Faces on Roman pots have been found in towns, villages, forts, inside wells, in bathhouses, and in graves in formerly Roman territories. There are several finds and shards among forts and ruins along Hadrian’s wall (Braithwaite 2007). It appears that these pots, adorned and sculpted with almost caricature-like features and characteristics, were wheel-thrown and and then sculpted into faces.
I was inspired to attempt to craft a pot that respected and referenced a pot whose remains are cataloged in shard number 59 from Piercebridge, which shows the face of a woman, maybe Ceres, and perhaps was part of a pot with multiple faces. Given the size of the shard, I postulated that the original had three faces.
I examined images of the extant find, and a 3d scan of a similar pot, to glean details that might help me construct a respectable and plausible amphora. The examples showed that the original was thrown on the wheel, and then sculpted later, to form the face(s). That is the process that I used. I encountered difficulties with near pot collapses, weakening clay, and estimating when the clay would be ready for sculpting. I also needed to estimate the weights of the clay parts, liquid that would be used in the finished vessel, and ensure all parts dried completely and consistently. I used an electric wheel, rather than a Roman kick or stick wheel. I used my fingers and wooden tools for detail work.
I used a comparative clay body, terra sigillata consistent with Roman pots, and an electric kiln to fire the amphora.