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I am being asked to make a few chalices. They do not need to be identical, in fact better if they are unique, just essentially the same size in height, width, and capacity. I know someone here makes chalices (Pres?) and others have commented but Search is not turning up much. What I am looking for is the best advice for getting started, as I am inexperienced in this kind of production. What is your experience and thoughts on whether thrown as a single piece vs. doing the stem and cup separately and then attaching? Things to look out for? Drying tips, etc. etc.


I checked out a couple of videos, but there was an especially good one I saw just recently that now I can't locate--it was a well-known potter and he used various gauges, threw the stem first, put a pin hole in the closed bottom, and used a tool to pull vertical flats down the stems for interest. They were glazed a greenish blue, I think. I think he also had a chop but I just can't recall his name, if anyone knows what I'm talking about.   :(


Anyway, any comments will be appreciated! I'll be electric firing to cone 6 and using stoneware--probably the Vashon gray, tho my client wants to see samples in the black Basaltic (he says he doesn't "mind" the little bloats that may occur-I explained that throwing the stuff ups the ante on "issues" with firing and even "invisible" cracks = leaks---this should be interesting. :P )  


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Pres, is the best person to talk to.  He makes some every year, from the sounds of it.


If it were me, I'd throw it in two pieces; a round bottomed cup, and a stem with no bottom.  


I did find this video, where it's thrown as one piece:  


Usually his videos, he makes note of what he is doing.  Not the case here, so I can't tell, if the stem is open into the cup or on the bottom and he collared the top close.


If they are functional, I would go with two piece.  If you throw it as one, and have that narrow area in the stem, it is very difficult to clean, and would become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.  


I pretty sure Pres goes the two piece route, because he made himself a special Giffen Grip holder, specifically for the chalices.  

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I would go with a two piece form.  It's easier, and you have a bit more control over thickness.


I haven't made one in a long time, since mine were goblets for wine drinking and not religious objects.  I eventually decided the color of wine was important enough that glass was the most appropriate material for goblets.  But I always enjoyed making them, so maybe I was foolish to stop.


Here's one from 35 years ago:




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Hi all, Hmm seems the one day I was away, every one seems to be clambering!  Thanks for the vote of confidence. At any rate, I can give you a few tips about the chalice and patens.


  • Throw off of the hump, first stems, then bowls.
  • Throw the stems upright as if they would be used. Use ribs to put in grooves and decoration. I usually add a little bloated area in the upper third of the stem, as it makes it easier-more comfortable to grip.
  • When throwing the bowls leave a little extra at the base for a trim fit cup. More on this later.
  • Trim the stems first. Best is to throw a chuck column that they will fit into. Try to keep the top edge of chuck dry and place stems upside down in the chuck, and trim. I try not to trim through leaving a small hole in the bottom of the stem for air passage.
  • Trim the cups with one stem in mind. I trim them so that a particular stem fits into an area of the base. This is a cup cut into the base the diameter of the stem top, only about 1/4-1/2" deep. Then score and magic water or slip. Place the stem into the cup and while wheel is turning level up and firm up the cup/stem join with a wooden or rubber rib.  I try to design the stem and cup join so that they don't look joined there, but higher on the cup.
  • Remove from wheel and set upside down covered for first day then turn upright and uncover.

There are a few pictures and videos on my blog at the posting

Chalices for Communion sets, my way


Best of luck, I have been doing it now for over 30 years, and only time, research, and trial and error have gotten them here. I have seen these done several different ways, so as my post says, these are mine-my way. :)

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Y'all are so generous--and thank you especially, Prez!  I talked my client out of the black clay for drink ware...we'll go with white or gray stoneware, thank heavens! 

Nice to see the avatars are back, too. 


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