I learned to make ceramic bowls on a potter's wheel in school. Learning to make bowls helped me learn to be patient, even when i messed up six attempts in a row, or didn't even come close to getting the clay right. It also tauget me to be confident and precise in my movements, since indecision can often wreck your project as badly as a wrong movement.
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Step 1: Step One- the Tools
First you have to get the tools you need to make a form. You need a rib tool, a needle tool, trimmers, water, a sponge, a wire tool, a wheel, and clay. The clay has to stay very wet while you work it into the form you want it to be and other tools help you get just the right shape and size of your form.
Step 2: Step Two- Centering
The most important part of making a form on the wheel is getting the clay on the wheel the right way. The clay has to be in the center of the wheel; so you use a process called centering to get it right. While centering, keep the clay wet and use the rib tool to scrape away excess clay on the wheel. First, firmly place the clay as close to the center as you can. Next wet the clay and start the wheel. Place your hands against the clay and gently push it towards the middle of the wheel.
Step 3: Step Three- Opening the Dome
If you have centered correctly, then you should have a dome-shaped lump of clay on the wheel. This step is where you pull the clay apart so it begins to look like a bowl. This step is tricky; you have to get the slope of the bowl just right or it will have lumps in the sides-or even fall apart. First you stick your thumb down into the clay until the first knuckle on your thumb is covered. Next, stop the wheel and use the needle tool to check the amount of clay left on the bottom. There should be about half an inch left. Last, start the wheel and use your thumb to gently pull the clay towards you until it is the size you want it to be.
Step 4: Step Four- Raising the Walls
Now you have a bowl, but more than likely it is too thick to be a good bowl. You want the sides to be about 1/4 inch thick. To get the walls thinner, place one hand on the outside of the bowl and one on the inside. Start at the base of the bowl and gently push out and up, maintaining the shape of the bowl. Repeat this step until the walls are thin enough.
Step 5: Step Five- Let It Dry (Some)
Now, your bowl is the perfect shape. Using your wire tool, cut the clay from the wheel and put it in a dark cupboard to dry out a little. Do NOT let it dry completely. When the clay is stronger, you will trim it to finalize the shape.
Step 6: Step Six- Trimming
Now that your clay is ALMOST dry, place it on the wheel again, upside-down. Use softer clay to hold it in place, again making sure it is in the center of the wheel. Get your trimming tools and gently shave away layers of clay until the shape is perfect and the bottom has a foot to stand on. Remove the bowl from the wheel and place it in a dry place to finish drying out.
Step 7: Step Seven- Firing
When your clay is completely dry you will put it in a special oven called a kiln. These ovens bake the clay at very high temperatures to turn them into glass. A firing usually takes about eight hours.
Step 8: Step Eight- Glazing
After you have fired your bowl, you can now add color to it. Glazes are special, mineral based paint that, when fired, turns into a hard, smooth, glossy cover for your bowl. Pick out your colors and paint about three coats of each on the sides and inside of your bowl. Do NOT get glaze onto the bottom because it will melt your bowl onto the kiln and you will have to break your bowl to remove it.
Step 9: Step Nine- Final Firing
After the glaze is dried, your bowl will be fired again in the kiln to make the colors hard and glossy. This firing is also very hot. Once your bowl is done and cooled off, you are finished with it.