shrink pots

What you may ask is a shrink pot?

Well it’s an old method of making wooden tubs by hollowing a log out then fitting a base. The ingenious thing is if you hollow the log out whilst it is green, cut a groove for the base to fit and put a loosely fitting dry base in then the pot shrinks on to the base making a nice tight fit. It’s a great form that you can do lots with but a friend just showed me pics of some that are just brilliant and I wanted to share them. John Mullaney came on my first ever spoon carving course and has carried on getting better and better, he just does lovely work. I love these caddies which use the natural outside of the log with the bark peeled off and the side branch to form a hook for a caddy spoon, lovely. One of them is going to be mine and I will enjoy using it very much.










This technique fell out of use in the UK around 2000 years ago when we adopted cooperage but in many parts of the world where people made their own utensils rather than buying from professional craftspeople they continued in use. Ion Constantin the turner and spoon carver I visited in Romania in 1998 still made dash churns this way. I was first shown to make them by a friend Peter Kohidi visiting from Hungary. They are commonly made by craftspeople in Sweden and I had assumed that was part of an unbroken tradition but I discovered only recently that they had died out there too and were re-invented in the 1970’s by Knut Ostgard.


3 Responses to shrink pots

  1. EJ October 17, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    It’s such an intelligent way of making.. I love exploring and exploiting that process!
    I also really like Jim Sannerud’s pots – with the quirky knobs on top.

  2. Danny May 2, 2016 at 9:41 am #

    Hi Robin
    Any idea if there have been found any shrink pots from viking age?

    • Robin Wood May 2, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

      There are many from the iron age and there are medieval ones. I don’t have my copy of woodwork from Novgorod to hand but they do not seem to have been a common form in Britain or Ireland in the Viking age (there are not lots of them from sites like York or Dublin). It would surprise me if they were not around in Scandinavia though.