Pinch Pot with Tripod Feet

1 Sep

This is a quick and simple idea for dressing up a little pinch pot. Once finished, your little pinch pot with its cute tripod feet can be used to hold seasoned salts or herbs at the table, candies, paper clips . . . you name it! If you make it large enough, you can use it for salsa, but remember that clay shrinks. Cone 6 clay shrinks about 12-13% (your supplier should be able to tell you the specifics for your clay), so you need to make your bowl quite a bit larger than you want it to end up.

First, make yourself a pinch pot. If you need instructions, see my post: How to Make a Pinch Pot. Be sure not to make your pot too thin if you’d like to add a texture to it.

Ideally, you should let the pinch pot harden up for at least an hour or so. If you’re in a hurry, you can work with it as-is, but that makes things a little more tricky. You can try heating it up in a microwave oven for 10-15 seconds. If you have a less powerful oven, it will take longer. Just don’t get carried away. You want to stiffen the pot, not dry it out completely.

Now that you have your pinch pot stiffened up a bit, you can add a texture if you’d like to. I used a crocheted shawl that I picked up at a rummage sale, but all sorts of things can be used to add texture from leaves to buttons to handmade stamps.

Place the fingers of one hand inside the pot to support the wall. You’ll be pinching the fabric against the outside wall of the pot. Pinch gently, though, especially if you didn’t harden the pot first.

This is what my pot looked like after texturing. If you’d like a closer look, click on the picture. This texture is subtle and needs to be glazed and/or finished in such a way as to accentuate it. I’ll talk about that in another post, but in the mean time, ask your ceramic supplier, who is sure to have some suggestions.

Your pinch pot has a lovely texture. Now all it needs are feet.

Make all three of your feet together. Compare them to one another in order to get them all more or less the same size. Just roll up a little ball, then roll it out into a fat sausage like the one I’m holding above.

Here are the three little feet, ready to be shaped and attached to your pinch pot.

And here is how you shape them. As you have no doubt said to yourself already, the feet don’t really have to be this shape. They can be conical, spherical, square or bear feet shaped. That’s the great thing about clay–you can make any shape you like.

Just don’t make it more than an inch thick on any part of the pot, including and especially the feet. Even the dryest dry pot has some liquid stored up inside. Normally, this liquid can escape by evaporation during the initial stages of firing, but if the clay is too thick, it will explode into steam inside your pottery walls and blow up your piece. The “shrapnel” can cause a lot of collateral damabe to other pieces as well. Not a recipe for a happy potter. If you must make big fat feet, either make them hollow or poke lots of holes in them with a needle tool. If you make the feet hollow, be sure to poke a hole in them somewhere to make a way of escape for expanding air.

My tripod feet are all shaped, so I’m scoring them with this high-tech tool cut from an old jug with a pair of scissors. You can use any kind of plastic you like and make yourself a super-deluxe scoring tool just like mine. Credit cards work well, and offer the added bonus that once you do this to them, it’s hard to charge more stuff.

When you’re adding clay to clay, you usually need to score. There are times you don’t, but this isn’t one of them. Score the foot and the pot itself where the foot will be attached. This helps the add-on pieces to adhere permanently to each other.

Dip an old artist’s brush into a bit of water and apply a small amount of water to one of the surfaces you’ll be attaching to one another. Try not to damage your scoring marks.

Place the foot on the pot in the spot you’ve scored for it. The three feet should form the points of an equilateral triangle surrounding the center of your pot’s very bottom. If you get them off-center, the pot will look crooked, but that’s not the end of the world.

Put your hand inside the pot and, using your fingers, support the wall where the foot is being attached. Now you can push the foot in against the wall of the pot. Wiggle it a bit, and press it on. You can smooth the edges so that the foot appears to be part of the pot, or you can leave it separate as in the picture above. Smoothing in the edges does make the foot less likely to fall off, but is no guarantee.

Once you’ve attached all three feet, stand your pot up and look at it critically. Does it need to be scrunched down on the right side? Do it. Is there a bit of texture that needs reapplying? Make it so. Are the feet in the wrong place? See if you can’t slide them closer to a good location.

Sign your pinch pot. An old ball-point pen works well, as does a rounded pencil. I don’t like using the needle tool as it leaves sharp edges and doesn’t make a wide enough mark to guarantee it will show up under a coating of glaze, but if you like to use it, that’s fine, too.

It’s always a good idea to cover any pot overnight with plastic, especially if you have added appendages of some sort. The plastic holds moisture in and forces the pot and its attachments to equalize moisture content. This makes cracking and having bits fall off your pot less likely.

This has been a pretty simple project, but it’s a great way to make a host of useful little pots. When you get good at it, you can make quite a large pinch pot. I’ve made small tea pots and cereal bowls. If you make anything much larger than these sorts of things, though, you’ll need to allow your pot to harden and then add on coils or pinches of clay, and that’s segueing over into a different technique.

In my next post, I’ll show you how to turn your pinch pot into a little character with an engaging countenance (or whatever kind of countenance you prefer.) 😉

God bless,


2 Responses to “Pinch Pot with Tripod Feet”

  1. Elke Hutchens July 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Very clear and informative. Thank you!

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