Now that I have collected all of my supplies and practiced basic slab-rolling techniques, it is time to make my first attempt at the magical art of slab-building pottery! Was I nervous? Absolutely! It took close to 100 hours of wheel throwing to finally feel comfortable with those skills before I was ready to share my work with the world. So to share my beginning pieces right away with this new skill is certainly intimidating!
To help boost my confidence, I decided to try slab-building a mug, which is a common piece of pottery that I have made on the wheel. Here is how that went:
Step 1: Tutorial Search
TikTok: Although TikTok is a great resource for sharing ideas, resources, and hacks, it is not a great place to start for tutorials for learning how to slab build a mug. When searching, there are a lot of sped-up videos that contain parts of the building process, however, the videos do not often share details of the steps or where they got their materials or supplies. Even these videos were few and far between. More often than not, TikTok videos simply shared finished products that were slab built, but not the process.
Blogs: Searching blogs for slab-building pottery mugs gave a more detailed description of how the process works. I found and used a great blog from Pottery Wheel that gave me all of the resources and tools that I needed to make my first attempt at building a mug. Many blog posts provide a written explanation, photos and videos for a person to follow along.
Youtube: Youtube is also a great resource for finding step by step slab-building tutorials and ideas! Many options come up with a simple search of “how to slab build a pottery mug”. Some of my favourites are from Karan Pots and Glass. The video format for a tutorial makes it easy to follow along due to the visual component. Plus, you can pause, fast-forward, or rewind as much as needed!
Step 2: Find a Template
Pottery Wheel’s blog provided the most useful resource for templates called Template Maker. Although I believe intended for making paper crafts, you can make multiple 3D shape templates and customize them in any measurements that you need. I ended up customizing a cone shape that I printed out on 11x17inch paper. I then laminated the template so it would last through many mugs (assuming it goes well the first time!).
Step 3: Build
Here is a sneak peek at my building process!
I really found Pottery Wheel’s steps easy to follow and were a great guide. Is it the prettiest thing that I have made? Absolutely not! But for my first go, I am quite happy with it! I definitely made my template a little too big so it is going to be a ginormous mug, but the more coffee the better, right?
Next week I am going to play around with a square-bottomed mug, which is a new technique where you cut off parts of the bottom and reconnect them to change the shape!