Project 4

Project 4 : Lidded Vessels


This project will culminate in a series of lidded vessels. Making a tight fitting lid is a challenge and a critical test of a potter’s ability. It is a litmus test for quality similar to a well-trimmed foot, a spout that pours properly, or a comfortable handle. Multiple lids are required for each vessel to ensure the best possible fit.

Research Questions

Consider something intangible to be held in a container that you either wish to keep for yourself, give to someone else, or have someone else give you. How do you convey something you can’t touch? This may be an emotion, a quality, and idea, or something natural that is insubstantial like sunshine, a dream, wind, time or gravity.

  • How do you feel about the thing contained in your vessel?
  • How have other artists represented the intangible?
  • What form would relate to your intangible object, and the feeling you would like to create from that?
  • How does your lid relate to that form in terms of visual connection and content?
  • How does the proportion of your opening and the weight of your rim relate to your idea? Should the access to it the easy and wide, or small and restricted?
  • How do color and surface relate to your ideas?


  • 2 sketches of historical jars that relate to your idea
  • 2 sketches of contemporary jars that relate to your idea
  • 4 sketches of your own ideas that incorporate your answers to the research questions and historical and contemporary jars

Technical Goals

This project will acquaint you with the making of thrown lids, flanges, and lid seats. It is an opportunity to practice and improve thrown forms and trimming. The technical goals are:

  • To make a thrown form of a shape appropriate to your idea has strong curves or controlled planes
  • To achieve a form that has the same shape inside and out after trimming, and walls that are an even, appropriate thickness for pottery form.
  • To appropriately treat the foot as a well-considered finished bottom.
  • To make a lid that fits the well and is held on the so that it does not fall off if the pot is tipped slightly
  • To make a handle is comfortable to hold and allows you to securely manipulate the lid.
  • To achieve effective surface application — including even glaze of appropriate thickness that does not have crawling, running, or thin spots.

Concept Goals

This project asks you to imagine something intangible, connect it to your feelings, and to plan your design decisions to evoke the intangible and your feelings to other viewers. This involves decisions about form, proportion, edge, scale, surface, color, and the idea of holding — both the container holding something and the person encountering it holding the handle, as well as other design decisions.


Make – 3 lidded vessels

  • Each vessel should have 3 fully finished lids in the bone-dry state. The best fitting lid can be chosen at bone-dry to fire – or all lids can be fired. 
  • Vessels should embody your idea in the design decisions. This includes the size of the opening, the form shape and volume, the handle and the way it is held, the choice of lid form: seat and/ or flange or cap lid, etc., surface, color, proportion, etc.
  • Vessels have a reasonable wall thickness for a thrown pottery item, and the walls should be even with the same shape inside and outside.
  • Feet should be considered and well finished, and an appropriate proportion to the body or proportioned to convey a specific idea
  • Handles or knobs should support your idea in form and should be functional — they should provide a firm grip to allow the user to easily manipulate the lid without fear of dropping it.
  • Lids should fit well and have a reasonable tolerance. This includes sitting firmly enough withstand moderate tilting without falling out of the lid seat or off the vessel body.
  • Vessels should be at least 5 inches in diameter as a minimum. There is no upper size limit.
  • You may choose to make a vessel for each condition: something to receive, something to keep, or something to give. Or, you may choose to do three vessels about the same condition and intangible, or any combination thereof.


3/20    Sketches due 

3/27 Lether Crit


4/12    Earthernware GLAZE: LOAD KILN

4/13  High Fire GLAZE : LOAD KILN

4/14 High Fire GLAZE : FIRE KILN (9AM-4PM, sign up for shifts)

4/19   CRITIQUE, last day of class


Grade weighting percentages for this project

  • Research -10%
    • Research answers, description of your plans, 8 sketches, blog.
  • Technical Skill – 60% (15% ea)
    • Throwing/form craftsmanship and function
    • Trimming and foot finish
    • Glazing/surface craftsmanship
    • Lid Fit
  • Aesthetic/Design skills- 30%
  • Development of design decisions to support your idea. Use of form, proportion, color, edge, lid shape and scale, handle, and other design elements to support your concept.


Illian, Clary, A Potter’s Workbook.