Saturday, May 25, 2013

Counter Top Compost Crock - "Part One"

Wheel Thrown Compost Crock
by DirtKicker Pottery

I took on the challenge to  make a wheel thrown Compost Crock because it sounded like a great way to stretch my throwing skills.   I didn't know much about composting crocks, so I did some research and found out they are not just a garbage can for banana peels.  A functional compost crock requires some features which turned out to be hurdles during the making process.

My goal was to make the crock with a fired size of 9-10" tall and 7-8" wide.  This would mean I would need to throw 11" tall and 8-9" wide.  Easy enough.... umm not really.  From the beginning I made a big mistake - I should not have used my soft porcelain blend clay.   Not only is porcelain expensive for this size piece, it's difficult to get the height needed. It would be best to use a clay with some grog to help make it easier to pull the crock walls taller and thinner.

I don't have much experience throwing larger pieces, so I thought I would start out with a 5lb lump which was too small. I only got about 8" high.   Then I moved on to 6lbs, which I got to 9" high.  Finally I threw 7.5lbs, which was the ticket for 11" tall and 8.5" wide. 
Most of my photos are with the 6lb lump.  By the time I got to the 7.5lb lump, I forgot about taking photos.
Centering 6-8lbs lumps wasn't bad.  I just started with centering the top portion of the clay and slowly cone centered the entire lump.
When opening I used the heel of my hand.

I left the bottom about 1/3" thick and compressed it well.

When pulling up the walls I kept the pulls as even as possible.  I left a good amount of clay at the rim for strength.  I kept the top fairly narrow until the final rib shaping.   As the walls got taller I slowed the speed of the wheel so I wouldn't lose center.

Final thrown crock
7.5lbs - 11" tall, 8.5" wide

I decided to design this crock to be used with a flanged lid on a straight rim.  Many people who use compost crocks use the biodegradable crock liners and it turns out that a lid gallery makes it really difficult to remove the full liners from the crock.

The lid is a whole other can of worms (pun intended).

Apparently the compost sweats inside the crock and condensation can form under the lid, so the lid needs ventilation holes and a sleeve to fit a carbon filter.  So that is the next hurdle that I will address.   

To be continued…

All designs, photos and content herein are owned by and ©copyright Cindy Gilliland.  


  1. I can't wait to see it Cindy. I keep a large pottery bowl on my kitchen counter and just empty it every other day in my compost corner. I will have to check out these liners you speak of!

    1. Sandy, here's the link to the bio bags -

  2. The compost crock that I made on the wheel I did as a section pot. It also used about 7-8 pounds of clay.

    The customer did not want ventilation holes or a place for a filter.

    The lid I made was actually the bottom of the second section, turned upside down.

    1. Judy, I would love to see the one you made. Do you have a link to a photo? Did your lid wrap over the outside of the crock rim? I actually made a covered rim lid for the large size crock, but then started thinking about condensation build up and possible leaking down the outside of the crock. Let me know. I'm super interested in the crock you made.
      Thanks :)

  3. Looking good! To make a little spot for the carbon filter to fit into you should be able to just press your finger in a little as you make the flange of the lid. (I'm just looking at the one I have sitting on my counter. It doesn't take much to hold the carbon in place.)

  4. Great article Cindy. Looking forward to part 2. Not quite sure what a carbon filter is though? I don't know if it helps but when I throw larger pots I throw the base first and put a coin in the center. Then I center more clay on top of the thrown base. When you open the pot out you know when to stop when your finger touches the coin.