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Wobbly walls while pulling the clay


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Hi everyone!

I am a novice in pottery and my question might seem pretty basic. And sorry if this has already been asked, could not find the topic.

I am struggling to keep the walls of the cylinder straight and not wobbly while pulling them, especially if i aim at tall cylinders. The clay feels centred at the beginning but when i start pulling the walls from the bottom it goes a bit off and the wobble appears even more  at the top. I hold my elbows locked, position is good, the pressure i apply seems to be even. Is there anything i am missing or should pay special attention to?

Thanks,

Olena

Edited by Olena
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Your hands might be traveling up the wall of the cylinder too fast. A pull involves three things: thinning the wall, moving the displaced clay up to a higher latitude, and recentering the clay you just disturbed. Sounds like you are skipping the third one. Slow down and make sure every latitude is recentered before moving up. 

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In addition to what Mea said, make sure you aren’t pulling your clay out of center when you open it. I had that problem when I was first learning and it resulted in uncentered clay and then wobbly walls. Also, as your cylinder gets taller, slow your wheel down - the centrifugal force can swing it off center. You’ll get the hang of it! 

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I'd like to add to what Mea and PP wrote - fully homogenized clay makes a big difference; any dryer or wetter blob, bubble or chunk disrupts the flow of the clay, hence, wobble-oh!

So, wedge, wedge, and wedge some more before even starting, and then cone up and down some. From there, if the clay won't center, likely it's not uniform.

Another point, when opening and then committing the first pull, moving the clay too much or too fast can cause a shear (partial tear), which will also disrupt the clay flow.

...and, one more suggestion - watch some folk throw, even if it's something you've seen, for you'll be watching for how they overcome the thing you're focused on now...

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My little add to this has helped some folks, of course demonstrating live is way better than trying to describe. Whenever you pull a wall you are actually stretching the clay in one spot meaning thinning and lifting.

To keep everything the same this has to stay the same thickness or stretch all the way up the cylinder. Once an area is thinned more than others it is stretched more and now your cylinder wobbles and one side grows higher and thinner than the others. Starting with a slightly off center piece almost guarantees one side will be thinner and taller no matter how careful you are pulling.

The cure, good centering, understanding the clay at the very base of the wheel will be the least centered just because it’s hard to get your hand down there and it is stuck to the wheel so hard to influence. Practice to pull up steady and evenly will improve your touch and feel for how much you stretch the clay. Eventually you will become more attune to it. Very much like when most folks start they bump into their work with their off hand. After some time folks improve significantly around their work and bump into it less often. Just an acquired practiced skill like riding a bike. Practice with purpose will make you better. Don’t give up, some days you will be more dexterous than others.

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I'm not that good at throwing even after 25 years, so I use this cheat.  Using 2 ribs instead of your fingers will  even out the clay.  This is really nice as the final touch to remove throwing marks.  Assuming of course that you don't want them.  Sometimes I do this with another standard pull following, especially if I've left too much clay at the bottom.

I use the next smallest Sherril blue ones for this.

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olena, i am surprised that  nobody mentioned one very important thing.    when you start touching the clay and begin to pull,  continue  the motion all the way to the top of the wall.   never stop midway up the wall.   when you reach the top, press downward just enough on each pull to realign the rim.   

starting with the correct shape is a big help.   i have seen so many drawings, photos and examples of people starting to throw with a mound that spreads out wide at the bottom.   the first motion should be to corral that shape before starting to pull.   a hockey puck shape is best for cylinders,   a doorknob helps with bowls.   get your dominant hand thumbnail down on the bat or wheelhead surface and push toward the center.  it takes more than once, do not try to do it all at once in the first push.   

what will be established is a groove for your finger to fit into so you are below the wall you will form by lifting.  a little lift on each pull upward, reestablish the groove, pull upward again. 

you would not try to lift up a big plastic barrel by squeezing the sides, you would get something underneath to lift it.   same theory.

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