Ceramic - Pottery Dictionary

by Susan Mussi

COILING (3) Building with clay coils.

ca: XURROS (3) Construcció amb xurros de argila.

es: CHURROS (3) Construcción con churros de arcilla.

Coiling is one of the oldest ways of forming pottery. Clay shapes such as bowls are built up by using coils of pliable clay, putting one on top of another and pressing them together. The shapes of the coils on the inside and outside of the bowl can be left as a decoration or flattened by beating to become thinner, stronger and forming a shape. When working, support the inside with your left hand and beat the outside with your right, then do the same on the inside, if what you are making is big enough. This can also be done with a paddle and anvil. The method of beating can make the walls very thin and strong and when finished, the clay can be smoothed out or left with an uneven texture.

Coiling, the drawings below illustrate the two different ways of coiling.
The following rules apply to both types of coiling.
a) Coils can be made in all sizes; length and width-wise.
b) If you want to make a round article, use a wheel.
c) To stop cracking, all clay must be damp and have the same consistency.
d) To strengthen the wall, the first coil at the base should be the largest.
e) To avoid weakening the wall, cut the coils so that the joints do not fall on top of each other.
f) When making the joints, cut the coils at 45º.

Coil Building

Working sequence.
a) Squeeze the clay into cylinders. Lay them down onto a flat surface, roll them backwards and forwards until they are the size you need.
b) You can make the floor either with coils or flatten out a ball of clay. Make it to the shape and size required for the floor.
c) When the coils have to be joined cut them at 45º and join them, this makes the joint stronger.
d) Both systems are the same, except with snake coiling, a cut is not made on each floor but continues until another cut is needed.

Read more about: Pinching – Clay / Pinching – Plus coiling clay

The next section; Coiling (4) With a slab roller