Sunday, 19 February 2012

13. Throwing a Wobbly

Hello potters and friends,
Well, I've warmed up the basement and the first thing that has cropped up this year is a commission. I have agreed to make a tall vase with a flared neck. So how will I go about this? Now, between you and me, I'm not much good at coiling, so that's out, and throwing a tall pot on the wheel can be quite a wobbly affair. But, I admit, that's my own fault. I continue to make the same mistakes every time. So I'm going to start the year listening to the rules that I was taught.
Firstly, go for a grogged clay. This is a tougher body and will more easily do what you want i.e. remain upright on the wheel.
Secondly, if your clay feels too plastic, and by that I mean wet, then spend some time on a table wedging it up until the clay begins to dry a little, and feels firmer.

The method I use is called ox-head wedging, because that's what the shape tends to look like as you press down and push slightly forward. Roll the clay back a little and repeat the action. With every press down you are pressing out any air bubbles, so it's not the same as kneading pastry or bread. Let that ox head know who's in charge.
However, I didn't want to use grogged clay. I wanted something whiter and smoother that would fit better with the white glaze I intend to use.
My solution to this was to throw two pots; one as a straight cylinder and the second the same but with a flared top. At leather hard stage I put one on top of the other, with lots of slurry in-between and, 'Bob's your blooming' uncle'......a tall vase with flared top.

The pencil points to the join.
 I'm hoping you can't see it, because I've rubbed it down with fine sand paper before firing. No-one would ever know. You could join three or four and get something really spectacular. Height of kiln permitting!

To go to the other extreme ......I'm still making very small pots with the porcelain clay. 

But I'm getting more of a feel for it now. I wedge this clay like crazy before throwing and, boy, does it make a difference. And you may have guessed, that I shaped the rims into this great-looking, tri-tipped form because I couldn't get them level. But from an accident, like so often in pottery making, comes a good idea. 
But before I close this post you might like to see why I'm warming up the basement for half an hour before venturing down there.

Our garden from an upstairs window.

But our friend visits every morning to fight off every other visitor, large or small, that dares to steal his breakfast.

Happy potting folks.