Standing Aquarium made by Robert Compton
Standing Aquarium c.1980.

How to Throw a Stoneware Aquarium

Robert began making his Stoneware Aquariums in the early 1970s. The following images and text explain his techniques for making these unique pieces.

Using an Oversized Bat

Robert made his own "over sized" bats to go on to his Shimpo potter's wheel. In this image he is lowering the bat on to the pinned wheel head.
Putting bat on to wheel.
An oversized bat is placed onto the wheel.
Putting 110 pounds of clay on to the wheel.
Putting 110 pounds of clay on to the wheel.

Wedged Clay put on to Wheel head

110 pounds of soft plastic clay is dropped on the wheel, as close to center as possible.

Using Body Weight

Using his body weight, Robert works the clay out to the desired diameter and leaves the suggestion of a well.
Positioning clay with his feet.
Positioning clay with his feet.
Beginning to form the aquarium.
Beginning to form the aquarium.

Opening The Form

Soft clay makes it possible to center and open the form. The Shimpo wheel can stall under the weight, if too much pressure is applied.

Raising The Walls

Bringing the form out is the most stressful part, using his right arm as a pivot point on his right leg, helps when strength is not sufficient.

Raising The Walls
Raising The Walls
Walls Are Up
Walls Are Up

Walls Are Up

Throwing the piece is not as difficult as trimming the “galley”, where the glass sits. In order to trim the form it must be flipped over on to its rim, while still leather hard.

Making The Front Rim

The front viewing port on the aquarium (the top) is turned back on itself to create a flat receiver, where the glass will be attached.
Making The Front Rim
Making The Front Rim
Carving The Feet
Carving The Feet

Carving The Feet

Legs are added as thick pugs, then the pugs are carved to shape.

Adding Surface Texture

Once the neck is added to the body, legs are attached and the whole form is textured. The exterior of these pieces are left unglazed, however, a line glaze is applied to insure a water tight finish.
Texturing Standing Aquarium
Texturing Standing Aquarium
15 Gallon Standing Aquarium
15 Gallon Standing Aquarium

15 Gallon Standing Aquarium

Aquariums are thrown on the wheel with using between 30 to 110 pounds of clay. A thick wall is necessary for long strength and durability. Robert has been making Fountains and Aquariums since 1973.