Ceramic Coil Pot Assignments

Clay is an earthy material of fine grained minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter.

Pottery can be created without the use of a potter's wheel. The potter's wheel did not appear in history until only 4 000 years ago. The main construction methods were pinch and coil methods.

Clay has been used for many things throughout human history: a writing surface, building material, money, storage containers, cooking vessels and serving plates, electronic device parts, ceramic shields or tiles are used on space ships. Ceramics is a major tool for dating cultures in archeology studies.

the three hand-building techniques


Pinch pots are created by using your hands to shape the clay. Pinch pots are some of the oldest archaeological artifacts found on the planet.

  • Begin by forming a smooth ball that fits in your palm (fist size).
  • Press the thumb into the center half-way to the bottom.
  • Revolve the ball while pressing the walls out evenly with the other hand.


Coil pots are created by pressing coils of clay together.

  • Keeping the fingers flat, form clay into sausage shapes.
  • Roll them into ropes (coils)
    1/4" to 1/2" thick
  • Coils are pressed together creating a design. Gaps are filled in with small balls of clay.
  • Inside of the wall can be smoothed.
  • Join the walls & the bottom.


The slab building technique involves rolling out clay to an even thickness - usually 1 cm - then cutting shapes, folding, bending, manipulating and joining together to form a finished object.

  • Roll slabs of clay
  • Cut out the sides
  • Join the sides (score and slip!!)
  • Attach the bottom
  • Cut out the excess clay from the bottom slab.

before you start

(remove air bubbles)



beat to form a ball

drying stages of clay


(liquid form of clay)
casting and cementing pieces


wedging, manipulating, sculpting,
throwing on the wheel...

leather hard

most decorating is done, carving, stamping, building, etc..

bone dry

the driest stage of clay, 0% moisture, ready for bisque firing

firing stages


unfired pottery that is bone dry (most fragile state)

bisqueware (bisque)

unglazed pottery that has been
fired once


ware that has glaze applied and is waiting to be glaze fired

joining pieces

1. score

Roughen both surfaces that you are joining. Use a cross-hatching pattern. Use a needle tool, wedge tool with "teeth", etc.

2. slip

Apply enough slip to both surfaces. Slip will "cement" the pieces together as a glue.

3. rock & press

Rock back and forth while applying some pressure on the piece. This will ensure that the slip will fill in all gaps and removes air pockets.


cut-off wire

needle tool and fettling knife

modeling tools

rolling pin and guides


Clay project should dry for at least 7 days before bisque firing to ensure it does not blow up in the kiln.

Moisture (sudden change of water into steam) and air bubbles (trapped air expands) can cause the explosion.


bisque firing

we use low-fire clay
Cone 04
Temperature 1940 F

glaze firing

we use mostly low-fire glazes
Cone 05-06
Temperature 1830-1914 F


  • apply at least 3 coats
  • apply coats evenly, wait for a coat to dry before applying the next one
  • do not apply glaze on a bottom surface - the one that will be in contact with the kiln's shelf.
    wipe it clean with a wet sponge before turning in for glaze firing
  • if your finished piece will be in contact with food - look for food safe marking on a glaze jar.
    All glazes that are safe for food contact are labeled with one of the following signs:


the 10 golden rules of ceramics
  • Clay must be thoroughly covered up with a plastic bag to keep it from drying out. This applies to works in process and moist clay.
  • Clay dust can be harmful if you are exposed to it for long periods of time, so keep your area clean, clay scraps off the floor and clean with water and sponge.
  • Clay should be no thicker than your thumb.
  • In order for clay to stick together it must be scored and and slipped together while the clay is moist (plastic) or leather hard.
  • Wedge clay to remove air bubbles, achieve uniform consistency, and to line up the clay particles.
  • Trapped air can cause clay to explode. So hollow out sculptural forms and put needle holes through enclosed forms for air to escape.
  • Don't glaze the bottom of the piece.
  • Wash the piece before glazing.
  • Handle your project with two hands at all times. In other words - be careful! - it's your hard work.
  • NEVER handle another person's work even if it looks cool!

Other techniques include:

wheel throwing, relief (high, low, sunken), mold making & slip casting, carving, sculpting, etc.

 Fruitport High School Visual Arts Programs Weebly Page

Instructor: Mrs. Jacobson

Video to Watch
"Ceramics: What, Why & How"

Project: Textured Soft Slab Clay Dish with Feet

Video Series on how to make a clay slab box with a lid

FHS CLAY SLAB HIDDEN LID BOX - Gallery of Works In Progress

Assignment: The Coil Method of Handbuilding Pottery

The History of Coil Pottery & Exposed Coil & Blended Coil Projects

Click on Button Below for the Coil Project

Glazing Ceramic Pottery Presentation 

During the Presentation, students will follow along and fill out a this worksheet. 

ASSIGNMENT: Nature Inspired Relief Tile

2017 -2018 Students  The weebly is chronological. The posts you see first will be the last things we do. To use this weebly you will have to scroll down to the very bottom of the page to find the more recent lessons. 
 Course Description:   This course is intended for those studying ceramics for the first time and is a comprehensive introduction to the craft of clay working. The primary emphasis is on studio work leading to a portfolio of finished pieces by the end of the semester. In addition to demonstrations of technique and technical assignments, you will historic and contemporary examples of fine ceramic art. Periodically throughout the term, I will show slides or films to help illustrate what you are learning, short quizzes and warm ups will also be given to assess learning. 

Please bring your chromebook everyday and bookmark djacobsonart@weebly.com and thatquiz.org.
Other Important sites: http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramics-monthly/
Academic expectations: Attend all classes, care about the work you are doing in class, see it through, visit the ceramics studio after school to move your work along, keep goo lecture notes to study for quizzes, help others in the class to succeed, keep the studio clean.  You will be pushed to do you very best quality work. The final grade is based on a portfolio of seven vessels showing good progress in the medium and a final exam. 
Clay Prep
Students will receive 5 lbs of white earthenware and 5 lbs of red terra-cotta clay: this amount should be adaquent for the minimum size of all projects. If students want more,  additional clay can be purchased for $2.00  a pound after school.   Students must bring in 2 large zip lock plastic bags store their clay- Bags must have their name and class period clearly labeled.  Four additional plastic shopping bags are also required to keep projects in.  All clay must be wedged weekly to maintain a good consistency for all projects- if clay dries out it can be recycled or the student may purchase new clay after school. Any project that blows up must be remade. Student are responsible to cleaning all the tools, equipment,  work areas and floor space they may mess up.  
Student Materials Needed:
  • A # 2 pencil is needed each day
  • 3 Ring Binder and notebook
  • Chromebook Everyday
  1. Students will learn three basic hand building techniques.
  2. Students will learn how to properly prep clay and how to keep it in a workable consistency.
  3. Student will learn to think creatively and be open to creative problem solving.
  4. Students will come to understand the importance of craftsmanship and pride in their art work.
  5. Students will learn many different finishing and decorating techniques.
Students will construct a textured slab vessel formed by using a mold out of red terra-cotta clay. The dish may be any shape and must be at least 5 x5 inches. Students will learn how to attach a feet to the base. Final bisqueware will be glazed with either a amaco transparent gloss glaze. Quality of texture, slab thickness, edges and feet will be assessed.  Time on project: 5 days

Step by step how to make a box

Slab Building PowerPoint: Take notes on all the underlined sections.

In this unit the students will learn about Native America Coil Pottery. Students should create a series of sketches of a shape for a coil pot that is larger at the bottom and top. They must plan dimensions of the width and height of the pot, and make a pattern to follow. Pot should be no smaller than 6 inches high.  Coils can be exposed in the design in a pattern or the coils may be smoothed. Students will learn how to use Amaco Opalescent Glaze and Potters choice glaze to decorate this project.  TIme on project: 15 days

Project made possible by the Michigan Youth Arts Grant

Fruitport High School Coil Projects in Progress Gallery

Fruitport High School Gallery of Completed Coil Projects

Below are images of students working on their hand rolled coil pottery. The required size for the project is nine inches but these unbelievable students have created projects 10-12 inches of high. Students had the choice to work with a smooth blended coil form or an exposed coil form. Projects are made from a red terra-cotta clay that is mixed with a grog to make the coils firmer for building upright forms. 
Below are the finished coil projects. Students glazed the pots with two coats of Amaco Opalescence Glazes and One Coat of Potters Choice Glaze. This combination of glaze create a high fire fired reduction glaze effect.

Video on Exposed Coil Construction

Video on Smooth Coil Construction

Video On the Coil Method of Handbuilding

Video on Native America Coil Pottery

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