What to do with a closed form

In last week’s post, I discussed making a closed form vessel and gave some reasons why you’d make one and what could be made. This week I’ll give a little how to on one of the options, a custom lid jar.

Before that, I’d like to mention that 4 blog posts last month were featured in the Clay Blog Review by Pottery Making Info.com. Two are even in the “Can’t Miss” section at the beginning of the post.

That’s enough tooting my own horn though, let’s discuss what to  do with this closed form vessel you’ve thrown.

Your standard or favorite trimming/carving tools will be more than adequate for this. However, you may need to employ a tool called a chuck. Up until now, I don’t think I have mentioned using a chuck, so let me elaborate on it.


What you see above is a chuck. Chucks are hollow bisque fired pieces that are used to trim pieces with narrow necks or anything that won’t sit flat on a wheel head, i.e. bottles and closed form vessels to name a few.

There is no easy way to say it, so I’ll just be my usual brand of blunt. Using a chuck…fucking sucks. Seriously, they are a pain in the ass. Shortly though I’ll go over a way to use a chuck that is as painless as possible.

First though, the must do’s about a closed form piece.

You must open it up somehow. Even if it is just a couple of pin holes to let the air escape. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are in a pottery class or a ceramic hobbyist, so it should come as no shock to know that you have to allow the air in the piece to escape lest your piece explode in the kiln.

To make it a jar with a custom fitting top, you will need to cut off the section you want to be the lid obviously. If you have never used a chuck before, make life easy on yourself and cut the lid off by cutting smoothly across the piece on the horizontal line.

You’ll see what I mean by watching the video above. Once that is done, you can either trim the inside a bit like I did or flip it over and trim the bottom half like you would any cup. By doing it this why, you’ll see I got the most work done with minimal use of the chuck.

Now, why does using a chuck suck?

Several reasons, you need to first center the chuck and than center the piece in the chuck. You have to secure it to the wheel head and then secure the piece to the chuck. Finally, its a pain trying to get the piece level.

How to get around these problems:

Don’t worry about centering the chuck, cause you’re not trimming the chuck. Only worry about centering the piece that’s what matters. You can’t get around securing the chuck and the piece to the chuck, but use as much clay as you can to make it stick to the wheel. To secure the piece to the chuck try to use appropriately thick coils. To make sure its level…It occurs to me to just use a small level like this:


According to the googles, it should cost between $5 and $10 depending on where you buy it. If you don’t have one you could what I do and eyeball it/feel it out.

Now with the bottom half trimmed, I only used the chuck to trim the inside of the lid. You can watch the whole process in the video below.

As you become more comfortable and confidant in the use of a chuck, you can than begin trimming entire pieces on it and make the lids more intricate and interesting, which ultimately makes creating closed form pieces more fun.

So there you have it on how to trim a closed form piece. Don’t be afraid to experiment and add texture as well. The more you play with your piece the more you will develop a unique style.

Till next time, go into the studio and make something!

Questions on the technique, email me at sparanoarts@gmail.com, like what I’m doing feel free to shop my Etsy store

3 Responses to “What to do with a closed form”
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] the question is, “How do you do it?” Well if you haven’t checked out my post on closed form vessels, I discuss how to taper a neck and then how to ultimately close it up. A bottle is the same […]


  2. […] essential skills you will need to master to make a pitcher are trimming on a chuck and  attaching handles. I’ve also gone over how to do both of these. However, a quick […]


  3. […] There is another way t make a jar with a perfectly sitting lid. Create a close form vessel and then cut it into 2 pieces. You can read more about that in a previous post. […]


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