I start with a pound and a half of clay, and throw a thick plate, about 6 inches in diameter. It's best to have a well-defined rim, as the rim will be softened a bit by the stretching in later steps.
Then, using about a one-pound ball of clay, I throw a bottomless cylinder also about six inches in diameter, and about 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall.
When removing the cylinder from the wheel, I gently press it into an oval shape.
I then peel up the thick plate and gently slap it down on the table surface, alternating sides until it is oval shaped. Next, i place toilet paper on the oval plate, and place the oval cylinder on top of it, stretching if necessary.
To make the "roof" of the butter dish, I roll out a slab and cut it into an oval a little larger than the cylinder. After letting this breathe for ten or fifteen minutes (handbuilding is all about timing!) I place it on top of the partially constructed butter dish, and stretch it downwards into the cylinder. I let it rest until early leatherhard in this postion, and then remove it, scratch & slurry the top of the cylinder, and flip it over so it creates a domed top. I trim off the excess and then, using a paddle and a gummy rib (the really bendy red ones are the best), I smooth out the seam. All it needs is something to grip, and we're done!
Lori Keenan Watts (aka me) is a potter, gardener, and avid reader from Augusta, Maine. Though I started my university education in surface design for fabric, clay quickly grabbed me by the heart and redirected my creative impulses. I have been a potter for over 25 years -- hard to believe. The most valuable years of my ceramic education were spent in graduate study at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, under the tutalage of Dan Anderson and Paul Dresang.
My aesthetic is guided by my love of the material itself. What fascinates me and makes a pot compelling for me is the clay-ness of clay: the squooshiness that becomes the adamantine solidity. I also like patterns, unexpected proportions, and when the flame comes along and dissolves part of my careful decorating efforts! I am obstinate about this aesthetic, to a point which might be called pig-headed, but hey, if you don't like what you make, why bother?
My happy little family also includes my husband, musician and photographer (and author of the book Alewife) Doug Watts; five cats; and a turtle, all foundlings and rescues of one stripe or another.