Arts & Crafts

Pottery & Sculpting: File Under “Needs Work”

It’s confession time: there’s a really good reason I’ve avoided ALL arts and crafts badge work since starting the BSP.  Witnesseth below, if you will.


Last Saturday night, I sat down to do my level best with a few tasks for these badges — I swear I did. I had to try my hand at making pinch pots, modeling/sculpting, and also create a piece of pottery using the coil method.


While there’s nothing in the tasks that says I have to be good at any of this, the results were still enough of an embarrassment to suggest that I’d need a more than one go at it. These tasks were much harder than I thought they would be.

For all of these precious items, I used Sculpey clay. Sculpey is a polymer clay (y’all remember what polymers are now, right?), and I hear it’s pretty popular with the kids. It comes in blocks, you break off the right amount, you condition it by working it in your hands, you mold it, you bake it up, and you finish it off by painting or sealing it if you like.

So let’s start with the easy one — pinch pots.

Pinch pots are about as old a pottery-making technique as you can get. You roll a ball of clay around in your hands until it’s malleable, then you press your thumbs down into the ball and “pinch” the clay until you’ve got a little pot.

These took 90 minutes to “sculpt.” Yes, you read that right. Ninety minutes to achieve two simple little clay bowls, suitable for holding rings or paper clips.

I moved on to modeling and sculpting, which was considerably more free-form. After an hour of confusion (there’s no other way to put it), this piece emerged, and I call it “Self Portrait: Nude Sunbathing.” (FYI, there’s nowhere in the handbook where it said I couldn’t do a nude, let alone an odd looking, self referential one.)

I’ve decided this chick will hang out in the garden, arousing gnomes, all summer long.

Next, however, we get to the surprisingly difficult coil method. I was determined to make a little garden pot for growing seedlings. How friggin’ hard could it be to roll out some clay snakes, coil ’em up, and get a clay pot? And yet, here is my first attempt.

When I posted this disaster on my Facebook page, however, I was surprised and delighted to receive some praise! My favorite comment: “It’s art, Jean. ‘Knit Cap on Floor.'” Indeed. I shall use this as my muse when I learn to knit… a cap… (’cause there’s a badge for that).

My second attempt at a coil-method garden pot fared slightly better. It is, I dare say, charming, as if coiled by a magical gnome while watching some gal sunbathing in the nude. No, you won’t find its likes on the shelves of your local garden store, but there’s a flower in its future.

Now just for fun, I tried a combination of the pinch pot and coil method to try making a simple bud vase. I can hear mothers everywhere saying, “My 2nd grader did better than that for Mother’s Day last year.” And they’d probably be right. But by now, I was having fun.

Unshaken by mishap and a complete lack of symmetry, I decided to try again, and I decided to create a home-made Chia Pet for my collection.

See the results,  along with some finishing touches I gave to these other new treasures, next week.


One thought on “Pottery & Sculpting: File Under “Needs Work”

  1. Pingback: Pottery & Sculpting: File Under “Getting Better” | The Big Scout Project

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