Pinch Pottery

Pinch Pottery

Primitive Pottery

Pinch pottery is the oldest type of pottery found by archaeologists. Made thousands of years before the introduction of the pottery wheel, pinch pottery was made and used for decoration, religious purposes and for use as cups and bowls. Pinch pottery was typically small and was eventually followed by coil pottery that allowed larger statutes, sculptures and vessels to be formed.

Making a pinch pot is the simplest method of making pottery pieces from clay. It is also the best way to learn how to interact with clay. You must learn how wet to make the clay, how thick or thin to make pottery walls, and how the clay responds to your touch.

Begin making a pinch pottery cup through these basic steps:

  1. Work the clay into a ball and knead it to remove voids in the clay where air collects and causes “blowouts” when left in the clay.
  2. Determine if the clay is loose enough to work and form while being dry enough to hold its shape. This skill improves quickly and markedly with experience.
  3. Insert your thumb in the middle of the clay ball. As you create the hole make certain you leave approximately ¼-inch of clay to form the bottom of the cup.
  4. Cup the vessel in both hands. Use your thumbs to work the clay – up from the bottom of the cup – to form the walls. Rotate the cup in your hands as you work it to keep the walls an even ¼-inch thick from the bottom to the top.
  5. Tamp the bottom of the cup lightly on a flat surface from time to time to flatten the bottom and make it level.
  6. Use a comb or the back of a butter knife to smooth the outside walls of the vessel. You can also create a textured surface or even draw a picture on it or inscribe it.
  7. Allow the pinch pottery to dry. Glaze and fire it or paint it as desired.