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Baking apples. . . Tablespoon of water, teaspoon of butter, spices-I use cinnamon and ginger, sweetener(sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey), as a diabetic I use none, others(nuts, granola, etc) Li

Glazenerd, I really am pleased when posts are able to help others out. However, I can not take credit. . . . it takes a community.     best, Pres

Nancy, Maybe this will help, quick sketch of  hand positions, my kiln is firing today, so did it inside. hope this helps. I  usually hold a sponge in my rt hand so that the water will drip

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Interesting post. Quite honestly my experience was that I needed to spend lots of time learning centering .... get REALLY good at centering or you re screwed. Then Cylinders, then bowls ... lots of cylinders and bowls. Then I could try more interesting stuff. Took a good year for me to get comfy but then I am jsut a hobbyist, not a full-timer.

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  • 4 months later...

I was demonstrating at Altoona Area HS, where I used to teach, on Wednesday last week. I did 6 demonstrations(class periods) Each included a 9" cylinder of 3#, a 4# bowl, and a plate of 5#. Then I threw a few pots quickly showing how things were done in a studio situation; the teacher Eric Hoover narrated while I worked. I used stamping on the cylinders, and the plate before final shaping.

While I was doing this, I was thinking of another basic wheel throwing project for beginners: sponge holders with drip edge. This uses a very similar concept to the apple baker. . .creating a small edge outside of a cylinder about 4-5 inches tall with a notch cut in it. I use a piece of pipe salvaged out of a toilet paper roller when the clay is near leather hard to cut two holes to establish the width of the slot and cut the rest of the slot with a fettling knife. I realize that many folks are making these, but they are not too difficult, and for a beginner another form to knock off.

 

Sponge holder.JPG

best,

Pres

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On 12/3/2017 at 1:34 PM, glazenerd said:

Question Pres?

in the last week my throwing skills have improved dramatically. ( pictures will be up in gallery late next week) is that normal: do you hit a point where things just sorta click? Getting much better at getting the clay off the bottom and up the wall..TY.

current problem:  when I get up to the top of the cylinder, I start pulling unevenly...wobbles. Even when I slow down, pay very close attention, still pull the top of the cylinder slightly off and open. Remember, I am an old farm boy with bear claw hands: not exactly good for fine delicate work.  Help please.

nerd

Just saw that I had missed this post, so glazednerd, just yesterday I was working with a few students (adults) and one was having the same problem you were. I told them that instead of ending the pull at the top of the pot to imagine that the pot was an inch or so taller and to "follow through" with the pull. This does help when coming to the top of the pot.

 

best,

Pres

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  • 3 months later...

I'm making pottery for over 9 years and I still can't center well. Anything over 4 or 5 pounds and I'm screwed. I've had excellent teachers show me, I've watched hundreds of videos, practiced hundreds and hundreds of hours and still can't do it. One reason I started handbuilding more. 

I wonder if body shape has anything to do with it. I'm very strong, should be able to do this, but I am also very short-waisted and have long limbs. Wonder if that affects it?? Probably a ludicrous thought, but has crossed my mind so I thought I'd ask.

Nancy

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@nancylee For amounts of clay you are talking about, I pat the clay, as the wheel slowly turns, into a semi-centered mound. Then I place both hands on the opposite side of the mound and as I increase the speed of he wheel, pull the mound towards my body. This gets the mound closer to centered, but I don't worry about perfect at this time. Now I cone the clay 3 times, after each cone try to place your hands in your centering position and hold till the mound gets closer to centered. By the 3rd cone everything should be aligned and centered.

I had read where Marcia Selsor likes to have the chair she sits in be positioned so when she looks down at the wheel she is looking about 1 inch beyond the center of the wheel. This has helped greatly. Try to lay your weight on the mound with your shoulders well over the mound. I usually end up with clay on my chest from hugging the mound.

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Long limbs, eye that, in the 99th percentile, reach for height - fun shopping for long sleeve shirts that fit at the wrist, neck, and body ...on t'other hand, reaching the top shelf, painting walls, etc., heh.

Often overlooked: a) clay shifting on the wheelhead/bat, where just a smidge of movement is all it takes to "throw" off your center. b) shearing - apply too much pressure, too soon, where the separation/shear that results will continue to influence that pot, throughout - start over. c) poorly prepared, where a thick or thin bit of clay, bubble, crumb - any inconsistency - will disrupt the flow of the clay. d) poorly prepared, where thorough wedging is continued in the several "conings" (as DH mentioned, above) on the wheel, continued, where a clockwise thrower tips up the rams head to the right, eh? Try it. e) poorly thrown base, as the opening and working of the base/bottom is a continuation of the preparation to throw a vessel - easy to impart a shear at this step. f) direction, where one may be better suited for one over the other; whilst I can (sort of) throw counter clockwise, t'other is soo much easier for me. There may be a right/left handedness to it, meh, I'm right handed. f) too wet/dry, where the patience and persistence required to work stiff clay ...it's difficult! ...and squishy clay doesn't provide much feedback, and requires quick work. If the clay is a smidge too damp to start with, it will be just right once thoroughly wedged - wedging removed some moisture, eh?

Learning (wouldn't say learned) all that th' hard way.

Having seen eighty five pound eighty five year old potter throw large pots without straining (except, perhaps, lifting the clay to and from the wheel head!), not sure much strength is required?

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7 hours ago, dhPotter said:

@nancylee For amounts of clay you are talking about, I pat the clay, as the wheel slowly turns, into a semi-centered mound. Then I place both hands on the opposite side of the mound and as I increase the speed of he wheel, pull the mound towards my body. This gets the mound closer to centered, but I don't worry about perfect at this time. Now I cone the clay 3 times, after each cone try to place your hands in your centering position and hold till the mound gets closer to centered. By the 3rd cone everything should be aligned and centered.

I had read where Marcia Selsor likes to have the chair she sits in be positioned so when she looks down at the wheel she is looking about 1 inch beyond the center of the wheel. This has helped greatly. Try to lay your weight on the mound with your shoulders well over the mound. I usually end up with clay on my chest from hugging the mound.

Thanks, I never heard or saw that technique!! I am going to try it tonight!! 

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5 hours ago, Hulk said:

Long limbs, eye that, in the 99th percentile, reach for height - fun shopping for long sleeve shirts that fit at the wrist, neck, and body ...on t'other hand, reaching the top shelf, painting walls, etc., heh.

Often overlooked: a) clay shifting on the wheelhead/bat, where just a smidge of movement is all it takes to "throw" off your center. b) shearing - apply too much pressure, too soon, where the separation/shear that results will continue to influence that pot, throughout - start over. c) poorly prepared, where a thick or thin bit of clay, bubble, crumb - any inconsistency - will disrupt the flow of the clay. d) poorly prepared, where thorough wedging is continued in the several "conings" (as DH mentioned, above) on the wheel, continued, where a clockwise thrower tips up the rams head to the right, eh? Try it. e) poorly thrown base, as the opening and working of the base/bottom is a continuation of the preparation to throw a vessel - easy to impart a shear at this step. f) direction, where one may be better suited for one over the other; whilst I can (sort of) throw counter clockwise, t'other is soo much easier for me. There may be a right/left handedness to it, meh, I'm right handed. f) too wet/dry, where the patience and persistence required to work stiff clay ...it's difficult! ...and squishy clay doesn't provide much feedback, and requires quick work. If the clay is a smidge too damp to start with, it will be just right once thoroughly wedged - wedging removed some moisture, eh?

Learning (wouldn't say learned) all that th' hard way.

Having seen eighty five pound eighty five year old potter throw large pots without straining (except, perhaps, lifting the clay to and from the wheel head!), not sure much strength is required?

HI,

I agree that it isn't strength, cause I'm strong and I've seen tiny women throw 25 pounds!! It it my technique. 

I read your thoughts several times and I think I am getting what you are saying. I am going to have to play some more this weekend when I have time. 

Thank you!

Nancy

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On 12/3/2017 at 1:34 PM, glazenerd said:

Question Pres?

in the last week my throwing skills have improved dramatically. ( pictures will be up in gallery late next week) is that normal: do you hit a point where things just sorta click? Getting much better at getting the clay off the bottom and up the wall..TY.

current problem:  when I get up to the top of the cylinder, I start pulling unevenly...wobbles. Even when I slow down, pay very close attention, still pull the top of the cylinder slightly off and open. Remember, I am an old farm boy with bear claw hands: not exactly good for fine delicate work.  Help please.

nerd

How the heck did I miss this post Nerd? In answer to your questions. . . Yes you get to a point where everything seems to click and you are doing so much better. Problem is when you get to that point you want to push more..  relax and enjoy!

 

Question 2, about the pulling  near the top. . . Imagine that the clay is actually an inch or two higher than it is, then continue pulling up. This will be an amount of follow through that should keep things from going wonky. At the same time consider drag, the better you get to throwing the less water you are using. . . correct me if I'm wrong. If you are using less, maybe you have a little more drag that shows itself near the top, try to use as little a pressure point as you can to get a pull. Less drag, taller pots, thinner walls, less wonky.  I also think of the wheel as a machine, my body in tune with that machine. As the wheel goes around a ratchet goes off in my head to move my hands up a bit, each time the wheel goes around I move. Dang clicking in my head at bed time!

 

Hope this helps,

Sorry for the miss,

best,

Pres

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On 5/14/2020 at 8:37 AM, nancylee said:

I'm making pottery for over 9 years and I still can't center well. Anything over 4 or 5 pounds and I'm screwed. I've had excellent teachers show me, I've watched hundreds of videos, practiced hundreds and hundreds of hours and still can't do it. One reason I started handbuilding more. 

I wonder if body shape has anything to do with it. I'm very strong, should be able to do this, but I am also very short-waisted and have long limbs. Wonder if that affects it?? Probably a ludicrous thought, but has crossed my mind so I thought I'd ask.

Nancy

Nancy, when throwing larger pieces my arms are usually part of my technique, I often will use a fist on the top of a 10# piece of clay, with the forearm up the side, holding that side of the clay in place as my left hand is pushing into the solid arm and fist, because of the arm and fist the clay cannot go anywhere, so it has to become centered. It is brute force, but can be done slowly with more water and patience. I have a tendency to muscle the clay into center, but part of that is my wedging also as I wedge cone shaped, and put the clay on the wheel with the cone centered on the wheel head. Then I slap the clay into partial center while turning slowly then center as mentioned above. Try it.

 

best,

Pres

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13 hours ago, Pres said:

Nancy, when throwing larger pieces my arms are usually part of my technique, I often will use a fist on the top of a 10# piece of clay, with the forearm up the side, holding that side of the clay in place as my left hand is pushing into the solid arm and fist, because of the arm and fist the clay cannot go anywhere, so it has to become centered. It is brute force, but can be done slowly with more water and patience. I have a tendency to muscle the clay into center, but part of that is my wedging also as I wedge cone shaped, and put the clay on the wheel with the cone centered on the wheel head. Then I slap the clay into partial center while turning slowly then center as mentioned above. Try it.

 

best,

Pres

Thank you, Pres. I will try it tomorrow!! 

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On 5/15/2020 at 9:15 AM, Pres said:

Nancy, when throwing larger pieces my arms are usually part of my technique, I often will use a fist on the top of a 10# piece of clay, with the forearm up the side, holding that side of the clay in place as my left hand is pushing into the solid arm and fist, because of the arm and fist the clay cannot go anywhere, so it has to become centered. It is brute force, but can be done slowly with more water and patience. I have a tendency to muscle the clay into center, but part of that is my wedging also as I wedge cone shaped, and put the clay on the wheel with the cone centered on the wheel head. Then I slap the clay into partial center while turning slowly then center as mentioned above. Try it.

 

best,

Pres

Hi,

I tried this, but don't think I"m understanding what you mean when you say you have "the forearm up the side," while your fist is on top. I get what the left hand is doing, but not the right arm and hand. Can you explain a different way? 

Thanks,

nancy

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On 5/17/2020 at 7:02 PM, Pres said:

Nancy, Maybe this will help, quick sketch of  hand positions, my kiln is firing today, so did it inside. hope this helps.

Centering large.JPG

I  usually hold a sponge in my rt hand so that the water will drip down the forearm as I hold in place.

best,

Pres

Thank you for doing this!!! I understand now!!! 

Much appreciated,

Nancy

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