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via Instagram

Cleaner Way to Make Large Bowls

Every now and then someone posts pictures to Instagram or Facebook of them throwing a 25 pound bowl. I am truly impressed but have little interest in trying it.  It just looks like more of a workout then I want. Besides, the first time I saw someone do this at Mudfire I asked him to weigh the bowl when it was completely done (glazed and fired). It weighed 12 pounds.  Yes, it was a large bowl but it also seemed like he lost a few pounds of clay in the centering process.  You can always recycle that clay but it seems like a waste to me.

The thing is, people do want large bowls.  I recently had a request for a nice, large pasta bowl. The kind of bowl that is filled with a wonderful pasta dish and placed on the table in front of family and friends.  Dig in, share, enjoy.  I love those gatherings and would be very happy to have my bowl be a part of that fun.

I saw a video on Pinterest and thought it would be worth a try in order to make this bowl.  You can see the video here.

Essentially it’s a great amount of pounding on the clay.  If you are ever really, really angry this would be a great way to take out those frustrations. I found it to be very tiring even with very fresh, soft clay.  I was only using 10 pounds of clay for my bowl and still it was hard work.

Large Ceramic Bowl by Lori Buff
14 Inch Bowl

I will say, it was much cleaner than trying to center 10 pounds of clay, plus the loss of clay was minimal so my 10 pound bowl will be a bit larger than it would have been if I had thrown it in a traditional way.

If I were to try this again I’d try using two paddles instead of my hands.  Currently, I don’t have any paddles that are sturdy enough to pound this much clay.  I need to get those, or make them.  I’m also thinking about making a rubber mallet that has a spherical end instead of a cylinder with flat ends.  I think that would do a great job and save the beating on my hands.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. very interesting and unique, much like pinching with the thumb and forefinger but instead with the fist. When I feel better I might have to try this but with about five pounds of clay. ha.

    Over time your fist will get stronger and it really does work miracles with the clay. I compress my slabs using my palms overlapping one another standing and using my body weight to add strength. of course pounding the clay is another thing.

    1. Hi Linda, it’s not that my fist is not strong enough, it is, I just worry about what all that punching is doing to my hands. I do love your way of compressing slabs. That’s really smart.

  2. That does look like a work out! I don't think I have ever tried to center that much clay. You did a great job.

    1. Thanks, Michèle, whenever I try to center that much clay the usual way I do it using the snowman method.


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