Watching a great potter is one of the best ways to improve your throwing. With Nan Rothwell, you get the consummate teacher—knowledgeable, talented, and thorough. No matter what your skill level, you’re sure to pick up a lot of great techniques as she demonstrates everything from simple forms to complex projects.

Discover tips that will help you make better, taller and more consistent forms. And when you follow her step-by-step instructions for making various creative projects, you’ll soon find yourself at a whole new level and ready to explore your own ideas. 

 

Runtime: 2 hours 32 minutes — 2 discs

 

I am new “to this business”, so I like seeing The DVD over and over again because there are so many things you first do not get. The video has helped me understand more what to do and why, so at least I, with a good help from my teacher, have been able to make some cups. But the ideas are flourishing in my head! I have a lot of fun. — T.T., Jerusalem

 
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Cylinder projects

Learning a technique really doesn’t sink in until you apply it to an actual project, so Nan proceeds to take you through three projects based on the cylinder where you can practice and come away with something to show for it. Beginning with a basket handled tall vase, you’ll begin with a tall cylinder, shape it, then add a pulled handle. With the second project, you’ll learn how to achieve a rounded form with a bellying out technique, then you’re ready for the more challenging task of creating a ginger jar. With each project, Nan adds one or two additional techniques and sprinkles the commentary with helpful tips along the way.

 

 

On to bowls

Most every form created on the wheel begins as a cylinder or bowl, so it’s only logical that Nan delves into the unique characteristics of throwing the bowl form. She maintains that the bowl is one of the hardest forms to make in pottery because the shape is difficult to get just right. How many of us have produced a bowl with an unsightly roll in the bottom? Nan spends a lot of time demonstrating how to get that curve just right. When you follow her instructions for making a general purpose bowl, you’ll get it, and then you’ll be ready to tackle the ambitious 9-lb. bowl with thrown foot that could be challenging for even a seasoned potter!

 

Excellent instruction…for both novice and somewhat seasoned potters like myself! I always pick up some little thing from any workshop or instructor that I watch. These projects were what I had hoped to see. Highly recommended…like having your own private lessons! — Barb, BC, Canada

 
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Special projects

Once you have the basics down, Nan leads you step-by-step through some practical projects. She begins with a “three pull” exercise, included here as a reminder that if you’re not throwing pots every day, you need a little warming up — like a runner stretching before sprinting off. Her first project is a mug, but the demo has a bit of a twist. Nan stops at every step in the technique and cuts through the clay to show you what happens after each pull of the cylinder, so you’ll better understand just what you should be doing and feeling with clay as you throw. From there, she proceeds with making a dipping bowl, sushi dish and soy bottle; a squared pot with a slab bottom; a two-part pitcher; a berry bowl and plate; and finally, a lamp with a “wiggle wire” texture.

 

Training when you want it

Unlike the rare workshop you may be able to attend, Nan Rothwell’s Wheel Throwing is detailed and thorough. As an experienced workshop presenter, Nan understands what you want from her demonstration—she’s anticipated your questions and provides you with dozens of tips and techniques that will inspire you for a long time. And, because it’s on DVD, you can ‘attend’ anytime!

 
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Review by Sumi von Dassow

Nan Rothwell’s Wheel-Throwing begins with cylinders, bowls, vases, and jars on disc one, which sounds very basic indeed, but Rothwell offers a lot of advice as she works and even a relatively experienced potter may pick up a tip or two worth remembering-just watching someone else center and open up a ball of clay can be educational. It certainly helped me think about how I teach these processes, and I now have a few more suggestions to offer my students when they have trouble centering and pulling up. Disc two covers fun projects such as altering forms, throwing large, and using a wiggle wire, along with constant and valuable commentary about the process of throwing and making pots.

Pottery Making Illustrated July/August 2011