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Working the Clay

Making Pottery – Step 2 -Working the Clay

Clay is divided and rolled into long rounded strips, or coils, which are used to build the pots. Southwestern pottery is not now, nor has it ever been thrown on a wheel. If the pot is large, a base, called a “puki,”is needed. It is usually the bottom of broken bowl or some other rounded form.

The potter takes the first coil of moist clay and presses it against the inside wall of the round base. Each coil is then added, one-by-one, by hand, until the form of the vessel is completed. In prehistoric times, little attention was given to form.  Many pots were lopsided or otherwise uneven.

Contemporary potters, however, are aware of the necessity for symmetry in the vessels they create, making the molding process even more difficult. 

Once molded, the pot is set aside to dry. Once it is dry, the vessel is ready for polishing.