Clay Weights & Sizes For Handmade Tableware – Repeat Throwing Pottery

How To Make Pottery

I’ve spent the last few years trying to design and make the ultimate handmade tableware collection. The thing that has improved my pottery the most is using a gauge and repeat throwing the same clay weights.

Why make standard sized pottery with repeat throwing?

Some potters prefer to make tableware completely free form. Depending on their ability, they make be able to throw very similar pots each time, or they might enjoy variations in their work.

For me, I make one-off pieces to whatever size the clay allows. However, for tableware sets I’ve found it best to set a standard with repeat throwing. When I use a set of bowls or plates I want them to stack in an orderly fashion. I don’t mind a bit of irregularity, but they need to be stable when stacked. A pile of bowls falling off the shelf at breakfast would really ruin my morning.

I also feel that if someone buys a bowl or plate from me, they should be able to buy another one at a later date that is the same size. I once heard a potter say they want their pieces to look handmade but wellmade, which is what I aim for.

Perfect Sizes for Handmade Tableware

Arriving at the perfect size bowl, mug or plate takes some experimenting. The very first mugs I made turned out like something for Bilbo Baggins. I had neglected to consider shrinkage.

What the ‘perfect’ size is depends on personal preference of course, but the final size should be the starting point. I will often find my favourite mug, bowl or plant pot as a starting point. I will record the height and rim diameter in mm, then multiply by 1.13 as my total clay shrinkage after firing is 13%. At this point I convert the mm dimensions to the nearest 1/4″ values to give my throwing dimensions. I prefer to work to inches when throwing, it’s just easier to see clearly and quickly a 1/4″ mark than squinting at mm values.

I will then estimate the weight of clay needed to start with. Using the chart below could be a good help if you have not made a certain pot before. Usually they first try will be way off, and it’s important to get the right weight of clay to fit the pot dimensions. Too much clay and the pot will be heavy and cumbersome. Too little and the pot may collapse during throwing, or may be fragile once completed. After a few trys a good weight can be achieved and the gauge can be set for subsequent pots.

How to use a gauge when making handmade tableware

There are some speially made gauges for working in pottery, they may work very well but they cost money and I am tight. When I use a gauge it is just a lump of clay stuck to the side of my splash pan with a wooden BBQ skewer pressed into it. Once my ideal clay weight has been thrown to the required height and diameter, the end of the skewer is set just outside the rim. After the first pot is cut and lifted from the wheel, the others can be made to the exact same dimensions without remeasuring. A fairly hard lump of clay is prefered to avoid any movement in the skewer.

Examples of clay weights and sizes for tableware and other pottery

Over the years I have adjusted my sizes, and kept a very disorganised series of notes. I decided it was time to collect them all together and put them on a spread sheet. After doing that I thought it may prove useful or interesting for others and would post it here.

I have recently written about my new range of handmade tableware that will be available to buy soon. Many of the sizes in this chart will be used to create thos items.

 

A B C D E
1
Pot Name Pot Weight(g) Height (“)
Rim Diam (“)
Notes
2
small dip pot 100 1 ½ 3
3
medium dip 175 2
4
small vase 400 5
5
tea caddy 600
6
tea caddy lid 300
7
spoon rest 150 1 4
8
GP bowl 460 3 6 rolled rim
9
salt pig 350 4 4
10
dinner plate 2000 12 1″ rim width, ½” deep base. 8½” flat centre. Trim footring
11
side plate 1000 9 ½” thick base, 6″ flat centre, 5½” footring. Trim footring
12
pasta bowl 850 9 throw 6½” x 3″ cylinder before pulling out. Trim footring
13
bellied mug 375
14
tumbler 400 5 3
15
small plant pot 700 5 5” inside diameter
16
yarn bowl 1300 5 7 6″ base diameter
17
olive oil bottle 800 15/16″ inside neck diameter
18
small GP bowl 350 5
19
egg cup 75 2″ inside Diameter
20
olive dish 325 handle 2½” long ½” Diam sausage
21
rough mugs 375 3″ base diameter
22
espresso cup 150 1¾” base diameter, curved profile
23
6oz coffee cup 280 2¼” base diameter
24
8oz coffee cup 325? 4 2¾” base diameter
25
6oz/8oz saucer 350 1 1cm deep base
26
espresso saucer
27
utensil holder 1750 9 4 straight sided
28
bellied litre jug 1250
29
bellied pint jug 600
30
sugar pot 250 need to make about 1 inch taller next time
31
sugar pot lid 100
32
handleless milk jug
400 need to make slightly smaller

Older Post Newer Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published