Published May 24, 2023
When starting to throw, almost every potter wants to learn how to throw large pots. We’ve featured a few videos on throwing large pots here on Ceramic Arts Network. But I’m a firm believer that, with clay, it is never redundant to see a process you think you know very well done by another potter. So I decided to feature another large pot article today.
In this post, an excerpt from the Ceramics Monthly archive, Andrew Buck explains Adrian King's "warm throwing" process for making a large vase on the potters wheel. If you have been wanting to learn how to throw large pots, this is an excellent tutorial. - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor
How to Throw Large Pots Using the "Warm Throwing" Technique
Artists get ideas from everything around them. Sometimes ideas lie dormant and take a while to take hold; but then they spring to light and action follows quickly. In this case, King felt the impulse to try something new and learn how to throw large pots. He was inspired by work he had seen his mentor create several years ago.
How to Throw Large Pots: In Sections, With Heat
To construct work of this height, he threw the pot in four sections, used calipers to measure the fit carefully, created interlocking grooves at the top of the sections (to nest them together when joined), moistened the work-in-progress at precise locations, and most importantly used a propane torch kit to dry the lower sections enough that they could support the weight of added sections.* This literally kept the clay body warm throughout the entire wheel-throwing process.
King began by throwing the first segment (1). He developed the thickness of the rim and cut a groove into it with a sharp metal tool (2) before completing the final shape of segment one. After drying the first segment with the blow torch to stiffen the walls (3), he then measured the rim (4) and threw the second segment.
While the second segment was still attached to the bat, he inverted it and attached it to the first piece (5). When those two were joined (6) and dried with a blow torch to achieve needed rigidity, he moved onto the third and fourth segments (7). He replicated the same process without distorting the true roundness of the form, which is much easier said than done.
How to Throw Large Pots: Focus on Consistency
Each segment tapered slightly outward or inward depending on the final contour he wished to realize for the finished vase (8). This particular piece was tall and slender and, in his quest for consistency, was modeled on one built a few weeks previously.
* Weed-burner style propane torch such as Lincoln Electric’s Inferno Propane Torch Kit or Flame Engineering’s Weed Dragon Torch Kit. While these products are available in most hardware stores, use at your own risk.
For more great tips on throwing large, see this post from Adam Field in the archives on throwing large pots on the wheel.
To see how Adrian turns these large vases into large jars, check out the January 2019 issue of Ceramics Monthly.
To see images of Adrian King's work, please visit www.adriankingceramics.com.
Andrew Buck, EdD is an artist and arts writer who enjoys contributing to Ceramics Monthly. To learn more, please visit http://andrew-buck.net.