How to Make Pottery Bowls

What You'll Need
Pottery Wheel
Pottery Clay
Pottery Tools
Metal Trash Can

How many times have you seen pottery bowls in a store and thought that you could make them yourself? It can seem a daunting task but with a few tools and time to practice, you can outfit your home with your own handmade pottery bowls. 

Step 1 - Wedging the Clay

Choose any kind of pottery clay. Take a medium-size block and work it in a circular motion to soften it. Make sure to use use both hands and light pressure to work the clay into a cone shape. Pound the clay into your work surface so the bottom is flat, like a pyramid, and you're ready for the wheel. 

Step 2 - The Wheel

Place your clay in the center of the wheel. Wet your hands and sprinkle additional water on your clay. Push down slightly while the wheel spins so the mound of clay begins to flatten. Then cup your wet hands on either side of the clay. Take one hand and lightly press the side of that hand into the top of the clay. Then cup the clay again with both hands and cross your thumbs over the clay, pressing down lightly. Repeat until the clay is a flat-topped mound. 

Step 3 - Opening the Clay

Push your thumbs into the center of the clay and make a hole. Proceed slowly and make sure your hands are always wet. Then with one hand cupping the clay, place the middle three fingers of the other hand inside the hole and the thumb outside. Pinch all of your fingers towards each other so the sides of your pottery bowl begin to form. 

Step 4 - Pulling Up the Wall

Squeeze the clay at the bottom, again with thumb on the outside and while pinching pull up slightly. This is how your pottery bowl becomes the height you want it to be. Do this a few times and be sure you are using very light pressure to avoid breakage. 

Step 5 - Smoothing

Your pottery bowls will have horizontal lines at this point. If you want to have a smooth surface, use a flat rubber ceramics tool. Press the tool lightly against the surface while the pottery bowl spins, this will remove the throwing lines. 

Step 6 - Firing

You may be able to find a local kiln to bring your pottery bowls to or you can make your own. Take a metal trash can and line the bottom with sawdust. Place your pottery bowl on top of the sawdust and cover completely with more sawdust. It's better to use too much sawdust than too little. Then place some small pieces of kindling on top and light. Wait until the flames die down and the wood is smoldering and then cover with the lid. Leave for about 12 hours until there is no more smoke. Carefully remove the lid and then your pottery bowl from the kiln. Wipe any soot or debris away and then decide where you want to show off your handmade pottery bowl.