Pottery artists harness the ancient craft of hand-building to sculpt both functional tableware and intricate sculptures. Through methods like pinching, coil building, and slab rolling, each offering unique creative avenues, artisans mold clay into forms that reflect their artistic vision.

Whether working outdoors or in a studio, these hand-building techniques provide accessibility and versatility. Dive into the world of pottery, where shaping clay into unique shapes becomes a tactile journey of artistic expression.

Pinch Pots

Discover the intimate craft of clay manipulation through pinch pots, slab building, and coil construction. With the fundamentals under your belt, you’ll be able to create functional tableware and other ceramic items.

Begin by kneading the clay to remove any air bubbles and prepare it for shaping. Then pick the hand-building technique that best reflects your artistic vision and get to work!

Pinch pots are one of the easiest and most basic pottery shapes to start with. To make a pinch pot, simply roll a small ball of clay in your hands, then press your thumb into the center to make an indentation. Then slowly rotate and pinch the clay walls around this initial hole, gradually thinning the walls.

Continue rotating and pinching until you have the desired size and shape of your pinch pot. You can use a variety of tools to add texture to your clay, such as stamps or loop tools, for a more unique look.

Slab Rolling

Unleash your creativity with this ancient art form. This hand-building pottery technique offers a balance of simplicity and complexity, allowing you to create functional ceramic pieces and artistic sculptures.

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This simple and versatile clay crafting technique involves rolling clay into thin, flat sheets, known as slabs. Slab rolling can be used to create uniform shapes for plates, bowls, and boxes. It is also used for more sculptural clay creations, such as round-bellied jars and lifelike cultures.

For a more complex clay crafting method, coiling is the process of rolling long ropes of clay and stacking them together to build up the walls of a pot or sculpture. This is a more labor-intensive pottery technique, but it allows you to create a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

When creating clay slabs to drape over or inside of a mold, be sure to taper the edges of each piece. This helps the two pieces fit together seamlessly.


Discovering the art of hand-building is the ultimate modern guide to this ancient, tactile craft. It is an essential tool for any beginner or more experienced potter looking to expand their ceramic skills.

The book begins with the basics of pinching and slab rolling, laying the foundation for more advanced techniques. This includes the fundamentals of coil-building, which involves shaping clay into long ropes or “coils” and stacking them to build more complex shapes. This technique allows for organic and free-form shapes, enabling potters to bring their artistic visions to life.


The final chapter of discovering the art of hand-building takes a look at glazing, which transforms a functional pottery piece into a work of art. Readers learn about how to mix colors and textures for eye-catching results, how to apply glaze, and how to smooth the surface of a piece for a professional finish.

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Slab-building, which involves rolling a flat slab of clay and cutting it into shapes, is another essential technique for creating unique ceramic pieces. Using a slab of clay that’s been cut into the shapes you want, you can then drape the clay over your mold to fit it snugly, before trimming away any excess and smoothing the edges and seams.

Mastering these basic hand-building techniques will help you create ceramic pieces that reflect your own creative vision. With time and dedication, even beginner potters can craft ceramics that delight and inspire.

Mastering the Art

Mastering these pottery techniques opens a world of creative possibilities. From pinch pots to coil building and slab rolling, each method offers its own challenges and rewards. With practice and dedication, aspiring potters can transform clay into pieces that not only serve practical functions but also embody artistic expression. Explore these foundational techniques with the support of Midsouth Ceramics Pottery Supplies, and let your pottery journey unfold with every pinch, coil, and roll.