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Handmade bowl tutorial with Urban Clay

September 11, 2021


Rebecca from Urban Clay teaches us how to hand-build a pottery bowl. All you need is a slab of clay and plenty of enthusiasm.

Ceramicist Rebecca makes pottery look easy. The owner of Urban Clay studio toured Japan and Korea at the start of her career, after completing a Fine Arts degree majoring in ceramics. It was in Mashiko, one of Japan’s traditional pottery villages that she earned her stripes. Not only did she gain a deeper understanding of traditional pottery as an art form, but she also learnt “the ways of a craftsperson’s life”.


“People covered in clay can’t touch their phone! … That mental break from technology is really important.”


The wheel thrower has set her wheel aside for this hand-building video tutorial. A bowl is a great project for every level, including a beginner. So, watch along. All you need is some clay and items from around the home to use as tools while getting your hands dirty.


Handmade bowl tutorial





• Soft slab of clay
• Bowl to use as a mould
• Hessian or linen to give the clay texture
• Knife
• Rolling pin
• Timber or books to hold the slab in place
• Old credit card or membership card to smooth the clay
• A block or stable plinth for your bowl to rest



Follow along with the video tutorial, and the instructions below. We hope you enjoy getting creative with clay. 



1. Roll it out


Rebecca starts by rolling out her clay. Keep rolling until you achieve an appropriate thickness for a bowl. Any lumps or bumps will show up on your finished piece, so it pays to roll, roll, roll it out now. Achieving an even thickness is important. If your edges are thicker than the centre, your bowl will have an unusually thick lip.


2. Have fun with texture


Rebecca uses a hessian to add texture, pressing firmly on the clay. But plenty of household items can give your clay texture. A fork, whisk, grip fabric, linen – have a look around and see what sparks your imagination.


3. Shape the lip


Once her bowl has been moulded and had texture applied, Rebecca shifts her focus to the finishing touches. Pause here and take a moment to ensure that the lip of your bowl is shaped and smooth. If you’re feeling creative, you could trade in a uniform round lip for a curved, organically shaped lip. Rebecca has intentionally created an uneven lip shape that widens at one end and narrows at the other for visual interest.


4. Make it food safe


The final step is to glaze and fire your pottery bowl to a food-safe level at your local pottery kiln or workshop. This is important if you’re planning to drink or eat from your bowl. But if your plans don’t involve food or liquid, using air drying clay is a great option.


Special thanks to Rebecca from Urban Clay. 


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