Making cups and bowls

If you have made some patterned canes you are probably looking for ways to use them to make beautiful work. Below I will show you how to form them into vases and bowls.

The first thing I do is slice a number of the canes and place them on a damp towel, under plastic. This way the humidity in them will even out. If you are using several canes they will not be at exactly the same humidity so this step lets them equalize.


First measure the circumference of the cylinder you want to use. Mark it on the tube for future reference.

Now wrap the cylinder with paper. Newspapers work well too. 

If you need to join two sheets use tape but make sure the tape does not contact the form you are using

The bottom is a loosely wrapped, open area.

I work on old bedsheets. The main reason is they do not leave any textures on the finished piece and when they are wet you can see through them.

With a pencil I draw the outline of the size of clay I will need to make the cylinder.   I lightly spritz it with plain water to dampen the sheet.

Then I lay out the pieces of patterns on the damp sheet just enough to almost cover the outline I have drawn. 

I cover it with the sheet, spritz the top sheet to dampen it. Do not wet the clay as this will just make it sticky.


GENTLY roll over the canes to join them. Press straight down, do not stretch it out.

Press down not side to side.

Now, gently roll that clay pattern around the paper covered cylinder and join lightly by dampening and lightly scoring. Your work will be wet enough that you will not need heavy scoring.

Cut a plain or patterned piece of clay a little bigger than the bottom of the cylinder.

Spritz it lightly with plain water and lightly score all around the outside of it. Place your cylinder on top of it and press lightly to seal. Gently roll it with a small rolling pin to seal it well. 

Cut very close to the bottom all the way around and use rolling pin to smooth the joined area. Roll gently to establish a slight roundness to the bottom. Always want to have that slight shadow at the base of a pot.

You might want to move your cylinder to the drying shelf before you pull the support as it will be quite soft. When ready,  put your hand inside and gently pull out the inside form leaving the paper behind as a support for your vase

You can remove the paper and alter the vessel at this point if you want to, or you can cover it with plastic and leave it to dry SLOWLY.

Do not rush the drying as it will pay off with eventual success to let it dry under plastic until it is firmly and evenly dry.


I follow the same basic layout method, marking the sheet for the width of a platter or wide bowl.

If you are going to make a round bowl in a form you have to make a template first, then copy this template onto the sheet. Round bowl templates are not round, but curved. It does not work to try to mash a circle of clay into a round bowl form. You have to use a curved form or cut out a piece of it ... like a slice of pie, for it to fit. The easiest way is just to make a paper template before you start.

Photo from the Ceramic Arts Network, ICAN.


Since I use porcelain this part has to be done gently and yes, SLOWLY. I use warm water and damp sponges to gently wipe away any obvious smears, specks and smudges. My current favorite sponges are made for cleaning grout ... they are very durable. I buy a big one and cut it down to sizes that reach into corners of the vessels. Do only one side at a time then leave it to dry before trying the other surface. Doing inside and outside at the same time can result in the pot collapsing. I have the sharpie knife to smooth rough spots. I also have a tub of very thick paper porcelain to repair any small holes. 

If you start getting antsy or bored, stop immediately as rushing leads to ruin!

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© Chris Campbell 2019