Throw It!

Introduction to centering the clay with the potter’s wheel is the fifth session in The Basics of Hand Building Techniques. After familiarizing the students with the earthy material, which is stoneware clay, I show them some spinning action in preparation for The Basics of Wheel Throwing.

What does “Throwing” mean in making pottery?

The Old English word, “thrawan”, from which to throw comes from, means to twist or turn. Going back even farther, the Indo-European root *ter- means to rub, rub by twisting, twist, turn. The German word drehen, a direct relative of to throw, means turn and is used in German for throwing. Because the activity of forming pots on the wheel has not changed since Old English times, the word throw has retained its original meaning in the language of pottery but has developed a completely different meaning in everyday usage. Those who say they “throw” pots are using the historically correct term. Those who say they “turn” pots are using more current language. Both are saying the same thing. (By Dennis Krueger from Ceramics Today).

Take a look at some of the students who dared to get dirty with clay on the spinning wheel!

The Pottery Studio has one electric wheel and one kick wheel. To those who are more daring, they choose the kick wheel. There is a correct posture to follow here too! Elbows on the lap, back slightly bent forward, and a good full kick with one leg is needed. Stretching is a must before and after making pots. When the pot is too large and reaching the elbows is impossible, placing the elbows on the torso helps a lot too.

A good amount of speed is needed when centering the clay. I usually ask the students to kick the wheel first without forming the clay for the first ten minutes. It’s quite a leg exercise if you ask me! The wheel gets slow when too much pressure is applied on the clay. Sensitivity to the slowing down of the wheel is important. The clay tends to wobble when it is being pushed too hard to be formed on a slow wheel.

To those who want to make pots and rest their feet on the ground, they choose the electric wheel. It is much easier to use this for beginners, but once you increase the speed, instead of slowing it down – be ready to see some flying clay! : )

The white splash pan can be removed and cleaned after making some pots. An electric wheel is easier to transport anywhere too!

A lot of pots can be made with the use of the potter’s wheel: Plates, mugs, cups, teapots, tea cups, pitchers, bowls, vases, jars, oil burners, and a lot more! But a lot of patience is needed to learn this technique as well.

Here are some muddy tools that are used to make finer pieces. This wooden rib with a hole in the middle is used for creating big bowls. The needle tool is used for checking the thickness of the pots, for scouring clay, and for making holes. And the others are ceramic loop tools that are used for trimming the body/footing of the pots.

The Basics of Wheel Throwing is the next lesson after The Basics of Hand Building Techniques. There are six sessions too, which includes glazing the pots on the last meeting.

Get those hands dirty with clay and experience something new. Know why working with clay is “therapeutic”. The only way to find out about its benefits is when you finally try it!

Make sure to come in with a lot of patience too. To those who don’t have any of it, you might just walk away after the first session with some : )

Please visit http://clayave.weebly.com to see more details about the muddy workshop.

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