Clay is an extremely versatile medium. Artists use many techniques to express their ideas using clay. The Mint Museum of Craft + Design has compiled artist demonstrations of coil building, press molding, slab building , and wheel throwing techniques. Each process is broken down into video segments which follow the development of various objects. The finished products, along with other physical examples of significant points along each process, are on view in the Education Resource Center at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design.

To search for these and additional ceramic processes visit: Selections from the Allan Chasanoff Ceramic Collection.

Coil Building 6 - video segments
Coil-built ceramics, much like slab-built ceramics, rely heavily on the artist's hand, rather than a mold or the force of a potters wheel, to shape the object's form. Beginning with a base, artists stack long coils of clay, spiraling upward until the basic form of the object emerges. Artists may choose to smooth the coils or leave them defined, depending on the nature of the oject's texture, representation or intended function. Mary Mason demonstrates the coil building technique in a series of videos that document the development of a whimsical coil-built giraffe.

Slab Building 5 - video segments
Slab-built ceramics refer to a process in which the artist assembles an artwork by hand, using fat slabs of clay. Artists form slabs by forcing lumps of clay through a roller mechanism, flattening the clay to a consistent thickness. Slabs can be used to build sculpture or functional vessels, and often gives the artist more freedom to alter a form from the beginning of the process, rather than after a basic form is wheel thrown or coil built. The slab building video demonstrations show John and Jan Myers using a slab roller to create a fish-shaped plate.


Press Molding 5 - video segments
Press molding is a technique in which clay is forced into a mold in order to take the shape of the mold, and then removed to form a "positive" of the mold. The mold itself is "cast" from an original prototype, so that the mold may be used to reproduce the original shape over and over. Press molding can be used for making vessels, tiles, sculpture, and any other form that can be cast. Phyllis Graham breaks down the press molding process as she makes a tile with a frog motif in this technique's video demonstrations.


Wheel Throwing 6 - Video Segments
Wheel throwing is one of the most popular techniques employed by ceramists. Using a revolving potters wheel, the artist centers the clay onto the wheel and opens the clay from the middle. Once the clay is opened up, the artist can pull up the walls of the clay to form a hallow vessel shape. The artist may choose to create texture on the clay surface, or alter the form of the vessel with tools. In this double demonstration, the husband and wife team of Greg Scott and Adrienne Dellinger will demonstrate the art of wheel throwing in 2 video sections.