Monday, April 20th, 2015

Clay- The wheel

Welcome to Wheel throwing class!  You are joining a long line of clay artists that stretches back for centuries.  You will learn the basics of throwing and some fantastic new techniques, too.  Come ready to work each day, design your pots with artistic ideas and you will have some beautiful and functional pottery to take home to use and enjoy for years to come.


Learn to center, the MOST important skill needed to throw a pot. 

Simple cylinder with simple glaze design. 

Flared out cylinder ((bowl) with Blue and White glaze with an Asian spin.

 Raku bowl.  Raku is a traditional Japanese firing technique.

 Rounded bowl with Wax resist glaze technique. 

Bowl with applied clay design. 

Plate with slip trailing glaze technique.

 Textured mugs with handle.

 Plate and mug set with black and white glaze. 

Vase with air brushed glaze technique. 

Lock-lid vessel with incised lid design.

 Bowl with slab appliqué design. 

Jar with fitted lid.

The throwing process

· We begin throwing by breaking down the throwing process into simple steps.  These are centering, making the hole, opening and the pulling up of the walls.

· Centering the clay means that it is made to spin quietly in the middle of the wheel, and so that is doesn’t wobble.  Wobbling will make it impossible to make a pot.  All throughout the process of throwing you will learn to keep the clay centered.  Once you learn to keep it centered you will make many nice pots. With each new shape you will be given a new decorating assignment.  By decorating and glazing in a variety of ways, you will learn a lot about the methods/techniques potters use in designing their pots.

1.)Guidelines and Structure of this class:

· Everyone will throw every-other day.  On days you are not on the wheel, you will be working on design assignments, decorating, and glazing your pots.  Throughout the duration of the class you will also be learning about pottery history and studying some famous potters.

· Each day one student will be on duty to do important tasks that must be done in a pottery studio.  Tasks will range from wedging flopped pots (there will be many in the beginning!) weighing and wedging balls of clay for others to use, recycling and  clay mixing.

· All students will be responsible for cleaning their wheels and tools must be clay free and returned to the buckets. Tables will be washed when they are used as well. 

2.) Things that will to help you be successful  

n You will begin with very soft clay.  The softer the clay, the easier to center.

n The process will be broken down into simple steps.  You will simply try to succeed at each little step.

n You will also start with shapes that are not difficult and that  focus on the learning process. 

n With each assignment you will add new skills to the ones that you have learned previously. Each new skill is just a bit more difficult; small steps must be taken to ensure quality of understanding and mechanics.

n Each assignment will begin with a demo and then you will go ahead and try it.  I will be there to help out with any problems. 

3.) Your Goal

  Your goal is to become a good potter and a good surface designer.  To be successful in this class you need to spend your time on the wheel efficiently and effectively.  Everyone has some difficulties learning to throw pots.  The most difficult thing to learn is that you will flop a pot and you have to let it go.  No amount of work will save it! But it is OK because you will get back on the wheel and throw another one that is even better and more skilled.  Practice makes perfect in this class.  In the beginning the pots will be small in size.  As you learn to manage the clay, the pots can become bigger. More advanced assignments will ask that you combine slab building with a wheel thrown pot. You will also be making pots that require handles, spouts and lids.

 I will analyze your progress, but it is important that you also self-evaluate the areas in which you need to improve.  Together we can set goals to work out each obstacle.  To help accomplish this, every two weeks you will have a one-on-one throwing evaluation with me.  At that time we will decide on a plan of improvement for you.  Your grade will depend on your effort to improve. 

Learning to throw takes practice.  To help you get more practice time, you are welcome to come in and throw after school if I am around and you have my permission.  Unfortunately, you may not invite your friends to join you on the wheels or to give them clay to play with.  Sorry! 

On your throwing days, you must be willing to get down and dirty!  We have aprons to wear to keep your clothing relatively clay free.  Luckily. Clay is easy to wash out.


Other important requirements:  There is  a $30 Art Fee. Please get this in ASAP.  This will entitle you to full use of the clay lab.  Without the fee we will not fire your pots and they will be recycled.  As always, if you are unable to afford the fee, please talk to me right away and we can figure out a plan of payment or waive the fee.

Your hands are your most important tools.  You will need to keep your fingernails trimmed.  Many a pot has been wrecked by long nails so please don’t do specialized fingernail decorating this semester!

Have a great attitude and high expectations.  You will have a fun semester!


Welcome to Clay class!






Respect each other’s work as well as each other.  In clay class this means that anyone who purposely or jokingly harms another’s work will be removed from the classroom for the duration of the project and will be assigned a term paper to write and will be assigned detentions..


No throwing clay.  Offending students will be removed from the classroom for the duration of the project, assigned a term paper to write and will be assigned detentions.


Respect the materials.  Do not accidentally throw away any tools.  Treat them with care as they can break easily.  Wash and put them back where you got them.  Wipe up glaze containers and wash brushes after use.


Put your name on the bottom everything that you make.  Your initials will not be enough.  One name and one initial is fine.  I will not even consider putting a piece in the kiln to be fired unless it has your name on it.


Clean-up. This is very important!!  Everyone is expected to help clean up the classroom.  Because ceramics is a particularly messy class extra attention will be paid to clean up.

  1.Each day one student from the class will be the designated clay class assistant.  The entire period will be dedicated to wedging flopped pots, recycling clay and weighing balls of clay for others to use.  The student will make sure the sinks are wiped up and tools put back in order.  Everyone must cooperate on this necessary process.  This is essential to the smooth running of a clay studio.

  1.  Tables must be washed and wiped with provided rags.  Non-clay classes use these tables, too.  Tools on the tables must be rinsed and returned to the proper containers.  Floors must be free of clay chunks of any size.

  2.  Potters wheels must be wiped up and buckets and tools rinsed.

  3.  Any chunks of clay that are dried out must be recycled in the dried clay can.  Do not throw away clay!  It can always be recycled.  Put it in the big garbage can marked RECYCLED CLAY in the kiln room

  5.  Always return your work in progress to your cubbyholes.  Be sure your project is properly wrapped with plastic if you want it to remain soft. 

  6.  PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE CHUNKS OF CLAY IN THE SINK.  This can cause the drain to clog.  Wheel slop will be put through a sieve and recycled back into usable clay.

 8.At the quarter and the end of semester we will do a big time clean-up of the entire area.

9.Please keep your valuable rings in your pocket and not your desk.  Rings get lost all the time.  Be careful!

10.NO PHONES, POP or FOOD at any time in class.

WE WILL REVIEW THE ABOVE INFORMATION AGAIN and again so don’t worry if you forget. 



  1.  Lab fee is $30.00 for clay, glazes and firing.

2.  Have a notebook in your cubby -hole for taking notes.

3.  Great attitude is essential.



What to expect:

  1.  Come to class ready to work.  Don’t wait for me to tell you to get to work.  The class is too short already.

  3.  There will be some days when I will demonstrate techniques or show slides.  I will also lecture on history and provide technical information, all of which will be on the final exam.

  4.  There will be several tests and a final exam.



Get ready to experience the joy of creating in clay!