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Mix the temper and clay to desired proportions and keep working it. It can't be worked too much. Slam it. Beat it. Work it in your hands or on a hard surface. Compress everything well and remove any and all air pockets. If a bit wet, work it until it is just right, if dry, wet it by dipping your fingers in water. At some point take a baseball size hunk of the mixture and work with that. Work it. Work it. Work it. After several minutes, take the ball of clay and begin forcing your fist and/or fingers into it to develop a hollow; the beginning of a pot. Keep the forming pot moving all the time. Work out cracks. Start "pulling" the clay from the bottom up towards the top. Put your fingers against the inside walls of the pot and pat the outside opposite to further compress. Some people use a stone on the inside and a wooden paddle on the outside. All air pockets should be worked out.

At this point take your slightly dampened fingers over the whole pot, inside and out, smoothing and compressing, being careful not to get it too wet. After you have the pot the size you want it (cereal bowl size?), keep it in the shade to dry slowly. Fast drying will cause it to crack. It will take a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on conditions, of slow drying. Keep it protected. All moisture needs to escape ... it needs to be bone dry. Any moisture left in it will explode in firing. Now if you desire a larger pot, form it as large as you can before it slumps. When you reach a certain height, it will sag under its own weight. You now have to let the main body of the pot dry somewhat before adding more weight, but you also need to keep the rim wet so more clay can be "welded" to it. Set the pot in the shade, wet the rim with damp fingers, cover with green leaves or something similar to keep just the rim from drying too much as the body dries. This may be an hour or so, or maybe even overnight.

When the pot is ready for the addition of more clay, roll out a coil of prepared clay (called "coiling"), the same thickness as the pot walls (less than a 1/4 inch up to a 1/2 inch). Now this can be added to the pot. Be careful to not get too much weight at once. You may be able to add more than one coil at a time. Just don't get too rushed. Use your fingernail or a tool of bone/wood/whatever to "draw" the coils together, inside and out. Squeeze and compress it all together to weld into one. In this manner, the pot can be built about as large as you desire.

When satisfied, set it aside as you did with the smaller pot. It needs to be dried slowly. Sometimes this can take as long as 2 weeks. Some people speed up the process by rotating it around a fire, from fresh clay in the morning to firing it that evening. After a day or so, under most circumstances, the pots can be handled. It is good to turn the pots upside down at some stage to allow the bottom to dry well. If you desire to decorate the pot, this should be done prior to drying. When still fresh, or after the initial drying of a day or so (leather dry), lines can be etched into the pot. This can be done when dry but seems to work better at the leather dry stage.

Leather dry is also the stage to thin the pot, if desired, by gently scraping away thicker areas, using a piece of bone, stone, or shell. A very smooth pebble or piece of bone can be used to smooth and burnish the pot; a good idea for the inside of a pot designed for cooking and/or eating. This can be done at the leather dry or dry stage.

Offered by Steve.
Source: Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills by John & Geri McPherson, $24.95.