Wheel Throwing

Ever wonder — why this traditional clay working process is called throwing? The technique is characterized by the ability to keep a lump of clay precisely centered on the revolving head of a potter’s wheel. Most people are successful in throwing because they have an intuitive sense of how to use hand and eye without actually thinking about what they are doing. Yes—it does work like that. The process is like riding a bike or dancing or singing – difficult to do if you think too much about how you are going to do it while you are doing it. In this case the skill of precise tactile feedback from one’s fingers and hands is essential but only part of the process. Most of what is done is felt and directed movement within an unconscious but precise sense of geometric three dimensional space.

The ability to create — and determine fair line or curve is also fundamental to creating a pleasing form on the wheel. One must see parts of the form and imagine how the seen integrates with the unseen. It is actually more difficult to describe than it is difficult to do. The key seems to be a latent aptitude and a willingness to persevere until one has practiced enough to be proficient.

— Dan Weaver