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Throwing on the pottery wheel is exciting and fun. Once you can center, you’ll never get tired of the many things you can create with the potters wheel. Here we’ve gathered some tips and techniques that will show you how to use a pottery wheel in the most efficient and effective ways. If you want to throw sets on the wheel, here are some simple gauges for the potters wheel you can buy or make. Or for duplicating profiles, you can make wheel throwing templates. Another ingenious technique is to facet freshly thrown clay then continue throwing the clay and watch the pattern expand. Finally, you’ll enjoy the survey of trimming accessories for wheel thrown pottery­—maybe there’s a tool that’s right for you.


Here’s an excerpt:


The What and Why Before You Buy a Potters Wheel
by Bill Jones

When it comes to buying a pottery wheel there’s no shortage of choices. Ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to nearly $2000, potters wheels are separated by degrees of capacity, construction, and accessories. While there’s nothing wrong with buying the potters wheel you used as a student, or happen to be using in a community studio, you may be missing out on an opportunity to find the best pottery wheel for your needs. If you’ve limited yourself to one or two wheels, you may not know if a different brand or model would be even better, or whether those models are still in production. To find out which potters wheel is best for you, you must assess your needs and understand what wheels can offer.


Assess Your Needs


The two most important things to consider when buying a pottery wheel are how often you’ll use it and how much clay you realistically expect to throw at one time. If you plan on using the wheel a lot, such as in a production situation, then you’ll want to look at sturdier professional models. Additionally, if you plan on centering large amounts of clay, then you’ll need to look at wheels with at least ½ hp (horsepower) motors.


In addition to level of use and capacity, you may also want to consider how much space you have, whether you need a portable wheel, if you just need a “starter” wheel, and, of course, what you can afford.


Assess the Wheels


Steven Branfman, in his book The Potter’s Professional Handbook, describes the features you need to consider when looking at wheels:

Power: A wheel’s power in practical terms is a function of hp and torque. What you really want to know is whether you can apply the necessary force to the largest amount of clay you will work with and not have the wheel slow down or stop.


Speed: Speed is related to power but is really a different performance issue. Your style of working dictates the speed or RPMs (revolutions per minute) of the wheel head you require.


Control Sensitivity: Your sensitivity to extremely slow speeds and the degree of gradual increase as you apply it will dictate any concerns you have in this area.


Smoothness and Vibration: Again, personal style and expectations will make this more or less of an issue.


Weight: If you use 30 or more pounds of clay, the weight and stability of the wheel could be an issue. You don’t want the wheel crawling along the floor as you apply pressure to the clay.


Wheel Head Diameter: Although you can use bats of almost any size, the diameter of the wheel head may be a concern. The smallest head is 12 inches, with heads going as large as 16 inches.


Miscellaneous Features: Splash pan, integrated seat, attached worktable, adjustable height, choice of rotation (reversing switch), construction materials and finishes, are all options you need to be aware of and assess as to their importance.


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Tips, Techniques and Tools for Getting the Most Out of Your Pottery Wheel
From Buying to Trimming, Tips for the Potters Wheel

 also includes the following:


gauge2-300x219Gauges for Wheel Throwing

by Bill Jones


Sooner or later every potter wants to make multiples of a form — a set of bowls, mugs, whatever. Two basic measuring devices for throwing sets on the wheel are the Western pot gauge, which measure pots from the outside and the Eastern tombo, which measures pots from the inside.





screen-shot-2011-04-29-at-123321-pmThe Basics of Pottery Throwing Ribs

by Bill Jones


The best throwing tools around are our fingers but there are just some things they can’t do, and so we have throwing ribs—an essential tool for every potter. Pottery tools like throwing ribs provide an efficient and effective way for potters to remove moisture, control contours, and smooth surfaces. Here’s a look at these tools and where you can find them.





customribs-300x225How to Make Custom Pottery Throwing Ribs

by Robert Balaban


There are times when you may need a special tool when throwing on the pottery wheel. Robert Balaban solves this problem by making his own tools and here he details how you can do the same.





schran_02-300x199Throwing on the Potters Wheel with Templates

by William Schran


While throwing gauges can get pots the same height and width, templates will help you get the same profile. This technique involves using templates to repeatedly create an even, symmetrical form. These easy to make templates can be used to scrape the surface as it’s rotated on the potters wheel to create a smooth, uniform surface.





throwingsmarter10 Tips for Stronger, Smarter Throwing

by Claire O’Connor


Throwing good pots, especially of a larger size, on the pottery wheel is a challenge, but with these tips from Claire O’Connor, it can be easier than you might think.




image_01-300x300Trimming Accessories for the Potters Wheel

by Frank James Fisher

Trimming the bases of pots on the potter’s wheel is another opportunity to bring unity and beauty to your artwork. But different shapes and sizes of work create challenges, and if you throw a lot of large bowls and platters, pots with delicate necks, lids, etc., then you should evaluate trimming accessories for the potter’s wheel.


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About Ceramic Arts Daily:


Ceramic Arts Daily is a free online website and newsletter written and produced for the benefit of potters and ceramic artists worldwide. The newsletter features both renowned and emerging artists, their work, techniques and artistic perspectives. Regular features include tips and techniques designed to help every artist expand their skill set and widen their artistic horizons. Ceramic Arts Daily also delivers video tips, in which potters and ceramic artists demonstrate various projects and processes. Think of them as e-workshops!


Ceramic Arts Daily is designed to be interactive, inviting your comments and fostering a community in which each person can contribute to the growth of their own and others’ skills. You may be surprised at what you learn!


Ceramic artists on Ceramic Arts Daily know what ceramic art is all about – from functional pottery to abstract ceramic sculpture. This is about community. You’ll be drawn in by artists’ stories, inspired by their work and find confidence to try some of their techniques. With Ceramic Arts Daily, you’ll learn a little bit of everything. Then you can choose the techniques you enjoy the most to create something new!


So start today by downloading our free Tips, Techniques and Tools for Getting the Most Out of Your Pottery Wheel.  Then, get ready for Ceramic Arts Daily to introduce you to new artists and show you new techniques!



9 Comments on "Tips, Techniques, and Tools for Getting the Most Out of Your Pottery Wheel – From Buying to Trimming – Tips for the Pottery Wheel"

  1. hezekiah kabamba July 30, 2014 at 8:44 am -
    thank you very much for allowing me to register with your organization. I love ceramics. it has been my area of interest since child hood
  2. Susan December 22, 2011 at 8:02 am -
    Thanks so much for the freebies. Such a wealth of information to a budding potter. I made a bat grabber out of a similar material, but thicker.I believe it was an old tub mat. Works fine. Happy Holidays to everyone
  3. adi November 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm -
  4. fatemeh November 8, 2011 at 12:24 am -
    Thanks for your posting.
  5. Lauren October 30, 2011 at 10:07 am -
    Judith – I bought this one and love it.
  6. Teresa September 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm -
    Hi Judith Yes, loved and wore out my Bat Grabber. I tried as well to replace it but was forced to improvise. So go out and buy non-slip waffle-patterned shelf liner (it’s a rubbery-type mesh), trace out a circle using one of your bats and mark with a felt tip marker where the bat pin holes are on your shelf liner. Cut out the circle and use a paper punch to punch holes in the liner where you’ve marked the location of the bat pin holes. Treat it like the Bat Grabber. They work pretty well but the holes tend to wear out and enlarge. Just punch some new holes in another part of the liner and replace as needed. The liner material is pretty cheap. Teresa
  7. Bill September 30, 2011 at 10:56 am -
    Judith Unfortunately, the Bat Grabber is out of production. Bill Jones Editor, PMI
  8. Kathleen September 1, 2011 at 12:27 am -
    Thanks for your posting!
  9. Judith August 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm -
    Say, this is exciting! When I scanned thru this publication just now, I saw that Frank J. Fisher mentions using a Grabber Pad. Wonderful! I have one and I dearly love it. I have had it forever and it is showing some wear now. PLease tell me where I can get another one. They were at one time make by Creative Industries, and they don’t seem to make them any more. I have searched and searched. I hope beyond hope that they can still be purchased. Thanks for all the things you send out. Keeps us all a bit more engaged with each one. Best Judith Richey

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