Hi all! So a series of unfortunate events have come in to play this past week. Unfortunately my phone has decided to die on me, leaving me without the ability to document any new work from these past few days. It has also come to my attention that any pictures from the past three or so weeks were not saved to my iCloud. So, I went to the studio tonight in order to make some more mugs (surprise surprise). I decided to attempt videoing the process on my laptop, but I can’t seem to figure out how to speed up the video into a time-lapse. But I suppose a real-time video is more helpful in a demo anyway. I’ll attach the video bellow, as well as list the steps I am doing in the video. Maybe next time I’ll actually talk in the video in order to explain what I’m doing exactly.
The Process of Throwing a Mug
Step 1. Wedge. First you must wedge the clay (not in video). This is the process of getting any trapped air bubbles out of the clay, and getting the clay particles used to moving in a circular motion. For this mug I am using about 2 lbs of clay (pieces shrink throughout the firing and drying process’s so it’s best to throw the piece larger than you want it to be in the end).
Step 2. Dry center. Throw the clay down on the wheel head, as close to the center as you can. Now you can “dry center” the clay by patting each side of the clay while the wheel slowly spins. This is to make the actual centering process easier.
Step 3. Centering. The hardest part of the process, but once you have it down, you’re golden. To start the process, and further wedge the clay you do a step called “coning” which is squeezing the clay up into a cone like shape. Once it is coned, you must put pressure on the clay in two different directions. Away from you, and down towards the wheel head. These two pressure points leave the clay with no where to go but the center. You will be able to tell when the clay is in the center because it will look like the clay isn’t moving on the wheel head. Another way to tell is putting your finger at the base of the clay and your finger won’t wobble back and forth. Centering takes a while to get down, and takes a lot of practice.
Step 4. Drilling a hole. Once the clay is centered, you are ready to make your hole. There are many different ways to drill a hole, I do so by angling my middle finger into the clay (your finger will find the center of the clay naturally) and applying pressure downward. Do not go down to the wheel head! Once you feel like you are getting somewhat close, stop the wheel and take your needle tool and poke a hole in the bottom. You want to have about 1/4 of an inch of clay left in order to trim a foot. You can now make this hole wider by pulling the clay with your pointer and middle finger towards your belly button. Once you get to the desired width, stop and pull your fingers away slowly.
Step 5. The pull. This is the step that makes your mug taller and your walls thinner. Ideally, the fewer pulls the better. This means you want to move as much clay upwards as possible with each pull. In order to do this, you want to use both hands. If you’re right handed (like me) you will put your left pointer finger on the inside of the pot, and directly across from it on the outside of the pot you will put your right pointer finger/knuckle (or sponge if you prefer, I do) and apply pressure. Not too much pressure, but enough to create a small bulge/ridge of clay above the pressure points. Now, keeping the same amount of pressure, move your hands upwards at the same speed until you reach the top of the pot. It is imperative to keep the same amount of pressure throughout the pull, as well as keeping the same speed. The goal is to make the walls of the pot the same thickness, and to be relatively thin.
Step 6. Shaping. Now you should have a tall cylindrical shape. By applying more pressure from the inside of your pot, but supporting it at the same time with your outside hand, you can create a belly on the mug. Shaping the mug is the fun part, you can create whatever kind of mug you’d like! Let the clay guide you in what it wants to do. You’ll see in my video that I created a small belly on my mug and collared the top in a bit.
And that all, is how you throw a mug! It takes lots and lots of practice in order to throw a mug. Now I have to wait for this mug and a few others to harden up and I’ll trim them and attach handles! I hope this was helpful to anyone who needed it!