Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Art of the Potter's Wheel

Here I am at my pottery wheel. It has been a while since I have sat down to throw. That is what you call it, throwing the clay. 
Starting with a lump of clay, as the wheel turns, my fingers pull the clay up from inside. I balance with my other hand on the outside. I am always pulling upward. Not quite as simple as it sounds. It is usual to start with the cylinder shape, as in this photo. Then I can use my hand or a tool inside to flare it out.This will be one of my mugs. 
They are  a challenge. My mugs are very labor intensive, including  the handle, hand carving, and dual glazing.   However people like them, and it is good  to sell.
I am known for making  ceramic bowls, masks, and sculpture by hand, using the smooth, white, porcelain clay I favor. However I like to throw when I am centered, and the clay and I are one.
 This week, it was time to pull out my Shimpo wheel. Except for replacing the bearings a long time ago, this wheel is so well made that it just "keeps on keeping on".
 I bought it second hand  back in the late 1970's, when I lived in Venice California. It cost a lot for  me at the time, but it certainly has been my friend. I like to buy the very best in art equipment and tools that I can afford.Clean and repair is my motto, and my preference. 
For certain symmetrical shapes, there is nothing like using the potter's wheel. It all starts here, with the basic cylinder. From there comes the rest of the art. 


  1. The basic, classic shape is a good connection between you and the future of the piece.

  2. well stated! there's something magical about working with natural materials...