|Today’s video comes to us from potter Keith Phillips of Asheville, North Carolina. Keith takes us through his process of making squared-off mugs, starting on the pottery wheel with a bottomless cylinder and continuing through to the finishing stages, which incorporate some handbuilding techniques
Since there is no narration on this video (just snappy tunes!), Keith has shared some additional thoughts and instruction on this process below. With the visual of the video and the written how-to instruction, you should be all set to try this technique in your own studios! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
The Hip Square Mug Technique
These square mugs are thrown just like any other mug, except they are thrown with no bottom. I used one pound of porcelain in the video. One thing to note about throwing a bottomless pot is that you should make sure when you are done centering, that the centered clay is as wide as you would like your finished piece to be before you open the clay. For example, if the mug is going to be three inches in diameter, make sure the centered clay is three inches wide, then open it up. If you try to go from two inches wide to three inches wide while you are opening the, bottom of the piece will loosen from the bat.
I make horizontal lines with a wooden rib as a decorative element because I think these lines help accentuate the squareness of the vessel.
When you are satisfied with the size and shape of your mug, slice it off the bat with a wire, and go ahead and suggest the square corners from the sides by pinching them. Then using a wooden rib on inside, pinch in the four bottom corners. Next pinch the rim’s four corners. Don’t pinch the rim too hard, you don’t want a sharp corner because it will split and crack while drying. A tight but rounded corner will do.
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I let the mugs settle a bit and pull my handles while they are stiffening. I like pulling handles off the mug from a coil and then using a little split and “rivet” to secure it to the mug. I let them set and stiffen while I fix the bottom of the mug.
The bottom is made from a slab of clay rolled out about 3/8 of an inch thick. I brush on plenty of paper slip (slip with paper pulp mixed in: 3/4 porcelain slip to 1/4 soaked toilet paper. See paper clay in the Ceramic Arts Daily Glossary), give it a firm press, then smooth out the seam with a damp sponge.
The little feet are made from a coil and sliced into small pieces and attached to the corners. I think the four feet help define the square as well. The handle is riveted and any burrs are smoothed before going on the shelf to dry.
Keith Phillips is a full-time artist, working from his studio in Asheville, North Carolina. You can view and purchase his work at http://khphillips.etsy.com