How to Make a Textured Rope Ceramic Vase

Create a distinctive piece of pottery with a cotton or hemp rope pattern.


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Materials and Tools:

8-pound ball of clay
3- to 4-inch piece of cotton or hemp rope
haki or watercolor brush
liquid clay
wooden straightedge
celadon glaze
potter's wheel
clay-sculpting tools
bucket of water
electric kiln
wood-fire kiln


1. Wedge an 8-pound ball of clay using the spiral technique, rolling it on the work surface in a circular fashion to remove the air and condition the clay.

2. Center the ball on the potter's wheel by alternating pressure from the side and top.

3. Make the initial pulls, applying pressure from the outside against fingers on the inside to gain height.

4. Establish the form, including the lip.

5. Form the foot with care and attention to detail.

6. Use a wood-modeling tool to establish guidelines on the outside of the pot for applying rope texture.

7. Roll a 3-inch-long piece of cotton or hemp rope along the exterior of the vase between the guidelines with your fingers. Note: Poly and nylon rope won't work, because the clay won't release.

8. Apply slip decoration to the textured segment with a haki or watercolor brush.

9. Allow the vase to dry for two to three hours.

10. Impress vertical lines into the design in an alternating pattern, using a wooden straightedge.

11. Trim the foot and cut the vase from the potter's wheel.

12. Allow to dry three to four days to the bone-dry stage.

13. Bisque-fire to cone 04 (1,891 degrees Fahrenheit) in an electric kiln for 12 hours.

14. Apply celadon glaze to the interior of the vase for contrast with the exterior and ease in cleaning during practical use. Pour glaze into the vase and then out of the vase using a controlled rotation of the piece.

15. Fire the vase in a wood-fire kiln to cone 10 (2,350 degrees Fahrenheit) over the course of 12 to 14 hours.

16. Unload the vase after a 24-hour cooling period.

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