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Wheel Throwing Ceramic Pottery

We’ll talk about the different things included in ceramic pottery throwing on a wheel in this article to help you get started with your first pottery project.

What is a Pottery Wheel?

We’ve made a section that is dedicated to the potter’s wheel, and we suggest that you read it if you’re more interested in the history of the machine. Otherwise, this section is dedicated to what it does, and will only briefly touch upon some of the aspects covered in that other article.

pottery wheel

When you’re trying to create round ceramic ware, like vases, a potter’s wheel is commonly what is used, although it can also be hand-shaped instead, which is in fact the traditional way of making Raku pottery, although the Western style adopted the use of a potter’s wheel for the purpose. For your information, Raku is a specific way of firing ceramics, and although it rarely has a functional purpose, it can help create beautiful, decorative pieces for your home.

Besides being used for creating the shape, the wheel can also be used when applying incised decoration, often in the forms of rings with different colors.

In comparison, handmade methods that were otherwise previously used include beating and coiling, although the use of the wheel helped make much more uniform pieces. The use of the wheel even goes back to and is known to have been used in the Old World.

It works by spinning the clay and different techniques such as jolleying and jiggering are then used to shape the clay. Jolleying is the technique used for cups and other hollow ware, while jiggering is used for things such as plates.

Slow wheels is the earliest type of potter’s wheel, and came into existence around 4,500 BC, although its usage was probably limited due to its simple design. The first designs were so simple in their designs that they mostly worked as a way to keep the potter from having to walk around the clay.

It wasn’t until the development of the fast wheel that the traditionally known thrown pottery came into existence, which created a centrifugal force with its introduction. The introduction of this type of wheel also allowed for the creation of pieces with thinner walls, making it easily distinguishable from the handmade stuff, and it also vastly increased the productivity too.

It was originally powered by kicking the flywheel with the foot, which helped free up hands to work on the clay, although that has been replaced by a motor over time.

Techniques Being Use

There is no one right or wrong technique, although the technique is usually pretty typical. A moist amount of clay is thrown on top of the wheelhead or bat, which is generally either made from plastic or wood. By attaching it to the bat, it’s more easily removed once it has been formed.

Before adding it, the clay should be even, after which it is forced to the center using your hands. The spinning piece of clay will keep putting pressure on the hand until it is in the middle, and you then start off by pressing the thumb into the center of the mass, although in press downwards, it’s important that you do not go all the way to the bottom and actually reach the bat, which would create a hole in the piece. To make the hole bigger, you slowly move the finger twards you, which will cause expansion of the hole.

When you have at some point reached the desired shape, a cheese wire can be used to free it from the bat. It can be trimmed by inverting it and using a sharp tool for the purpose.

If very large pots are needed, there can be as many as two people working on it at the same time to achieve the result.

Here’s a very good descriptive image from Pinterest that helps describe the process and  make it easier for you.

How to Make a Pottery Wheel

homemade pottery wheel

You don’t need to actually go out and buy a potter’s wheel. If you fancy doing so, you can simply make your own and probably even save some money in the process. While you can make one yourself, it obviously won’t be the same as if you went out and bought a professional one. If you’re just starting out and you’re not really ready to actually put a lot of money towards one, this can be a great start. It can also be a great way to get kids curious.

If you’re switching between different colors of clay, some potters also like having different wheels, because it means that you’ll be cutting down significantly on the amount of time you spend cleaning. And cleaning’s not always the most fun, when you’re just feeling like being creative.

Using a Treadmill

Are you one of those people that has a treadmill standing around and it’s now just gathering dust, because you just don’t use it like you were hoping you would. Well, it can be turned int a pottery wheel instead, that’s the great news. Instructables has a great guide on how to make one. The instructions have been carefully prepared making it easy for you to follow them and getting your very first pottery wheel at home. It includes everything from getting the motor ready to installing the wheelhead at the end.

If you think the one that they have on there is too big and bulky, you can check out this one instead, which is easier to use.

Washing Machine

A treadmill is not the only thing you can use to make your very own potter’s wheel. Other things such as a washing machine that you aren’t using can work too, see how right here. They managed to spend no more than $106 on the project.

Ceiling Fan

Did you think that a treadmill or washing machine were the only repurposed motors that you could use for the project, then think again. In fact, you can think about the fact that with a bit of creativity, you could be using a ceiling fan the same way this user made a wheel for as little as $50. That’s impressive!

What you need is just a ceiling fan, a plastic bottle and a bucket and you’re good to go. This is how Lou did it. He’s also covering the necessary safety precautions you need to keep in mind and how to deal with them. The video is not just great, but other users have also contributed their own ideas as to how to improve the design.

How to Throw a Bowl

If you’re still a beginner at the craft, one of the first things you might want to try and make is a bowl. Rather than try and explain it in writing, we think that this video does very  good justice at the art. It has everything covered for you to get started and get your potter’s wheel spinning some magic.

When you’re just getting started, we also recommend this course on getting started that is just great.