Rope-top bucket, 8 in. (20 cm) in height, with ceramic and brass handle and extruded rim.

Here’s a great extruder project from David Hendley! Pots with twisted coil rims and handles have been made since ancient times. Lots of beginning pottery students try making pots with twisted coils, but because of cracking during drying and/or firing, they have a high failure rate. Extruding the coils puts an end to cracking problems, as well as speeding up the job considerably. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor



Want a complete video course on the clay extruder?
Look no farther than David Hendley’s three-disc DVD set Extrude It!


Fig.1

Fig.1

The main body of this pottery bucket is a straightforward thrown cylinder; the extruded rim and handle that give it a unique look.

Fig.2

Fig.2

To make the bucket, use around 3½ pounds of clay to throw a 6-inch diameter cylinder that’s about 7 inches high. When finished, do not cut the pot off of the bat since you’ll need to return it to the wheel later to attach the rim. Once the form has set up to leather-hard, lay a twisted ropelike extrusion on the top edge of the pot (figure 1), starting with one end and working to the other. Use a cheese cutter or fettling knife to cut the extrusion to the exact length at an angle along the twisted lines in the extrusion. This will provide more surface area to achieve a good tight joint.
Fig.3

Fig.3

Attach the rim to the pot, inside and outside by gently pushing clay down and into the bucket body, then smooth and blend the join by slowly rotating the wheel and gently “throwing” the juncture. Pinch and extend the rim at opposite sides of the bucket to form two lugs for the handle. Add decorative pellets or coils on either side of these lugs, then cut the bucket from the bat and cover it to allow the moisture level to even out. When the rim is leather hard, punch two holes for the handle bail using a piece of quarter-inch tubing (figure 2).
Fig.3 inset

Fig.3 inset

Make a clay handle from a short piece of the same twisted extrusion by rolling it over a “handle roller” (figure 3). You can make a handle roller by gluing short pieces of wood trim (quarter round and cove molding) to a board (see inset). Just before the handle reaches leather hard, make a hole with a metal rod through the length of it. After firing, insert a 14-inch long brass rod and center it. (Brazing rod works well.) Bend the rod 90° at each end of the handle with your hands. Then, at 3/8 inch from the end of the rod, use pliers to bend the rod outward at a 90° angle. Thread each end of the rod with a 6-32 metal cutting die. Threaded brass balls from a lamp parts supply company secure the handle to the bucket.

Tip: When making the hole in the handle, push the rod in about one inch on one end, then do the same from the other end. Alternate from each end until you reach the middle.


The same three-lobe die (shown here in four sizes) is used to make the rim and the handle. These dies were all made from small pieces of Plexiglas that are inserted in the extruder. Rope dies are easy to make—simply drill three holes, then use a jeweler’s saw to connect the holes and cut away the center part of the die. While the extruded coil does not look very interesting, once twisted, it has the appearance of three coils twisted together. To achieve this look, twist the top end first, flip the coil over, twist the other end, then twist the middle. You’ll need a 24-inch extrusion to fit a 6-inch pot. Lay the twisted extrusion in a circle on the bat around the base of your pot, then attach it once it has set up a bit.
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