Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
notjustanybeth

Position At The Wheel

Recommended Posts

I am a new potter, and am currently sitting, hunched over my wheel when I throw. I am thinking about raising my wheel so I am standing while I work. Have any of you made the transition from sitting to standing? How was it? How did you do it? How much did you raise the wheel? I learned to centre with my left elbow tucked into my hip, so I'm thinking that the height of the wheel head should be at my hip? Any tips? Any websites or videos I should go to for advice or insight?

 

Many thanks in advance!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Bailey wheel with extension legs. I don't always use them to raise the height. I prefer sitting with the wheel at the shorter height. I think changing regularly does avoid back problems. Too much in one position is bad. You can also put your feet on a brick to help as well. I like to stand when throwing tall cylinders.

Marcia Selsor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a new potter, and am currently sitting, hunched over my wheel when I throw. I am thinking about raising my wheel so I am standing while I work. Have any of you made the transition from sitting to standing? How was it? How did you do it? How much did you raise the wheel? I learned to centre with my left elbow tucked into my hip, so I'm thinking that the height of the wheel head should be at my hip? Any tips? Any websites or videos I should go to for advice or insight?

 

Many thanks in advance!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is good to learn throwing at different wheel heights and different wheels as well. you should have the wheel head location close to your waist line, I would not recommend it to be any higher. your technique for centering clay will obviously change, research some good techniques for centering at standing position and choose one that you are comfortable with.

Good luck and enjoy pottery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I learnt to throw in Japan and they mainly throw off the hump for small to medium sized pots. Potters in Japan don't seem to suffer bad backs as much - but maybe that's just my narrow experience. This method means the potter is working at a higher height and it therefore allows the potter to work in a more upright position. The wheels are still low'ish but when a big lump of clay is on top the level the potter is working at is quite high. The perfect height is where elbows are at right-angles. This calls into use the core muscles more readily and the potter can become less reliant on tricks like locking the elbow into the hip. Both hands should be used equally for strength. I teach these ergonomic techniques all the time because they just make so much sense to me. As the potter uses the clay and cuts off pots she/he is working slightly lower each time until a point where the dreaded hunch-back appears - then its time to get a new lump! Throw the remaining clay down to a smooth pad and simply put the new wedged lump on top. I find the important things when throwing are to avoid the hunch-back at all times, relax the shoulders, use core muscles for strength as much as possible, equal strength in both hands/arms and never lock wrists into an extended position under pressure of movement. Best of luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all

this is a topic close to my heart. I already had a very serious back injury when I started throwing and knew my time at the wheel would be limited at each session.

I certainly didnt want to further injure myself so took regular breaks - threw no longer than 15-20 minute sessions at a time- which is difficult because as we all know you get in the groove and dont want to stop rolleyes.gif

The brick under your foot, that Marcia suggested, is great because it helps aline your upper leg- your knee should never sit any higher than your hip if you are seated. The lower your knee is from your hip the better, even to the point of still being seated but nearly standing -hope that makes sense

I also asked my physio for some tips and he came to my studio and showed me some great pre throwing exercises, the correct way to sit with your ab and core muscles contracted for support and some stretches to do in the mini breaks between throwing sessions.

Initially it was a lot for my brain to take in, because I was already thinking about hands and centreing and wall pulls etc etc so add thinking about posture it was a challenge.

but just like learning to throw, it becomes second nature- so too sitting correctly became second nature. I had a massive amount of throwing to do last year with it being my major study subject and I came through unscathed.

Look after your back!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have had my wheel up down up again, tried standing, all when I first started throwing in the first 2 years. I finally settled on 3 things that help me, once I stopped moving the wheel height every other day.

1 The wheel head is at the height of my seat, with my upper legs level, knnees no higher than my butt,with the non pedal foot evened out with a brick

2. I make my self get up from the wheel every other pot to get more clay or store finished pots.

3. I get a massage every 2 weeks from someone who really understands balancing out my body.tongue.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Repetitive stress injuries can happen when throwing sitting, standing or hanging upside down. I've seen people change from sitting to standing, and move the "injury zone" to the knees and ankles. Improper use of the hands causes stresses on the wrists whether you are sitting or standing. And so on.

 

Madmingei had some good advice there in his/her comments. My background is also based heavily in Japanese techniques and approaches...... and I find they tend to use the body with more awareness of finese and sensitivity rather than the application of brute stregnth and imposed will. It is approaching it as a dance with the clay, not an attempt to dominate it.

 

In my throwing classes I too teach effective use of the human anatomy...... building on having some very high level background in sports instruction and a bit of martial arts training too. Understanding that you are working with the physics of the materials and tools combined with the human body in motion.... and that goes a long way to using your body effectively.

 

And taking BREAKS when doing ANYTHING in the studio goes a long way to giving your body time to recover from sucessive minor insults that can eventually become chronic major issues.

 

One BIG focus to make sure is happening at a very base level..... are you BREATHING while you are working, particularly when centering? Or do you have this tendency to take a big deep breath, hold it, and then apply pressure to the clay to center or pull up? If so, you are likely tensing up every muscle in your body.....and not using the capabilities that your particular body has effectively. Any budoka (martial arts student) learns the importance of breathing and the timing and nature of breathing early on in training.

 

best,

 

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the subject of physical wear and tear for wheel-throwers ... for me it makes a huge differene to throw very soft clay. The difference in muscle pain after a day throwing soft clay vs. firm clay is undeniable. Soft clay also promotes throwing with finesse and sensitivity rather than brute force. Its harder to control, but you get used to it.

 

Mea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×