I'm not really sure where the term "throwing"
came from, but it's not what it sounds like. Clay isn't flying around
and pots aren't being chucked across the room. Essentially, throwing is
simply making a piece of pottery on the potter's wheel. Here's a quick
look at the basics:
- "Wedging" (or mixing) the clay to ensure
that you don't have air pockets or sections that are substantially more
dense than others. Wedging essentially consists of slicing the clay
into pieces, pushing the pieces back together, kneading the pile on
a flat surface, and (finally) cutting off pieces that you'll use on
the potter's wheel.
- "Centering" is a critical step that consists
of placing your piece of clay on the wheel, and manipulating the clay
as the wheel spins until it is centered on the wheel. Centering is probably
the most important step in the process (and also the skill that takes
the longest to truly master) -- a piece that's not centered is extremely
difficult to complete because the turning motion of the wheel causes
it to get further and further off center as you work on the piece. Very
small variances turn into big problems.
- "Opening & Pulling" this is the part
everyone likes watching - the "walls" of the pot seem to magically
appear as you "open" a small indentation in the centered piece
and "pull" the clay upward by applying pressure on both the
interior and exterior of the wall. The thickness of the walls (and base)
of the piece dictate how heavy it will be when it's completed -- it
really takes some practice to make the walls thin enough to avoid making
a brick, but thick enough for the piece to support itself while the
clay is still spinning on the wheel.
- "Finishing" the piece consists of shaping
and smoothing the piece until you are satisfied with the shape you have
- "Cutting" the piece off of the wheel is
done by running a thin wire and a little bit of water beneath the piece
so that you can slide it off of the wheel and place it in a drying area
so that it can begin to dry and hold its shape.