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Ceramic Art Lesson Plan: Altered Shapes


  • Create a basic cylinder, and then manipulate it to create unique shapes and forms, which soon start to reflect the students’ personalities.
  • Altering cylinders by faceting, cutting, darting and elongating to find ways to communicate an idea, and to decide what process works best for you.
  • Learn a simple way to alter and give a new look to a vase form.

This straightforward approach includes three basic ideas:

  • Create the form.
  • Alter the contour
  • Make the cylinder oval.

These steps are open to many interpretations and experimentation is encouraged. With a few extra steps, it’s easy to turn this vase form into a teapot, pitcher, basket or covered jar.

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Altered Shapes

Making the Cylinder

Center and open to the wheel head (figure 1).

Throw the cylinder to the desired height (figure 2).
Use a rib to clean the walls of the cylinder (figure 3).
As the cylinder turns, push out from the inside with a rubber rib (figure 4).
Draw a line with a dull pointed tool on the outside just below the rib to accentuate the movement (figure 5). Repeat this motion a second time. You can decide if you want the lines to emulate each other.

After developing the contour, cut the form from the wheel (figure 6).
Once the form is free, distort it into an oval starting at the bottom (figure 7). The extent of distortion is up to you. Allow the form to set up (overnight is best). Roll out or throw a slab and place it onto the wheel.
Score the form and slab (figure 8).

Attach the cylinder by pressing and smoothing the bottom edge into the slab (figure 9).
Cut and remove the excess clay (figure 10). Bevel the edge and use a sponge to clean the connection.
Use a rubber rib to clean and create a concaved bottom (figure 11).