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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eshelman Pottery summer internship

This summer Alec and I spent a month in Elizabeth, IL working at Eshelman Pottery. My father-in-law, Paul Eshelman, creates highly functional, red stoneware pottery.

"Aesthetically [Paul Eshelman] has been guided by Japanese and Chinese crafts, European design movements and simple utilitarian objects such as those produced by American Shakers. The best wares of these movements are beautifully conceived and crafted and are thoroughly functional. "

For more information and images of Eshelman Pottery, visit

Through my time with Paul at Eshelman Pottery, I learned about the basic steps involved in the slipcasting method, efficiently loading kilns, finishing pots, and the marriage of function and form. We also fit in a few "Throwing on the Wheel 101" lessons.

Step 1: The master molds are carefully designed and crafted from Ultracal, a gypsum cement with high surface hardness and compression strength.

Step 2: the plaster molds are created from the master.

Step 3: Slip, a liquid form of clay, is poured into the mold. The plaster absorbs the water to create a clay body. Excess slip is poured out, and the form is removed from the plaster mold.

Step 4: the pieces are scraped/finished and bisque fired.
Step 5: Waxing, glazing, firing.

Images of finished pieces from

In addition to working at Eshelman pottery, I gave lessons on clay hand building techniques to a local high school student, Valerie.

She received two blue ribbons at the county 4-h fair. Congratulations Valerie!

Throwing on the wheel took a lot of practice, patience, and perseverance.


  1. Great descriptions and photos, Kate. We miss you!

  2. Hi Kate. Thanks for joining my blog. I added your blog to my blog roll. Check it out!

  3. Amazing work and great pictures! How long was this internship?