7 Best Surfaces for Hand Building

Hand building is a popular ceramic technique that involves shaping clay by hand rather than using a pottery wheel. It allows for greater creativity and versatility, as you can create various forms and shapes using various tools and techniques.

While the clay is the most important element in hand building, the surface on which you work can also impact the final product. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best surfaces for hand-building to help you find the perfect one for your needs.

List of 7 Best Surfaces For Hand Building


1. Stone

You pick the natural or original stone for hand building as its surface is unfinished and excellent for working. Various stones, including marble, granite, slate, and quartz, are now sold in the market. In addition, these stones are natural and they are of top quality.

You use the unpolished side of the stone because it is soft and non-drift. The stones are readily available at any stone shop where you can buy and use them for molding the clay. Besides, the stones are easily cleaned well, but the stones, like granite, readily grab spots. Furthermore, to prevent color and particle movement from one clay to another, ensure you thoroughly wipe out the surface after each usage.

2. Plaster

Plaster has an excellent grip and is also a good option for hand-building the clay. You can use plaster by spreading its different surfaces, which is the best part of the plaster. If you have a solid wooden desk, you can spread the plaster on it. In addition, if you have a large jar, you can fill it with plaster and start the hand-building process.

But when you are using plaster for hand building, you must be careful because it flakes into tiny little pieces and settles in clay, and that’s a drawback; when you fire the clay, these particles cause a break in the pot. Another drawback is that plaster may absorb excessively and cause your clay to dry up too quickly.

3. Wood

Using wood for hand-building clay is very common because anyone can quickly obtain it. For hand building, you need a table made of wood, and your chosen wood must be unpolished and of high quality to avoid cracking and fracturing.

In addition, molding your clay in wood will provide a grip that is an excellent absorbing material without absorbing all the mixture of clay. After molding of clay, then you wash it.

4. Plasterboard

The plasterboards are easily found on the market. Therefore, they have the advantage of being trimmed to any desired size. Besides, you would not worry about the plaster particles infecting your clay because the surface of the plasterboard is covered. Furthermore, you covered the plasterboard edges by wrapping them with tape for more safety. 

5. Concrete/Concrete floor

You can also edge or mold your clay to make beautiful pottery items on the concrete or concrete floor. Therefore, it is resistant, and clay does not attach to the concrete floor or boards. Besides, concrete will not infect your clay with pieces, and shattered pieces as plaster will infect your clay with its components.

The concrete surface in which you are molding your clay will be smooth. Moreover, you can also make a concrete slab at home in which you have to make two layers of concrete. 

6. Canvas

If you have a table in your house, then you expand the canvas at the top of the table, and to keep the canvas in its position, you must cover its edges with tiny needles or a needle gun, so it does not move when you are wedging. The canvas cover board can also be used, and it is not expensive. Besides, the drawback of using canvas is that it produces clay dust. But you avoid it by washing it every time after hand building to keep it clean. 

7. Ceramic tiles  

The surface of Ceramic tiles is simple and smooth to maintain, and they are excellent to use with clay. Besides, this surface works well for hand building and wedging and makes different or beautiful pottery items. Tiles work as a ware board because of their high grip and absorption. Therefore, many potters utilize ceramic tiles while hand-building to preserve their pottery. 

Additional considerations for your clay for hand-building surface

  • If the clay contains a lot of water, it will stick to any surface of the hand building; then can fix it by spreading a small layer of corn flour on the surface of the hand building.
  • If the surface is on the top, it can impose pressure on your hands, arms, and shoulder during hand building, then the surface must maintain a level position.
  • During wedging or hand-building, you apply pressure on the clay; if the surface is not fixed or secure, then your surface will move. Hence, you must secure the surface.


In this article, you read about the best surface for hand building, and they are explained, and ceramic tiles surface is best for hand building. So, before you hand build or wedge your clay, read the surface described. Hence, the surface also matters with the type of clay you use, and when you work with all surfaces, you get to know what is best.

Leave a Comment