Hi everyone. I am a beginner and just inherited a pottery wheel. (2 speed AMACO wheel) I don't have access to any schools or studios/instructors so have had to rely on internet (youtube videos have been a huge part of my learning process) for instruction & guidance.
I have thrown a couple of bowls thus far but I know something is very wrong and am at a loss. My daughter saw the photos of the work I've done already and she commented that I was using too much water (based on her high school pottery class experience a couple of yrs ago) but was unable to help me figure out why I am struggling.
I am wedging about 75 - 100 motions before using the clay on the wheel and not noticing air bubbles, clay is soft but not sticky when I begin. Getting the ball of clay stuck to the wheel not a problem. Centering not working so well and I suspect that, too, is related to the water issue. How hard is it supposed to be to cone the clay? (how much resistance from the clay?)
I have tried working with dry hands but the clay doesn't cooperate. I wet my hands and the clay smooths out under my hands but only on the surface, the rest of it feels near immovable. I have gone back repeatedly to the youtube videos but they're not helping with this. I can cone down without too much struggle but when I attempt to cone up it goes up a little bit and then kinda stops there, and I'm having to use a LOT of pressure to get it to do that. It never actually "cones". At the same time, when I wet my hands the clay is literally turning to slip so much that my hands end up coated in thick gobs of slip that need to be scraped off every few minutes and the working clay gets a bit "gritty" under my hands. I have tried using the slip as a lubricant instead of more water but then it gets sticky. End result is that I am wasting a lot of clay and not making any real progress. When I continue to use water I am getting some results, but then the clay is so wet that it starts to distort just from the speed of the wheel. (low speed is not useful for much of anything with this wheel)
So my question is, how do I know how much water I should be using? How hard should the clay be to move up/down when coning? (should I have to lean all of my weight into it? squeeze/push until my hands ache?)
I feel really dumb having to come here and ask this but I can't find any online resources that address this issue. I am also considering that maybe its a technique issue since I am left handed and all of the videos I am learning from are right handed. There is no way to change the direction of the wheel (that I can find) so again, unsure how to figure this out.
Thanks in advance. I'm enclosing a few photos to show what I have created so far and those were done using a lot of water and ending up with a huge mess.
The 1st 2 photos are my first attempts (ever) and the last photo is the one I kept and is currently drying. It was those 1st 2 photos that my daughter concluded that I was using too much water. The terra cotta clay in the 2nd photo was much harder to work than the gray clay. (very dry and gritty no matter how much water I used) I don't know as much as I probably should about the clay. It was bought at a pottery studio about 2 hrs away and the guy who worked there wasn't much help. He suggested these to get me started when I mentioned that I will be pit firing all of my pieces.