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Functional Pottery

If you are a functional potter, you've come to the right place. Here, you'll find loads of articles on making functional pottery. Whether you enjoy coil building, slab work or throwing on the potter's wheel, you'll find a wealth of information on pottery techniques; from forming to finishing. And, if you haven't already, be sure to click on over to the Free Gifts section of the site to download your free copy of Contemporary Functional Pottery: A Discussion of Handmade Pottery by 11 Working Potters. It is a great learning tool for those interested in functional pottery. The projects are presented in an easy-to-understand, step-by-step format. The photos pretty much duplicate what you'd expect to see at a pottery workshop or a demonstration -- all the key steps are included. And if you're serious about functional pottery, don't miss Robin Hopper's seminal book Functional Pottery.


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Throwing Ceramic Juicers: Simple Wheel-Throwing Techniques Produce a Complex Form

Posted On December 6, 2010 19 Comments

Today, Dannon Rhudy shares her technique for making wheel thrown juicers – and excerpt from our newly expanded edition of Five Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques, which is available as a free download today. If you’ve already downloaded the earlier version of this one, be sure to check out the new techniques that were added. 

The author and her father trimming slip-cast greenware in the studio.

Raised in Clay: A Potter’s Daughter Muses on Growing Up in a Pottery Family

Posted On November 24, 2010 11 Comments

Since it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, and many families will be coming together to reconnect, share a meal, and tell stories about holidays past, today I thought I would share this lovely article from Hannah Marshall.
The daughter of potter Paul Eshelman, Hannah reminisces on growing up in clay. The Eshelman pottery was truly a family affair with all members contributing in some part of the production schedule. Though it may sound like the ideal lifestyle to many of us who discovered pottery later in life, Hannah explains that it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears…but I don’t think she would have had it any other way.

The Veteran’s Curation Project: Vets Learn About Ancient Pottery Artifacts While Gaining Job Skills

Posted On November 10, 2010 9 Comments

Since it is Veteran’s Day tomorrow, I thought I would share this
story today involving war veterans and pottery. It’s the story of a
project designed to help war veterans transition into civilian
employment while tackling the monumental job of cataloging and
preserving a backlog of artifacts uncovered during the construction of
reservoirs from the 1940s through the 1980s. 

Matt Jones sitting on the ware bed of his 600-cubic-foot wood-burning kiln with a large jug and an umbrella stand, 2008.

Seriously Playful: The Pottery of Matt Jones

Posted On October 20, 2010 37 Comments

Today’s post highlights the pottery of Matt Jones, Using local materials and decorative traditions, Matt’s work pays homage to the time when pottery played an important role in survival. Even the tools he uses exemplify this reverence for “our collective pottery past” as he puts it. Take, for instance “The Crusher,” Matt’s super low tech and incredibly brilliant homemade device for crushing old bottles into powder for his glazes. Matt explains how it works, and we have a video of it in action! So cool! He also shares a couple of glaze recipes.

Paul Donnelly’s tea tray is inspired by a variety of things: Architecture, landscape and by the practical desire to keep furniture ring free and a spoon or snack close at hand.

A Potter Extends the Practicality of a Cup and Saucer Set

Posted On October 4, 2010 39 Comments

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, and Paul Donnelly’s tea trays are a prime example of this. Today, Paul Donnelly explains how he makes his tea trays using a combination of wheel throwing, press molding and slab-building techniques.

Handle Making Video: How to Make Custom Cane Handles for Teapots

Posted On July 2, 2010 17 Comments

Sheila Clennell of Sour Cherry Pottery is an expert on cane handles
and, a while back, we shared her primer on working with cane. In
today’s video clip, Sheila demonstrates a more complicated cane handle
project: how to make what she calls her “Front Spray” style handle for
a teapot. Have a look and then think about tweaks you can make to make
it your own. The possibilities are endless! Watch the video!

Wheel Throwing Video: It’s all in the Details – Design Considerations for Wheel Thrown Mugs, Cups, and Saucers

Posted On May 21, 2010 27 Comments

In today’s video, an excerpt from his DVD Form and Function: Ceramic Aesthetics and Design, Robin Hopper discusses the importance of good design on handmade pottery and demonstrates throwing a cup and saucer with these considerations in mind. Watch the video!

This piece is inspired by a traditional bronze or cast iron Japanses kettle form.

From Concept to Reality: Evaluating the Development of Influences and Ideas in Your Ceramic Art

Posted On May 3, 2010 19 Comments

In today’s post, I decided to turn to our good friend Robin Hopper for a good example of how to examine one’s work from concept to reality. Robin traces the development of some of his own works, considering the integration of form, development of imagery, and processes of final surface enrichment.

Contemporary Functional Pottery: A Discussion of Handmade Pottery by 11 Working Potters Available for Download

Posted On March 1, 2010 10 Comments

If you enjoy hearing the perspectives of other potters, you’ll really enjoy our latest free gift Contemporary Functional Pottery: A Discussion of Handmade Pottery by 11 Working Potters. Today, we are presenting an excerpt from it in which Tina Gebhart discusses what it means to make functional, utilitarian pottery in the contemporary world.

Let’s Talk Function: Two Potters Discuss Making Handmade Pottery for Use

Posted On November 11, 2009 8 Comments

Today we are presenting an excerpt from the December 2009 issue of Ceramics Monthly in which several potters included in the 2009 Strictly Functional Pottery National discuss what functional pottery means to them and the qualities necessary to make their utilitarian work successful.