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kraythe

Small problem when throwing. Suggestions would be welcome.

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I am just a hobbyist and  having fun  throwing some small cups of 160g of cone 5 porcelain on my wheel. I can get the reasults to be pleasing enough but consistency in form is eluding me. However, one thing that is really baffling me is what is going on when I start forming the shape. I center then pull to a tall thin cylinder that I can just get two fingers inside of. My objective it's to flare out the cup just above the base and have it hold that shape all the way up so it looks like a small base with a pleasing parabola shape. I put two fingers inside and push out and the bottom works but as I move up the clay just flows around the fingers and doesn't stretch and I end up with a reverse hourglass as in the picture. 

I don't really want to thin the clay any more than needed at this point as I have already pulled tall so I don't pull the shape on both inside and out, just inside. Also I'd like to be able to scrape the slip outside with a wooden or silicone rib before I shape it so the outside is not slick anymore and touching it will make too much friction and destroy the cup. 

I also experience this when trying to shape larger cylinders. They come out nice enough but they don't do what I want them to do and they are inconsistent.

Suggestions would be appreciated.

IMG_0521.JPG

Edited by kraythe
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If you do your shaping pulls with one hand on the inside of the pot and a stiff rib on the outside, you'll have better control over the final shape. You need to be able to apply pressure on the outside of the pot, too. It'll take the slip off the outside, too.

Also, if you want the shape to be a bit more graceful, trim a narrower foot than the one you have. It'll create more of a shadow at the base of the pot, and give it a sense that it's hovering above the table. 

Edited to add:

I know that this is going to be annoying, but much of the trouble you're having will be solved with practice. Just keep at it: you're on the right track.

Edited by Callie Beller Diesel
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I don't totally get what you're describing, but when I look at the picture you've posted, the foot it definitely wider than 2 fingers, so I'm confused about the narrow cylinder you say you pull. If the mug in picture is only 2 fingers wide on the inside, then the walls near the bottom are much too thick. On a mug, only two fingers wide would be a very narrow foot, and probably kinda tippy.

I think your shaping problems are coming from trying to start from a very narrow cylinder. The further you have to stretch, the more issues you'll have. Try to pull your cylinder wider, closer to the finished diameter, so you don't have to stretch so much. Ultimately, though, it's a matter of practice.

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Well the picture is zoomed in quite a lot. The finished cup is only about 2.5 inches tall. I don't think you could make much of a "mug" with 160g of clay. Also I have aimilar problems with bigger pieces

Edited by kraythe

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For the small diameter items, I suggest making a half-template from a wooden tongue depressor to use inside the cup.  Open the ball of clay with your finger. Then insert the template, hold it stationary, and push the clay from the outside inward and upward against the template until the wall thickness is at the desired value.  Trim the rim level and to the desired height. 
 
After you get the 'hang' of the process you can make an outside template to form the exterior shape. 
 
This worked well for me making sake cups years back.   
Practice, practice,... 
 
LT 

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1 hour ago, kraythe said:

Well the picture is zoomed in quite a lot. The finished cup is only about 2.5 inches tall. I don't think you could make much of a "mug" with 160g of clay. Also I have aimilar problems with bigger pieces

I see. I didn't do the math conversion to realize how small 160g is.

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Hi Kraythe,

Have you, by any chance, tried throwing your little cups off the hump? You might find it a little easier to work the clay to the shape you want, trim the top straight; measure the depth of the cup on the inside and cut the piece off about 1/2" below the measurement; then trim the foot later...

JohnnyK

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14 hours ago, JohnnyK said:

Hi Kraythe,

Have you, by any chance, tried throwing your little cups off the hump? You might find it a little easier to work the clay to the shape you want, trim the top straight; measure the depth of the cup on the inside and cut the piece off about 1/2" below the measurement; then trim the foot later...

JohnnyK

I have never been able to do that. I am a self taught potter and perhaps there is some trick to it that I am missing. 

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kraythe, maybe the size of the hump is what doesn't work for you.  try centering a largish lump of clay and keeping the top rather wide.  center just enough of that lump to make your cup and then thin the part you plan to cut to separate the piece from the base.   you can ignore the part under your cup section until you want to make a second cup.  eventually, you will be able to increase the size so you can make several smaller pieces from one large lump of clay.

(also self-taught but with the help of many, many books and workshops and observations at galleries and open houses)

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3 hours ago, JohnnyK said:

Kraythe,

Here's a youtube link that shows a bunch of videos on throwing off the hump. You might find something here that could help you...just copy and paste it into your search engine.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=throwing+saki+cups+off+the+hump

JohnnyK

 

I have seen many of them, I guess my main problem is that I cant center except against the wheel head / batt. Like I said I am just a self taught hobbyist. Every time I have tried to follow those vids, I end up with a mess.

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11 hours ago, kraythe said:

I have seen many of them, I guess my main problem is that I cant center except against the wheel head / batt. Like I said I am just a self taught hobbyist. Every time I have tried to follow those vids, I end up with a mess.

Kraythe....  the messes are part of learning.  In my W2  job, they have a sign "F.A.I.L.  ~ the First Attempt In Learning"  .  I am self taught as well, throw in a few workshops, countless hours watching youtube videos and even more hour practicing/playing, and gradually my skills improved.   Not sure where you are located, but I've have gone to other potters when I've gotten stuck and spent a little time with them to help me work through where I was stuck at.  I done the same for others when they have come to me when they were stuck.  Most potters are a helpful bunch.

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Lots of great advice, one thing I would toss in is make sure the top of your cup is level. It could just be the camera angle but it looks a little off. That would likely mean your not pulling up evenly with full rotations or perhaps trying to shape at the end with partial pulls.

Of course if that's intentional then just ignore me :-)

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13 hours ago, Up in Smoke Pottery said:

Kraythe....  the messes are part of learning.  In my W2  job, they have a sign "F.A.I.L.  ~ the First Attempt In Learning"  .  I am self taught as well, throw in a few workshops, countless hours watching youtube videos and even more hour practicing/playing, and gradually my skills improved.   Not sure where you are located, but I've have gone to other potters when I've gotten stuck and spent a little time with them to help me work through where I was stuck at.  I done the same for others when they have come to me when they were stuck.  Most potters are a helpful bunch.

Yeah, do you know a vid with centering on the hump? I would love to figure that out. Also I worry I would make radically different pots. I already have issues getting two pre measured ones to turn out the same.

3 hours ago, Stephen said:

Lots of great advice, one thing I would toss in is make sure the top of your cup is level. It could just be the camera angle but it looks a little off. That would likely mean your not pulling up evenly with full rotations or perhaps trying to shape at the end with partial pulls.

Of course if that's intentional then just ignore me :-)

Partially angle, but that cup is slightly off. I throw with the wheel running pretty fast I think, maybe too fast. I have been watching ingleton pottery vids too much maybe. :) Man he throws fast.

21 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

Self teaching to use the wheel is a really difficult thing. At some point you need someone to watch what you're doing and give you some pointers. Consider taking a class, even just a 6 or 8 week session to really dial in the basics.

Alas not possible where i live.

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I cannot  think of a specific video off hand.  I am far from an expert at throwing off the hump, typically only small bowls, lids and finials.   Sold just over 300 of those bowls last year,  not a big deal if they don't match, never intended them to, but when I try I get about 75% the same size.   I realize that's not great, but for what they are it works.   I typically start with anywhere between 10-20 pounds depending on how many I plan on making, rough center the whole mass.  Then true center the top 1/3 to throw from.  I re-center the top 1/3 after each piece.  I know that practice may be frowned upon, but I found it worked for me.

I got to that point by practicing, clay is the least expensive item(for me at least, ($18/50#).  You can always scrap it , re wedge it, use it a test piece for testing glazes, or return it to the earth.

Neil is correct someone to watch over you can definitely help you improve, I too did not have suitable class in the area, the colleges stopped taking non-program students, the art center wasn't a good fit, they actually wanted me to teach it for a while. I ended up approaching a couple potters and  Found a couple fellow potters to assist me in getting past the roadblocks.  

Best of luck

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