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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.


Drew Nicklas, Seattle, Washington

Posted On November 9, 2009 3 Comments

I value the time it takes to throw each cup and the variation found in
each cup. The work hints more at a practice than a final object. Beyond
that, the cups need to hold liquid of some sort—preferably whiskey.

Maureen Mills, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Posted On November 9, 2009 0 Comments

The addition of a lid or cover on a form adds additional complexity to
the making and the composition of both form and surface that I find
challenging. The covered form allows for play in scale of form and
surface treatments as well.

Matthew McGovern , Glen Arbor, Michigan

Posted On November 9, 2009 0 Comments

I am fascinated by the ideas of intended use and actual use. My
intention is to celebrate handmade utilitarian work on two different
levels, both as symbolic objects that affect our lives on a purely
visual level and as objects intended for use.

Shadow May, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Posted On November 9, 2009 5 Comments

If I make a piece for function, then it needs to work. Although, I
think that if your main focus is function then a lot of times you leave
little to no room for creativity, which is my first priority in making
a piece.

Susan Kennedy, Waco, Texas

Posted On November 9, 2009 4 Comments

I have more questions to ask than to answer, particularly about the
various meanings of function. Is there a distinction between function
and utility? Do we use the word functional when we mean to say
tableware? Is function inextricably linked to food? Is containment an
essential parameter for function? There aren’t necessarily answers; I
am more interested in the conversation.

Julie Crosby Trumansburg, New York

Posted On November 9, 2009 1 Comment

I think it is important for the pot to clearly speak of function, but I
am not concerned with what the user ultimately puts in it. I did have
in mind the ceremony of preparing, serving, and eating food while
making this piece. For me, the daily ritual of eating and the aspects
involved in getting ready to eat, such as grocery shopping or
gardening, are tied together with making pots.

Jessica Caccamo, Ballston Lake, New York

Posted On November 9, 2009 1 Comment

I think that the challenge of making a bowl lies in achieving the curve
of the bowl and overall balance. I can spend what feels like forever
smoothing that curve at the bottom so it really has no beginning or end
and is just seamless.

Lisa Buck, Afton, Minnesota

Posted On November 9, 2009 1 Comment

I think a user’s awareness of the intended function adds to the piece
and further communicates with the user what I was thinking, but it
doesn’t have to be important for the pot to be enjoyed. There are some
pots I make, particularly the baking dishes, that are intended to move
from oven to table (utility to presentation) in a way that I think
truly enhances them and adds another level of information/communication
with the user. But, it doesn’t bother me if someone prefers to enjoy a
piece for simply its visual aspects; that’s a lovely compliment all on
its own.

Birdie Boone, Helena, Montana

Posted On November 9, 2009 0 Comments

My functional pots are forms that convey the significance of what I
call “domestic intimacy” a recognition of the impact that domestic
actions have on our identities and the quality of our lives. This
flower vase with bowl is a piece that celebrates the power of beauty in
the domestic environment.

Nicholas Bivins, Red Lodge, Montana

Posted On November 9, 2009 0 Comments

Using formal language to describe necessary qualities of a functional
pot is a beginning, but for a piece to become truly successful it
requires a much more dynamic investment and agreement between maker and
user.