Lily Pearmain Ceramics

Process : Throwing a doughnut

ProcessLily Pearmain

This series aims to bring you closer to the making process, offering insights into the studio and glimpses of processes that aren't always evident in the the final piece. 

The process of throwing my 'doughnuts' is one that isn't immediately clear. I'm often met with disbelief when I tell people they're hollow, so I wanted to demonstrate how it's done. 

There's a myth that circulates amongst potters, that air bubbles cause explosions in the kiln. It's just not true. The hollow part of the doughnut is one big air bubbles, and I don't put a hole in many of my doughnuts and I've never had a single explosion. Cracks, sure, my joins aren't always perfect. But never an explosion. 



Centering clay is the thing students struggle with most. It's the process of getting the clay to be completely aligned in the centre of the wheel, the whole way round. So that even when the wheel is spinning fast, the clay appears to be still, or 'silent'. Uncentered clay would lead to a very wobbly pot.


Open up

Normally, 'opening up' means creating the base of the pot. But seeing as the doughnuts are without a base in the centre, I pull out the entire weight of clay to expose the wooden batt I throw on, attached to the wheelhead. This part is the tricky bit when it comes to making doughnuts, in my opinion. Because there's no base, you have to keep a really steady hand so that the clay doesn't slip and get pulled off centre.



By pushing down into the clay, I can create the base and separate the clay that will become the walls of the doughnut. The important bit at this stage is to go directly into the middle. You need the walls to be of even thickness.


Pull up the inner wall


Just like any other pot.


Pull up the outer wall

If the doughnut was compressed well, the walls should have similar amounts of clay and will pull to the same height and thickness.


Push the walls together


Slowly, slowly...


Until they meet

When two become one. Compressing the join further by pushing together the walls even after they've met ensures that it doesn't open while drying.