What is the right way to make in clay? Or the wrong way? Well, in this week’s blog I give a very simple answer to this seemingly complicated question.

Recently I was asked whether a fellow YouTuber could use a clip from one of my videos for his reply to the question ‘why don’t you score and slip between coils when building a coil pot?’, something I, along with many others, do advocate in my videos for beginners.  I said yes but it got me to thinking… how confusing it must be when starting out in clay with so many different people saying slightly different things about how to make in clay.  How could you know who was saying the ‘right’ thing? 

The thing is, they’re probably all saying the ‘right’ thing!  Let me explain…

Making with clay has been around for thousands of years and over that time, while things have changed, the basic processes remain the same for hand building with clay.  That’s a lot of time and makers who have had the chance to refine and develop their own techniques to handle clay.  Everyone who makes with clay will, over time, find the best ways to make what they want to make in the clay they are using being fired in the way they fire and it’s likely each will be a little different to everyone else’s.

Scoring and slipping between coils is just one of those differences.  Some people do between every coil they add, some just do it on the first coil, some don’t do it at all, and some do something in between.  Each technique has several points where different makers can add their own stamp to a method.

For example, when I’m slab building I like to use the wet clay slab technique and to be sure the joins are stable I score and slip the join then reinforce with strips slipped into place.  This isn’t strictly necessary but I’ve found over the years that for me, my clay and my firing, this method has the best chance of surviving the firing without cracks.  It also means that when teaching it gives my students the best chance of not being disappointed when a piece fails in the kiln.

Basically, if what you make is what you want and it comes out of the kiln in a way that you like then however you made it was right.  So check out all the videos, try out the different methods to see which you like best and don’t worry about which is right.  Take your time, try it out and find your own way that works for you.

Enjoy the clay!

If you’d like to see how I teach hand building you can find my workshops and courses here or see more on my YouTube channel.