The Art of Handmade Pottery: Exploring Traditional Techniques

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Handmade pottery has existed for ages, going well beyond a thousand years. It is a part of our past that explores the creative skills of the old and young alike. The traditional techniques that go into these art forms have been passed down from generation to generation. The traditional hand-building techniques of pottery typically include the pinching technique, slab construction, coil construction, and slip casting.

However, the type of technique used in particular pottery depends on the texture, shape, design, and style the artist uses to bring out beautiful pieces of art. Read on to find out more about the various techniques of handmade pottery.

Traditional Techniques of Handmade Pottery

The handmade pottery technique involves making pottery using hands to give it unique and beautiful shapes. The traditional techniques of handmade pottery are gifts passed down through various generations, making them eternal in a sense. So, here we’ve discussed some of these techniques in more detail. Have a look!

Pinching Technique

When you first start using clay, pinch potting is a terrific beginner technique to master if you want to excel in hand-building methods. The technique involves simple pinching of the clay with both hands. To make a little pot, you only need to start with a clay ball and press your thumb into its center while working with the clay with only your hands. One hand should be used to hold and spin the ball, while the other should be used to push the walls apart. Making pinch pots is a simple way to start working with clay and familiarize yourself with the material.

Slab Construction

Slab construction comes in two variants: soft slab and hard slab. The soft slab technique uses wet and moist clay, which you roll out and flatten with a roller. The soft slabs should be repeatedly rolled out on either side since they tend to distort and bend during molding and firing. Stack the slabs by keeping a wrinkle-free, smooth cloth between consecutive slabs to avoid ripping or distortion. Next, cut each component into shapes, join the forms, or otherwise shape each form to make a unique piece of art. Score and slide the linked parts to guarantee the pot will dry without changing shape. A hard slab uses hard, dried clay. Create your parts, cut them out, and slip-score them together after the clay becomes leather-hard. Compared to the soft slab building method, this one has a lower chance of warpage.

Coil Construction

You need to make smooth plates of clay by rolling out soft clay with your fingertips into long, thick strips that are between one-fourth and half an inch broad. The coils must be linked tightly by scoring and sliding them together after stacking them on each other. Rolling out long clay coils and connecting them to form a bigger one is how the coiled technique works. The shapes and sizes of coiled pots are endless. You can make everything from tiny figurines to enormous pots using this technique. By using the pinch pot method to create a shallow dish when you begin with your coiled pots, you can use two techniques in one go.

Clip Casting

This technique is different from all the others mentioned so far. It uses liquid clay, called the clip, instead of solid or moist clay. To start with this technique, you must fill a plaster mold with liquid clay and fix it firmly. Pour away any residual liquid clay after allowing the clay to develop and harden inside the inner wall of the mold for a few minutes. Remove the solidified clay from the mold after waiting a few minutes, cut any undesired edges, and let it dry in the air.

Tools You Need for Making Handmade Pottery

Now that you know the traditional techniques of making handmade pottery, you should be well-acquainted with the tools needed to execute each method. Usually, you won’t require many tools, but some essential ones make the task easier.

So, here are some handy tools potters use to make handmade pottery.


The first thing, of course, is clay. However, the type of clay is crucial to handmade techniques. Since you can use your hands to mold the clay, the chances of breakage and warpage are high. Therefore, using earthenware clay is the most practical option since you can efficiently work with it to change its shape. The clay is also considered quite strong compared to other types. So, if you’re looking for high-quality, organic clay, try the Bastex Low-Fire Earthware Clay.

Pin Tool

The clay can be carved, pierced, and engraved with patterns with a pin tool, which adds a distinctive texture to the design. Several ceramicists also employ dental instruments to add distinctive textures to their creations.

Wire Cutter

Potters often buy large bags of clay, which are common in most markets. These bags can weigh between five and fifty pounds. So, you will need a wire cutter to chop out tiny bits of clay from your larger chunk when you begin your project. Remember to tighten your clay bag whenever you aren’t using it since it might soon dry out.

Score Tool

When constructing by hand, staking tools are required to connect slabs. You should score the clay pieces you wish to put together before pouring the slip. It helps the slip penetrate the clay and attach the individual pieces.

Canvas Sheet and Slab Roller

Clay slabs are rolled out to an equal thickness for slab building using a slab roller. You can use a rolling pin and two canvas sheets with a little effort in case a slab roller is unavailable.


A brayer is especially helpful in smoothening the lips of handmade bowls and cups. It helps you with rolling out and polishing your clay’s edges. Use a brayer to imprint items on the clay. It will give the clay’s surface a texture and make the piece look more unique and impressive.


Handmade pottery offers a unique feel, curated from an artist’s imagination, creativity, and style. The traditional methods used in these pottery works give them an aesthetic appeal that is quite fascinating.

Latest posts