Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
October 7, 2000 - Issue 20

Pinch Pots
By Vicki adapted from
TeachersFirst - Classroom Resources & Lesson Plans for K-12 Teachers

By following these directions, you can create a traditional style of earthenware used by Eastern Woodland Native Americans. The women used clay found in streams and rivers to fashion pottery for cooking and eating. Your pot, however, will be used only for decoration, so we suggest you use the self-drying clay available at most craft stores.

Caution: DO NOT use these pots to hold food or liquids. They are not safe for food use, and they are not water resistant. :-)


  • self-drying clay (no firing or baking needed)
  • a small container of water
  • butcher paper to cover tables
  • damp paper towels
  • assorted shells, sticks, stones, etc., for making designs in the pots


  1. Take a small handful of clay and shape into a round ball.
  2. While holding the ball in the palm of one hand, take the thumb of the other hand and make an indentation in the center of the ball. Keep turning the ball of clay and pressing down with the thumb to within 1/2 inch of the bottom.
  3. When the pot is the desired depth, rotate while pinching the sides with the thumb (inside) and fingers (outside).
  4. Work from the bottom up until you have achieved the desired shape. As the clay dries, it may begin cracking. Keep dipping your fingers in the small container of water and wipe the surface of the pot frequently with damp paper towels.
  5. When the pot is finished, use small objects found in nature to etch designs in the pot. Remember to "autograph" your piece of art by carving your initials in the bottom, and remember to treat your artwork gently. It will break.
  6. Allow several days to completely dry.

Fill your pot with dried flowers or beautiful acorns, fall pods, and seeds.



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