Potter Gil Stengel likes livin’ large when it comes to pottery. Lately, he has been making pots that require a forklift to be moved around. Fortunately, at Northern Kentucky University, where he teaches, they have a forklift and a large car kiln to accommodate his appetite for giant pots. A couple of months back at the Potters Council workshop “Focus on Function,” Gil demonstrated how he coils and throws these huge pots and I happened to be there with a video camera. Today, I’ll share that video. And don’t worry, this technique can be used to make pots that are big, but do not require a forklift! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


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Today’s video clip was filmed at the Potters Council workshop Focus on Function.
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Tips for Success
Before pulling up the walls for the base of a large pot, Gil opens a small drain hole to the wheel head. These pots usually go outside and this prevents water build up in the bottom. He also goes over and over the floor of the piece to compress it well.
When throwing the walls of the base, he concentrates on making nice, thick consistent wall. He makes sure they are substantial enough to support the weight of the subsequent coils – too thin and the pot will collapse.
Before adding coils, the base needs to dry to leather hard. Gil speeds the process along with blow torches. He cautions, though, that the base needs to stay damp throughout the process. If it dries out to bone dry, it can pop off the wheel head while throwing upper sections and possibly injure an innocent bystander. To prevent this, mist the bottom and/or cover with plastic.
When the base is leather hard, he scores it and adds a fat, even coil. With his thumb and forefinger, Gil pinches the coil down onto the base.
After centering the coil as best he can, he begins to throw the new section of the pot.
When he gets it to the height he wants, he refines the outer profile using a large wooden rib. Then he scores the rim, making a platform for the next coil to sit on. He dries this section and repeats the process.
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