Adding A Lid: how to

Lidded ceramic containers come in different shapes and sizes. Most lidded objects are functional in nature varying from jewellery boxes, jars, covered pots and bowls. The lids serve a function of preservation and decoration at the same time. Making a lid for your pot or container need not be a complicated process. With a little advance planning, you can easily transform a simple cylinder into a cookie jar.

There are different types of lids and ways of making them. Hand built or wheel thrown lids serve the same purpose and will elevate your object into a complete homogeneous container. Adding a lid to your container is adding a focal point of interest. This means making a lid requires planning to ensure it fits the vessel practically and visually. The style and form of the lid is as important as the vessel it sits on. You can choose to make the lid a statement feature of your vessel or a complementary element part of a whole.

Planning for a lid requires that you make the following considerations :

  • Overall size of the bowl

  • The lip/neck of the bowl; is there a gallery for the lid to sit on?

  • The shape of the bowl versus the shape of the lid.

  • The knob or handle of the lid

  • The rim of the lid, whether the lid will sit inside the bowl or outside the bowl.

For a beginner, it is recommended to understand three different simple lid types. As you progress and practice, you will discover that there as many different ways to make a lid as there are to make a ceramic art object. Here are the 3 basic lid types.

Cup lids: Cup lids are the simplest of the lid styles. This kind of lid will sit like an inverted cup over the neck of the vessel. It will rest on the shoulder of your object outside the rim. Make a pinch pot larger in diameter by a 1cm from the rim of your vessel. Then invert it and attach a knob. They are most useful for small jars or pots with small or medium size necks.

Inset Lid Style: Inset lids are lids that sit on a gallery. A gallery is a like a horizontal rim inside the neck of your pot. You will need to plan and make the gallery while your are throwing. This type of lid is inset into the form of the pot, and not sitting above it. Inset lids can be flat, dropped or domed. This style is especially useful for objects that need to conserve vertical space due to the height constraints in ovens and cabinets.

Stopper Style Lid: This is another simple style lid that does not need a gallery. As an alternative, this lid is made to slide down into a V-shaped neck, acting as a stopper. Stoppers can be thrown upside down and then turned over and trimmed. A stopper lid can have a knob to make it easier to use and adds a decorative attraction.


1-Remember that clay shrinks. You will need to make the lid and vessel together.

Should you run out of time at the studio, that’s is when you can measure for the lid and make a lid later. Just take your calliper, measure how big the lid needs to be, lock the calliper, and trace the calliper ends onto a piece of paper. Then when you make the lid, simply size the calliper to your recorded drawing.

2-Make two lids, at least, for every vessel. Lids, unfortunately, are more prone to breaking. Daily used object get moved around and lids get knocked over or miss placed. Lids with elaborate knobs are also likely to chip over time and having a replacement will bring a new life to your object. Making two lids at the same time is much easier than trying in future to calculate the shrinkage for a finish fired bowl.

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