How to Make a Clothesline Motif Teapot

Etch a clothesline motif in a clay teapot to create a whimsical design.


Materials and Tools:

porcelain clay
potter's wheel
banding wheel
throwing tools: ribs, cutting wire, knives, loop tools, pin tool
hole punch for clay
rolling pin
squeeze bottle
black terra sigillata
cone 10 glaze
electric bisque kiln
gas salt kiln
wet sponge
container of water
printer's brayer
squeeze bottle
2 strips of wood
wire brush
wax resist


1. Center a 3-pound piece of porcelain clay (weighed on a scale to obtain the precise size) on the potter's wheel and form the body of the teapot, pulling up the walls with your hands, ribs and a wet sponge. Release the clay from the wheel head with a wire tool. Bend the walls slightly with your hands, creating an oval shape. Set the body aside to dry to a leather-hard stage.

2. Center another piece of clay on the wheel to form a spout with your hands, ribs and a wet sponge. Release it from the wheel with a wire tool. Let it dry until it's leather-hard. Place another piece of clay on the potter's wheel, center it and form the lid seat-a piece of clay used on top of the body of the pot to hold the lid in place. Let it dry until it's leather-hard.

3. Place a slab of clay between two wooden strips of the same size, and roll a uniform slab of clay for the shoulder and lid of the teapot with a rolling pin. Let it dry until it's leather-hard.

4. Put the body of the pot on a banding wheel. Place the slab of clay on top of the body of the pot and slump it slightly into the pot. Cut the slab with a fettling knife around the top edge of the teapot to make the shoulder. Score and slip the rim of the body and attach the shoulder to the body of the pot, using a rubber printer's brayer to smooth the seam.

5. Poke holes in the body of the pot (where the spout will be joined) with the hole punch. Attach the spout to the teapot body by scoring and adding slip. Smooth the seam edges.

6. To pull a handle, make a carrot shape out of a small piece of clay and attach it to the teapot, using a serrated rib and vinegar. Wet your hand with water and stretch or pull the clay to form the handle.

7. Attach the lid seat to the top of the teapot where the lid will fit. Cut a hole the same size as the lid seat.

8. Form the lid from some of the excess clay. Add a knob from a coil of clay. Add dots of slip from a squeeze bottle around the top of the teapot. Let it dry until the bone-dry stage.

9. Brush a terra sigillata coating onto the whole pot with a soft brush.

10. Carve the clothesline motif with small loop tools and a pin tool.

11. Bisque-fire the piece in an electric kiln to cone 6.

12. Apply wax resist to the areas around the shoulder of the pot, the lid seat, the spout and the handle. Let dry and apply colored cone 10 glaze to the shoulder of the teapot.

13. Load the piece into a large gas salt kiln and fire to 2,450 degrees Fahrenheit. Add salt to the kiln, which glazes the pot.

14. Let the carved clothesline teapot cool for three days and remove it from the kiln.

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