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Learning How To Throw


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#1 wiesel

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 07:39 AM

Hi

 

I am fortunate to have a studio and in summer got a shimpo rk55 wheel. I have had 1 lesson but cannot get back for more lessons due to travel issue.

 

Anyway I am teaching myself with the help of books and youtube.

 

I sometimes become very frustrated and annoyed with my efforts.

 

I have noticed its much easier to throw clay straight out of bag than the reclaimed clay? I guess that's a wedging issue?

 

Any tips or advice would be appreciated.

 

I really enjoy this forum.

 

thanks



#2 clay lover

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 07:57 AM

Welcome
This is a very useful site. You will fare the best here if you ask specific questions. Yes, there is much info on you tube. Simon Leach has several for beginners. There are also several good books on the how to's of throwing that can help. Amazon has a good selection.

#3 Pres

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 10:46 AM

Look in the back topics in Forum, you will find several strands on learning how to throw.  I always told my students that throwing was a matter of learning. I could not really teach them how to throw, only correct them when they were doing something not quite right. It takes frequent constant practice. It is best related to riding a bicycle, you had to learn it, your parents could help you, but only by doing could you get the nuances of balance, pedaling and steering to get it work. You have to do much the same with throwing. Watching the videos will help you, vids of yourself throwing will also help you compare what you do to what the others do. Don't get frustrated, just keep on plodding along. Many of us worked for months with teachers to get there, at some time things click, and you are there-for a day or two, then it comes back again and again til it does not go away. Happy trails!


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#4 oldlady

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 11:02 AM

your original question is whether it is easier to throw clay straight out of the bag or after wedging, is that right?

 

clay straight out of the bag is usually a little stiff and is perfect for cutting slices off for slab work but it is usually harder to throw without a little preliminary work.

 

one thing that helps in using clay out of the bag is to wake it up.  drop the entire stiff bag onto a solid floor when it is still in the bag.  make sure you do not deform the original cube shape but drop it on each side, (6 times) from about knee high.  you are just waking it up.  (OK purists, she is just beginning so do not discourage her by attacking my words)  you will find that the clay is now more responsive to your touch.  cut it with a wire into cubes about 3x3 inches and bounce it lightly on each corner just to round it off.  it should be much easier to throw now.

 

learning to wedge is another skill you will need to learn but using it out of the bag will get you some feeling of accomplishment as you practice.  many beginners get discouraged at their efforts blaming themselves but not realizing that the clay needs to be the right consistency to do its part. you can do it, it just takes practice.   once you have used up all the nice,square cubes, you can start learning to wedge.

 

(videos never show the failures)


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#5 Biglou13

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 12:21 PM

Coning clay up, compressing down conning up and down a few times really wakes up clay, In addition to wedging. I like the way wedging wakes me up and the clay, if clay is right consistency, less exaggerated conning up and compressing. See Niels video in 12 inch club for an example.

Nonetheless ... wedging, cut and slam, coning and compressing, conditioning clay. Should become part of your practice.

I finally started doing it wish I did it at the beginning of my potter education, pulling lots of cylinders, or handle less cups, it has become my meditation, more often than not they end up getting reclaimed. But the practice is priceless. You suddenly awaken and there is a dozen cups on your ware board.....
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#6 Benzine

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 09:58 PM

The videos you find online are great, as are the suggestions you get on forums like this.  But, like Pres said, it's not really something you can teach, but instead it's something you have to experience. 

 

Pres comparing it to riding a bike, is a good analogy.  This is not only true because of the points Pres made, but because it's something that you never forget.

 

My Dad, who hadn't done any wheel work for a couple decades, got back on a wheel, and didn't miss a step, in picking it up.


"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#7 Pres

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 10:20 PM

One final thought on the analogy to bike riding that I forgot. Many times there is pre learning that gets you prepared for a task. Riding a trike kind of counts for bike riding. What prelearning helps with the potters wheel? Nothing that I know of.


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#8 Benzine

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 10:23 PM

The Quick Center System...............


"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#9 PSC

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 08:13 AM

First make sure the used clay isn't too wet to throw, if it is too wet the walls will tend to sag. If you don't have the wedging down then you are likely getting trapped air bubbles in the used clay which make it very hard to center. Wedging is more like stretching the backside of the clay lump. I've seen more beginners misunderstand and fold the the clay which actually makes more trapped air. I use the rams head method of wedging, i tip the lump up onto the 'nose' of my lump and press and rotate the clay so that the back of the lump stretches and releases air bubbles(you can sometimes see the air bubble on the stretch surface or even hear them pop). A good practice at first is to wedge your clay and then wire it in half and check if there are air pockets. If there are air pockets you need to wedge longer or differently. Once on the wheel, towering the lump a couple times often brings an unnoticed air bubble to the surface but too many times will fatigue the clay with too much water.

When i was first learning i didn't use commercial clays from a supply house instead bought clay from a local potter that dug clay out of the ground and processed it...it was not deaired and often had little iron pyrite rocks so i learned to wedge cause there was never that fresh from the bag air bubbleless clay to enjoy. :) good luck.

#10 clay lover

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 10:08 AM

A quick and dirty list of suggestions.

Do the dropping of the bag, cutting into 3" cubes, pat to round.

Take a clean bat and a permanent magic marker, spinning the wheel, draw concentric circles on bat, from close to center, outward, several concentric rings.

Dampen the bat,stop it and slap the clay onto the bat, using the circles to get it close to center.
Look at the circles you drew and see where the clay is out of round the most. Slap it closer to round, with the wheel still. This helps eliminate much of the wobble you struggle with in getting the ball centered. As you get better, you can eliminate this step, but the circles will always help.

Start the wheel, wet your hands press them onto the clay pushing toward the center of the wheel. WAIT, holding your hands as still as possible. Brace elbows,arms on whatever works for you,knees,splash pan.

You will feel the clay starting to seem 'quieter,as that happens, all else will get easier.
When you start to cone up, do it slowly so as not to make a spiral in the clay that will then throw you off.

If this is all too preliminary for you. sorry. Let me know. Every potter started the same way, struggling with a little lump of clay.

#11 oldlady

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 01:00 PM

the other thing to consider is the size of your hands.  if a 3 inch cube is right, that's good.  if you find it uncomfortably small, use a bigger size.  there is a wonderful beginners book from the 1970s, "Pottery Workshop" by Charles Counts that will take you through the steps progressing from a small cylinder to a variety of shapes in a logical way. a paperback from amazon would make a good start to the library you will amass over the years.

 

 yes, i know this generation uses computers and electronic devices almost exclusively.  and i agree that watching videos is fun but practicing in a way that stretches you without frustrating you too much is very satisfying.  many of us are self taught.  the advice you are getting here is from folks who have been through just what you are experiencing.  and we all lived. :) .................


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#12 Pres

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 05:05 PM

When centering, if you think you are close, try concentrating on sense of touch by closing your eyes to feel the movement of the clay in your hands. If it shoves against you at times obviously off center-at least to someone with experience. :unsure:


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#13 Babs

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 06:40 PM

And some days, as you walk around your house and bump into a few items like every piece of furniture, don't even go near the wheel, you are not centred enough to centre anything else..

After basic skills mastered, it's time at the wheel that counts for a lot of success.



#14 oldlady

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 11:39 PM

babs is right.  i might accidentally break 4 or 5 pieces a year.  last week i lost 3 in one day through hurrying to get that last firing in.  at least they were not yet glazed.  not a good day to buy a lottery ticket.


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#15 Davidpotter

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 10:09 PM

i have found videos great for finding different ways of doing stuff. if it wasn't for youtube i would probably still be getting my clay pinched off when trying to pull. 


Practice, practice, practice. Then when you think you've practiced enough, the real practice begins.

#16 Newbiecw

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 01:00 PM

I have just discovered the videos on YouTube made by Hsin-Chuen Lin. I've only watched a few so far (more than once) and have found them to be the best of any others I've seen. He is amazing...assumes nothing, and is so patient and clear in all of his instructions. Invaluable!!

#17 Pugaboo

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 09:41 PM

I too have been watching Hsin-Chuen Lins you tube videos and he is really amazing. I have his videos page marked and watch them again and again. I even sit there and mimic his hand movements while watching the video to just try and get a feel for the positioning even without clay. I might have to figure out a way to have them playing on my computer where I can see them when I get to seriously working on the wheel in December when I plan to just PLAY, yes I said play, with clay on the wheel not even trying for something kiln worthy just getting a better feel for what happens when I do things in different ways. I find I learn better at times when I am not trying to actually make something but just focus on the steps and repeat them until I get them down before moving on to the next step.

Terry
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#18 oldlady

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 10:44 PM

hooray for you, terry, you realize that you are trying to learn a skill, not make a product!!


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#19 Chantay

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 06:39 AM

when I first started to work with clay I had a lot of trouble working with my reclaimed clay.  Tons of air bubbles.  Follow the general steps of letting clay totaly dry, then cover in water.  I let mine site for several days to a week.  If there is any shape left I just let it sit.  I scoop it out on to a plaster batt covered with an old tshirt.  As it sits I will walk by occasionaly and pat it into a shape with the tshirt around it.  The one thing is to not let it get to dry.  I wedge when it is as soft as possible.  I then let it sit for a day or two to firm up a little more before throwing.  Remember that everything you do to the clay will dry it a little more.  I find the drier it is, the harder to throw.  I laugh because the first clay I ever bought was so dry it was like sand paper grinding down my hands and I had to use tons of water to throw with.  Hope this helps.


- chantay




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