This week's tip is actually a fun handbuilding project you can make whether you are a beginner or advanced potter, and even children and friends can get into it. You will find a bottle to use and because you are making it out of clay yourself, it includes the beauty marks of the maker and no two will be alike. You could texture it, put designs on it, or glaze it funky colors.

  1. Wrap newspaper around your bottle and tape it on well. Wrap a second piece of newspaper over the first and tape it together so it stays on. Don't connect the two layers of newspaper. The inside layer of newspaper is going to stick to the clay, so if you want to take it apart before the clay shrinks and crushes, you need the first layer to slide off the second layer.
  2. Now roll out big sheets of clay. The easiest way is with a rolling pin. Get two sticks about 1/4" thick and put one on each side of the clay, then pat and roll the clay down until the edges of the rolling pin hit the sticks on the ends. This gives you a uniform thickness of clay 1/4" thick. Make sure you roll the clay out on canvas, cloth or paper or it will stick to your kitchen table.
  3. Now, pretend for a minute you were just making a glass bottle with no neck. Cut a rectangle that is approximately the height of the glass, and wide enough to go around the glass. Start with the glass at one corner of the slab, and roll it around until the other side covers it and makes an overlap. Cut a slice down the middle of the overlap, peel the leftover pieces away, and the ends should match nicely. Apply vinegar and push the edges together, smoothing them over. If your clay is stretched a little, you can just beat it back into shape with a paddle or a stick of wood.
  4. Since you have a clay bottle, and not a glass one, there are a couple things you could do for the neck.a. You could make your initial slab tall enough for the whole bottle, then as you came up the neck begin cutting pieces out of the clay so it would neck down also.When you got a pretty good fit, you would then smooth out the cuts you could make small coils or strips of clay and wind them around the rest
    of the bottle.b. You could leave them as is, or smear them together very well so they look smooth like a bottle. Especially if you use coils and leave them as is, use vinegar between the layers and it will stay together much better.c. You could do the whole neck, or the whole bottle for that matter with random shapes and sizes of clay in sort of a patchwork quilt. If you take this approach your clay should be very soft, and your pieces should overlap, so the overall bottle will be bumpy not smooth.
  5. While the clay sets up, it's decorating time. You can make textures by rubbing combs across the clay, by hitting it lightly with a meat mallet, by pressing scrunched aluminum foil over it, or by drawing with your fingers or a pencil or a carving tool or a piece of silverware. It is only limited by your imagination.
  6. The very tip of your bottle is another chance to be creative. Maybe roll a coil around the edge of your top. Or maybe you want a jagged edge, like a broken beer bottle.
  7.  It should still be wet or it will start to crack as it shrinks, but not so wet that will flop. After letting it set up some, pull the bottle out from the bottom.
  8. Now all you need is a bottom, so roll out some clay, sit your bottle on it, trace out a bottom, and attach it with vinegar.
  9. If your pieces were not all the same wetness when you applied them (some wet, some dry), once it is stiff you should spray the whole thing with water or cover with wet newspaper, and put it in plastic for a day or two.This allows the moisture to equalize throughout the piece so some parts won't fall off. Then let your
    bottle dry for a long long time. Until it is not cool when you touch it to your face. It may take days in summer in Arizona, and weeks in winter in Seattle.
  10. Finally you can Bisque Fire, Glaze and Glaze Fire.

Post pictures of the cool things you make right on this post!