zuckerman620newThe pinch pot is the most elemental of pottery forms requiring simply one’s hands and a lump of clay. Because of this, it is often the first technique most of us learn when introduced to clay.


But that doesn’t mean it is merely a beginner technique. Many artists use pinching techniques to make sophisticated or complex forms. Lily Zuckerman makes beautiful vessels starting from a solid lump of clay, with no clay added and very little cut away. In today’s post, an excerpt from our latest book release Sculpting and Handbuilding, she explains her process. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.




A trip to Morocco, where the adobe buildings, cooking pots and geology inspired her forms, left Zuckerman with the sensation of seesawing between vast open countryside and claustrophobic narrow streets, zooming in and out from one vista to another. The presentation of her pinched vessels on vast farmhouse tables captures something of this sensation. Viewed from afar, as a horizontal panorama, the collection of vessels appears as clustered dwellings across the fields. Close up, they resemble buildings, walls, courtyards and alleyways.


The Process


“Starting with a solid block of clay, I slowly and methodically pinch the form. No clay is added and very little clay is trimmed away‚ encompassing many changes of state, from the uncomplicated lump, heavy with potential, through precarious and fluid chaos, and ending with the form.” 




1. Initial stages of forming a vessel with her fingertips from a thick clay slab. 




 2. Pinching out the two chambers of the tray. 




Claire Loder’s Sculpting and Handbuilding takes a fresh approach to handbuilding techniques and the creative work being done today by some of the world’s most inspired clay artists. Handbuilding offers a great opportunity to experiment, doesn’t require a lot fo tools, and allows your creative ideas to flow. Unlock the clay in your hands and discover it for yourself.

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3. Coaxing the clay upwards, refining the walls.

Photos: Lilly Zuckerman.



For fabulous forming techniques, be sure to download your free copy of Five Great Handbuilding Techniques: Variations on Classic Techniques for Making Contemporary Handbuilt Pottery.



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