Fundamentals of Wheel Throwing with Jennifer Allen

In this installment of the Ceramic Arts Daily Presents video series, Jennifer Allen draws on her years of teaching ceramics at the college level to present a thorough introduction to throwing on the potter’s wheel. Jennifer starts off with an introduction ...(Scroll for more.)

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Runtime: 2 hours 45 minutes

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…to the essential tools and an excellent wedging demonstration. Once at the wheel, she begins with basic cylinders, providing an in-depth demonstration of the centering process and throwing the walls, complete with cross sections of the pots at every step along the way.

From cylinders, it’s on to mugs, bowls, and bottles, and she explains the considerations for each from centering through trimming and adding handles. For every form covered, Jennifer demonstrates a variety of options for shaping, which will help spark your creativity. If you have been struggling to conquer the wheel, or if you are just starting out, Jennifer Allen’s instruction in this video is exactly what you need.

Get prepared for wheel throwing!

Being properly prepared for wheel throwing is the first step to throwing good pots. if your clay is poorly wedged, and you don’t have the right tools, you’re in trouble. Jennifer starts out with an introduction to the basic tools and equipment needed, as well as one of the most clear and easy-to-follow wedging demonstrations out there. Once the clay is well wedged, Jennifer moves on to the wheel covering the correct posture for throwing before getting started on the first pot.

Centering demystified

Centering is one of the most challenging parts to master when starting out and it is arguably the most important step in wheel throwing. If your pot doesn’t start out centered, you’re going to end up with an uneven pot. Jennifer’s thorough explanation of centering will help you demystify the process and make short work of centering. Perhaps the next most challenging stage of throwing when you’re starting out is opening up without throwing your pot off center. Jennifer presents various techniques for opening so you can experiment and figure out what works best for you.

The mechanics of throwing a cylinder

Before moving on to various forms such as cups, bowls, and bottles, Jennifer gives a detailed demonstration of throwing a basic straight-sided cylinder. After each pull, she cuts the pots in half so that you can see what is really happening to the clay during the process. She even cuts a pot in half and mimics a pull to demonstrate the correct hand positioning.

Shaping

After all of the basics are covered, it’s time to focus on forming. What’s great about this video is that Jennifer shows several variations on shapes for each basic for to help you imagine different possibilities and figure out how to achieve them.

Finishing touches

Good trimming is the best way to give your well throw pots that final polish, and Jennifer demonstrates how to trim all of the forms she makes in the video. While cups are pretty straightforward, bottles and pots with altered rims can be trickier. But Jennifer, shows how to use chucks or chums to tackle those forms.

Bonus Materials

Includes a bonus video of trimming a scalloped-rim bowl!

About the Artist

Jennifer Allen received her BFA (2002) from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and her MFA (2006) from Indiana University, Bloomington. In March 2008, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) named her a National Emerging Artist. Jennifer was the recipient of the 2006–2007 Taunt Fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. She is currently a member of an online collective of ceramic artists called Objective Clay (www.objectiveclay.com). In addition to keeping a home studio, she currently teaches ceramics at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. To learn more about Jennifer Allen, please visit www.jenniferallenceramics.com.

 

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