Making a lidded oval baker.


A year ago I tried making a couple of large lidded oval bakers. They turned out well and were sold as soon as they came out of the kiln. (Why does Dave Ericson a;ways show up to help unload?) I decided to try a longer run of the last week. Here is a simplified step by step of their making.
I started by throwing a series of low wide cylinders and reshaping them into a trefoil type oval.

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The rim is thrown thick and formed into a gallery to accept the lid.

After the body of the pot has set up a while but is still pliable I throw the bottom. I like throwing rather than rolling it because i get that nice spiral in the center.
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The body of the pot is then placed on the bottom and “wiggled” around until I feel it start to stick. I then smooth down the edges with my finger inside and out and cut all the way around it with a wooden knife tool and then trim away the excess clay from the bottom with a fettling knife.

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Using a triangular rib I scrape away excess clay from the base and undercut it a little. I like to leave the “deckle edges” where they occur.

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With the oval baker still on the wheel I stick a couple of handles on and pull them in place.

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Next I cover the bakers with light plastic and roll out a slab of clay a little bigger than the pot for each one and set them aside.

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After the slab has had time to stiffen up some I use a hard rubber rib to press the slab into the rim of the baker carefully stretching it to give it an inverted dome shape.


After I have finished shaping the lid I trim around the edge of the baker with a needle tool and let the lids and bakers dry and stiffen together.

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When the lid is stiff enough to handle but still pliable I turn it over and trim it along the line left in the clay from the rim of the baker using a needle tool on the outside and a fettling knife on the inside. I also smooth the rim of the lid with my fingers and a little water if needed.

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With the lid trimmed and smoothed I pull a strap handle, bend it and attach it to the lid. I fit the lid to the baker by gently adjusting the shape of the baker to conform to the lid and by shaping the lid with a sureform. This is only going to work if the baker is still somewhat pliable. THe moisture content of the baker is critical and can be maintianed by wetting the baker and keeping it covered until the lid is ready.

These six bakers were made and put together over a three day period.

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38 Responses to “Making a lidded oval baker.”


    Thanks so much for the detailed instructions. I am an amature and I can’t wait to try this. Thanks, Elaine

  2. Patti Says:

    Loved it, good explanation and photos. I have a try at the bread baker in the bisque kiln now.

  3. Andrew Says:

    hi Joe,
    you still have the best pottery blog i know of. i have been reading your blog for several years and i really enjoy it. the pottery posts, the canyon posts and all the rest. thanks. Andy

  4. Darrel "Chopper" Bowman Says:

    Thanks Joe!
    I’ve made oval bakers for years but never had the nerve to do lids—can’t
    wait to try ‘em.

  5. Patricia Griffin Says:

    Joe - Thanks for all the great photos and descriptions. Judy Shreve mentioned your demos in her blog and I’m so happy to have checked out these demos. I’m going to try the one mentioned in an earlier post about the ball of clay in the center of large platters to prevent “S” cracks, which have been hampering my work lately. Thank you!

  6. Michael Says:

    Do you have to be careful in shaping the casserole. Seems to me if the shape is not a uniform when you flip the lid over it won’t fit.

  7. Joe Says:

    Yes, you have to be pretty careful. Remember that when I am fitting the lid to the dish both pieces have pretty good moisture content so they are fairly flexible. They fit quite well.

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    Thanks for sharing this in photos that I could scan and absorb in just a short time. So many potters do only videos now, and they surely have their place, but with most of them it takes so much longer to get the point.

    My question is about the bilateral symmetry for base and lid. Do you try to perfect that, so the lid is interchangeable, in terms of left to right? Any tips for doing that? Otherwise, maybe we should be making pear shapes so the user can tell right away which way the lids will fit!! (Though I totally LOVE the trefoil shape!)

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