Throwing pottery can be a very rewarding experience, whether you do it as a hobby or for business purposes. You can make all sorts of things, from vases and bowls to other objects. The key to success is learning how to use a pottery wheel. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to use a pottery wheel if you’re a beginner, so that you can make the perfect pottery piece.
How to use a pottery wheel: A step by step guide
Before you start using your pottery wheel, it’s important to prepare everything thoroughly. The first step is to clean your ‘bat’ (the flat disk attached to the head of your pottery wheel) by scraping off any excess clay with a wooden rib or metal scraper.
Gently spin the wheel and moisten the center of your bat with your sponge.
Place your clay on the bat, in the center, in a gumdrop shape. Flatten the edges of the clay with the palm of your hand, turning the wheel slowly until all sides are flattened down. Once all sides are flattened, use your index finger to go now press around the edges of the clay, sealing it to the bat.
increase the speed of the wheel and add water to the clay until you’re satisfied with the consistency.
Push the clay up with your left hand (this is called coning up) and use your right hand as support. Squeeze the clay inwards with the palms of your hands, allowing the clay to pop up between them. As the manipulated clay gets taller, maintain an ‘A’ shape with your thumbs.
After coning up the clay, you also need to cone down in order to center it and ensure that you can push it to where you need it to go. At this point, you should add more water if needed.
At this point, you should add more water if needed. Then, place your right hand at the top of your clay on the side and gently push the clay to the center. The fingers of your right hand should also be gently wrapped around the clay. After that, both hands should be pushed in the directions described above and then slowly slide your hands down the clay in tandem. At this point you should have created a ‘cone up’ position for your clay. Keep repeating this method until you have the desired shape for your project.
Now you will start to form the size and shape of your pottery piece. To do this, rest your hands on the sides of your clay, keeping your thumbs parallel to the floor. Place the right thumb knuckle over the top of the left thumb knuckle, then press down to create a small divot in the top of the clay.
Now that you’ve made the opening for your bowl, plate, or vase, it’s time to start drilling. Place your left thumb in the divot and turn the wheel. Keep going until your thumb is centered and not moving around. Then, use your right hand fingers to guide your left hand thumb down towards the bat.
To form your pottery, insert the middle finger of your left hand into the divot. Cover your left hand with your right hand, and slowly pull the clay back to create your desired shape.