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Claypple

What direction is your wheel spinning?

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Claypple    29

Hi! Why do we have the pottery wheels spinning counter-wise?

I am right handed and find it more comfortable to work on the clock-wise spinning wheel.

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Biglou13    202

Hi! Why do we have the pottery wheels spinning counter-wise?

I am right handed and find it more comfortable to work on the clock-wise spinning wheel.

 

 

Many wheels are reversible, spin both ways via switch. Japanese potters tend clockwise. I've also wondered why majority of western potters work counterclockwise.

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TJR    359

Clayppl;

Don't be switching your wheel to clockwise and training yourself to throw that way. If you do this, no one will be able to help you with techniques. When you watch youtube, you will have to reverse everything. All of us in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, etc throw counter clockwise. Lots of wheels only move in one direction-counter clockwise. If you lived in Japan and China, you would be O.K. going the other direction.

TJR.

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Claypple    29

Clayppl;

Don't be switching your wheel to clockwise and training yourself to throw that way. If you do this, no one will be able to help you with techniques. When you watch youtube, you will have to reverse everything. All of us in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, etc throw counter clockwise. Lots of wheels only move in one direction-counter clockwise. If you lived in Japan and China, you would be O.K. going the other direction.

TJR.

 

 

Thank you, I appreciate your concern!

I mostly learn from the youtube, and there is one really good instructor:

 

whose explanations make sense and works. (Especially about the 3-6 o'clock smily zone)

The only problem is : he is left handed and works on a counter-wise spinning wheel!

 

 

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neilestrick    1,378

It's not about right or left handed. It's about cultural differences. Western cultures typically throw counter-clockwise, Eastern cultures clockwise. Learn to throw counter clockwise, since you may find yourself in another studio someday for a workshop or such, and the wheels may not reverse.

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R Fraser    3

I thought is was like toilets flushing and tropical storm rotation, it depends on your location relative to the equator?

Richard

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Nancy S.    21

Well, I don't have any actual scientific fact or study to back this up, but here's my educated guess based on what I know of kinesiology:

 

The "dominant" or "active" hand (right hand in a right-handed person, left hand in a lefty) is better suited for fine motor skills like writing, design carving, etc. The "passive" hand (the left hand in a righty; right hand in a lefty) is better suited for what is called "gross motor movements," using large muscle groups. Many times, the passive arm is actually a tiny bit stronger than the active arm. The body adapts to have a 'right tool for the right job' -- the passive hand does the brute force work so that your active hand doesn't get damaged (which would make it unable to do those fine motor skills).

 

Applied to pottery, as a right-handed person I am better able to center clay using my left hand - a gross motor movement, brute force. The counter-clockwise motion of the wheel brings the clay toward the heel of my left hand, making it easier for me to maneuver the clay without it catching on my hand. My right hand holds tools (fine motor movement) at an angle to the clay such that as the clay comes around (counter-clockwise), it again does not catch on the tool. If I were trying to do a scribbley design on a clockwise-moving wheel, I'd have to hold the tool at a very different angle to keep it from jabbing into the pot as the clay moves *toward* me instead of *away* from me on the right side.

 

A left-handed friend of mine who also does pottery has her wheel going clockwise for the same reasons, just reversed. smile.gif Some lefties will throw "right-handed" (counter-clockwise wheel) in the same way that some southpaw athletes will do things right-handed.

 

I know very little about Asian pottery techniques; maybe they don't do the same things to their pots as Westerners do. Maybe they have a cultural tendency toward something closer to ambidextrousness (even if you aren't born ambidextrous, you can train yourself to do more with your passive hand -- I knew a gal in college who learned to write with both hands because the nuns always took the pencil out of her left hand and put it into her right!). Not that it's good or bad, just different.

 

I suppose that if your wheel is reversible, you can do what works best for you. And if it's not, you just have to adapt your techniques to work with what you have....

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Idaho Potter    62

Several years ago I was teaching a class of 10 to 14 year old girls. Three of ten were lefties. It turned out to be easier for me to learn left hand throwing (clockwise) than to burden them with changing their dominate hand. Worked out well for all four of us. The second round of classes I explained why we in America work counter-clockwise, and because of classes and workshops later in life it would be wise to learn both ways. One girl was so promising at ten years of age, I figure she'll be studying in Japan, Korea, or China someday and won't have problems adjusting to eastern methods. I will still occasionally work the other way as it seems to relieve some of my back problems--maybe just the fact that I'm leaning and stretching the muscles on the other side.

 

Shirley

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Claypple    29

It's not about right or left handed. It's about cultural differences. Western cultures typically throw counter-clockwise, Eastern cultures clockwise. Learn to throw counter clockwise, since you may find yourself in another studio someday for a workshop or such, and the wheels may not reverse.

 

 

Apparently in this culture the wheel rotation and hand dominance have little relevance.

But Nancy is so right about the non-dominant hand been in-charge of gross-motor functions.

It works like a stabilizer, and because of that, it should be easier to center on the counter-wise wheel. (Like we all do)

However, (since the dominant hand is leading in the fine motor) making a bowl, e.g. theoretically should be easier on the clock-wise spinning wheel.

 

 

What I caught myself doing lately is that I use both rotations depending on what I am doing:

if I trim, I use clock-wise switch. When I lift at the right side of the vessel, I switch it to counter-wise.

When I lift at the left side, I switch it to clock-wise.

 

Heck with the culture! Let's all become cosmopolitans! tongue.gif

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I always considered throwing to be a bilateral skill.

However, many here are left handed, myself included. I throw with the wheel going counter clockwise. As for a left handed advantage, I kiddingly say the inside of my pots are very strong forms.

 

Marcia

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JBaymore    1,432

I generally throw counter-clockwise. It is how I learned. It is typically how I teach also......but can go the other way if I find it absolutely necessary with a student. Sometimes I trim clockwise (Japanese/Korean trick to raise the tooth of the clay on the foot). Spent some time learning to throw clockwise at least a bit before I went to Japan many years ago... so I would not make a fool out of myself if I HAD to use a clockwise only wheel.

 

It is a cultural tradition. No "magic" inherent in either direction.

 

best,

 

.....................john

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mine is counter clockwise.

I am a lefty (handed that is ;) ) I tend to adapt easily and have been curious about kicking my wheel clockwise just to try it out. I do everything aside from writing with my right hand.

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Pres    896

I generally throw counter-clockwise. It is how I learned. It is typically how I teach also......but can go the other way if I find it absolutely necessary with a student. Sometimes I trim clockwise (Japanese/Korean trick to raise the tooth of the clay on the foot). Spent some time learning to throw clockwise at least a bit before I went to Japan many years ago... so I would not make a fool out of myself if I HAD to use a clockwise only wheel.

 

It is a cultural tradition. No "magic" inherent in either direction.

 

best,

 

.....................john

 

 

I am able to throw either way, but prefer counter-clockwise also as I learned that way also. Over the years, I have had many lefties, so taught myself one weekend. I often use the clockwise wheel for burnishing and smoothing feet etc.

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jrgpots    231

I'm a lefty and started throwing on a Soldner kick wheel. My left foot had more stamina than my right. I therefore threw left handed. My hand positions or fine motor vs gross motor skins played no part in the decision. It was that my left foot felt better kicking.

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Vcope    0

The reasoning behind the Oriental clockwise direction is historical, as I understand. Originally wheels were turned with a stick inserted into the actual wheel head (similar to some pictures I've seen from Africa) to initiate the spinning, the clay was put on for quick throwing and this process was repeated, so if you were to try to do this you would probably use your right hand and move the vertical, inserted stick and wheel head clockwise.

 

I learned from a text book pictures and than a Japanese potter so I throw clockwise. Mark Peters ( I think I have tha name right, potter on YouTube and now with his own videos, appears to throw clockwise also. I like having my dominate hand ® inside the pot. It is tricky though to trim on a foam bat because your right hand has to cross over or you have to trim counterclockwise.

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Jbo    0

Clayppl;

Don't be switching your wheel to clockwise and training yourself to throw that way. If you do this, no one will be able to help you with techniques.

TJR.

 

 

As a lefty who throws with the wheel going clockwise, I disagree slightly with this. I have no problem learning from others who throw counter-clockwise--the key for me at least is to just sit opposite them to watch. But then, like most leftys, I am very very used to living in a right-handed world, and forcing myself to translate techniques, etc., on a daily basis. translating throwing techniques is NOTHING compared to fighting with a 3-ring binder.

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Claypple    29

Clayppl;

Don't be switching your wheel to clockwise and training yourself to throw that way. If you do this, no one will be able to help you with techniques.

TJR.

 

 

As a lefty who throws with the wheel going clockwise, I disagree slightly with this. I have no problem learning from others who throw counter-clockwise--the key for me at least is to just sit opposite them to watch. But then, like most leftys, I am very very used to living in a right-handed world, and forcing myself to translate techniques, etc., on a daily basis. translating throwing techniques is NOTHING compared to fighting with a 3-ring binder.

 

 

 

I agree with you. Converting the image while learning is a good healthy challenge for your brain.

Actually, we all do it when we are watching somebody when we are in front of the person. (I mean, his left is on your right, etc)

 

I appreciate all of the above concerns and advices, though.

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lindajb    0

Potter's wheels spin counter-clockwise for righties because this way, as the clay rotates it meets the soft (yet strong) palm of your dominant right hand first, then slips through to the fingertips. If the wheel spun clockwise, the clay would encounter more resistance and more variables (and be more likely to catch) as it hit your fingertips first. Ever try throwing with the wheel reversed? It's hard, even for a seasoned potter!

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Nicoletta    0

Hi,

I started throwing two years ago; I am a lefty my first teacher said there was no big difference and she advised me to try throwing counter-clockwise. I tried for the first lessons but it wasn't working well, so I tried clockwise and things start going better. Now I taking a class with a different teacher and we had a discussion about it, one of the things she said was that she is going to have "problem" helping me because I going the "other way"...

I would like to have other opinions about it!

thanks

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Claypple    29

Potter's wheels spin counter-clockwise for righties because this way, as the clay rotates it meets the soft (yet strong) palm of your dominant right hand first, then slips through to the fingertips. If the wheel spun clockwise, the clay would encounter more resistance and more variables (and be more likely to catch) as it hit your fingertips first. Ever try throwing with the wheel reversed? It's hard, even for a seasoned potter!

This is true, but only true while you are throwing. When you are trimming, it is easier for right handed to do it clockwise. At least it is easier for me and makes more sense. Even the lighting makes more sense if you trim on the left side of the wheel. .... Chris Campbell recently suggested a new topic: "the most outrageous, false pottery rule you ever heard". I think the trimming on the counter-clockwise wheel fits under that category. 

 

Nicoletta, if that teacher cannot help you, leave her! You cannot change yourself. She should be able to take a little effort and reverse the image in her head to help you. If she is not willing to do so, there are a lot of youtube videos that are great fro the beginners and even for pros. 

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jrgpots    231

I'm curious about the wheel directional spin. If it were a news station, would it spin to the left or the right? If it had a political opinion would it tend to left or right? And finally, considering the movie "Ghost" and the wheel's orientation, would it swing one way or the other, and what are the ramifications of the switch that allows it to go both ways???

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Biglou13    202

since this post orginally started I've been going both ways(pottery wise) 

and since i have wheel at home i've been "experimenting" more and more

but an instructor was watching me work and suggested i try counter...

but i find myself switch hitting more frequently  when in comes to trimming. 

but right know im better at wheel clock wise since i've been practicing that way.

but alot things feel very natural going left.....

I think im a lefty  trapped in a righty body........

 

does the wheel get jealous...... when you hand build?

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TJR    359

 

Clayppl;

Don't be switching your wheel to clockwise and training yourself to throw that way. If you do this, no one will be able to help you with techniques.

TJR.

As a lefty who throws with the wheel going clockwise, I disagree slightly with this. I have no problem learning from others who throw counter-clockwise--the key for me at least is to just sit opposite them to watch. But then, like most leftys, I am very very used to living in a right-handed world, and forcing myself to translate techniques, etc., on a daily basis. translating throwing techniques is NOTHING compared to fighting with a 3-ring binder.

 

I am left-handed. I throw counter-clockwise. As I have said before, this one of the few areas where being left-handed is an advantage. The left hand is the forming hand-e.g. the inside of bowls. Sometimes I trim pots right-handed, but mainly, I do everything left-handed. You would be surprised as to how many artists/musicians are lefties. It's a brain thing.

TJR.

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