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The evolution of a pot

What are the steps from your hand to finished piece?

It begins with clay.  Many potters today use pre-mixed clay which is added to water and left to age in large bins or we can purchase it pre-made weighed out in 25 pound bags.

First, wedge your clay thoroughly, 40-50 kneading motions for a 6-8 pound lump of clay should yield good clay for throwing.  When your clay is properly wedged and you have checked for air bubbles by cutting a cross-section to see if any air is trapped inside the clay body, you can affix it to the wheel head.

Second, center your clay on the potters wheel.  Centering is an art in itself.  Once centered you can make a hole, open it up, and pull up a cylinder and decide what shape you desire.

Third, complete your form and remove from the wheel.   After your piece is thrown and you are happy with your form, you must cut it off the wheel to transport or store it.  Unless you use a bat, you must cut under the piece you are working on and slide it off the wheel onto a bat or plank of wood for storage.

Fourth, store your pieces in a damp room.   Cover the piece in plastic until it's ready to be trimmed.

Fifth, trim your pottery.  Once the piece is leather hard, or stiff enough you won't alter the form, trim the bottom and walls of your piece by turning it upside down and affixing it to the wheel with some wedged clay coils to hold it in place.

Trimming can improve the look and lines of a form dramatically.  You can correct imperfections like too thick a bottom and achieve a more consistent thickness in the walls of a pot. 

Two keys to successful trimming are; 1) trim at the right stage of drying and 2) use the right tools.

Sixth, bisque fire your pottery.  Once trimmed and initialed your pieces get bisque fired in an electric kiln (at most facilities).  Next, you can apply glaze to your piece.  

Seventh, glaze your pottery.  Remember different clay bodies are best suited to specific glazes.  Earthenware clay is a low fire clay body and we use cone 05 glazes which are discussed in our glazing section.  

Last, fire your pottery.  Stoneware, white stoneware and porcelain are all high fired clay bodies which we use a different set of glazes which will vitrify when fired to Cone 10.

Finally, we have a finished piece.  This is the evolution of your pot.

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