Slab Built Pottery - Our Process

When you hear "pottery," what do you picture? Maybe some muddy hands shaping a spinning ball of clay on a wheel? Or those fun shops where you can pick a piece of ware and glaze it yourself? Pottery can take many forms and can be made in many different ways. Katie here, and today I want to tell you a little bit about our process at The Rooted Rooster Farm.

Our pottery is hand built from slabs of clay. This means that, instead of throwing mugs on a pottery wheel, we roll our clay out into flat slabs and form it from there. The first step is to roll the clay out flat, and to do this easily and evenly, we use a Shimpo Mini Slab Roller by Nidec. We started out rolling slabs by hand . . . this thing is a game changer.

Once the slab is flat and smooth, we cut out the shapes we need. Then, we put them together with lots of scoring and slipping for strength (an attachment method using scratched lines and wet clay).

Smooth, smooth, smooth... trim, trim, trim...

two hands attaching a handle to a mug 

We pull our handles, so that means we use a lot of water to literally pull a handle shape from a ball of clay. The process takes some practice, but the result is a nice, rounded handle that feels comfortable to hold. On our older mugs, we cut handles from slabs. While they did the job, we have determined that pulled handles tend to be friendlier to the palm, so we have changed our methods. We are constantly learning and adapting!

 two unfired mugs, one curvy, one straight up and down with slab seam visible

And then there were mugs! Slab building is different from wheel throwing, but we really enjoy it. We like the character that an exposed seam adds, as pictured in the mug to the right above. This brings the mug's user into the maker's space in a unique way. The mug carries its story with it, from our hands to yours. Still, we appreciate the flexibility also, and the ability to add a curve and hide the seam when we want to. There are so many shapes and styles that can come from a slab of clay, and we haven't stopped exploring them.

Our mugs are made of stoneware clay and are microwave and dishwasher safe. Check out our Instagram, @therootedrooster, for timelapse videos of the making process!

Leave a comment