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Beaker Making

"Beaker Folk" potter Bill Crumbleholme makes replicas of Bronze Age beakers and urns, here is his story.
Click on the images if you want to see a larger version.

Pinching the base, with top ring shown
This series of photos shows how I construct a replica Bronze Age Beaker, using a simple pinching technique.

I use a heavily grogged earthenware clay, which is cut in two pieces and made into “thumb pots”.

One is the base and the other, with no bottom, is the top.

I pinch out the shapes and leave them to stiffen.
The top has a groove pushed around the lower edge, with flaps that fit over the base piece on the inside and outside, this helps me to locate the pieces together and forms a strong “tongued and grooved” joint.

Two sections being joined together
Forming the whole shape having joined the
After I join the sections, I thin the pot further and refine the shape by more squeezing and scraping.
I leave it to dry and stiffen a bit more, then wipe the surface with clay slip using my father's shaving brush to make a smoother surface.

I then impress the decoration motifs around the beaker, usually using a wooden comb to make multiple rows of dots in a variety of herring-bone patterns.

Sometimes I use a cord or rope to make circular spirals.
Wiping the beaker smooth with slip
Bonfiring pots
After the pot has dried I fire it in an open bonfire, together with more pots, such as urns, made the same way.

The initial stage of firing is a slow roast, when the water is driven off over several hours of my careful tending.

I place the pots in a ring, with fire on the inside and outside to promote even heating.

When dried out I then pile more timber right over the pots and get a good old blaze going for about half an hour. The temperature should reach 850C and the pots turn ceramic.

I get quite a few breakages, but some great successes.

More details can be seen on my website at

The PDF file below can be downloaded if you wish to print this information out (The images are a bit low resolution).

Bill Crumbleholme,
3 Oct 2011, 07:47