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The Ultimate Checklist for Working With Clay at a Wheel

Working with clay on a pottery wheel can be a rewarding but intricate process. Here's a comprehensive checklist to guide you through the essential steps and pottery wheel techniques to ensure a systematic and successful journey — from the initial preparation to the final inspection of your crafted pottery.

Pottery Wheel Throwing Checklist

To master the art of clay manipulation and wheel throwing, you need both skill and creativity. Follow this checklist to achieve the pottery wheel techniques and style you're aiming for.

  1. Preparation: Gather essential tools such as clay, water, pottery wheel, bats, and various throwing tools. Ensure the wheel is clean and lubricated for smooth operation.

  2. Wedging: Knead and wedge the clay to eliminate air bubbles and ensure a consistent texture. Cut the clay into manageable wedges for easier handling.

  3. Setting Up: Attach a bat to the wheel head, securing it with clay or bat pins. Center the bat on the wheel head to provide a stable foundation for your pottery.

  4. Sealing Clay to the Bat: Score the bat and the clay's bottom, then use a slip to create a secure bond. Smooth the clay onto the bat to ensure a strong connection.

  5. Centering: Wet your hands and clay, then use gentle pressure to center the clay on the bat as the wheel spins. This maintains symmetry in your pottery.

  6. Opening: Create a depression in the center of the clay using your thumbs, gradually widening and deepening the opening while maintaining even thickness.

  7. Pulling and Lifting: Wet the clay and use both hands to pull it upward evenly, adjusting the wall thickness as you shape the pottery on the wheel.

  8. Shaping: Refine the form using throwing tools, paying attention to symmetry and proportion. Consider the intended function and aesthetics of the final piece.

  9. Collaring In/Out: Adjust the form by pushing the clay inward or outward using hands or tools, maintaining even pressure to avoid distortions.

  10. Final Touches: Smooth the surface, add textures or decorations, and trim excess clay from the bottom. Use a wire tool to cut the piece from the bat.

  11. Drying: Allow the pottery to dry slowly and evenly. Cover with plastic if necessary to control drying and prevent cracking.

  12. Bisque Firing: Once completely dry, bisque fire the pottery in a gas or electric kiln following recommended firing schedules and temperatures.

  13. Glazing: Apply glaze to the bisque-fired pottery, ensuring even coverage and following proper glazing techniques.

  14. Glaze Firing: Fire the glazed pottery in the kiln according to the recommended glaze firing schedule.

  15. Final Inspection: Examine the finished art form for defects or imperfections.

Improve Your Wheel-Throwing Skills Today

With this checklist including some pottery wheel techniques, you can now navigate the pottery wheel process with greater confidence, ensuring a well-crafted and finished piece of pottery.

Want to learn pottery? At Silver Sage Ceramics, we offer wheel-throwing pottery classes to enhance your skill in hand-building. 

Book a pottery session today, get your hands dirty, and enjoy the art of making clay sculptures!

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