Week 1 – Slab Building: A Major Project

I have chosen to complete the learning project for my major project assignment! Upon hearing about this option, I immediately had ideas racing through my mind of skills that I would want to learn. However, once the realization sank in that I am pregnant and am limited in my physical capability, my options felt more limited. Therefore, learning how to do a freestanding handstand, skateboard or a backflip immediately flew out the window. 

After some additional searching and research, I decided to learn how to make slab building ceramics or pottery. Over the past year I have been practicing and learning wheel throwing pottery, however have always been interested in pursuing handbuild techniques, such as using slabs to create functional art. It is my understanding that wheel throwing and slab building are incredibly different ways of creating ceramics, and very few skills will transfer from one to the other. 

I chose slab building as my major project for many reasons. Firstly,  I love creating pottery on the wheel, however, with my pregnancy progressing, leaning over a wheel for hours is not an activity that my back will allow for much longer. Therefore, slab building is a more sustainable and ergonomic alternative. Slab building is also a more accessible version of pottery, as you can do handbuilding techniques virtually anywhere and without needing heavy and expensive equipment such as a wheel. Additionally, creating pottery has been a great form of self-care for me. It allows me to have an outlet of creative expression that I have been missing as I have had less time on the wheel lately.

Here are some examples of what I have created using wheel throwing techniques: 

Two cappuccino mugs with small cats.

Created by Amy Missal

White and speckled handmade pottery cup

Created by Amy Missal

Pink and floral handmade pottery cup

Created by Amy Missal

Here are some inspirational videos of what I would like to create with slab building techniques: 

I am truly excited for this new venture and learning this new skill through social media outlets! 

6 thoughts on “Week 1 – Slab Building: A Major Project

  1. Amy – this is absolutely outstanding! Making pottery was one of the skills I wanted to learn throughout this course, but, I decided against it as I don’t have a kiln and, frankly, don’t have the funds. SOOOO….I cannot wait to follow along with your journey as you make all the beautiful pottery. Also, your mugs you posted in your post are gorgeous. Wow. I am really looking forward to watching this unfold 🙂

    • Thanks Laura! It has been something that I have definitely fallen in love with, however completely agree about the high level of expenses! I am fortunate enough to work at a school that has multiple pottery wheels and two kilns that I can use which makes it doable. I hope that you will eventually get to try it out at some point. I took a workshop at Cathedral Art School to test it out before I took a class. Definitely a great place to start!

  2. Amy! These are beautiful! I can’t wait to see what you make with the slab approach. I recall learning how to make pottery using the slab approach in high school but I don’t think what I made was any good as I can’t even remember what it was. What are you going to try to make first? Also, are you going to use the same design on all of them so you have a ‘set’ of something? That would be gorgeous.

    • Thanks RoxAnne! My plan us to start with what I know and do a mug first, or maybe even a set or two like you said! From there, I want to go bigger and make a serving tray (similar to the one in the video). I also really want to play around with textures like in some of the example videos. It is something that is challenging to do with throwing as your items are already rounded coming off the wheel, but with slab building, adding the texture appears more accessible because of the flat surface!

  3. Wow Amy! Your pottery is amazing – what a wonderful skill to have. Do you sell your pottery anywhere? I would totally buy it.

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