How To Open & Form the Clay on the Potter's Wheel

The art of pottery making with the use of clay dates back to ancient times where pottery was used for practical purposes and making them was more than just to decorate. These pots were used for storage of just about anything. The fundamental tools of the trade have not changed much through the centuries although there have been more and more extra convenient items created to make pottery making much easier. One thing that has remained constant through time is the use of one’s hands to create clay pottery. The coiling method still uses the potter’s hands. Mainly for the purpose of creating hollowed vessels like bowls or pots. The potter’s wheel is also another important tool for making pottery. The only change has been the addition of a motor and a foot pedal run by electricity but works around the same idea as the olden potter’s wheel. The following tips are focused in the use of the potter’s wheel for opening and shaping clay when making pottery.

  • Materials you will need. Your basic materials include your potter’s wheel of course, your clay, which must be bigger than the size of the pot you wish to make, your cutting tools, and water.
  • Working on your clay. The first thing you need to do is knead your clay as forcefully as you can so that you are able to remove trapped air and get moisture equally distributed on your clay. Once you have finished this process, roll up your clay and form it into a ball shape.
  • Using your potter’s wheel for opening your pot. Place your ball of clay directly on the center of the potter’s wheel, pressing the clay tightly so that it remains fixed in its place. Begin to turn your wheel, making use of your hands to smoothen your ball of clay, and then gently work you hands in an upward direction to form a tip for your ball. After this, press on the ball’s tip by applying some pressure with both your thumbs so you form another round shape. Now increase the speed of your wheel and start to form a hole in the middle of the clay by using your thumbs again, this time keeping them curved in an inward position. Continue to concentrate on your hole so that you are able to form an opening. Your clay’s edges must stay erect during this process. Do this method until you pot’s base has reached a stable point measures about ¼ inches.
  • Shaping your pot. When you are done, start making the shape of your pot. You will do this by using a wet sponge on one hand to keep the shape of your pot’s exterior area. Your other hand will then be working on the pot’s interior and pulling its edges in an upward direction from the pot’s base. Continue doing this until you reach the height you would wish your pot to take. Make sure that you also keep the sides thick enough when as you pull up. To release your pot from the wheel, use a string or wire. Place your new pot aside and allow it to dry up before firing it.

Pottery making is a wonderful hobby and you can make all sorts of shapes and sizes once you have mastered the art. All it needs is some practice and patience, and soon you will be able to come up with your own work of art.


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