5 DIY Pinch Pot Ideas for Beginners

Not ready for the wheel? Pinch clay into pots, mugs, cups, and more

Creativity 7 min read Sep 25, 2019

If you don’t know it yet, you can do pottery without a wheel. And we don’t mean kiddie pots or rudimentary receptacles that literally won’t hold water; we’re talking about real, functional, beautiful pieces you’ll be proud to display at home or gift to a loved one. The method is called pinch pottery.

The pinch method has been around for ages; in fact, some of the oldest ceramics were made with it. As the name implies, you sculpt a pot or vessel using pinch-like motions with your thumb and fingers, moving them around to thin out the sides to widen, lengthen, or shape. It sounds simple enough and you can learn quickly from experienced artisans, if you want to do pinch pottery like a pro.

Creating with clay opens a world of possibilities. And because pottery is a craft in which you can create from scratch and customise as you please—from choosing what type of clay to use to deciding between a glossy or colourful finish, or perhaps something more understated—your clay pieces can be the perfect medium for your artsy expression.

And where better to find creative inspiration for your first project than on Instagram?

Thumb pots

Thumb pots are about the size of a kiwi fruit but can go as large as a mug. These small pots are traditionally used to grow seeds, until the seedling is ready for transplanting. Despite its utilitarian origins, a thumb pot adorned can be useful for storing small items such as buttons, earrings, candles, or your go-to lipstick.

Serving ware

A unique platter or salad bowl can liven up any meal, as well as turn into a conversation piece if you’re hosting. Bragging rights for making the pieces yourself are a bonus! But don’t make just one. Keep a stash in hand for determined guests who might want to buy your wares off your own dinner table.


Making your own beads—to personalise your accessories or for use as supplies for your own beading hobby—can be a rewarding venture, both creatively and financially. You get to make and use the exact types of bead you want for your design. Needless to say, you don’t have to buy beads, but you do have to spend for the clay and supplies. Remember, though, that you can charge a premium for handmade beads; they exude a charm you won’t find in the machine-cut kind!

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Stringin' beads!

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My latest batch of beads for my latest batch of wall-hangings 📿 Also: I will NOT be at the SLU night market this eve 🙁 I planned to but I hadn't paid for it yet and I need to work on my research paper "Technology in the Criminal Justice System," (yeeeeuk! Gotta love prerequisite classes!) due tomorrow, and do a bit of catch-up for tomorrow's Fremont Market. Where I WILL be, rain or shine! . . . . #ceramics #pottery #pnw #ceramicist #handpainted #makersgonnamake #midcenturymodern #handmade #rustic #craftmanship #designer #madeinseattle #handcrafted #smallbusiness #contemporaryceramics #design #surfacepattern #wallhanging #pottersofinstagram #makersmovement #handmadebeads #clay #stoneware #mobile #cremerging #scandidesign #ceramicbeads #mobiles

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Ceramic pets

Kawaii is the culture of cuteness in Japan, which has taken over global merchandise. Because who can turn away from round little figures with large eyes and small mouths, begging for you to pick them up? While these clay cuties here are not necessarily Japanese, you do get the same feel-good vibe.

Mugs and cups

Drinking from a mug that doesn’t look like a dozen others in the cupboard can give you the extra kick no coffee buzz can match. You can make your cups as tall or wide or curvy as you want, fashion a handle tailored to your grip, and paint them in the colours that you or the people you want to give them to will absolutely adore.

There’s so much more to pinch pottery, beyond this starter list. The only limit is your imagination. Fall in love with one of our fantastic pottery classes in Melbourne and Sydney.

Will your creation be the next #ceramicsofinstagram hotshot? Perhaps, just a handmade little treasure you’d rather just share with close friends and family? Whatever it is, we hope your new skill will adorn your life in unexpected ways.