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Handbuilt Pottery Video: Handbuilding with Mitch Lyons

Posted By Sherman Hall On November 21, 2008 @ 12:23 pm In Daily,Features,Handbuilding Techniques,Video | 4 Comments

If you love pottery, but don’t have access to all of the tools (like a potter’s wheel for instance), today’s video is for you. 


In this video, an excerpt from his DVD Handbuilding with Mitch Lyons, Mitch demonstrates making a seamless cylindrical form using a series of dowel rods in graduated sizes to hollow out the center. It is a great technique for handbuilding cylinders because you can really do a lot with surface texture, as Mitch demonstrates. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.




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The “broomstick” method begins with a solid cylinder of clay and a small dowel. Lay the cylinder on its side, place the dowel in the center of one end and, while rolling the coil back and forth, push the dowel into the center of the cylinder. Stop when the dowel is halfway through, and repeat on the opposite end.


When the holes meet, push the dowel all the way through the cylinder and roll it like a rolling pin until the hole is slightly larger than the dowel. Don’t roll too much!


Insert the next dowel, slightly larger than the last and continue rolling, applying slight but even pressure so that the diameter of the now-hollow cylinder is increased. You will need several dowels or cardboard tubes in progressively larger sizes up to the desired diameter.


If you want to get the walls of the cylinder absolutely perfect, you can use slats of wood that will level your dowel at exactly the right thickness.


Adding texture to a cylinder is just as easy as finding an interesting surface and rolling the cylinder over it using the largest dowel or tube you can. Here, Lyons uses the bottom of a car mat.

Remove the cylinder from the dowel and let it set up.


This is a great time to alter the shape if you wish. Here, Lyons has made it into an oval and has restricted part of the pot with masking tape to from a “waist” in the middle of the pot. Attach the bottom of the cylinder to a slab of clay that has been rolled out to a similar thickness as the wall of the cylinder. Slipping and scoring will ensure a good seal and bond.  


Trim the excess from the slab and secure the bottom to the wall using a paddle or your fingers.


Here, Lyons alters the top of the pot further by pinching the center together, removing an indentation and piercing a hole through the top with one of the dowels used to roll out the cylinder.


Here is his finished wedding pot, where the bride would drink out of one side of the pot and the groom would drink from the other. This is just one of several alteration techniques Lyons demonstrates on his DVD.




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