Throwing on the potters’ wheel

THROWING ON THE POTTER’S WHEEL

This ancient tool is used by most of our artists. As the wheel spins, the revolving clay is shaped into a cylindrical form using pressure from the fingers. With skill and sensitivity, the maker can create a great variety of objects.

Centering: as the wheel is spinning, the clay is compressed using both hands until it is perfectly balanced and revolving smoothly.

Opening: the potter presses down into the centre and begins to create an interior space.

Opening and beginning to pull: the interior space is widened and walls are begun using pressure between the inside (left) hand and the outside (right) hand.

First pull: the thinning of the walls begins with the first pull where both hands squeeze the clay evenly while moving up the wall, as the wheel spins.

Second pull: the walls are further thinned.

Third pull: ideally, the walls should be the desired thickness after three pulls. Additional pulls will often weaken the structure.

Beginning to shape: after the desired thickness has been achieved, then shaping begins with the sensitivity of the touch.

Refining the shape: with sensitive pressure, and often the aid of a kidney shaped tool called a rib, the body of the pot is further developed.

Detailing the top: once the body shape is close to completion, the potter focusses on the top.

Finishing the rough form: once the desired shape has been achieved, the pot is removed from the wheel and allowed to dry to a stiffer consistency, at which time the base is refined by trimming any excess clay.