Friday, December 4, 2009

Easy Hump Mold

Red Textured Bowl by Linda Starr
slab built, 1.25 x 6 inches, cone 10 reduction

Several years ago I made this red bowl with an easy hump mold. I used half and half clay, textured the slab, and scalloped the edges.

I decided to try using paper bowls as my hump mold and here's what I did. I started with an ordinary paper bowl and cut off the rim. I used two paper bowls placed together to make the hump mold more sturdy. Turn the paper bowl upside down and that's your hump mold. Set the mold aside while you prepare your clay.

Today I am using Texas white which is a cone 5 clay. For this size bowl, I started with a three by three inch squared block of clay. You can put a rice bag underneath the paper plate hump mold if it starts to sag when you place the slab of clay over the mold.

Start slapping the 3 x 3 inch block of clay between your hands. Slap the clay on one side and then slap it on the other, flipping it over between your two palms and rotating it around. Slap the clay till it's about half an inch thick. Don't be shy, slap away. The clay and ultimately your bowl will be much happier in the end if you slap and compress the clay at this point.

Next put the slapped clay down on your rolling surface and start to roll the clay with a rolling pin. Rolling the clay on a smooth sheet of cotton material works well because you can move the clay around easily without it sticking to the bottom surface. Flip the clay over and rotate the clay every three or four rolls of the rolling pin. This is very important. The flipping and rotating of the clay helps to prevent warping of the finished bowl. I rolled my clay about three eighths of an inch thick.

Let the slab of clay firm just a bit. At this point you can texture the slab of clay if you wish. Gently move the slab and drape it over the paper bowl mold. Try not to stretch the clay or leave any finger prints in the clay while you center the slab of clay over the hump mold. You can let the sides droop flat for a wide rim or cut them off even with the bottom. Trim the excess from around the edges and smooth the edges with a damp sea sponge. Reserve the trimmed portions for the foot of the bowl.

Take the trimmed pieces and squish the clay together really well in the palm of your hand and roll it round in a ball. Flatten the ball and form it into a round flat piece. If the edges get dry and cracked moisten them with a sea sponge lightly and smooth. You can make the foot large or small. Each time I make a bowl I like to experiment with several different foot shapes and sizes.

Cut the center out of the round and smooth the inside and out side. Lay the round on the bottom of the bowl and mark the inside and outside.

Set the round aside and score the bottom of the round and the outlined portion of the bowl. Next sign your name in the center of the foot before you attach it. It's easier to sign without the foot on the bowl. Slip both the bowl and the foot well and attach the foot by pressing firmly and gently sliding it back and forth ever so slightly. The sliding assures a firm attachment of the foot to the bowl.

Notice the bowl with the foot below and the bowl where I pictured the trimming above are two different shapes along the edges. For the bowl below I left the edges more asymmetrical. That's one of the many reasons I like hand building and slab building with clay. Each handmade piece of pottery is little different than the next which makes it unique.

Cover the bowl lightly with plastic and leave upside down until it is completely dry and then turn over and fire according to your preference. Hopefully someone who likes to hand build can benefit from my description. You're welcome to copy my process, but please give me credit by referencing back to my blog. Comments and questions are welcome, thanks.


  1. Go Linda!
    You are so creative and inventive.
    You are showing me that no matter where a person is and no matter what they have on hand pots will come out.
    Great idea and post!

  2. looks like a fun project... that's one helluva rolling pin you have there

  3. Hi Meredith, thanks, I figured someone who is beginning in clay could benefit from this tuturial hopefully. you are right I am prone to use just about anything for clay.

    Hi Jim, thanks, I wanted to make some of these bowls and my rolling pin was packed, so I just had to get another one at Target. One can't have too many rolling pins when they hand build, ha.

  4. Hi Linda,
    Just curious - when you are making functional pieces do you have in mind what they are to be used for?

    I often picture food in them as that is what I hope they will be used for.


  5. Hi Diane, thanks I often picture food in them too. The little red bowl would be nice with candies or nuts in it. The red came out rather blood red though which might not be appealing to some because of the color, but some ice cream with some raspberry sauce over it might be ok. I also think the little red bowl would be good for a ring bowl in a bathroom or for some potpourri. Many years ago my Aunt made a ham with red and green marschino cherries on it. One of the guests got a piece of ham with the green food coloring on it and just couldn't eat it, even though she knew what the green came from. So color I thinkk should be a consideration too. The bowls I am making right now with the larger rim I think would be good for salads. I always think salads look good on plates or in bowls with a bit of a rim to frame the salad.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment