Making Pots on the Wheel featuring Jerry Horning is a set of two DVDs that were originally produced as six videotapes (30-40 minutes each). The DVDs provide the viewer with all the information necessary to learn to throw functional pots. The first chapter begins with the most basic skills of centering clay and throwing a cylinder. Each following chapter demonstrates a new skill — throwing and tooling bowls and plates, throwing complex forms, pulling handles, making lids and spouts, and making pots with multiple elements, such as teapots.
The value of these DVDs in learning throwing techniques cannot be overstated. Throwing cannot be taught by words: it must be learned by repeated demonstrations and practice. Few teachers have the opportunity to repeat throwing demonstrations as often as students might need or at all for the times that students might want. These DVDs provide pottery students with the opportunity to watch demonstrations by a respected potter and teacher any time they want. Moreover, the DVDs are expertly filmed from a variety of useful perspectives.
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For beginning potters, Jerry’s step-by-step demonstrations of basic throwing techniques are invaluable. For more advanced potters, the subtleties of form and texture that Jerry gives to his pots when he throws make the DVDs both inspiring and enjoyable.
Disk 1 contains 30-40 minute segments on Centering & Throwing a Cylinder, Throwing & Tooling Bowls & Plates, and Throwing Vases & Bottles. On disk 2, Jerry covers Pulling Handles on Cups & Pitchers, Making Lidded Jars and Making Lidded Teapots & Pitchers
Nicely filmed and well-miked, this series on wheel-throwing techniques features Nebraska potter/teacher Jerry Horning. He demonstrates fundamentals–centering and throwing a cylinder–going over the steps several times so that beginners can understand the dynamics involved. “You have to run about a ton of clay through your hands before they get the message–before they understand how thick the pot is, how much torque the clay can stand,” he explains.
He then focuses on bowls and plates. Horning also demonstrates throwing off the hump, trimming an appropriately sized foot and making a loop tool. Horning then shows how to throw vases and bottles (i.e., collaring the rim to form a narrow neck); then covers pulling handles on cups and pitchers.
He demonstrates more complex shapes showing how to throw both inset and overhanging lids that fit visually as well as physically; he also produces an oval-based form by throwing the wall then adding a slab base. The final chapter covers throwing and assembling teapots and lidded pitchers; also shown is a technique for making a wrapped reed handle.
Aesthetic concerns are discussed throughout the series. “If you think it’s good enough, go ahead and glaze and fire it.” says Horning. “If you’re pretty sure you can throw it better than that, let the clay be another pot some other day.”
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Making Pots on the Wheel features Jerry Horning, a potter and educator for nearly 30 years, demonstrating and explaining the techniques necessary to make pots which function well and express one’s own personal aesthetic. Initially, when dealing with the most basic steps, the pacing is slow and involves repetition, as is necessarey for beginners. However, as the series progresses (each tape deals with new shapes and skills), the pace quickens and deft editing eliminates extraneous detail, so the viewer is able to focus on the new material.
What particularly impressed me was the complete though unobtrusive integration of Horning’s own techniques and aesthetics. He is a former student of Warren MacKenzie, and it is evident that he is not a “tight” potter. What is important is that Horning shows how each decision along the way, including choice of clays, tools (some handmade), and techniques contributes to imprinting every pot with its own personality.
This video is an excellent resource for both beginning potters and institutions teaching ceramics (high school on up). It should also be of interest to more advanced potters for the aesthetic point of view.
This video series provides abundant close-up demonstrations and verbal information that will be helpful in learning to throw functional pots on the wheel. Beginners may view the basic throwing techniques as often as needed to absorb the intricacies of centering clay, throwing a cylinder, tooling bowls, etc. More advanced potters will benefit from the clear explanations and close-up views of making and attaching handles, forming spouts on pitchers and such.
The first segment provides detailed step-by-step demonstrations on how to center the ball of clay and then throw a cylinder. In the second segment, the focus is on throwing and tooling bowls and plates, including the techniques of throwing small bowls “off-the-hump.” Special attention is given to tooling a foot that fits the pot. Video host Jerry Horning also shows us how to make our own footing tools. In the third segment, we see techniques for shaping the basic cylinder form into vases and bottles. Horning then demonstrates how to make larger pots by combining two pots or adding coils to the top of the thrown pot.
How to pull and attach functional and aesthetic handles is shown in the fourth segment, while the fifth shows how to make pots with both inset and over-hung lids. The viewer also sees how to throw a pot without a base and the how to distort it into an unusual shape before adding a base. The final segment focuses on teapots and lidded pitchers. Horning demonstrates how to make and attach different types of spouts and handles, including a reed handle.
The relaxed pace and brief but to-the-point explanations enhance the extreme close-ups, making this series a valuable addition to the ceramics classroom.
If you’re looking for DVDs that focus on throwing skills and the critical appreciation of pottery form, this is it. While other aspects of pottery can be learned from a single demonstration and written explanations, the opportunity for repeated visual demonstrations provided by this DVD set is uniquely responsive to the process of learning to throw. Beginners are provided clear demonstrations of basic techniques while more advanced potters are offered layers of more subtle lessons regarding advanced throwing techniques as well as the aesthetic considerations in making good pots.