A banding wheel is one of my favorite tools in the pottery studio. These wonderful tools are great for so many different things in the studio—from handbuilding to decorating. Sasha Barrett uses his banding wheel to construct bowls from start to finish. When I saw his article in the December 2018 issue of Ceramics Monthly, I was struck by how similar his process was to throwing on a pottery wheel. It’s like throwing unplugged! But the neat thing is, it is much quicker. Because he does not use any water, he can pretty much flip his bowls over and trim them right after they are “thrown.” In today’s post, you can see Sasha’s interesting process. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
Banding wheel definition: a turntable that can be used for decorating, sculpting, carving and handbuilding ceramics. A banding wheel gives a potter access to all sides of a ceramic piece.
Building a Bowl Using a Banding Wheel
I start with a one-pound ball of clay and pound it on center on my banding wheel. While spinning the wheel with my left hand, I start to open the ball of clay with my right thumb by pressing and pinching (1).
From there, I pinch out the floor and walls while the wheel is in a constant, slow rotation. It’s important to be consistent with my motions and speed at the wheel so that I can keep the piece as much on center as possible. Because I don’t use any water and don’t pull the clay, I have to spend a good amount of time on this step, making sure the walls have the right thickness and height (2).
When the bowl is pinched, I switch to using metal ribs. At this stage I spin the banding wheel much faster and place the rib on the interior (3) and exterior to achieve a concave, smoother surface.
After using the ribs to get my final form (4), I evaluate the bowl and accentuate the natural marks that this construction process reveals. Every bowl is unique in the sense that some may have much more interesting natural edges than others, and that is exciting to me.
The lack of added water in my forming process means I can pretty much cut the bowl off the banding wheel, flip it over, and trim it right away (5). I like to trim when the clay is on the soft side so the looseness is captured in the clay from the trimming tool (6).
Like working on a bat? Check out this article on how to make bat pins for a banding wheel!