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In this video, David MacDonald shares the secrets to throwing large platters, as well as his signature carved decoration. 

Throwing Large and Smart!

You don't need to be a body builder to throw large platters! You just need the secrets to throwing smart! David's wrist-saving techniques for large pots begins in the wedging stage. Instead of wedging a massive amount of clay at once, David breaks it up into three or four manageable portions and then combines them all during the centering process.

Centering Reimagined

David's unconventional method for centering large amounts of clay starts with one five-pound lump. Rather than centering that lump the traditional way, with water, David uses a homemade paddle to start whacking it into place. Then he gradually adds additional lumps of clay until he has the required amount for the pot he is making. After watching this video, you'll know how to make a paddle and all the secrets for whacking the clay on center.

Tools Made for the Job

David uses a number of homemade tools, which he designed to make his work exactly the way he wants it to be. One of the most essential tools is his ebony carving tool, and David demonstrates how to make one so you can easily make your own. The beauty of this tool is how it can make tight curves around corners, as well as carve perfectly parallel lines.

Carving to Perfection!

David rounds out the video by detailing his carving technique from start to finish. You'll learn how he divides up the space symmetrically to make pleasing designs, and how he manipulates his carving tool to make precise marks in the clay. He also brilliant tips for making plates for the walls, including a super smart trick for remembering what side is up all throughout the decorating process


Total runtime: Approximately 1 hour, 17 minutes

About the Author

David MacDonald carving a pot.

David MacDonald

David R. MacDonald was born in 1945 in Hackensack, New Jersey, the third oldest of nine children. He graduated from Hackensack High School in 1963 and was awarded an athletic scholarship to Hampton University (Hampton, Virginia) where he majored in art education. While there he was greatly inspired by noted African American ceramic artist Joseph W. Gilliard. During his studies at Hampton his work became influenced by the political and social issues of the time (the Civil Rights Movement). After graduating, he was awarded a graduate fellowship at the University of Michigan where he studied with John Stephenson and noted African American ceramist Robert Stull. During this time, his work continued to focus on social and political commentary and expand technically. After receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree he joined the faculty of the School of Art and Design at Syracuse University. Looking at a variety of design sources in the vast creative tradition of the African continent, MacDonald draws much of his inspiration from the myriad examples of surface decoration that manifests itself in the many ethnic groups of sub-Saharan Africa (as pottery decoration, textiles, body decoration, and architectural decoration). MacDonald's work spans the complete spectrum of ceramic forms of a utilitarian nature. MacDonald received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in 2011.
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