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Paddle and Anvil and Rib and Hand Techniques

Refining the Coil Pot

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Once the initial coil pot has been created, the potter may want to smooth away some of the vigorous texture left from the welding process. Both the pot's surface and form can be refined once the clay reaches the soft leather-hard stage. Two common methods to do this are the paddle and anvil technique and the rib and hand technique.

The Paddle and Anvil Technique

The paddle and anvil technique makes changes in the pot in fairly small increments. It compresses the clay, tightens the surface, and expands the wall. This is accomplished by gently hitting the side of the pot with a wooden paddle while a smooth anvil is held against the inner surface of the wall.

Paddles are shaped like flat wooden spatulas. They can be smooth or may be textured in order to add a decorative surface effect. Anvils are usually 3-6 inches across. They may be a rounded river stone, an ovoid or spherical piece of wood, or a solid piece of bisqued clay. If bisqued clay is used, the clay is shaped, multiple air holes are made in the solid clay ovoid, and it is very slowly dried before firing.

The Importance of Anvil Shape

Part of mastering the paddle and anvil technique is learning to utilize the anvil's conformation. The shape of the anvil determines how the clay will move.

  • a circular anvil results in the clay expanding in all directions
  • an oval anvil held vertically against the wall results in the clay expanding horizontally
  • an oval anvil held horizontally against the wall results in the clay expanding vertically

The Rib and Hand Technique

The rib and hand technique is another method of finishing the initial form. It moves the clay faster than the paddle and anvil technique but does not compress the clay. Because of this, it is often used in conjunction with the paddle and anvil method.

In this technique, a hand is kept on the outer surface of the pot, supporting the walls while the potter smooths and expands the inner surface with a wooden or rubber rib. Strokes with the rib are made horizontally.

Because this method does expand the wall rapidly, cracking may become a problem. As soon as a crack begins to develop, it should be moistened slightly with slurry and welded back together.

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