Tips for throwing a bottle vase, or a soliflore on a potter’s wheel


Soliflore by Matthieu Liévois

If you already know the basics of ceramics and want to get into more technical work on your potter’s wheel, here are some tips for throwing a bottle vase. If you are a rookie potter, we recommend that you start by learning the techniques for throwing simple shapes such as the ball, cylinder and bowl, which are available in our beginner’s online pottery course (in French only for now).

Before you tackle making a vase with a long, narrow neck, you need to try the technique of the bottle neck using a throwing stick. Find out how to make a bottle in the 20-minute video available in the intermediate online pottery course (in French only for now).

And now, the potter’s tip for the bottle vase!


Make sure you have enough clay at the top to ensure you can pull up


When you make a cylinder (which is the starting shape for a vase), you will usually tend to make a fairly thick base. As you pull up, the neck gets thinner and thinner. The difficulty with soliflore vases is that the neck is often very long and thin and can easily collapse. For that reason, you should do the opposite: begin with a neck that is thicker than the base.

To get a narrow neck, you must start with a neck that is large enough to slide your hand inside. Then you can pull up and gradually tighten your hands around the neck to force the clay to contract and rise.

But if the clay at the collar is too thin before you start tightening, it will twist as you tighten, like a curtain creating folds, instead of contracting and pushing the excess clay up.


Soliflore by Matthieu Liévois

Practice turning cylinders that are thicker at the top than at the bottom, and then you will have the necessary amount of clay to squeeze the neck to the width of a finger. If you want an even thinner neck, you can eventually use a chopstick or a pen to replace your finger.


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animated by Matthieu Liévois,
potter-ceramist for over 40 years and founder of the Creamik School

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