How To Make a Pottery Coil Pot
Time to complete
14 hours
Savings vs. Tradesperson
Based on 100 listings on task rabbit
DIY difficulty

How To Make a Pottery Coil Pot

Coil your way to larger and more complex shapes with this fun technique

Coiling is a traditional way of creating pots that you might be familiar with from childhood. Although the distinctive layered snakes effect has blessed many a parents’ mug cupboard, you can also smooth back the coils to give an even finish with this technique.

Coiling is traditionally used for making larger vessels since you can continue adding coils to your heart’s content. If you’d like to see the level of complexity that can be achieved with this technique, take a look at Korean Onggi vessels which can be larger than the potter themselves!

The other benefit of coiling is that it allows you to make more unique forms. Because you’re building in layers, you can attach coils in different places to create overhangs - each coil doesn’t necessarily need to be the same as the one below.

  • 1Knead the clay
    Knead the clay for around 1 minute to align the particles and make it easier to work with.
  • 2Create a base
    The easiest way to make a base is with a slab of clay. Roll it out with a rolling pin or wine bottle to around 5mm thick. If you’d like a rounded base, or want to get a jump start on some height, you can also add coils to a pinchpot - just leave it to dry for a little before attaching so that you don’t squash it! You also don’t need to only work in a circle- the coils are flexible so feel free to make any funky shape for the base.
  • 3Roll out coils
    Roll out snakes of clay using your hands and a flat surface. Remember to avoid working on fabric which will trap clay dust - if necessary put down some plastic to keep your work surface clean. The coils can be any thickness - if you’re using them as a design feature, think about thinner ones, or if you’re going to smooth them back anyway, you can use tall ovals to get height quicker.
  • 4Build it up
    Score both pieces of clay that you’re going to attach. Add slip and push the first coil onto the base. Smooth the clay into the base so that you have a nice firm attachment. Keep on adding coils using the same technique until you’ve achieved the form that you’re aiming for. If you want flat walls, use your fingers, the modelling tool, the rib or scraper to blend the coils together into a smooth finish. If you like the coiled effect, leave them as they are to get a repeating pattern and a clue to the pots construction.
  • 5Finish the pot
    Use a damp sponge to smooth out the rim and any irregularities or marks on the walls if required. If you’ve smoothed the coils together, you can use the loop tool to refine the shape once it’s dried a little
  • 6Dry and decorate
    Now’s your chance to make the pot your own. Leave the pot somewhere safe to dry for a day or two away from direct heat such as radiators or sunlight. When the clay turns white, it’s ready to paint. Use the included acrylic paints and brushes to add a splash of colour or intricate designs. Let your creativity run wild! For the best coverage, it’s better to use several thin layers than a single thick one, letting each coat dry for 15 mins or so before adding the next. Once you’re happy, add a coat of varnish for a gloss finish and a little extra strength.
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