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How to Throw an Oblong Bowl on the Potters Wheel

Asymetric slipware dish, Richard Phethean, 2001. Dimensions: W: 38 cm x H: 29 cm (15 x 11¬Ω in.), coarse textured terracotta, white and green slips, brushed cobalt oxide. Photo by the artist.

Throwing bottomless pots and adding slab bases is a great way to play around with shapes other than round – without a thrown bottom you are free to alter the pot into any old shape.


In this post, an excerpt from his book Throwing, Richard Phethean shows how he makes an asymmetric bowl. I really like how he contrasted the asymmetric shape in the finished pot (at left) with a spiral mark on the floor of the pot. Have a look and then see what kind of shapes you can come up with. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.



Hollow right down to the bat, creating a “doughnut” ring of clay without a base. Widen the doughnut form, taking care not to tear the ring away from the bat’s surface. When the desired diameter is reached, lift the wall into a sturdy cylindrical shape, with weight at both the base and the rim. Try making your first one with between 700 g and 1 kg (1 lb 11 oz‚Äì2 lb 3 oz) of clay. The dish in the sequence shown here was made using 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) of clay.




Throw like a pro!
Throwing is an important skill for any potter to master, using only a few tools, the guidance of their hands, and the momentum of a wheel. In his book, Throwing, Richard Phethean describes essential techniques for working on the wheel with an eye to the practical.

Read more and download an excerpt…




Click to enlarge!

1 Allow to stiffen just slightly, then carefully wire off the wall from the bat.


2 Lay a sheet of thin plastic over the rim, then place a bat on the plastic sheet.


3 Invert the wall, sandwiched between the two bats, and carefully lift off the original bat. The wall is now ready to shape.


4 For soft, rounded corners, press in the sides with flat palms, as  illustrated. Alternatively, pull the shape out using your extended index fingers on opposite sides. The rim should slide easily on the plastic sheet. Now score and apply slurry to the exposed rim.


5 Place a pre-prepared slab on to the rim. This could be a rolled slab, plain or textured, approximately 7-8 mm thick (around 1/4 in.)‚ or a thrown, rimless plate still attached to its own bat.


6 Place a bat on the slab base and turn the dish back over. Use your index fingers to seal the join inside and out.



7 Allow the form to dry a little more, then use a sharp-pointed knife to trim away the excess slab. Note how the knife is held at an angle to create an slight undercut.



 For more interesting wheel throwing techniques, download your free copy of Five Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques: Tips on Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills.