Coil Assignment
Coil/Pinch/Paddle Building with Clay

Objectives  |  Construction  |   Thickness  |   Final product  |   Form  |   Decoration

Objectives of this assignment

  1. Learn to handbuild (non-wheel) by a method that allows for essentially any size or form.
  2. Learn to design pottery without the use of the potter's wheel or slab construction.
  3. Build an appreciation of the pottery of tribal cultures from the Americas, Africa, and other places, much of which is produced by the coil/pinch/paddle building method. These will be studied after we make our pieces based on our own culture and ideas.

Final product design limitations

  1. For the first piece made by this method the final product is to be an essentially closed form with one or more small opening(s). Make it any size between 2 cups and 1 gallon (if filled with liquid after firing). The final surface is to be uniform with no lumps of hollow divots on or in the surface. It is to be decorated before bisque firing.
  2. Make a form that would not be easier to make with slabs or with a potter's wheel.
  3. List your own interests and incorporate something personal in the design of the piece.
How to get form and decoration ideas (not requirements)
Use the following as a ways of thinking but not as rules or limits.
  1. Think of it as an organic form. Think of natural forms from the animal and plant world. Think of microscopic forms, undersea forms, fantastic forms, and so on.
  2. Think of gracefully moving form.
  3. Make sketches to develop ideas.
  4. List your own favorite animals, seeds, foods, plants, sea life, parts of the human body, and so on.
  5. Make it personal related to a secret interest of yours.
  6. Make it non-functional or functional, but not something commonly used this way.
  7. Keep it secret and decide how literal you want to make it.
  8. Title it with a made-up word, real words, or a number.
Surface Decoration Ideas and Methods
It may be decorated by any of the following in methods, but it is to be decorated before bisque firing.
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  1.  Have parts smooth and some parts textured  Carve a linear or a repeat pattern design in the surface  Have some parts burnished (polished) and some parts dull  Use a stamp that you designed and made.  Use sgraffito (scratched line through slip) or mishma (slip inside the scratches or texture)  Paint a design on it with slip.  Print a slip design on it with a foam stamp you made.
  2.  Inlay a contrasting colored clay in the surface. top of page
Make it between 3/16th and 3/8th inch thick with a uniform thickness throughout, using the thinner wall for a small piece or the thicker wall for a larger piece. 

Construction Method - Read this description and learn the methods in class.

  1. Use a pinch pot bowl form as the base and add coils by pinching them (laminating them) to the top until the form is complete.
  2. Do not stack and join the coils on top of each other for this piece. Pinch coils to the inside or outside of the top of the vessel. Pinching raised the wall each time a new coil is added. Use all 8 fingers surrounding the work and the thumbs inside the piece so you can control the size of the circumference of the piece. Turn the piece as you work. Do not let it get wider than you want it.
  3. Stop working before the piece begins to sag and let it dry from the bottom up so it will support the weight of more added clay. Wrapping the top tightly but leaving the bottom slightly exposed overnight may achieve this condition.
  4. When adding soft clay to a piece that has begun to harden, you must pinch the harder top edge thin so the soft new clay can wrap over the top edge and be pinched on from both the inside and the outside. Score and add thick slip (from the bottom of a throwing container) to the harder clay surfaces before wrapping the soft clay over the edge. When work is continued, add clay until it again seems too soft to keep the form you want.
  5. Finish the bottom portion first and smooth it with a paddle and scrapper before it is dryer than leather hard.
  6. Smooth it before decorating.
Hygienic Work Habits
or scraping dry clay because clay dust is harmful to breathe. Please read the Hazards page for your own protection, protection of others in the class, and that of people who may use your pottery. For example, the free silica in the clay can cause a fatal respiratory illness (silicosis) if breathed too much over a period of time.  Cobalt (in the blue slip) is toxic to breathe and causes cobalt poisoning illness if inhaled too much).
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© Marvin Bartel, 1999, instructor -  Goshen College students may make a copy for personal use. Any other reproduction or publication is prohibited unless permission in secured. Contact the author
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updated November 2, 2005

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