View Full Version : hi.. new here and lookin' fer tips

08-12-2006, 07:15 PM
new to this huge site and new to throwing on the wheel. i hope this is the right forum. i have a ceramics and pottery 2 class and i for the first time got to play on the wheel.. yay!! well this first thing i made the top riped off then it ended up looking like a little jar/bowl. the other one looked reallly good. it was going fine and right befor i was about to stop a side came out and made a lip.. oh and its supossed to be a soup bowl. well i was wondering if any one can give me some tips on:
wedging the airbubbles out
centering on the wheel
forming the bowl
trimming it
and anything else
thanks for your help all

08-12-2006, 07:42 PM
Hi alicia,

I'll give it a shot! All of this stuff mainly has to do with practice, but maybe a few tips are possible.

wedging the airbubbles out:

The best wedging method I've found is the "spiral wedging" technique. You turn the clay about a quarter turn right before you push the top part down. You'll probably need someone to show better than I can tell you. Maybe there's a tutuorial somewhere on the web... Anyway, just keep at the wedging and cut through once in a while to check for air bubbles. With spiral wedging you just work on a small piece of the clay at a time which makes it a lot easier if you are working on a big piece of clay. Spiral wedging also aligns the clay particles to make centering and throwing much easier.

centering on the wheel:

Really a case of feel. They main thing here is to start with clay that's softer rather than harder, and well wedged. Try to get the spiral shaped ball on the center of the wheel. Then add some water and push down from the top, at an angle to the wheel head. Again, easier to show than talk about! It's really a case of pushing the clay up in a spiral shape and down into a cylinder over and over. The main hazards of centering are:

Too much water on the wheelhead.
Pushing too hard.
Clay that is not adequately prepared.
Clay that is too hard.

forming the bowl:

Try to make a cylinder about the height of the bowl before you flare out the lip. Remember that the lip will need more clay so as you make the cylinder keep the top thicker. You'll only get a few pulls. Make sure you leave enough clay on the base if you intend to trim.

trimming it:

Again, make sure you have left enough clay. Unless you have a giffin Grip, attach the bowl upside down on the wheel with small hunks of clay. Make sure it is centered - hold a pin tool on the base of the clay as it is spinning - near the edge. Watch the groove it makes and adjust the position of the bowl to get it in the center. Hazards of trimming are:

Dull tool.
Clay is too dry or wet or not the same dryness all the way through.
Base is too thin to begin with.
You try to take too much off at once - just a little bit each time is good.

You must prepare the base for trimming while you throw. Use a pin tool from the inside of the base to the wheel head to guage the thickness. Make sure you compress the base by pushing down while the head is spinning.

Much of this may not make sense, ask your teacher about these techniques!

and anything else:

It's 50% having the clay ready to go by the time you hit the wheel and 50% perseverance. I think throwing is really hard to learn. Literally it took me a couple years to finally reach a poiint where the clay was really centered and everything went smooth. Keep at it!!!!!

Hope this helps, Rustic Potter

08-12-2006, 09:38 PM
thanks so much! apparently im really good at this so ive started to become a techers pet. which is good cause there like 5 wheels and 20 kids and i get to throw almost everyday!im really going to try hard and i understand most of what you say

08-13-2006, 12:35 AM
I personally like rams head wedging. Basically take the hunk of clay hold in both hand on each end and push it down a bit(not too much)and keep doing this turning the clay a bit as you push. The resulting form looks like a rams head. The secreat to this is having a slight bit of pressure pushing the clay inwards(towards each hand) while you push and turn the clay, this will keep your rams head from elongating.

I like clay neither hard or soft. To hard and you'll be battling for center too long, too soft you lifts/pulls will have a tendancy to sag back down or tear.

Frankly learning 'where center is' is the hardest part and the most important part. You can't get a well centered bowl from and uncentered started. Its a matter of centering yourself first, ground yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually as you touch the clay. Let the world become just you and the clay, move the clay don't let the clay move you. Personally i like to have my left leg raised up on a brick as i am centering to get a better handle on my clay(but i am short so if you are taller it is likely not needed). Wet the clay a bit with a sponge. Start the wheel. Tuck your elbows close to your torso and lean into the clay. Push down a bit to make sure it is firmly attached to the wheelhead. Now relax and feel the movement of the clay, feel how it pushes you and then gently but firmly push back. If the clay starts to feel a bit like it is dragging against your hand more water is needed. Never touch your lump of clay while the wheel isn't spinning, never jerk your hand away from the lump in a hurry instead gently and slowly remove it. Cone your clay up and push your cone down a couple of times while continuously pushing towards center. Ask yourself is the clay moving me? Is the clay spinning dead on center? If it kinda kicks a bit to the side it isn't centered.

When you first stick your thumb or finger into the coned clay to open it make sure you have water in the hole too. And never let your thumb/finger and the clay make that sucking sound as you pull out your thumb/finger, the suction that you've created will pull the clay off center. Alway try to make the hole a little wider than you digit used to open before you pull your thumb/finger out.

Now i think i learned to make bowls different than Rustic. Rustic says to make a cylinder first while i learned to make bowls starting with a bowl. Instead of making a cylinder(flat bottom form) when i open my cone of spinning clay I gently let my thumb ride the wall upwards so what I end up with is a bowl shape before i do my first lift/pull. That first movement decides the shape of the final bowl. If i want a wide flared bowl, when i open I let my thumb ride the walls slowly if I want a tall walled bowl I ride my thumb up quickly. Also when i do my lifts/pulls, if i want my bowls to be wide my inside hand is lower than my outside hand if I want a taller bowls my outside hand is lower than my inside hand. After my lifts/pulls I do the final forming with a blue rubber rib and my hand. Hint: To avoid getting S cracks in the bottom of your vessels as they dry make sure you sponge out any sitting water in the bottom of your form between lifts/pulls.

I love trimming. A well footed pot is a happy pot. When i throw I leave alot of clay on the bottom so I can get creative with trimming, my footed pots usually have deep footed bottoms. Sharp tools are a must. The pot must be not too wet, not too dry. Too wet and the trimmings stick to the tools and the pot and too dry the trimming will take forever and dull your tools. Leatherhard is perfect, I test by gently testing the rim for movement and the base for wetness. If the rim is stable but the base is still too wet gently turn the pot over to dry the bottom. Make sure you know the thickness of the bottom of your pot so you don't trim thru. A fellow potter I know sticks a thumb tack in the center of inside bottom of his pots to know when to stop trimming. I see where this is a good learning tool but the pot will always have a small flaw(the now filled in hole the thumb tack made). Personally I use the push test to know when to stop trimming. After I trim to where my head tells me i should stop trimming I gently(very , very gently) push in the center of the outside bottom of the pot, I look for the slightest of movement, if it moves its done. Also I make sure my foot is burnished smooth with my finger(no one wants that pot to scratch their table).

There are so many other things that are good to know but so hard to explain in the written word. Here i sit at the keyboard throwing imaginary pots with my fingers trying to figure out how to explain something. Gosh i am glad I am alone in the room or someone might think i am crazy. :) good luck.

08-13-2006, 12:43 AM
Oh gosh i forgot to talk about wheel speed. Centering should be done with the wheelhead spinning fast. Opening not as fast. Lifting/pulling slow. Trimming middle speed to fast depending on your skill.

oh and never stop the wheel while your hands are touching the clay.

so many hints...not enough words

08-13-2006, 07:52 AM
Good post, bf,

Yeah, that's good advice to go for the bowl shape right off, now that I think of it I do that for larger bowls. The spiritual stuff of right on, pretty deep for a rustic potter - you rock!

From the sound of it what you call rams head seems like the same thing I call spiral wedging.

Thanks, Rustic Potter

08-13-2006, 08:22 AM
my teacher attempted to explain the rams head way but i think i understand it more now. you have all been sooo mcuh help. i cant wait till monday