another potter that has inspired influence in my larger work, is a clay buddy of mine, Kevin Russell, who mentioned in our Clay Buddies forum that going slow and throwing as dry as possible with two ribs, will aid in the throwing of larger forms. I've remembered this and have had much better success with my larger work. 

Here's the process I use to achieve the larger forms shown in this blog:

I use a piece of canvas cloth stretched over a table for my work area. I take 4-5 pounds of clay and wedge it well, pound it out a bit to flatten enough to slab it out by tossing against the canvas surface and by using a rolling pin. Once I have my slab traced out and placed on my bat, I score and slip the edges of my slab and start on the first coil.

The coils are 4-5 pounds of clay each, wedged and hand rolled on canvas. Each coil is about 40 inches in length. After they are rolled out, I flatten them slightly and score the edge that will be attached to the slab. The coil is then draped over my shoulder and placed carefully onto the slab on the wheel. Be careful to note that they will start cracking and can become weak in areas if they are not rolled as evenly as possible and break as they are lifted over your shoulder.

After the placement of this first coil, I roll a much thinner coil as a seam sealer for the inside where the coil meets the slab base. After the seam is filled and refined, I continue by working around the outside of the piece by gently pulling clay from the large coil downwards to meet the outside of the slab base. I smooth the bumpy spots while spinning the wheel slowly and there you have it, the first coil is now attached and ready to throw!

As I continue after the first coil, I use my fingers to pull and smooth to a certain point and then I start using two ribs to compress the sidewalls and add more height. When I've reached the height I want, I slightly flatten the rim by using the straight edge of a rib, score and slip it, and add another coil. Repeat this process until you've reached the desired height and form you were going for, allowing the previous thrown section to stiffen a bit before adding more weight.

 Finished! This will be used as a casserole dish, my husband insists! It stands 3.5 inches tall and is 10.75 inches in diameter. Standard Stoneware 225 is the clay body used.

This is really quite easy to do, just takes a little patience and time. I hope that by sharing this, those interested in throwing larger, but have the same struggle with handling the larger amounts of clay on the wheel, will find this technique empowering and inspiring enough to give it a try! I'm extremely excited to be able to throw larger now and to date, the largest work I've thrown is the pot below (my first slab-coil-throw pot), was about 20 pounds in clay with 5 coils plus slab! It measures 14.5 inches in diameter and 13.5 inches tall (unfired). I'm definitely going to need more clay and glazes! Pictures of kiln finished work to follow...

 May inspiration find you smiling and happy!

 Thanks to Mud Colony  for their blog group!
All images are Copyright 2013 of Dora L. Anderson.


  1. That image of you holding the pot really shows how big it is. Well done!

  2. I'm not ready for that yet but thanks for the tips! You will save yourself lots of trips to the nursery for pots for your plants!