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Pottery Wheels

Pottery Wheels
In potter, a potter's wheel is a machine used in the shaping of round ceramic ware. The wheel may also be used during the porcess of trimming the excess body from dried ware, and for applying incised decoration or rings of colour. 

A potter's wheel may occasionally be referred to as a "potter's lathe".

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There are many techniques in use for throwing ceramic shapes, although this is a typical entry-level procedure: A recently wadged, slightly lumpy clump of plastic throwing clay is slapped, thrown or otherwise affixed to the wheel-head or a bat. 

A bat serves as a proxy wheel-head that can be removed with the finished pot. The wedged clay is centered by the speed of the wheel and the steadiness of the potter's hands. Water is used as a lubricant to control the clay and should be used sparingly as it also weakens the clay as it get thinner. 

It is important to ease onto and off of the clay so that the entire circumference receives the same treatment. A high speed on the wheel (240-300rpm) makes this operation much easier eith less physical exertion needed by the potter. 

The potter will sit or stand with the wheel-head as close to their waist as possible, allowing them more stability and strength.  The wheel is sped up and the potter brings steady, controlled pressure onto the clay starting with the blades of the hands where the clay meets the wheel, working your way up. When the clay is centered,the clay need to be hoogeneized. 

The more shear energy that is applied to the clay, the more strength it has later in pulling up the walls and allows the potter to throw faster and with thinner walls. The operation is sometimes called exercising or wheel wedging the clay and consists of thinning and applying shear energy as much of the lay as possible while keeping the clay whole and centered. 

After wheel wedging and centering the clay the next step is to open the clay and set the floor of the pot. This is still done at high speed so that the clay in the floor of the pot receives enough shear energy. To open the clay, softly feel for the center of the clay, having ypur finger in the center will require the least amount of the work. 

Once you have found center push down towards the wheel-head to set the floor thickness of the pot. When you have estabilished the flor thickness, pull the clay out to establish the flor width. The ring of clay surrounding the floor is now ready to be pulled up into the walls of the pot. 

The first pull is started at full or near full speed to thin the walls. For right.handed potters working on a wheel going counter-clockwise the left hand is on the inside of the ring on the right hand on the outside at the right tangent of the wheel. 
The second and the third pulls establish the thickness and shape.

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