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Could Use Some Throwing Help

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Hey everyone, 

 

I've been throwing for about 2 years as a hobby at a local studio and I'm trying to focus on getting better at throwing. I've noticed that I use more clay to make any pot than someone with more experience than me. I'm trying to use less clay now, but when I open the clay to the width I want the final pot is always much less wide because I was trying so hard to pull up more clay. 

 

For example there is a mug that my instructor makes with .75lbs of clay and I have tried to make the same mug with the same dimensions with .75lbs and I can't get my mug as big as his height and width. I open to the width I want the mug and then when pulling clay up I end up pushing the clay and making the width less than what I started with also.

 

Any tips for using less clay?

 

Also, should I try to open the clay wider than I want it to be so it doesn't end up smaller or should I focus on pulling the clay up and not pushing in so much? 

 

 

Thanks!

 

 

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Record a video and post it! We can help you more seeing your throwing techniques.

 

When your throwing something and you want certain dimensions always start with a bigger base than you intend to finish with. Because as you move clay up your going to shrink in that base.

 

So for example if your wanted a 3 inch wide mug at the base, I would make your base before you opened up 3.5 inchs maybe even 4, depending on how tall the mug is supposed to be. Then when you open its going to get even bigger, you might end up with a 4.5-5inch base when its opened up, but as you pull the walls from the very bottom meeting the bat or wheelhead up, your going to pull in the clay. You say that your making the mistake of moving the clay inward, that is actually a good thing to do, because you can always push clay out, but its harder to move it back in evenly.

 

So pull from the bottom up until your mug is taller than you want it to be, then if your mug is cone shaped, put your hand inside and shape the walls, this should be your final pull, or close to it. 

 

As you pull out the final wall shape your mug will shrink in height but expand in width to meet the base. 

 

A key thing to remember when beginning is you shouldn't be shaping the mug until your satisfied with the wall thickness and you have achieved over the height you want for your mug. Once you have this accomplished shape the mug with a final pull. It will take practice to figure out how much you need to overcompensate for the width you want or height you need, but you will get there. Later on once you have made the form a lot you will be able to make the form without having shaping pulls, as you pull in height your fingers will shape it and move it to what you want so you can avoid these last final pulls and increase productivity, but if your just learning, get the basics down first.

 

Weight out a bunch of clay balls(25 or so) and throw the mug then cut it in half, look at your thickness, repeat the next 24. Each time you will see what your mistakes are and improve. Ask your teacher to throw you one of those mugs then let it dry a bit then cut it in half and look at his thickness, if you want to achieve a mug like his you need to replicate its thickness. 

 

Good luck.

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Lots of good advice above. I would add, watch your ankles (the first inch or two from the bottom). These are often where the extra clay ends up. Is it pc to say cankles? Anyway, you'll see it (if it's happening) when you slice your cylinders as Grype suggests.

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I'm a beginner, started learning to wheel throw in October. My good friend is an experienced potter. I was telling her that my 1 lb. mugs only hold 6-8 ounces and she said hers hold 12. I do think it's partly because I like to leave extra for a raised foot and she doesn't leave a foot at all. But still that doesn't account for all the size difference. I think it's something you'll gain with experience as you make thinner walls and pull more up from the bottom. Just keep practicing and kind of try to relax about it. If you're really set on a specific size, maybe add in a little more clay for now. I realized that for the size I want, I need to use 1.5 lbs of clay. In a few months or years I will probably be able to make the same thing with just 1.25 lb but I'm in no rush. :)

 

Thanks! I might try taking a video tomorrow. I think it might help me to watch it even if I don't post it here. 

 

I'm gonna do what you suggested, grype. Preparing myself to wedge and throw until I get it right. :)

 

I have found it  V E R Y  helpful to record myself throwing and watch the videos. I can see exactly why something isn't working and the next time I throw I can feel where I could see myself going wrong in the video. Just put your favorite music on if you like to work with music and go play in the mud. ;) 

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Also, should I try to open the clay wider than I want it to be so it doesn't end up smaller or should I focus on pulling the clay up and not pushing in so much? 

 

 

Thanks!

 

Hit the nail on the head, best to open it up wider at the bottom than your finished diameter is going to be as when you pull up the walls the diameter can shrink.

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Hey everyone, 

 

I've been throwing for about 2 years as a hobby at a local studio and I'm trying to focus on getting better at throwing. I've noticed that I use more clay to make any pot than someone with more experience than me. I'm trying to use less clay now, but when I open the clay to the width I want the final pot is always much less wide because I was trying so hard to pull up more clay. 

 

For example there is a mug that my instructor makes with .75lbs of clay and I have tried to make the same mug with the same dimensions with .75lbs and I can't get my mug as big as his height and width. I open to the width I want the mug and then when pulling clay up I end up pushing the clay and making the width less than what I started with also.

 

Any tips for using less clay?

 

Also, should I try to open the clay wider than I want it to be so it doesn't end up smaller or should I focus on pulling the clay up and not pushing in so much? 

 

 

Thanks!

Do not push the clay out. Keep the rim as narrow as possible, then the cylinder will rise.Way easier to widen out the piece later.

TJR.

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And to add to what TJR said, the spinning of the wheel, makes the clay want to go outward on its own.  So pulling straight up, or even with a slight inward angle, gives you more control.  Because like TJR said, you can widen it later.  Trying to collar it back in, on the other hand, can be more of a hassle.  

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Ooh, I didn't think of this last night. Watch as many different potters as possible because everybody does something different.

 

Ingleton Pottery on YouTube was really helpful for me to watch. I was first taught to open with my fingers and do pinch pulls and it wasn't working very well for me. Dan, the potter in the videos, opens with his thumbs, gets the bottom compressed and shaped the way he wants it, then pulls everything up and into a narrow cylinder before he shapes it into a wide variety of shapes. Before I started watching his videos all my stuff was really squat and tended to flare out at the top.

 

One word of caution: He's been throwing since he was like 6 months old so don't compare yourself to him!

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Thanks a lot for the advice everyone!
 

I took a video today throwing a cylinder and I uploaded it to youtube. The link is here: https://youtu.be/70CRTucXjq8 (I hope I'm allowed to post this link). That vid was one of my more successful cylinders to be honest. I have another vid about 9 mins long and I just don't feel like taking the time to upload because it took about an hour for this 5 min one!

 

Anyway, I started using a mirror when I throw as well. I think this is really gonna help me because I could already tell a difference. Especially with shaping. 

 

I also cut a cross section of my first 2 and the thickness was actually okay throughout. Check out the pictures. My thinnest point seems to be right below the rim, generally. Once I was really paying attention I was able to get a really consistent thickness. 

 

The advice I got really helped me today in studio! If you want to check out the vid and these pics and tell me if I'm doing anything wrong, please do!

 

tumblr_nsja787tIo1qhhhlno7_1280.jpgtumblr_nsja787tIo1qhhhlno9_1280.jpg

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Your cut cylinders look pretty good. I noticed something in the video that I thought I should comment on, this is just my opinion, but I think you are way too gentle with the clay. Maybe in your final pulls you can be gentle, but in your beginning pulls, get in there and move that clay around. 

 

Do a nice strong pull and ease pressure as you rise up. This will cut your work in half and make your cylinder a lot easier to work with as it won't be so wet. I still feel like you could pull more from the bottom to get a thinner and stronger wall with less water and a greater pull. This will come in time, your off to a good start. Keep up the hard work, you have improved a lot already, or you were under estimating how uniform your walls were.

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Nothing seems wrong to me. With practice your walls will be thinner (if you want that). I would bet if you took an entire week and each day threw 20 cylinders from one pound clay balls, your last ten cylinders would be taller than your first ten. Plus you would be well on your way to mastering cylinders. The genesis of most forms. Have fun.....Neil

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Your cross-sections look really good.

 

Watch Nan Rothwell or Bill Van Gilder. They make a slight indent on the bottom outside of the vessel with their thumb. This indent gives you something to grab with your fingertips so you can really move the clay up in a few pulls instead of moving a little clay using several pulls. Use this indent everytime you want to pull clay up.

 

Keep at it!  Good Luck!!

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Your weight distribution is good, it's just that you want your clay to go farther. To help with this:

 

Use less water in the beginning. Dip your hands into your bucket once, maybe twice up to your wrists, and that should do you. Rather than add more water, redistribute the stuff already on your hands

 

-judging from your cross section, you can make the floor of your cylinder a bit thinner, which in turn will make your walls thinner. Like Grype says, push it a bit. You're fussing things right now. Trust your skill.

 

-slow down somewhat between each pull. Your wheel speed right now is constant, which will lead to less control as your form grows.

 

-once you throw your cylinder, use the rib to refine the shape and build volume and form your mug. It's not just to clean off the outside. Compression from the rib will help the walls stand up more. You can also rib between pulls if things are getting wonky and you've kept a closed rim.

 

-compress your rim after each pull. It'll keep things from going wobbly.

 

You seem to be on a good track. It's just a time-and-practice thing to get to the next level. :)

 

ps

There are also some videos in a thread here called the 12 Inch Club of various potters here throwing three lbs of clay to 12" (or as close as they can) in three pulls.

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There are also some videos in a thread here called the 12 Inch Club of various potters here throwing three lbs of clay to 12" (or as close as they can) in three pulls.

 

Ohh I have never tried this! I am gonna try this here in a few minutes.

 

EDIT: Failed! I got a little under inches! 11.... I am going to try again, that was on first try. I bet I can get 12 or better. That was first throw of the day.

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There are also some videos in a thread here called the 12 Inch Club of various potters here throwing three lbs of clay to 12" (or as close as they can) in three pulls.

 

Ohh I have never tried this! I am gonna try this here in a few minutes.

 

EDIT: Failed! I got a little under inches! 11.... I am going to try again, that was on first try. I bet I can get 12 or better. That was first throw of the day.

 

 

I tried and after working very hard I would get this incredibly tall cylinder! So proud of myself! Measure it: 6 3/4". LOL Finally I realized that though I was collaring in, it wasn't enough and the cylinder was just getting wider. I tried aggressively collaring in, I mean the top was like 2" across, and suddenly with each pull I was going up like crazy. I got up to 9 3/4" and then I got really excited and started going too fast and long story short there's another few pounds in the reclaim bucket. But I shall try again! :D I was really happy that I found a way past that block. 

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