Throwing bowls on the pottery wheel is not the only option if you are interested in making a set of bowls. You can make lovely bowls by handbuilding, and using templates is a great way to make them uniform.


In today’s post, an excerpt from his book From a Slab of Clay, Daryl Baird explains how to make templates and use them to create slab-built bowls. A great benefit of this is that if you make them with a sturdy material like card stock or laminated paper, you can use them over and over. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.



A template is useful when you want to make several items the same size and shape. The template for a dish looks something like a donut with a bite taken out of it, and the template for a pitcher is essentially the portion represented by the bite, albeit on a larger scale.


Bowl Project – Tools & Materials:


  • small 1×4 block of wood with one end cut at a 45° angle
  • pencil
  • needle tool
  • fettling knife
  • rolling pin
  • serrated rib
  • small sponge
  • marking pen
  • drafting compass
  • X-Acto knife and #11 blades
  • 12×12-inch card stock, matt board, or equivalent.



Get more great slab building ideas in Daryl Baird’s popular book From a Slab of Clay!



1. To see what form a flat template makes, cut a series of circles and experiment. Here the templates on the left and right produce different shaped truncated cones.




2. Draw an 11-in. circle on cardboard with a 5-in. circle in the center of it. Draw a right angle from the center to the edge and cut out the pieces with an X-Acto knife.



3. Lay the template on a slab of clay and trace around it. Remove the template and decorate the slab with stamps or drawn lines. Cut the arc.
4. Bevel the ends at 45° as well as the inside radius. When beveling the ends of the arc, bevel in opposite directions so the ends overlap.



 5. Score the edges, apply slip and bring the ends together to draw the shape up to form the wall of the bowl. Smooth the seam.



 6. Cut a disk of clay slightly larger than the bottom opening of the dish to make a base. Decorate it and attach it with slip.



7. Finish the edge with a rounded stick and place decorative elements over the seam if you wish. Clean up any rough spots with a small brush and water.



Be sure to download your free copy of the Slab Roller Techniques and Tips: A Guide to Selecting a Slab Roller and Making Slab Pottery. This handy studio reference includes valuable technical references to help you use your slab roller to it’s greatest potential!



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