Jump to content


Where To Start With Wheel Newbies?

  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#21 TwinRocks



  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 25 posts
  • LocationOregon

Posted 20 July 2014 - 11:12 AM

I had recently taught a small group without putting much thought or preparation in it. The group had a few people who had done high school ceramics but was otherwise total novices. I demonstrated by throwing a bowl and just kind of let them go! A few needed help bringing the clay to center, pots wobbled and fell. Most ended up with a piece they where happy with and one enthusiastic individual made several. I encouraged people to stop if their piece began to get off center and to embrace the asymmetry. Beginners need positive experience, not perfect pots. Aiming for perfection from the first throw leads down a path of disappointment. Wonky pottery feels more creative anyway!

It should be a bit easier than starting from scratch since he knows how to work with clay. I'd encourage him to give it more of a fair shake than just a week, throwing and hand building in combination leads to some of the most interesting pieces. I love the look of altered forms but my hand building skills are weak at this point.

Go with your gut, you know his personality, plan an experience that compliments his working style, relax and be flexible.

#22 Stellaria


    Maker of Stuff

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 240 posts
  • LocationPetoskey, MI

Posted 21 July 2014 - 07:06 PM

"Wonky pottery feels more creative anyway!"

I would not ever encourage this attitude in a classroom, especially for wheel-throwing.
It shows a need for more practice and skill development, not creativity. I think we do creative people a load of disservice in labeling lazy accidents as "creative" when in reality, they are just poorly executed pieces.
I see the same attitude in sewing, and it drives me batty. No, being too lazy to change the color of thread in your machine does NOT come across as intentional "decorative contrast stitching" - it makes you look lazy and amateur, and I end up offended that you look to me for praise and validation of your "creativity" that is actually just half-assedness.


#23 clay lover

clay lover

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 909 posts
  • LocationSoutheast

Posted 21 July 2014 - 09:29 PM

Every word she ^ said.  I teach my students to make it cleanly , then alter it with a plan.  To call inability to throw a clean pot 'artistic' is an insult to the efforts it takes to learn to throw well.

 unevenly thrown, walls thick and thin, twisted ,bottoms drilled out, are failures to throw a piece, not creative or artistic work.

To me, "embrace the asymmetry"  means congratulate yourself for your lack of skill.  That is a disservice to my students, it demeans their ability to learn the skill and panders to their egos. Well placed critique is fundamental to teaching and learning.

As a student, I would much rather have an instructor teach me how to recover my errors in a pieces than to be told, "It's artistic, leave it like that"

#24 Stephen



  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 267 posts

Posted 22 July 2014 - 10:49 AM

I think TwinRocks has been misunderstood. He/she, I think was talking about a one off class of people that had experience ranging from mild to none and she did a demonstration and then let them have some fun on the wheels for a while as an intro to wheel throwing.


I don't think in that situation it would make sense to get too intense as the point sounds as if it was to just introduce what throwing is and let folks see what its like to try and make a form.  Sounds like a fun first class to me, plenty of time to start getting serious if anyone is interested in continuing.

#25 Pots by Char

Pots by Char

    Aspiring Potter

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 49 posts
  • LocationAustin Texas

Posted 22 July 2014 - 11:23 AM

I can highly recommend the Speedball Clay boss..for a moderate price it is a great wheel. I bought mine while at the University and used it constantly there and for the past 2 years after graduating and I am more than pleased with it. There are more expensive wheels out there, but for the money I think the Clay Boss beats them all.

#26 Rebekah Krieger

Rebekah Krieger

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 553 posts
  • LocationWisconsin

Posted 22 July 2014 - 04:29 PM

After a 5 week wheel throwing class at the local museum I went on craigslist and got a wheel. I got a kick wheel because that was all I could afford at the time. It was a great way to learn, especially having to control the speed of the wheel with the kicking etc. The kiln came later. But I just needed the sensation of making pots...

Learning On my Kick wheel with my vintage Paragon (from the late 1960's)

#27 grype


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 106 posts
  • LocationGeorgia

Posted 27 July 2014 - 12:13 AM

I took 4 classes 3 hours each and then self taught myself from there. I personally think you spend about 1 hour practicing centered until they are almost frustrated, then have them open their best centered piece and make something. Then center something for them and have them open it. They will notice the difference and be like AHHHHHH. That motivated me at least.

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users