Video of the Week: Three Quick and Handy Wheel Throwing Tricks from Bill van Gilder

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There’s nothing like spending a little time with a master potter to learn ways to improve your productivity in the studio. That’s why nothing can beat a workshop (or an apprenticeship for that matter).


Bill van Gilder is one of those potters with a million cool tricks up his sleeve. If you’re not able to make it to a Bill Van Gilder workshop, videos are the next best thing. In today’s post, an excerpt from his DVD Pottery Techniques: Making Lidded Forms and Trimming, Bill shares three nifty tricks that he has developed to help streamline his processes. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


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This clip was excerpted from Pottery Techniques: Making Lidded Forms and Trimming, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!

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To learn more about Bill van Gilder or to see more images of his work, please visit

For more interesting wheel throwing techniques, download your free copy of Five Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques: Tips on Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills.

  • Bonnie S.

    About the plumbing measurement, I opted to measure the drain pipe of the sink in centimeters. That pipe is usually standard for all sinks. I then threw a test drain of the basin and pertaining to the shrink rate of the clay also measued that in centimeters. So much easier to be precise. I bisque fired and then high fired the test sink drain part and noted the measurements on it when it was wet and then fired to cone 9 with a black marker. I now have a pattern to follow. I have thrown a number of sink basins and this has worked for me. I also made a slight depression where the flange of the drain pipe sits in the basin. That part may need a sealing material I recommend visits to the plumbing department of the hardware store and purchase the drain pipe for your own use. Hope this is clear. If you have questions, I could send a photo of my prototype.

  • Mark K.

    newspaper works well for wide bowls.It is best to wait till the pot is leather hard before removing the paper. Very nifty throwing technique.

  • Laura A.

    The pot lifts off. You can cut a line in the clay bat that allows you to slip a tool under the pot. I like that you are less likely to damage your rim.

    I love the paper trick and the cork tip. I have not tried them.

  • Archie W.

    Thanks for the tip about throwing a pad for trimming. It’s a wonder this isn’t done as a standard. I like to trim far down the piece at times and this allows me to do so. Great tips! Now I have to add your DVD to my wish list!

  • Pat C.

    great tips! I will definitely try the newspaper. Such an easy way to keep the shape. I’m going to try it out today.
    Any ideas on how to fit plumbing attachments into the base of a handmade sink for the drain?

  • Judy A.

    Thanks for the really good tips. But in the second tip, I wondered how you get the pot off the disc of clay after turning. Does it have to be wired off, or do you twist if off, or does it lift off and then get sponged clean? I detest turning, and have terrible trouble with it (in my head it’s about the same lack of dexterity I demonstrate in reversing the car!) and would like to try the method you show, but can envisage not being able to get the pot off the disc of clay!

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