Updated: Aug 7, 2022
You can throw a cylinder, now what?
Our adult wheel students come into the studio with visions of recreating romantic scenes from movies they’ve seen, or hopes of jumping back into clay after 20+ years away from it, or perhaps they’ve fallen in love with the idea of throwing, after binge watching 5 seasons of The Great Pottery Throw Down. Whatever their reason for coming, their goal, unknown yet to them, is to throw a cylinder.
We begin by teaching the foundations. The unsexy details of eliminating air bubbles, keeping the clay wet enough to work, but not so wet it collapses. When to use speed on the wheel pedal, and when to hold your breath as you go the slowest possible speed. These are the important fundamental details of wheel throwing. The sexyness, the creativity, the “what" come later… after the “when", “how" and “why”.
So they wedge, they center, they cone and compress. They open, they pull, they compress again. They pull, pull, pull, collar, pull and voila, a cylinder! Why a cylinder? A cylinder is the starting point. A cylinder is a vessel, it might not be sexy, but it can contain liquid or pasta or flowers. A cylinder is a pot with the potential to become something more.
From a cylinder a potter can go countless directions. They can gently pull it up even higher, and collar it in at the top, to a fine bottle. They can gently round it’s bottom and add a handle to be the perfect 12oz mug. They can guide it’s walls outward into a lovely bowl, or collar in it’s middle to form a vase. The cylinder is the "blank canvas”.
Clay is not the standard home hobby or craft. It requires a fair amount of practice, materials, trial & error, creativity, passion and humor. The clay will win. The clay always wins… and the pursuit of taking that clay to it’s very limits without destroying it is the ultimate goal each and every time a potter sits at their wheel. Our mission at Slowfire is to provide the “where", “when", “how" and “why”… and after a cylinder is thrown, the “what” is up to you.
So, you can throw a cylinder, congratulations, let’s do it again.