In this video, potter Benjamin Gufford demonstrates his technique for altering the rims and bottoms of vase forms to create interesting shapes.

In this video, potter Benjamin Gufford demonstrates his technique for altering the rims and bottoms of vase forms to create interesting shapes.

Today’s video comes to us from potter Benjamin Gufford of Goldsboro, North Carolina. After visiting two much-admired potters this summer, Benjamin was inspired to take his work in a new direction. The technique he demonstrates in the video is the result of this new inspiration.
When you can’t get out to visit other ceramic artists in their studios, remember to check in with Ceramic Arts Daily to keep you inspired in your studios. Even if we don’t realize it at the time, looking at other artists’ work – at all types of work – informs our own creative processes. I hope that this video, and all the great stuff in the video archives and features archives, helps keep your creative juices flowing. In addition to the video, Benjamin has shared some additional thoughts on his altered vase forms and his influences below.
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I visited Judith Duff (See Judith’s Ceramic Arts Daily Feature in the archives )and Akira Satake this summer in the mountains of North Carolina. Seeing their altered forms gave me several ideas. So when I returned to my studio, I made several pieces to refine a method that would work. After making several I took them to Dan Finch and he allowed me to spray a temmoku glaze on them and later fired them for me. The finished piece is shown at the right.
Review of the process:
First, I throw a cylinder on my potters wheel with a wide, flat rim. I create a line just under the rim to define it. Next, I squeeze some water on the inside and outside bottom of the piece and cut it free from the wheel with my wire tool. Then I alter the cylinder by pressing on the outside to make a more elliptical shape.
To speed up the drying process, I use a blow torch to dry out the cylinder. If you do not have a blow torch, just let it dry up a bit the old-fashioned way. Next, I alter the rim by cutting a half circle with my needle tool just below the line I drew under the rim. After removing the half circle of clay, I press the rim down into the half circle recess. I redraw the line under the rim to follow the contou

For more great pottery techniques, check out 7 Great Pottery Projects, one of our FREE downloadable resources for ceramic artists and potters.

To make the bottom echo the undulations on the rim, I flip the piece upside down and cut a parallel curve across the bottom of the form with my wire tool. I set the piece aside and make a slab on the wheel for the bottom. Then, I place the piece on the slab, trace the shape of the vase and cut off the excess slab with my needle tool. After setting the vase aside, I cut the slab from the potters wheel, slip and score, and then attach it to the bottom of the vase. To ensure a secure joint, I smear the slab into the base of the cylinder. I do the same on the inside by using a long stick tool. Now, the form is complete, but to add some decorative interest, I use a carving tool to carve designs into the piece.
I am greatly interested in Japanese Pottery as well as Asian pottery in general. Ikebana and Bonzai floral arranging are interests that influence my forms. I think it is very important that potters network and share ideas and Ceramic Arts Daily is a great way to do just that, especially with the addition of videos to the newsletter.
To learn more about Benjamin Gufford, check out his blog at, or befriend him on myspace:

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