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glazenerd

Pulling Walls

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Okay, finally got the centering down: even though it takes me awhile to get it. I am having problems pulling walls. Short forms such as bowls or short walls I do okay at. However, when I try to do taller work I either get it out of round, or I get the wall thickness uneven. Just not comfortable with pulling once I get past the depth of my hand. My big ole bear claw-paws just do not fit down inside the cylinder very well. Suggestions?

 

Nerd

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Practice, practice, practice. The size of your hands doesn't really matter. My undergrad professor had hands the size of dinner plates and he made dainty little porcelain pots. Once you get taller than your hands it takes some practice to get used to not being able to hook your thumbs for stability. Make the cylinder a little wider for comfort, then just keep making the same thing over and over and you'll get it. Repetition is key.

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Like Neil said make the cylinder wider, about 5 inches in diameter.

 

I am really a novice but these things helped me..

 

Use about 4 pounds of clay so you have something to work with.

Anchor your arms and legs.

Slow the wheel down!

Do your best Jedi Master and feel the clay as it slides past your fingertips.

Do not stop in the middle of a pull, even if you feel like you have run out of clay, follow through to the top.

Do not let the clay win! You have whipped the clay by centering.

Use your longest rib, on the outside, to help move some clay and this will also  help with eveness of the wall.

Breath!

 

It felt this way to me when learning to throw taller. It was like me and the clay were at odds, uneven walls, out of round. But after a few tries it happens. You may get it the first time but then it may be 4 or 5 more tries before it clicks. Then it starts to click even more.

 

Have you ever played golf?

Muscle memory and follow through.

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For cylinders, there needs to be a "match" between the speed at which your wheel is spinning, and the speed at which your hands are travelling up the pot. If your pot is going off center during a pull, your hands are travelling up the pot too fast. I used to tell my students to count to twenty during the pull. Or thirty for a bigger cylinder. Another way to think about it is, the pot should make two revolutions for every centimeter your hands move.

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get used to not being able to hook your thumbs for stability   Guilty

 

Do not stop in the middle of a pull,   Guilty  ... I hesitate when I feel the weight of the clay moving.

 

Also, many people lose the center by opening too quickly.    guilty

 

your hands are travelling up the pot too fast.     Wayyyyy guilty.

 

there needs to be a "match" between the speed at which your wheel is spinning, and the speed at which your hands are travelling up the pot.  such wisdom... TY

 

DH.. wish I could throw a sink... the pic is a cast mold I made... and then lost in the firing.

 

Nerd

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So Nerd i'll add my 2 cents too. how it was for me.

 

my initial issues were opening too fast AND not opening wide enough. i open wide so my broad  finger base can fit in easily. THAT made a huge improvement in just lifting taller walls. 

 

for me an even wall was a 'developing a sense for' kinda thing. like blue cheese or caviar. for the longest time the only way i could tell how my walls were were after it was bisquicked or sometimes bone dry. i couldnt tell with the wet clay or even leather hard clay.

 

my fingertips had to get used to 'feeling' the clay and the thickness. almost like developing a 7th sense.  i feel THIS is what took the longest time. even how thick does 1/2 inch feel to 1/4th inch without it being a see thing. basing on feel than eyesight really helped me. i center blind and i pull blind and then shape with my eyes. if i dont pull while looking away then i start seeing and then i start thinking and thats the beginning of a failed pot. 

 

there are soooo many nuances to lifting the walls. the pressure used between both fingers. what part of finger are you using. knuckles? whole finger? whole tip of finger or corner tip of finger. my fingers had to get sensitised.

 

THEN the 3 pulls (that's what i am aiming for - havent got their yet. still do 3 types of pulls but i do multiple 3rd type of pull). the pressure on them are different. the stretch. the different parts of the finger used. each pull is different. if i wrote exactly what i did to pull a 9 inch cylinder from start to end (no shaping just pulling) i'd fill up a whole sheet of paper single lined and flow over to another page. 

 

right now i am working on really tall cylinders (in my dictionary that is anything above 9 inches) and its just like starting all over again. i swear in my experience i find the speed of the wheel at the bottom of a 12 inch cylinder is slower than the top. so the top torques easily. HOWEVER pulling is nothing but just about moving clay. and just coz one part got thinner doesnt mean you cant move the clay from the bottom to take out the torque. my fingers are relearning how to not get thin in the middle of the cylinder and my hands are learning how to cordinate with finger position. i also find instead of starting over again i try to fix the problem before i ditch it. my fingers have learnt a lot through that. 

 

but as neil said. practice practice practice. to be honest with you i dont try to throw an even walled vessel. i think about even walls when i am trimming. i dont think when i am pulling. i just try to get tall and what feels right to my fingertips. once it feels right then i shape. it was a light switch moment for me. one day i couldnt throw even walled and then suddenly the next day onwards i could. what exactly happened, what exactly did i do to make even walls - i dont know. a combination of events all fit in in the right moment and now i throw more even than not. 

 

also for me uniform clay softness is key too. i throw soft and ive figured out uniform softness. i throw better with really soft clay than harder or hard clay. 

 

one last word. sorry this is so long. the clay. using different clay was huge. truly when i switched from b-mix with grog to Redstone (which has much finer grog and is super soft) my brain transitioned. 

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sorry for the multipost. no idea how it happened. 

 

here are a couple of articles and throwing videos that helped.

 

page 19 for the article by Ivor Lewis https://ceramicartsdaily.org/pottery-making-illustrated/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2015/08/Pottery_Making_fal98_poifal98d.pdf

 

this video is i feel the article in action 

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Also for bowls. It is easier to pull them like a flower pot, then get the shape of them on the last pull.

 

So dont pull a bowl how you want it. Pull it thin as you want it but flowerpot shaped. Then the final pull you shape it how you want it. Just a tip.

 

Throwing a tall object just takes practice. The best way I can recommend to do it is to make like 5 1# balls, 5 #2 balls, 5 #3 balls, and throw in that order making cylinders each time. When you go from 1 to 2 to 3 like that the 3# doesn't seem like much more. Where if you go from 1# to 5# its a hell of a lot of clay if your starting out.

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nerd, do not miss the part that tells you how evenly you made whatever it is.  cut it down from the top down to the wheelhead or bat.  use a taut wire and look at every part.  the first weeks are learning what to do and you cannot do that without learning what you ARE doing

 

cut it from the bottom up if you distort the piece too much cutting top down.

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I actually got the opposite advice: I was taught to keep slow, even breath control while pulling.

I don't pull a cylinder exactly the way I was taught by my first teacher. I found it helpful to watch a bunch of different people, and incorporate the parts of their process that worked for me. Everyone's physiology is different, and so their processes will be, too. Watch a couple of videos and try a couple of things until you find the piece of advice that makes it "click" for you. It comes.

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nerd, a lot of really good advice here...wish we lived a little closer, I'd come over and give you some throwing lessons, but you are doing great.

 

What Joseph said about squeezing the clay at first is also something you should work on, when everything is very thick the clay can be shoved around a lot...most important is to keep everything centered, centered, centered.

 

Also I was looking over a picture of the tools you throw with, you have a really nice large curved wood rib... you also would find the rib that is about the same size, but has one side flat very helpful. When I'm throwing tall cylinders and as things can get a little out of whack after a couple of pulls, slow the wheel speed, use the flat side of the rib on the outside of the cylinder starting at the bottom and with very careful gentile pressure use a finger or three on the inside of the cylinder against the wood rib. Now, slowly and evenly raise the rib and your fingers to the top of the cylinder. This may take several passes to bring everything back straight and you will need to pay attention to the angle of the wood rid so you don't catch and have it stick to the cylinder when it is very thin.

 

A heat gun is a wonderful tool and opens up new avenues also, I use mine a lot.

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You do have a smaller wood rib that will work, but the one that is a bit bigger is better for the job.

 

Body position when throwing is important also and what I mean by that is you have to be braced...braced with the wheel, braced against your legs and hips with your arms, basically the more solid your body position the easier to stay very steady when you move the clay and very steady keeps things centered, centered, centered...

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I'm working on tall cylinders right now using about 1/3rd of a bag, about all I can handle. Running from 11-15" wet.

I never used ribs in my former life as a potter.

Now that I do, pulling straight sidewall cylinders as much more controllable.

I'm finding that even if the piece has a varying wall thickness and/or slightly off center it can be corrected with a rib.

...that said, I am spending alot longer on one piece's symmetry.

IMG_6800-XL.jpg

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