These handmade clay pots couldn’t be easier to make and are more delightful the more naive they appear. My 2-year-old and I created a few one afternoon, which now hold beautiful succulents.
We used the pinching method, which has been around since ancient times and requires no artistic ability. This easy and educational project makes the perfect homemade gift, and with Earth Day on the horizon, would be a fun activity for kids of all ages. So roll up your sleeves and follow these simple steps to create Pinch Pots your whole family can enjoy.
- oven bake clay (8 ounces make 4 pots of various size. I used white and terra cotta.)
- 2-3 small plants (no larger than 4″)
- potting soil (for succulents, use a cactus or succulent soil)
- acrylic paint (optional)
- paintbrush and/or sponge (optional)
- washi tape (optional)
- Begin with a ball of clay just a bit larger than a golf ball. (For larger vessels, begin with a ball of clay just larger than a tennis ball.) Press both thumbs into the clay leaving a generous thickness at the bottom, about 1/3”.
- From here, use your pointer fingers and thumbs to pinch their way from the bottom to the top, rotating the clay as you go. Pinch UP, not OUT. I find it helpful to place the clay in my left hand to support the base and walls as they grow, pinching with my right (reverse if you’re left-handed). This also helps to keep the walls from fanning out.
Note: My 2-year-old had a little trouble with the “up, and not out” instruction so we had fun pinching tiny ‘trays’ that are the perfect resting place for small air plants, which require no soil. To make the tray, start with a small ball of clay and just begin pinching until you have a small disc with edges rounded up.
- Pinch the clay up from the bottom, but keep the base thicker than the top of the walls for stability sake. Continue the process (gently pinching and rotating), until the walls feel a consistent thickness. The small ball of clay should become about 2 inches tall and the larger ball of clay 4-5 inches tall.
Note: every so often, pat the bottom of the pot on a hard surface to reinforce a solid flat base.
- Use a straw to puncture a small hole at the base.
- Bake the clay according to directions. Once cooled, you can pot your plants right away or decorate the pot!
- We used a sponge and paintbrush for the circles and washi tape for the triangle design. For the latter, I placed the tape in a simple “X” pattern all around the vessel and let my daughter paint the exposed clay parts.
Note: A marbled look is made by simply combining two colors of clay. Then roll, flat, fold and repeat in your hands until you’re pleased with the marble design, and then begin the Pinch Pot process with a ball of marbled clay.
- Once you’re done with the pot, add potting soil and succulents (or simply your air plant), and place in your home to enjoy! See below for care instructions.
Taking Care of Your New Plants
Place succulents in a bright, sunny indoor spot (they’re the perfect size for a windowsill). As a general rule of thumb, water every 3-4 days, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Alter depending on your climate — less often for humid environments, more in dry environments. The small hole at the bottom of the pot shouldn’t leak water or soil but do be mindful of where you place it. To be safe, you can sit it on a small dish to catch any drips when watering and consult this helpful guide to keeping succulents indoors.
Air plants, on the other hand, thrive in an environment with well-circulated air and indirect sunlight. But don’t be fooled, they still need to be watered every 4-5 days with a good soak. This is a helpful guide to caring for your air plants.