If you have an understanding of how to throw basic forms on the potter’s wheel and your aha moments when centering the clay and pulling the walls up have started to click, you will soon be able to throw almost any form. So, now it’s time to start expanding your throwing skill set by trying variations of the different basic forms.
My noodle bowls are generally taller and are narrower at the rim compared to traditional, everyday bowls. To successfully throw this noodle bowl, keep in mind that you will be working against the centrifugal force of the wheel. Your hands will want to naturally widen the clay, so be mindful of your movements. Let’s dive in.
Basic Tools and Materials
- 2 lbs. 5 oz (1043 g) of clay
- bucket of water
- wood knife
- soft rib
- wire tool
Throwing the Bowl in Six Easy Steps
- Start with a centered and opened mound of clay. Compress the very middle slightly. As you move your hands toward the outside, swoop your hands upward. Compress that rim and add some water.
- Throwing a tall noodle bowl is very similar to throwing a mug, only you are working with a bit more clay. With your left hand on the inside and your right hand on the outside, gently press your fingers toward each other, following the curve of the bottom, and pull upward at a vertical angle as you are nearing the top. Tip: Remember to allow the wheel to spin one full rotation before allowing your hands to advance in the pull. This will keep your clay centered and pulling of the walls even. Compress the rim gently and repeat step 3 until you end up with a tall bowl. Tip: Remember to check in between pulls. If your bowl is getting slightly wider with each pull (this is not something you want to achieve), use the cupping technique to bring the form back in.
- Now that you have a tall bowl, it is time to try something new. To create the bump out and perfect the lip (see 6) start about 1½ inches (3.8 cm) from the rim. Make sure this area of your clay is wet. Place your left index finger on the inside and position your right index finger so it’s above your left and your middle finger so it’s below the left.
- As the wheel is spinning, push your left finger outward. Your right fingers will be controlling the movement, creating a nice curve. Congratulations, you just learned how to “bump out” your clay.
- The last steps are for refining. Use your fingers to refine the rim, and use a sham or piece of plastic if you want to smooth it over.
- Use your wooden knife to remove excess clay from the bottom, and a soft rib if you want to smooth over any throwing lines your fingers created. With the wheel spinning, place your left hand on the inside and your right hand on the outside holding the rib. Starting at the bottom of the clay, slowly move your way toward the top. This is also a great way to refine the shape and remove excess moisture. Way to go, you have a tall noodle bowl.
Excerpted with permission from The Beginner’s Guide to Wheel Throwing (Quarry Books, an imprint of The Quarto Group) by Julia Claire Weber. Learn more at quarto.com. Available in the Ceramics Arts Network Shop: https://mycan.ceramicartsnetwork.org/s/product-details?id=a1B3u000008zrbtEAA.