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WUVIE

First time on a wheel...

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WUVIE    1

Tonight, I took the pottery wheel for a spin. The very first one! :)

 

The first thing I noticed was that the wheel spins counter-clockwise. Is this standard?

For some reason, my brain was having difficulty with this. I am right handed. I just found

it odd.

 

Well, it took a few tries to get the clay anywhere near what I would call the middle, as

I could see it had a slight wobble. Slowly and carefully, I made a very small, shallow bowl.

Just as hubby came by to see it, I looked up at him, and in the process, stuck my finger

in the side of it. It was pretty good, if I do say so myself. :P

 

So, I wadded the clay up, made something else and while pressing on it, POP! An air bubble.

Not good. I made a few other things, but since this was a practice session (as they will be for

some time) I did not save anything. I think I'm getting the clay too wet. When this happens, should

I just allow the wheel to spin for a bit to give the clay some air?

 

Though I started out with a good size chunk of clay, before it was all said and done, I had nothing but

a giant worm left afterward.

 

What I've learned thus far -

 

  • Trim your nails. Ha ha!
  • Don't leave the bat pins on if you aren't using a wheel bat. They are in the way.
  • More clean water.

 

Silly questions thus far -

 

  • Let's say I made something I decided to keep. Must I wire it off the wheel and onto a drying bat immediately,

or should it be allowed to sit a bit so as not to cave in while trying to remove it?

 

Many thanks!

Karen

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Juli Long    5

Lol, lol, been there done that. My only advise is don't even think about keeping anything for at least a year! Ever day you throw you will get better

and look back at those pieces and wonder why you kept them. Cut ever piece into and examine them for wall thickness and form and any other mistakes

you have and learn from them. And yes, keep those fingernails cut and pull your hair back out of the way. A stray hair is as sharp as a wire off tool and will

cut a piece in half. Thanks for the chuckle, and have fun.rolleyes.gif

juli

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Mark C.    1,805

Tonight, I took the pottery wheel for a spin. The very first one! :)

 

The first thing I noticed was that the wheel spins counter-clockwise. Is this standard?

For some reason, my brain was having difficulty with this. I am right handed. I just found

it odd.

 

Well, it took a few tries to get the clay anywhere near what I would call the middle, as

I could see it had a slight wobble. Slowly and carefully, I made a very small, shallow bowl.

Just as hubby came by to see it, I looked up at him, and in the process, stuck my finger

in the side of it. It was pretty good, if I do say so myself. :P

 

So, I wadded the clay up, made something else and while pressing on it, POP! An air bubble.

Not good. I made a few other things, but since this was a practice session (as they will be for

some time) I did not save anything. I think I'm getting the clay too wet. When this happens, should

I just allow the wheel to spin for a bit to give the clay some air?

 

Though I started out with a good size chunk of clay, before it was all said and done, I had nothing but

a giant worm left afterward.

 

What I've learned thus far -

 

  • Trim your nails. Ha ha!
  • Don't leave the bat pins on if you aren't using a wheel bat. They are in the way.
  • More clean water.

 

Silly questions thus far -

 

  • Let's say I made something I decided to keep. Must I wire it off the wheel and onto a drying bat immediately,

or should it be allowed to sit a bit so as not to cave in while trying to remove it?

 

Many thanks!

Karen

 

 

Karen

(The first thing I noticed was that the wheel spins counter-clockwise. Is this standard?

For some reason, my brain was having difficulty with this. I am right handed. I just found

it odd.)

Yes this is the way most of us learned-counter clockwise

Most modern wheels have a reversing switch so you can change this But I suggest you learn this direction as you are right handed like me.

(Trim your nails. Ha ha!)

keep them short always

  • (Let's say I made something I decided to keep. Must I wire it off the wheel and onto a drying bat immediately,

or should it be allowed to sit a bit so as not to cave in while trying to remove it?)

First as a beginer its best to practice a lot before keeping much

That said its best to wire it under on the bat you threw it on and set the whole bat aside while it dries some.

You will need bats for this.

Mark

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Kabe    7

Have fun and relax. Become one with the wheel. Let the force guide you. Just kidding. One way to plot progress is to wedge up about 10 ball of clay about the same size before you start and then go through them. You can get 5 out of 10, then 8 out of 10 and before you know it you'll be a pro. I think the wheel goes counter clockwise for right handed people because it spins/pushes the clay into your strongest arm. That's just a guess, but I could be wrong, it's happened before. Have fun. Kabe

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Jeri    0

Tonight, I took the pottery wheel for a spin. The very first one! :)

 

The first thing I noticed was that the wheel spins counter-clockwise. Is this standard?

For some reason, my brain was having difficulty with this. I am right handed. I just found

it odd.

 

Well, it took a few tries to get the clay anywhere near what I would call the middle, as

I could see it had a slight wobble. Slowly and carefully, I made a very small, shallow bowl.

Just as hubby came by to see it, I looked up at him, and in the process, stuck my finger

in the side of it. It was pretty good, if I do say so myself. :P

 

So, I wadded the clay up, made something else and while pressing on it, POP! An air bubble.

Not good. I made a few other things, but since this was a practice session (as they will be for

some time) I did not save anything. I think I'm getting the clay too wet. When this happens, should

I just allow the wheel to spin for a bit to give the clay some air?

 

Though I started out with a good size chunk of clay, before it was all said and done, I had nothing but

a giant worm left afterward.

 

What I've learned thus far -

 

  • Trim your nails. Ha ha!
  • Don't leave the bat pins on if you aren't using a wheel bat. They are in the way.
  • More clean water.

 

Silly questions thus far -

 

  • Let's say I made something I decided to keep. Must I wire it off the wheel and onto a drying bat immediately,

or should it be allowed to sit a bit so as not to cave in while trying to remove it?

 

Many thanks!

Karen

 

 

 

My nails are still long, over the tips of my fingers and I don't have any trouble with them. I have more trouble if I cut them oddly.

But keeping them trimmed might be a good idea.

 

It might help a little if you were to try and stick to about 1lb of clay to start, and once you are comfortable with centering it, then

move to 1.5, 2, 2.5 etc... For the time being, a small kitchen scale (goes up to 10lbs I think) will work well to help you get use to

judging the amount of clay that you cut.

 

If you have to remove the clay and start over, just set the wet clay aside, and let it dry a bit, then make sure to wedge it again before you

reuse it; this will help to remove any air that may be trapped inside the clay. Usually setting it on a plaster wedging slap will do the trick,

but if you don't have one, a piece of cement board will work as well. Make sure you cover the edges with duct tape to keep debris out of

the clay.

 

I usually allow my pots to sit on the bat for a while before trying to move them to a ware board, but everyone has a different thought there I'm sure. :rolleyes:

 

I guess I'm a little different than some, but I kept just about everything I made to start with. I still have several of the items, as I can

go back, look at them and say "I've improved" or I can look at them and learn from the errors I made. I started to run out of space so

I had no choice but to start getting rid of some. I consider just about everything I do a learning experience.

 

An important thing to remember, practice makes perfect (or so I'm told!). Try not to get discouraged, just take a break, have something to drink,

take a walk, or whatever, and then go back to it. Oh, yeah, save your back, stand up and stretch from time to time!

 

Most of all, have fun!

 

Jeri Lynne

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WUVIE    1

Thank you all so much for your help!

 

I do like the idea of prepping a number clay balls ahead of time, and

see where I will need additional bats down the line.

 

I'll give it another shot this evening after work.

 

:) Thank you all for your positive responses!

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Pres    896

Thank you all so much for your help!

 

I do like the idea of prepping a number clay balls ahead of time, and

see where I will need additional bats down the line.

 

I'll give it another shot this evening after work.

 

:) Thank you all for your positive responses!

 

 

Yes, the potters wheel is a tough one to wrap your brain around. I always told the students that asked why it was so difficult to catch on to-I told them it was because they had never done any other learning that prepared them for it. When learning to ride a bike you had at least ridden a tricycle. Not so with a potters wheel.

 

A few tips.

Most work for centering is done on the left side, with the body used as an anchor for the elbows that anchor the hands. Try not to get extreme positions with the hands where you bend your wrists harshly. Most potters use clock positions of 7-8, and 4-5 bringing the clay up and pushing it down for a few times, then working it into the center-takes time.

 

Pulling, and shaping happens on the right side of the wheel with the left hand inside, right outside. get the most out of the bottom, and let up as the clay starts to move.

 

Learn to move the clay-don't let the clay move you. And above all, pay attention to the feel, not the look. Once you have had a little practice try centering or even throwing blindfolded. This will tell you a lot about the feel of the clay.

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Glad to hear you're feeling better and have gotten to start on the wheel. cool.gif

 

I still stick my finger in the clay once in a while and have short short nails. I took a class at the local art center which helped tremendously. Community colleges are a good option also if you can find one that offers just a wheel class without hand building. Nothing wrong with hand building, but when the class is combined it usually is not enough focus on wheel to help as much. Having someone watch and let you know what you are doing different/wrong really helps. So, don't get discouraged working on your own. You may eventually want to find a class or even a single session to help set you on the right path. There are lots of videos for free on YouTube and of course the bookstore here has great ones for purchase. Those help and keep looking untill you find the one that gives you the "aha!" of what you may be doing differently. Camera angles make all the difference in seeing what to do.

 

Good luck and congrats to being on the way!wink.gif

 

PS - In my first wheel class, I started with a 5 lb ball of clay and ended up with an itty bitty tooth pick holder! LOL. I was determined to get something out of that ball of clay! lol.laugh.gif

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neilestrick    1,381

It has nothing to do with right handed or left handed. Western cultures tend to throw counter-clockwise, Eastern cultures tend to throw clockwise. Either way, both hands are involved. Like Pres said, centering is primarily done with the left hand, pulling is primarily done with the right hand. Where handedness does come into play is in trimming. With the wheel going counter-clockwise, the trimming is done on the right side, with the tool in the right hand. This can be awkward for left handed folks. I encourage my lefty students to learn to trim counter-clockwise, because many studios have older wheels that do not reverse. They usually do fine, either holding the trimming tool in their right hand, or using their left hand directly in front of them, rather than on the side.

 

The best thing you can do is take a class. No book or video will teach you as much or as quickly. It's really easy to get into bad habits without someone knowledgeable watching you.

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WUVIE    1
Glad to hear you're feeling better and have gotten to start on the wheel. cool.gif

 

 

Aw, thanks! I can't breathe yet, but I figure I'm alive, so I can't complain too much.

 

I truly wish there were a place to take classes. We live about an hour from Tulsa, but it seems the

classes available are on weekdays or evenings - neither is compatable with a full time job and a commute. sad.gif

There is a local art studio, but they are almost entirely focused on painting, no one has a wheel.

Alas, YouTube to the rescue, indeed!

 

 

Learn to move the clay-don't let the clay move you. And above all, pay attention to the feel, not the look. Once you have had a little practice try centering or even throwing blindfolded. This will tell you a lot about the feel of the clay.

 

This is what I was trying to explain to hubby last night. When I 'felt' the clay, I was able to form things much better than trying to eye them.

Love the idea of throwing blindfolded, too!

 

Become one with the wheel. Let the force guide you. Just kidding.

 

LOL. I needed that.

 

Thanks to all, and everyone on this thread, your tips are very appreciated!

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lacemuse    0

So glad to see you got well enough to try your wheel!!

 

I'm not in a position to give advice, because I'm so new. However, I purchased Robin Hopper's DVD - Beginning to Throw on the Potter's Wheel. Maybe it was luck, but I doubt it. I was able to center my first session. Robin said he teaches the mechanics of throwing, & it all made perfect sense to me. I'm not trying to sell his DVD, there are lots of others out there, but it worked so well for me. He said there should be a straight line from your left elbow, through your wrist to the center of of the wheel - don't turn the hand outward or inward, because that causes stress on the wrist. Then anchor your elbow into your side, or waist. Once I got that line going, I was also centering.

 

When you can't have a teacher by your side, DVD's really are a big help.

 

I know lots of experienced potters hate hearing this, but I keep some of my work. Crappy bowls can still be glaze & firing experiments. I like looking at what I make, because I can see some progress with both glazing & throwing. Some have awful problems - heavy bottoms, thick & heavy all over, horrible glaze combos, or pin holes in the glaze that re-firing couldn't heal. They're each a spot on the journey - evidence & proof that I don't want to do THAT again, or exactly what I need to work on next session. Especially with the glaze experiments. I keep a firing log & a glaze log, but being able to see the results rather than try to remember how bad it was is more educational to me. I like to pick them up & feel what pin holes feel like or whatever crappy thing is going on. Eventually, when I get the beginner stuff worked out, I'll find the hammer.

 

My clay doesn't seem to get smaller as I throw & rethrow, but it sure gets wet - so wet it won't stick to the wheel anymore. LOL! I usually end a session with lots of clay that needs to dry out.

 

My new kiln gets wired in next Wed!!!! I'm working on some hand-built majolica pieces - tea bag holders & small trays, so I'll have something to fire once I get that first empty firing out of the way. Trying to find my own majolica style of painting.

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Guest Big Electric Cat   
Guest Big Electric Cat

Congratulations, WUVIE, you are now on the road to a lifetime addiction! Once you get the hang of it, throwing will soon blot out many other thoughts, and you may forget to eat, sleep, bathe. This is normal, and desired.

 

You WILL get the hang of it, but it will take work. Just like playing an instrument well takes work and time, or learning to speak a foreign language takes work and time.

It would be easy for me to say 'don't be discouraged', but while learning to throw, I was often discouraged. I am STILL often discouraged, and I have made some progress. It is not, as some would have you believe, 'fun fun fun' all the time. You are going to get discouraged. You are going to feel like you are wasting your time. You will mope. You will sulk, and you will wonder what the hell you are doing.

Whatever you do to get through the rough spots in doing things, you must do with throwing. And if I HAVE to use a cliche, it would be 'get back on that horse.' You've got to get back on the stool and plop that ball of clay down on the wheelhead, and try again. All of a sudden, you will get it. It will happen, and you might not be aware of how you did it, but whatever you are trying to do, center, throw a cylinder, a wider bowl, it will happen if you stick with it.

I gave up many times, only to find myself back at the wheel the next day or week; I couldn't stay away.

As way of illustration, I kept one of my earliest 'acceptable' pieces, which is pictured below, on the left. I put an American quarter in the pic for reference.

At the time, I thought this little bowl was big, and fantastic. I couldn't believe how great I thought it was!

That was in 2006.

gallery_8859_393_98852.jpg

 

In 2008, I made the jar on the right, which is about 16" high and 11" wide, burnished, smoked (sorry, no quarter in the pic - it was a show application picture). It turned out well enough that I sold it to a woman for $85 at a show.

I post these pictures not to brag, but to show that I was once in your spot, as everyone here was.

YOU CAN DO IT!

As a practical tip, I would say try throwing with slip, instead of clean water. I have found you can get by with less liquid that way, and the clay will behave better for you.

Go go go!

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Lucille Oka    16

About hand building, don't under estimate the skills that can be learned hand building. It is not a waste of time. First and foremost you learn about clay construction. Once you know what it takes to make a good pot those skills can translate into any of the other forming techniques.

 

Folks just starting to throw who have never constructed clay pieces will have a tough time understanding the parts of a vessel, how to make good vessels and deciding what to make.

 

Following the historical stages of development in pottery will help in your own personal pottery development.

 

Remember hand building preceded wheel throwing.

 

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I started on the wheel in December.

The counterclockwise thing was awkward to me at first too.

 

Yes, trim your nails.

 

Look up some videos from Tim See on Youtube. I learned a ton from him.

 

Centering.... try the cone up, cone down method. Works well.

 

Once a piece flops, you shouldn't try to re-mound the clay. You WILL get air bubbles. Recycle the clay and move on to a new ball of clay.

 

Wiring off. If you're not using a bat, then you should wire off relatively soon. If you don't, as the piece shrinks, you run the risk of it cracking if it's still stuck to the wheel. You'll learn to leave yourself a thick enough foot so as to be able to remove it from the wheel. It takes practice to be able to get stuff off the wheel without making a mess of it. If you feel like it'll flop as you're removing it, there might be issues: too much water, maybe you've not taken enough slip off the sides and interior. Could also be your piece is too thin or you've thrown it outside the "Safe zone".... in which case, it'd be a good idea to leave the wheel on super slow and put a fan on it.... allowing the piece to dry up a bit and bring in some stability.

 

My single biggest suggestion is to not become emotionally attached to a piece. It's hard not to at first. But even after its thrown, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.... not getting it off the bat, cracking during drying, punching thru during trimming, cracking in the kiln, terrible glazing, sticking to the kiln shelf, etc.

 

Good luck!

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Darcy Kane    28

I've not posted here yet, but I wanted to take a minute to tell you that a good teacher can save you hours and hours of frustration. Ask around, check the internet, ask other potters if they know someone in your area that is willing to make some side money. When I was learning I refused to fire anything for years, drove my instructor nuts smile.gif but for me, one of the best things about the clay arts is that you are not committing anything to taking up space on the planet until you fire it. My husband loves to fish; and, I tell him that pottery is my version of catch and release. My old high school art teacher's motto was "Keep it small, it is easier to bury." At least with clay arts, it is already DIRT :D

 

One of my favorite videos for centering is http://www.funkefiredarts.com/classes/video/center.shtml simple, easy, clear, and to the point. Have fun and make yourself happy.

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Ivar    1

Thank you all so much for your help!

 

I do like the idea of prepping a number clay balls ahead of time, and

see where I will need additional bats down the line.

 

I'll give it another shot this evening after work.

 

smile.gif Thank you all for your positive responses!

 

 

...

 

Learn to move the clay-don't let the clay move you. And above all, pay attention to the feel, not the look. Once you have had a little practice try centering or even throwing blindfolded. This will tell you a lot about the feel of the clay.

 

This blindfolded part I agree the most. Every time when I have an issue with centering, I just close my eyes and go by feeling. It takes seconds and clay is centered. Everybody shoudl try this...it is great!

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I started on the wheel in December.

The counterclockwise thing was awkward to me at first too.

 

Yes, trim your nails.

 

Look up some videos from Tim See on Youtube. I learned a ton from him.

 

Centering.... try the cone up, cone down method. Works well.

 

Once a piece flops, you shouldn't try to re-mound the clay. You WILL get air bubbles. Recycle the clay and move on to a new ball of clay.

 

Wiring off. If you're not using a bat, then you should wire off relatively soon. If you don't, as the piece shrinks, you run the risk of it cracking if it's still stuck to the wheel. You'll learn to leave yourself a thick enough foot so as to be able to remove it from the wheel. It takes practice to be able to get stuff off the wheel without making a mess of it. If you feel like it'll flop as you're removing it, there might be issues: too much water, maybe you've not taken enough slip off the sides and interior. Could also be your piece is too thin or you've thrown it outside the "Safe zone".... in which case, it'd be a good idea to leave the wheel on super slow and put a fan on it.... allowing the piece to dry up a bit and bring in some stability.

 

My single biggest suggestion is to not become emotionally attached to a piece. It's hard not to at first. But even after its thrown, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.... not getting it off the bat, cracking during drying, punching thru during trimming, cracking in the kiln, terrible glazing, sticking to the kiln shelf, etc.

 

Good luck!

 

 

 

What a fantastic idea to leave the wheel on low and a fan on it! Will be using this one for sure as I still use a lot of water. Thanks bunches!biggrin.gif

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ameichholz    0

I've been throwing for about two years now. I would keep things, just to prove to yourself how far you've come! I look at my bowl for Ceramics I and am thrilled and frustrated at the same time with my progress. It's a learning process.

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WUVIE    1

Ah, learning steps!

 

Until now, I've been playing with a clay labeled 'Terra Cotta'. I have since

learned this is a generic term, and not a specific brand. I'm not sure if my

clay is old, but it sure is tough to work!

 

I've been watching videos of kneading clay, and as hard as I tried, the clay

just didn't seem to behave as it did for those in the videos. Last night, I pulled

out the clay that came with my wheel, which is Riverside Grit from Highwater Clay.

WHAT a difference! I was able to achieve the Ram's head just like I'd seen! I formed

a deep saucer / bowl, used a lot of water, and this time didn't end up with a slurpy mess of a clay ball.

I'm sure Terra Cotta is a lovely clay, but perhaps not the best choice for me, as a beginner?

 

Other newbie noticings - the wheel does not spin nearly as fast as I thought it would.

I had visions of making an enormous mess in the house, when in fact, it was not.

 

Clay water vs. fresh water, WHAT a difference there, too. ♥

 

(Proud moment tongue.gif )

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bciskepottery    925

Your terra cotta clay may be a bit dry and just need some moisture restored to make it more workable. Assuming the terra cotta is in its plastic bag, add about 1/4 cup water, squeeze out excess air from the bag, and tie off the top. Put the clay/bag in a bucket and fill the bucket with water until the water level is just below the top of the bag. Let stand overnight. Next day, check the clay to see if it is more moist. If it is still dry, add another 1/4 cup and repeat. The water in the bucket will force the clay to absorb the water you poured into the bag more evenly. An easy way to rehydrate clay that has dried out.

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atanzey    6

bciskepottery - Cool tip on the rehydrating! Would that work with porcelain, too? I have a bunch that came with a used wheel, that's 'years' old. I don't think it's solid, but I haven't been looking forward to reclaiming it, because it is pretty hard.

 

Alice

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bciskepottery    925

bciskepottery - Cool tip on the rehydrating! Would that work with porcelain, too? I have a bunch that came with a used wheel, that's 'years' old. I don't think it's solid, but I haven't been looking forward to reclaiming it, because it is pretty hard.

 

Alice

 

 

Works with clay . . . including porcelain. If the clay is pretty dry, I'd start out with a cup of water. Also, make sure there are no tears or holes in the plastic bag; you don't want excessive water leaking in and making a soft mush. I've got a couple of "bricks" coming back to life in the garage.

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Lucille Oka    16

Ah, learning steps!

 

Until now, I've been playing with a clay labeled 'Terra Cotta'. I have since

learned this is a generic term, and not a specific brand. I'm not sure if my

clay is old, but it sure is tough to work!

 

I've been watching videos of kneading clay, and as hard as I tried, the clay

just didn't seem to behave as it did for those in the videos. Last night, I pulled

out the clay that came with my wheel, which is Riverside Grit from Highwater Clay.

WHAT a difference! I was able to achieve the Ram's head just like I'd seen! I formed

a deep saucer / bowl, used a lot of water, and this time didn't end up with a slurpy mess of a clay ball.

I'm sure Terra Cotta is a lovely clay, but perhaps not the best choice for me, as a beginner?

 

Other newbie noticings - the wheel does not spin nearly as fast as I thought it would.

I had visions of making an enormous mess in the house, when in fact, it was not.

 

Clay water vs. fresh water, WHAT a difference there, too. ♥

 

(Proud moment tongue.gif )

 

 

 

Sorry I did not mean to interfere. If you had wanted instruction you would have taken a course, right? Sorry again.

 

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I bought a wheel when I got hooked after taking my 3rd ceramic class. The first two 7 week classes were all wheel and although I liked it very much I wasn't financially able to continue at the time. Years later it was taking a class that was a combination wheel and hand building that finally hooked me (and the kids grownup and gone.) Hand building taught me many things that I sometimes incorporate into my wheel thrown pieces and someday hope to have more time to get back to sculpture. After that class I made the plunge and bought the wheel. Then it was sheer determination that I would learn how to use it and started taking more Wheel I classes. Since I'm not a natural I can't imagine learning it without help from my teachers and the encouragement of potter friends. I know you said you don't have access to a community college or a commercial pottery studio but you might look for someone selling pottery in your area and see if they give lessons. It made a huge difference to have someone watch what I was doing and suggest another way.

 

Somewhere around here I have one or two of my first pieces--not nearly as nice as Big Electric Cat's! When I get frustrated and think I am not making progress I look at earlier pieces. But beware giving them away to friends and family because after awhile you will be asking if you can swap them so you can throw them away and not have to see them when you visit. biggrin.gif I also liked using the early pieces to test glazes.

 

Clay is not like any other creative pursuit I've done. Big Electric Cat expressed it very well. It has been my addiction for four years and has been getting me through the most difficult job in my life (actually boss who makes a stressful job pure hell.) When I wake up upset about work I divert my brain by thinking about ideas for clay or get up and go throw some pots before work.

 

Let us know how it's going!

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teardrop    2

Don't forget about YouTube. Everyone and his brother in the pottery world has vids up....many offering "instruction" and a visual take on technique...just like being in class...

 

"Media" is changing things in a big way. "Class" will always be important stuff....but for those with no access to a school watching videos is the next best thing, IMO.

 

have fun. (the most important thing of all)

 

teardrop

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