How to Create Handbuilt Pottery

Handbuilt pottery, or hand-building pottery, is when an artist works with clay using only their hands and simple tools — not on a pottery wheel. Hand-building has been around for many thousands of years and was one of the easiest ways people first created their tableware, vessels, sculptures and more. Before the pottery wheel was invented, hand-building pottery was the only way for artists to create the ceramics they needed for everyday life. 

All you need to start your handbuilt pottery journey now is some clay, a few tools and your hands! 

Handbuilding Pottery Methods

To start creating handbuilt pottery, you’ll want to learn the following methods: pinching, coiling and slab-building. Once you learn these three methods, you can begin creating just about anything out of clay! 

Pinching Method in Handbuilt Pottery

The pinching method begins with taking a single ball of clay and shaping it into your desired shape. It’s easy to start by pressing your thumb into the center of a ball of clay then begin pinching and working the clay up to create the sides of the bowl or pot. 

Pinching Method in Handbuilt Pottery

Coiling Method in Handbuilt Pottery

Take a ball of clay and roll it out into a snake-like rope. Depending on the plate, bowl or vase size, these ropes can be small or large. Use the start of the coil to create a base then work your way up, using a circular motion to layer coils on top of each layer below. Continue adding layers of coil depending on the height of the ceramic that you’re trying to accomplish. 

Coiling Method in Handbuilt Pottery

Slab Method in Handbuilt Pottery

In the slab method, you’ll  join slabs of flat clay together to create a piece.. A slab roller is an efficient tool to make flat pieces of clay, as it is large enough to get the clay to your desired size and depth. If you’re just starting out, you could also use a rolling pin to get the same effect. To create a plate or bowl, make paper templates as a guide to cut the clay to size, or you can use a slump mold or pottery form to create more uniform shapes. Join the any sections with the score and slip method to ensure that the seams are sealed and can hold any liquid if you desire. 

Slab Method in Handbuilt Pottery

Handbuilding Pottery Tools

You don’t need much when it comes to creating handbuilt pottery. You only need clay, a scoring tool, a sponge and a kiln to start. There are other tools and materials that you can use as you get more advanced and want to do more with your handbuilt pottery, such as a banding wheel or slab roller. 

At DiamondCore® Tools, we have everything you need to start your ceramic projects! Whether you need carving tools, clay extruders, fluting tools, trimming tools metal ribs and more, we have you covered! Plus, artists can use both sides of our tools — the blade and handle — to carve or score their clay to create the vision they’re trying to accomplish. 

DiamondCore Tools

If you don’t own a kiln, you can always take your handbuilt pottery to a local ceramic studio. Most will offer pay-to-fire services! You’ll need to know the cone level of the glaze you’re using to ensure that the ceramic studio can fire your piece at the right temperature.   


If you have questions about choosing the right pottery tools for your project, we’re here to help! Leave a comment here on the blog, send us an email, or get in touch with our team on social media; we’re on Facebook and Instagram!

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