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How do you open up the clay after centering,

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I learned to drill down with middle and ring finger on left hand and then to push outward at between three o'clock and four o'clock with the middle finger, right hand holding left steady, arms anchored on splash pan.

I throw standing. I have never thrown sitting.

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30 minutes ago, Gabby said:

I learned to drill down with middle and ring finger on left hand and then to push outward at between three o'clock and four o'clock with the middle finger, right hand holding left steady, arms anchored on splash pan.

I throw standing. I have never thrown sitting.

I do that second, after pioneering the hole: with left hand still wrapped around cone, press left thumb into center with fingertips of right index and middle fingers. Let the center of the cone guide your thumb.

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It depends on how much clay I am throwing, I might just use a finger tip if only a small amount of clay is involved and on very large forms I might push down with the palm of my left hand really forcing the clay to open up. I think the one thing that remains constant and is the key point is I always open just slightly off center usually to the right and if I remain steady the hole will open just slightly larger than my finger(s) and I find it easy to stay centered with the pressure of the spinning clay at a steady pace from only one direction. The problem with opening by pushing directly down in the exact center is the spinning clay tends to push your fingers unpredictably and you can get a bit of a wobble as the pressure on your finger changes with the spinning clay.

Next I’ll squeeze the clay between the fingers and thumb of my left hand while pushing down on the to of the donut with my fight hand and slowly pull towards me feeling the clay and giving it time to respond. I maintain bottom thickness with my left index finger as I open and stop pulling when I have the desired inside diameter established. Squeezing the clay at the bottom of the donut after opening will help move some of the clay up and help start your first pull.

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I open with my right thumb and brace it with my left thumb while compressing the 'wall'  and keeping it centered with my right palm.  If it's more than a couple pounds I will open with my thumb like above and then switch to pinching/bracing the wall with my thumb on the outside and pointer finger on the inside and use my middle and ring fingers to open deeper while bracing the outside with my left hand.

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I use my right index finger, backed with the ring and pointer of the same hand to push down, and then draw the clay towards myself to open. This method was taught to me by someone who studied ergonomics and kinesiology before becoming a potter. He said that using your muscles in this method was a stronger, more stable pull. This method can be used on smaller pots, and then scaled up by adding the left hand on top of the right for heavier weights of clay. 

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Two thumbs, left on supporting right for the smallest mounds o'clay, else side by side, finger tips on the outside walls;  as Art points out, above, not pushing directly in the center. For wells deeper than thumbs, once thumbed to depth, right hand as a spear takes over, middle finger leading and supported by its  index and ring fingers, plus left hand index finger for extra feeling - right middle finger bein' nerve damaged (the nerve o'that finger!).

Although right handed, I turn clockwise. As both thumbs are damaged in the second joint, a lone thumb is unhappy! I hadn't thought of the slightly off center approach being beneficial until reading above - in my case, a happy accident.

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Stick out your right index finger (left if you're left handed). Make an 'L' with your thumb and index finger of your other hand. Lay the L on top of your first hand, with the index fingers aligned. This gets your hands locked together. Rest on your elbows. This gets your arms locked to you legs. Find the center of the clay and make the hole. Do no go straight down vertical with your fingers or you can't see how deep you're going. It will also tend to suck your fingers in too quickly. Instead, make a 'V' shaped hole, looking over the top of your hands so you can see the depth as you go. After you've established the depth, pull back toward your body to open the width.

I teach this method because it's a very stable, sturdy position that provides lots of bracing. If you've done a good job centering, there's no need to touch the outside of the clay while opening. I don't teach opening with thumbs because thumbs are limiting, and at some point you'll have to switch to fingers to open larger pieces. This stacked single fingers method also makes for an easy transition to using more fingers for large pieces.

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I learned years ago with the Rt thumb, then progressed to the RT index and second. Now, I open small amounts with second, larger with second and ring. I open large pieces 20#+ by pounding with the fist, or coring with the RT fist with thumb and first knuckle leading. When throwing large than 10# bowls  I open with my Rt elbow, works really well for nice rounded bottom and leading the clay to an upside down cone while opening. I guess I open up with what ever feels right, and left the RT thumb behind when it left me behind!

 

best,

Pres

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Contrary as usual. I make a dimple, add a bit of water, and use my left thumb to make the hole.

When it's large enough both thumbs in an squeeze the wall between right thumb and palm/fingers.

Then I'll make the floor by pushing outward with the left fingers while steadying the wall with the right palm/fingers.

Then compress the bottom several times outward to inward.

Then pull the walls.

Edited by Rex Johnson

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