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Throwing Sessions

January 10, 2013

After making my glaze tests, I had a throwing workshop. I have thrown before but it was pretty much self-taught, learning as I went along, so it was great to be shown the proper techniques by a professional thrower of about 15 years!

I wedged two different clays together – Crank (As I wanted to use a grogged clay for texture and to fire to stoneware) and Keuper red to add a bit of smoothness as crank can cut up your hands when throwing. I was also interested to see how the mix would react to my glazes and the high firing.

We were shown how to oxtail and spiral wedge, and having used oxtail a lot before it is still my preferred method of wedging (Getting the air out of the clay and ready to use).

Coning and bee-hiving

This is the first stage – called Coning and Bee-hiving as that is what it looks like! You have to make sure you keep your elbows tucked in to your body to add stability, as you want to have the wheel turning pretty fast. Make sure the clay and your hands are wet, and then put one hand vertically along the front of the clay, in a claw-like  position. The other hand then horizontally supports behind the other. The motion you want is to pull the clay down and towards you, to centre it.








Making the initial hole

Then you need to make the hole in the centre. You use you lead finger (in my case, my left pointer) to push down at the top till theres about 2 cm’s or so at the bottom. You use your other hand around you lead hand, to support and direct it. It can be hard to keep your other fingers out of the way and not to make marks in the clay, which is why you have to trim your nails fairly short. Keep the clay and your hands wet.






Widening to make a cylinder

Then you widen the hole to form a cylinder shape by gradually moving your hands outwards with your pointer on the inside, and your thumb on the outside. The fingers should be in a pincer type shape, again using the other hand for support. This is the basic starting point for any form – you just make the base of the cylinder how big your final shape needs to be. You can then form it into a cup or bowl – you can flatten the clay out to make a plate, or close the form to make a bottle.






Look after the rim

I was also constantly being told to look after the rim. The rim of a vessel is one of the first things your eye is drawn to, it can make or break a piece. So its important to pay attention to it at all stages and to make it thicker or thinner according to the piece – drinking or eating items have a medium thickness so its comfortable on the mouth, whereas decorative objects can have thin, wispy edges.







This piece I decided to try and make into a closed form as it was something I’ve never done before. I found it very hard not to get an ugly, squat shape at first as I couldn’t get enough height on the cylinder, to then squash it in at the top – so a good guide would be to make it a bit taller than you need to have enough room to close the top.







Due to there not being enough clay to make it much taller I decided to leave it with a hole in the top instead of fully closed. The main things I have learnt about throwing are to go slowly and to have patience. Don’t expect to make a full dinner set on your first try – accept that your first bowl will be a wiggly, heavy mess, and just enjoy making it! It takes a lot of practice to be fast and accurate every-time  and that is something I am looking forward to learning as I continue to learn about clay. Also expect to get messy!









Thanks to Juilet Theubet for saving my camera from the clay and taking the photo’s for  me!

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