Introduction: Tea Time! Grab Some Clay and Head to the Wheel

About: Mudslinger in the Midwest

Place a potter's bat on the pottery wheel head. Place entire lump of wedged clay on the bat. Throwing from the hump minimizes the amount of bats needed. Center the top 1lb portion of clay; no need to center the entire lump right now.

First throw your spout by throwing a basic cylinder shape using the centered top 1lb portion. Mark on the hump where the bottom of the spout is as a guide for cutting. Open the clay 2 to 3 inches and pull the walls up guiding the clay to make a narrow cylinder. Make it a little longer than you actually need it so you can bend and attach it it to the teapot body. Using both hands, slowly choke the cylinder to make it more narrow at the top. Take a needle tool, wooden tool, or wire and cut the spout from the hump and place on a board. Gently bend to form a curved spout if preferred.

Step 1: Throw the Lid

Center the top 1.5 lb portion of clay; this section will be the lid and needs slightly more clay than the spout. Just ignore that lumpy wiggly mess at the bottom. We'll get to that soon enough! Open the clay into a shallow cylinder. Split the rim so there is ring of clay perpendicular to the top of the shallow cylinder. This portion will fit inside the opening of the teapot body. Measure the lid immediately using calipers or even a simple ruler; the clay will shrink as it dries. Cut the lid from the hump and place on a board. To achieve a level cut I use an old hacksaw blade. Be thrifty and use what you have available.

Step 2: Throw the Teapot Body

Center the remainder of clay, this will be the teapot body. Open the center, I use a wooden mallet to assist in this as the depth of the body is longer than my thumbs. Use your hands to pull open the body into a cylinder keeping the walls thick as you pull. To open the teapot into the classic bulbous teapot body push outwards with your hand from the inside as you guide with the other hand on the outside of the body. Pull the mouth of the pot in until it measures 1/8 inch larger than the lid. This will allow the lid to fit into the opening of the teapot. Trim the excess clay from the base of the pot. If you trim too much the pot will likely sag. Wait until the pot is drier to trim the rest of the excess.

Step 3: Pulling Handles

Take a lump of wedged clay roll gently forming a cone. Use slip and pull the handle using even pressure. Lay over a curved canvas covered surface until it stiffens. I used a pickle jar with a piece of paint canvas over it. Pull 2 handles, one for the pot and one for the lid. Pull them longer than what you need so you have plenty of clay to attach it with.

Step 4: Attach the Handle & Spout

Cut the handle at a 45 degree angle at the largest end. This will be at the top of the teapot. Score the top and bottom of the handle with a knife or sharp object. Score the teapot where you are attaching the handle. Using slip attach the handle to the teapot wiping the excess clay away and ensuring the two pieces are firmly attached.

Cut the bottom of the spout in a 45 degree angle. When attaching the spout keep in mind if you place the spout too low you will not be able to fill the teapot completely. Think of the base in thirds and attach the bottom of the spout to the 2/3 area of the teapot. Trace around the spout with a needle tool and cut a hole in the body of the teapot. Score both the spout and the teapot and attach with slip. Firmly press using one hand on the inside of the pot for stability

Step 5: Trim the Teapot & Lid

Attach the teapot body to the wheel head with wads of clay and trim base with a loop tool. Trim off excess clay from sides matching the shape of the inside of the teapot.

Attach the lid to the wheel head with wads of clay and trim with a loop tool. Attach a handle to the lid by scoring and attaching with slip. This handle was formed by pulling and then folding back on itself.

Step 6: Smooth Blemishes & Dry Slowly

Use a sponge and smooth all blemishes, finger marks, and connections of spout and handle. I used the pig to help support the handle to maintain its shape. Dry slowly to avoid handle and spout cracking.

Step 7: When Bone Dry Fire Away!

Dry the teapot with the lid on it until bone dry to minimize warping. If the clay feels cool to your cheek, it's not dry yet! Once dry, bisque fire to vitrification. The earthenware clay I use vitrifies at cone 04. Glaze with a nontoxic food safe glaze and fire according to glaze instructions.

Clay Contest

Second Prize in the
Clay Contest