Deptford Plain Robert Beneved Deptford Plain


  1. Building the base or bottom of the pot is an important step. The base will serve as the foundation for the coils that will be built on it, layer-by-layer, later on in the process. The tetrapodal legs should follow the taper of the sides of the vessel and must be level enough to allow the vessel to be stable when sitting on its legs.
  2. The base is often, but not necessarily, made as a one-piece shallow bowl formed from a single lump of clay. The base may also simply begin as part of the succession of coil from its center outward and upward to completion. In this case, modern Native American potters support the base of the pot with cloth to prevent premature drying and to support the vessel after it is made to prevent it from being deformed while handling it.  The cloth will also keep the clay from sticking to the working serface.  Native Amarican potters sometimes used a basket in which to form their pots.  The beginner may want to use a form such as a appropriately shapped bowl over or in which to build coils.  If this is used, cover the form vessel with celophane to prevent the clay from sticking to the form.
  3. If podal supports are to be added to the vessel, it would be best to add them at this point. Bases are often recovered as one piece with podal supports attached. If podal supports are not to be added, it will be necessary to support the base as you build the succeeding layers of coil. A small indenture in a layer of sand lined with cloth will offer the needed support while not deforming the form of the base.
  4. If the base is to be rounded or conical, I have found it helpful to support the bottom of the vessel in a container like a bowl or even a sand indention to prevent the base from being deformed while adding support to the vessel walls while being built.
  5. Once the base is formed, it should be allowed to harden, but not allowed to completely dry as it must be molded to adhere to the first layer of coil. The clay we have recommended will remain workable for a day or more, so don't feel rushed in your work.
  6. Some pottery types such as Watts Bar Cord Marked are believed to have been pressed into the interior of a basket. The addition of heat to the clay would have fired it to some extent and the clay would have retained its vessel form. This discovery may account for the basket-like impressions that later decorated the pottery.



011 more coils 010 merging third coil


  1. Adding the first coil must be done carefully to insure that the succeeding coils will not separate from the base.
  2. Select a lump of tempered clay and roll it out into an even coil of sufficient length to make a complete layer around the vessel.
  3. Cut one end of the coil squarely while the other end should be cut to a long taper.
  4. Once the coil is made, it must be attached to the top of the base. The tapered end should be attached firmly to the top of the base to begin the coil sequence.
  5. Ancient potters used their fingers, a smoothing stone or trowel to smooth the clay and blend the layers together. Smoothing the layers of coil together seals the pours of the clay, compacting it and adding a layer of satin patina to add to its durability and its ability to hold water.
  6. Once attached, the layer should be allowed to harden slightly before adding the next layer of coil.
  7. The next layer of coil should be simply attached to the squared end of the preceding coil. Do not attach the coil layers to their own end, but rather let the layers spiral to completion, not allowing the coil joints to end at the same point. Rather, stagger the joints in each layer of coil to add strength to the vessel wall.
  8. Smooth each layer together as you add them until you have achieved the desired size of your vessel.
  9. The end of the final layer of coil will be tapered just as the first layer was tempered to create a smooth, flat lip.

FORMING THE LIP   dallasplainles2lip


  1. The lip is also a defining part of the pottery type so refer to the type definition before finishing the lip.  This step should serve to level the rim and insure its stability.  Many early potters finished their rims by tapping it with a paddle, sometimes leaving markings along the rim.  This paddling technique helped level the rim while compounding the clay along an area of the vessel that would receive a lot of ware.
  2. Modern Cherokee potters often use a kitchen knife to trim the excess clay from the lip before finishing its shape.
  3. A simple rim and lip are the best choice for your first pot. Lips on the Deptford type can be easily rounded.
  4. Some pottery types during some periods used scalloped edges or notches in their rim design. Again, be sure to check the details on the type you are making.