Pinch Pots

Pinch Pots

Pinch your way to simple and elaborate pots using air-dry clay! Pinch pots are basic ceramic vessels created using the technique of pinching clay between the thumb and fingers to build forms. Follow along with this tutorial to create unique gifts and decor.


  • Air Dry Clay 
  • Clay Tools 
  • Cup of Water
  • Canvas Drop Cloth (or surface protector)
  • Acrylic Paint (optional)

Step 1: Begin with a palm-sized piece of clay and roll it into a ball. 

Step 2: Hold the clay ball in your hand and poke the thumb of your other hand in the middle of the ball. Make sure not to go all the way through the clay. Three-fourths of the way down is far enough.  

Step 3: Pinch and turn the clay to create an opening for the pinch pot. To do this, keep your thumb in the middle and your other four fingers on the outside. Pinch the clay with your thumb and the other four fingers while slowly turning the ball of clay.

Step 4: Continue to pinch the clay until the pot’s opening is to your desired size. Be careful not to make too large an opening that the walls of the pot become too thin. If it is too thin, it will collapse.

Step 5: After completing the pinch pot’s main shape, begin to smooth out the clay’s surface. Use your fingers or a rubber rib. 

Step 6: Attach a foot to the bottom of the pinch pot. A foot will keep the bowl stable when it sits on a surface. However, this step is optional, depending on the pot’s intended use. One way to make a foot is to attach a coil. A coil is similar to a snake-like shape.

Step 7: Add decorations and designs if desired. No special tools are necessary to cut the clay but can be used. A toothpick will do the job of cutting clay as long as it is soft enough.

Step 8: Once the clay is air-dried, paint the clay using acrylic paint. 

Ideas to take your pinch pot to the next level: 

  • Cut the sides of the pinch pot into sections. Round off or point each section to look like a petal. Paint it to look like a sunflower for the summer!
  • Add animal features to the pinch pot. 
  • Turn the pinch pot on its side and add eyes, teeth, and a tongue to create a creature. 

Learning and Discussion Questions: 

1. Air-dry clay is very simple to make at home. Have a parent help you heat the dough!

2. Watch this short video to learn about the science behind clay and, more specifically, the clay found in North Carolina. 

Thank you to our sponsor, PNC Arts Alive!, for helping to make this video possible!

PNC Bank Banner