Introduction: Small Hand Thrown Pottery Bowl
These are the steps for throwing a small clay bowl on an electric pottery wheel.
Step 1: Supplies
To start you will need an electric pottery wheel and some basic pottery tools (sponge, wooden whalebone, wooden rib, metal rib, needle tool) you will also need plenty of water and two pounds of clay.
Step 2: Shape Your Clay
Your clay will initially be square shaped. Use a sound flat surface to round out the corners. Then using your hand round it at the top and bottom. Thr rounded shape pictured will help prevent air from getting trapped between the clay and the wheel.
Step 3: Place the Clay on the Wheel
With the clay in your dominant hand, raise your hand 1-2 feet above your wheel. With moderate force smash clay onto your wheel aiming for the relative center. Be sure not to throw the clay at your wheel; your hand should not leave the clay on the way down. Once the clay is down, hit it a few times with the flat of your hand to make sure that it thoroughly sticks to your wheel.
Step 4: Center the Clay
Using your sponge thoroughly wet your clay. Turn your wheel on a medium to fast speed. Place your left palm on the left side of your clay, and your right palm to the top. Use your hands to create pressure on the clay. The goal is to center your clay on the wheel. Watch the pressure you put on your hands. If you put more pressure on your left hand, the clay will become taller. If you add more pressure on your right hand, your clay will flatten. Centering may take several minutes to get the clay perfectly centered, make sure you continue to add water throughout.
Step 5: Define the Center
Spread your fingers wide, with your thumbs centered over your clay. With thumbs touching, slowly press them to the center of your clay. Continue to apply pressure, adding water liberally in the process.
Step 6: Measure Your Depth
While defining the center you will want to leave enough clay to give your bowl a strong bottom. We will measure the depth of the clay remaining at the bottom, using the pin tool. Stop the wheel from spinning. Stick the pin tool straight into the bottom, stopping when you hit the wheel. Using your index finger mark where the pin tool emerges from the clay. Without moving your index finger on the tool withdraw your hand and tool from the clay. Looking at your index finger observe the distance between it and the end of your tool. This is how much depth you have remaining. A half inch is ideal. If you have more clay than that, back up a step and continue to define the center. Do this until you reach the desired depth.
Step 7: Open Your Clay
Now that you have confirmed the depth of your pot we will widen the opening. Put your wheel on a medium spin. Using both hands, reach into your pot. With fingers running gently along the bottom, draw the clay towards you. Doing the slowly will ensure that your pot remains centered. Make sure you have plenty of water on your hands and clay to decrease the friction.
Step 8: The First Lift
Now that we have widened the opening of the clay we will begin lifting the clay. Put your wheel on a slow spin. Hold your hands before you and cross your thumbs. With your hands in this position place the index finger of your left hand along the inside bottom of your pot and the index finger of your right hand on the outside bottom of your pot. Your index fingers should be at the same position with the clay wall between them. Having your thumbs crossed will help your fingers to move more in sync. Gently squeezing the clay between your fingers pull the gently up the wall of your pot. As you pull and lift the clay you should see your clay walls become thinner and taller. Make your that you have plenty of water. Too much friction while lifting could lead to the clay tearing between your fingers.
Step 9: Second Lift
We are going to repeat the last step. With thumbs crossed place left and right index fingers on either side of the clay wall. Starting at the bottom gently squeeze the clay between your fingers. This time we are going to put more pressure on our left index finger on the inside of the pot as we lift. This will cause the wall to stretch outward instead of upward and our pot will become more bowl like. Don't forget the water.
Step 10: Lift Once More.
We will repeat the lift a third time, working our way from the bottom to the top. Once more we will be placing more pressure on our left index finger inside the pot to widen the clay and create our bowl shape. If your clay wall is still too thick consider doing a fourth lift before proceeding to the next step. We have used plenty of water that this point so if you have a puddle at the bottom of your pot gently mop it out using your sponge.
Step 11: Level the Rim
While lifting, the rim of your bowl might become uneven. Put your pottery wheel on a slow spin. To level your rim, place the thumb and index finger of your right-hand gently on either side of the rim. allow the rim to pass through your fingers. Make sure not to apply to much pressure. Then with the index of your left hand gently apply pressure just after the clay passes through your right hand. Hold your hands steady in this position as the clay spins 4 or 5 complete circles.
Step 12: Finishing Touches
With your wheel spinning slowly, gently remove any excess water. Run your sponge along the inside and outside walls of your pot.
Step 13: Remember
Don't be afraid to mess up. If you ruin your clay you can always save it for another day and try again!
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