Every cup needs a bottle

Maybe its me, but I don’t think ceramic bottles get there due. I mean as shapes go, people tend to gravitate towards bowls, plates, cups etc. Once a potter has gotten some experience they want to graduate to tea pots or chalices. More often than not though, you don’t hear students asking about how to make a bottle.

Today I am going over bottles and more importantly all the things you can make by working on this technique.

First off lets go through some of the products that are possible: bottles (obviously), pitchers, creamers, vases, bud vases and carafes.

That’s a pretty good list.

The big difference between a bottle and a vase is keeping the neck tapered and not letting it flare outward again toward the top. (This is of course depending on the style of vase you prefer.)

Here are some different shaped vases and as you can see they all have a point where the neck tapers:


Pitchers on the other hand are 99% identical to a bottle, with the exception of a spout and at the end of the post I’ll explain how to do that. Pitchers, like your bottle, can come in many sizes. So a large pitcher can be a carafe and small one a dairy creamer or oil/vinegar set of salads.

So 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 process, with the exception that instead of continuously pushing closer and closer you stop at a certain point and throw straight up.

Now at the risk of repeating myself, this was my advice a couple of weeks ago:

The key to bringing any form inward is your hand positioning. If you are right handed you want to have your outside right hand pushing inward with your inside left hand slightly above it. Applying pressure with your right hand you are steadying it with the left. The next, almost as important point, is to bring the form inward gradually. Remember, the wheel wants to push the clay outward. So by going inward you’re bucking centrifugal force.

This might make the clay twist and buckle.

So do this gradually. You may need to smooth out the transition from time to time with your rib and that’s fine. Just keep a slow and steady pace focusing on bringing it in and you’ll do fine.

Now I cannot stress the importance of a good rib when you are making bottles or any shape with a tapered neck. A mudtools red rubber rib, is phenomenal to use.


In spite of that, a well shaped wood rib or even the blade side of your modeling tool can do well in a pinch


The key though as I said above, is steady but soft pressure. Don’t be too aggressive, instead be patient.

As promised I would tell you how to turn a bottle into a pitcher and if you watch the above video till the end (or just jumped to the last 10 sec) you’ll see the trick. Its so simple that if you don’t do this yet, you’ll kick yourself.

Take the handle of a brush, put it all the way to the base of the piece on the inside. Now rest it against the inside of the neck and gently lean into the neck and remove the brush.


You’ve got a spout.

Now to turn it into a pitcher, just re read my post on making handles and you’ll be all set.

So have fun with making bottles and tapering the neck of your pieces.

See you next week and till then, 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 join my email list or shop my Etsy store 

2 Responses to “Every cup needs a bottle”
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  1. […] Last weeks post focused on throwing a bottle and the possibilities that that shape had. Today I’ll go into finishing the shape and how to make it into a pitcher. […]


  2. […] Sparano Arts » Feed: Every cup needs a bottle […]


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