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Developing Consistent Throwing-Practice schedule?

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Hi All,

I've been casually taking community wheel-throwing classes for a few years, but because of the pandemic, decided to take the leap and set up my own home-studio. I've got my wheel and kiln all set up and ready to go, it is exciting!

Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations for developing a kind of practice schedule for improving the consistency/speed/efficiency of my throwing. I have a vague memory of a teacher long ago saying something like "Throw 10 cylinders everyday" ... does anyone have any more specific ideas for self-training exercises or practice schedules to improve steadily without burning yourself out on cylinders?

I'm curious about how "production potters" are trained, could those of you with that kind of training share something about what the training structure was like?

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I'm a production potter

I started out as a potter like you.Playing with clay

I suggest throwing pots-as many as you can-the more the better-do not keep them-recycle them

10 cylinders is a 1/2 drop in the bucket

It took me years to get to a throwing level where I could make the same forms repeatedly-I do not want to say how long so you do nt get depressed.

it does not have to be cylinders always but those are great for most forms-that teaches you the pulling and wall thickness 

I recall in collage one of my teachers said if you want to devolpe a good foot on a bowl throw 30 bowls and trim the feet. At the end you might have a good foot.

At that time 30 cereal bowls took me some time but I did that and then trimmed the feet. In the end it was a great start to better feet and I learned a lot about bowl form.

These are the lessons you need to do to get proficient at throwing

There are NO SHORTCUTs. The doing is the only way and the thing about it is noit to save the forms but recycle them into throwing clay -the clay is atool at this point not a precious dog bowl that you must keep at all costs. Call can be worked over and over until your skill level improves.

I started throwing at 17 -I really went at it  as an 18-22  year old in school. I got out and made tons of pots to sell. I still was not that good although I thought I was.

I tend to avoid these threads about throwing but you asked for production potter and thats me. I never started out thinking I would be one I just loved clay and galze and firing and without pots the glazing and firing is harder

The best advice is if you love it do it all the time-throw and throw.Spend the time learning to get the walls right once thats mastered learn about form-once thats in your blood the rest will come easy. The throwing part is key. Many pass over this part way to soon and  then form kicks them in the b--t.

I loved all the parts and they all felt fun to me none where boring-I felt like I set a high bar but later realized It should have been higher-over time It was rasied very high. I use to make one of a kind works and slowly worked into a line to sell as money was the driver to keeping me in the studio . Now when I go to studio I always feel folks are paying me to be out here doing whjatever I want-it a great feeling as I still like throwing, glazing and firing. 

Good luck

Welcome to the forum

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Hi Jessi!

Hope you enjoy your studio.

Pres recently posed a motivation question in "Question of the Week" thread, which, perhaps, overlaps your query, for "what are you looking to accomplish?" occurs, eh?

Any road, my technique and "skill" are still evolving, now in my fourth year, for sure.

Some ideas:

  Get comfortable, so you can put the time in without hurtin'; try varying your setup.

  Watch others - maybe just a few every week; see how others throw and try some of what you see folk doing. Again, vary. You might find you see differently - same clips - when you've progressed some!

  Developing control, nothing like repeats. Measure out balls of clay, then try to do each "move" the same, so you end up with pieces very near the same. Center to same diameter and shape, open same, each pull - same, finish - same. I'm so working on this - can get within a millimeter or so. I might actually mount up a stick to throw to soon; wanted to get close without aiming for a stick/target first.

  Be committed to throwing anything near "meh" to reclaim - might be more than half, sometimes. Toss 'm back.

  Keep hitting it, regular, maybe several times a week, but don't overdo it - should be fun.

  Run your piece up to the limit, then go ahead and destroy it - push the limits. It's just clay.

  I haven't been through a training, and I'm a retired home studio type, not a production worker, however, I did learn a few trades in my working life, so there's that experience. Some carryovers: try not to practice bad habits; keep practicing to build speed and precision; strive for mastery; work safely - very, ...time for a snack, looking forward to reading what others might post!


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@JessiD You may find the first two pinned and featured posts in Studio Operations and Making Work of interest. I would also suggest that as Mark says that you throw often, working at the wheel for a few hours at a time throwing cylinders or forms in repetition. Always when throwing forms it is best to work on one form thrown many times, not many forms thrown once. Might be boring, but the more you do it the more you cut down on steps, being able to open up and first pull as a single step, then more changes in getting the form to height and size quicker. Cut many of these apart. . . especially the best one first, then compare the others to that one. Re wedge and try again. Time will get you there.


Welcome to the forum, and the long journey ahead.



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I am not a production potter but I do have a degree in ceramics.   My first throwing class we were taught how to center and throw a bowl and cylinder.    We kept three pieces to glaze and get graded on,  the rest of the time it was throw,  cut in half and check your thickness.    It is nice to have the beginners pieces,  you can see how far you have come.  My next class my professor would give us a photo of a pot,  he would give us the dimensions and pounds of clay used.   We had a week to get one to match,  we didn't have to worry about the shrinkage percentage of the clay at that point.  Both methods set me up for life to be a decent thrower,  I was interested in handbuilding so I started that direction.       Denice

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I can't throw, (too many neck/shoulder injuries), but I did try for a while.  

One thing I learned - if you can't make a good cylinder in the first few minutes, ditch that lump of clay and get another.  Don't fight for hours with the same lump of clay.  It's like it knows you're not in charge and continues to fight.

And like everyone says, practise as often as you can, for increasing amounts of time.  Say 10 minutes a day week 1.  20 minutes a day week 2.  Build muscle memory and physical tolerance gradually.

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Aye. Uniform/mixed/homogenous clay flows evenly, however, even a small bubble, lump, shear, piece of something, etc. disrupts said flow, and hence runout, uneven wall thickness and/or height, shearing -> frowns.

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