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The Pottery Guide - Wheel Throwing


What is wheel throwing?

Wheel throwing is the technique of shaping round ceramics using a potters wheel. The 'throwing' is the shaping part. The wheels turns constantly, either triggered by a foot or motor, meaning the clay and the pot rotates so you can mould it into your desired shape with your two hands. The wheel is also used in the process of trimming and adding decorations or different rings of colour. This is done in conjunction with special potters tools. Sometimes people refer to the potter's wheel as a "potters lathe" as well. Basically wheel throwing is the image you think of when you picture 'pottery'. It's exactly what Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore get up to in Ghost, just it's not always so god damn romantic, but always just as great! There are various different techniques to wheel throwing. Jiggering is used an extension of the potters wheel during wheel throwing. in jiggering, a shaped tool is slowly brought down onto the plastic clay body that has been placed on top of the rotating plaster mould. The jigger tool shapes one face, the mould the other. The term is specific to the shaping of flat ware, such as plates, whilst a similar technique, jolleying, refers to the production of hollow ware, such as cups. This is often done on mass, because of the use of a mould, it means that

How much is a potters wheel?

A potters wheel is expensive, they start at £650 and can be as expensive as £2,000. They stool you need for them come in at £100 each and the wheel heads are around £300 so they are a substantial investment. However, the clay itself is ridiculously cheap! There are tons of different brands of pottery wheels, so it's best to go to a few classes first, get a feel for which one you like before purchasing your own straight away.

Where can I practice wheel throwing?

There are loads of places where you can rent studios and wheels once you are comfortable using them yourself. Studios such as Kerry Hastings Ceramics at Regent Studios in Finsbury Park also offer an open access membership for those with experience of pottery. Use of potter's wheels, kilns, workspace & shelves for storage are included in the membership.