There is intimacy and creativity in a pinched project that is un-matched. Created from a single lump of clay, pinched pots have the direct imprint of the artist’s fingers and thumbs. Many people think pinch pots are boring and have no idea how to use a pinching technique to translate their ideas into physical form. Teachers sometimes avoid pinch pot projects because it doesn’t excite students or beginners. Don’t dismiss pinching just yet.
Lets us first explain the pinching technique, then we can explore how to make use of this technique by break down the creative designing and making processes. Simply put, pinching means forming a lump of clay into a ball, digging your thumb into the middle and using your index finger and thumb to pinch the clay to create the walls. It is important to rotate the clay and keep your thumb inside and fingers outside to ensure your maintain even thickness of the walls. Keep compacting the rim as you pinch the clay into the form you want.
This is a simple technique with unlimited versatility. The more pinch pots you make the better the results, but more importantly you need to think of the overall design to get creative results from this technique. Here are the 3 basic design elements to consider and some suggestions.
The rim: When using a pinching technique, it is important to keep the rim in mind. The rim can become thin and dry while you are working. Keep compressing the rim as your progress with your pinching work.
Consider a pleated rim to enhance a basic rounded form or flare out the rim to make room for your hand to reach inside your pinched pot. You can also prepare a gallery on the rim to hold a lid for your pinched object.
The body: With your thumb on the inside and your fingers on the outside, it is important to know the final shape of the body. To belly out the form, put more pressure with your thumb and support the external walls with your fingers. To make a cylinder, use even pressure between both thumb and fingers.
To make a conical shape, start with the more pressure with your thumb near the base and as your rotate the clay and start to pinch upwards, put more pressure with your fingers from the outside. You can use a cut-out to pinch your clay to the desired shape like a template. Draw the profile of the form and use it to pinch the clay to match the outline of the cut out. You can achieve symmetrical forms this way.
The base: consider a foot ring or a decorated stump for your base. Making a foot for your object will define the form of the body and elevate your design. The base of your pinched object must be strong and well compressed. Use a wooden stick to tap the base into shape and use slip to attach any legs or foot ring. Even if you choose to have a flat base, make sure you compress the base on the inside as well as on the outside.
Once you have pinched your clay into the final form and before you shelve your clay project to dry and rest, you may want to add handles or create surface textures with stamps. Many times, the decoration on the clay can come from adding ridges or carving out indents in the clay. Use the natural uneven surface created by your fingers as you pinched the clay into shape. Use oxides or underglaze to enhance the uneven surface from your pinching.
Use a sponge to smooth out the inside of your pots and create a contrast between the inside and the outside of your object. Choose to highlight the pinched technique by highlighting the difference in final finish of the surface of your object.
You can bring two pinched pots together to create the body of an animal or figure. This hollowed body will be light and can be manipulated easily as both halves need not be similar in shape. You can prepare the main body of any sculptural form by pinching two or more pots and the bringing them together. You may also join inverted pots together to make a base for a sculpture or use the collage of pinched pots as an abstract sculpture. Your glazing and detailed decorations can enhance any collection of pinch pots of similar clay or different clays.
When you get familiar with pinching it is possible to add thick coils and start to pinch those to add height to your project. When you combine pinching and coiling the possibilities are endless. The next time you make a coil, pinch one end only and make a personal spoon.
The pinching technique is simple but can be very effective to bring out a unique body of work that you can truly be proud of. There are no two pinched pots that are the same. Choose a theme for your inspiration and create many variations with this pinching technique. You can create anything you can draw or imagine when you stick to the basics of keeping the walls even in thickness and compress the base and the rims well. Always plan to have fun with any project to decide to take on.