animal pinch pot

Clay Pinch Pot Animals

Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater


Children will learn how to create pinch pot animals using air-dry clay.

What You Need:

  • Clay (we used Crayola Air-Dry Clay)
  • Clay Tools and Gadgets (toothpicks, wooden craft sticks, rulers, screws, nuts, bolts, firm toothbrushes)
  • Newspaper or scrap canvas pieces to cover your work surface.
  • Containers and sponges
  • Water
  • Paint (we used Crayola Washable Metallic Paint)
  • Mod Podge (optional)

What You Do:

A pinch pot is a simple way to make hand-made pottery. Pinch pots have been created since ancient times.

Start with a palm-sized piece of clay. Using the palms of your hands, roll the clay into a ball.

Place the ball of clay in your hand, or on a flat surface. Gently poke your thumb into the center.

Rotate (either in your hand or on a flat surface) while pinching the clay gently between your thumb and fingers. You may need to wet your fingers slightly to smooth out any cracks.

Pinch and turn, pinch and turn… But, don’t pinch too much because you don’t want the edges of your pot to become too thin.

You should end up with something that looks like the beginning of a little dish. This will be the animal’s body.

Once the pinch pot is complete, you will need to attach some other pieces of clay to it using the “score and slip” method. (For example: A small round ball for a head, four small balls for feet and a cone shape or a ball for a tail).

Flip the pot upside down and make sure the clay is scratched where it will be joined (with a toothpick or firm toothbrush). Also, add some water (just a small amount) before another piece is added.

Here is a lop eared rabbit pinch pot animal.

Details have been added with wood screws.

Once the clay has dried (about 4 to 5 days), the animals can be painted.

Liquid tempera (or poster) and acrylic paints are both great choices. But stay away from watercolors when using air-dry clay. Reason being, the water will soften the clay (because it hasn’t been fired in a kiln).

If using liquid tempera or poster paints with air-dry clay, avoid using water (because your clay will turn to mush) and instead, make use of a painting mat to wipe excess paint off of brushes.

For air-dry clay, I love using Crayola Metallic Paints. They are washable and have a really nice sheen, making the finished pieces look as though they have been glazed and fired in a kiln. I also really love the Crayola glitter paints. But, any paint will do (except watercolors!).

You can also add a coat of Mod Podge to the painted pieces, once they are dry. In addition to making the clay projects look shiny, Mod Podge also seals the work.

Written By: Andrea Mulder-Slater


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Children will learn how to create pinch pot animals using air-dry clay.

Making a Hedgehog from Clay

1) Form two equal sized balls of clay, approximately 1/2 pound each.

2) Hold ball in left hand and push right thumb into the middle of the ball leaving about 1/4″ – 1/2″ thickness at the bottom.

3) Slowly and evenly pinch the clay, starting at the bottom rotating the ball, moving toward the top edge. Leave about 1/4″ thickness at edge.

4) Once both pinch pots have been created, score with a pin tool both edges.

5) Apply slip heavily to one pot.

6) Join pots. They might not fit exactly, this is fine. Slide the back of the thumb from one pot over seam onto the other.

7) Once the seam is completely sealed, air is trapped like a balloon and the object can be altered to create desired shape by gently rolling and pressing.

8) To form a head, make another much smaller pinch pot and attach it to body form using the slip and score method described above (not shown).

9) Add legs and feet, always remembering to slip and score everything.

10) To form spines, roll small pieces of clay into approximately 1/2″ long coils. Fold in half and press folded end onto clay body, smearing and smoothing as you go.

11) Cut a hole on the bottom to allow air to escape while drying and during firing. Also, create an air passage between the head and the body.

12) Dry very slowly by lightly covering the finished work.

13) High firing (cone 6 or higher) is recommended to insure the spines are not too fragile in the finished product.

Making a clay Hedgehog from clay – step by step instructions – video included ]]>