How to Throw Basic Cylinders

Great choice! Throwing a cylinder is like the bread and butter of wheel throwing. It’s a fundamental skill that forms the basis for many pottery projects, whether you’re making mugs, vases, or pots. Let’s get into how you can throw your own basic cylinder.

Steps in Throwing a Cylinder

  1. Wedging Your Clay: Start with well-wedged clay. This ensures your clay is air bubble-free and has a consistent texture, crucial for throwing.
  2. Centering the Clay on the Wheel: Place your ball of clay in the center of the wheel. Use firm, steady pressure to center the clay. This step is vital – a piece that’s off-center will lead to a lopsided cylinder.
  3. Opening the Clay: With the wheel spinning, press your thumbs into the center of the clay to create an opening. Keep your hands steady and apply even pressure.
  4. Pulling Up the Walls: Place one hand inside and one outside the clay. Gently squeeze while moving your hands upward. This “pulls” the walls of your cylinder up.
  5. Shaping the Cylinder: As you pull the walls up, focus on keeping them straight. Use a sponge or your fingers to smooth the clay and shape your cylinder.
  6. Compressing the Rim: Regularly compress the rim with your fingers. This prevents it from getting too thin or wobbly.
  7. Cutting and Removing: When you’re happy with the shape, cut the excess clay at the base with a wire tool. Then, carefully remove your cylinder from the wheel.

My Tips and Pointers

  • Consistent Speed: Keep the wheel at a consistent speed. Too fast and you might lose control; too slow and you might not have enough centrifugal force.
  • Even Pressure: Apply even pressure when opening and pulling up the walls. Uneven pressure leads to uneven thickness.
  • Stay Relaxed: Keep your arms and hands relaxed. Tension can transfer to your clay and make it harder to work with.
  • Regular Wetting: Keep the clay wet but not too soggy. If it starts to dry, it becomes more difficult to shape.
  • Focus on the Base: Make sure the base isn’t too thick. A thick base can cause issues during drying and firing.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Like all pottery techniques, throwing cylinders takes practice. Don’t get discouraged if your first few tries aren’t perfect.
  • Learn by Feeling: Pay attention to how the clay feels under your hands. You’ll start to understand when it’s centered, how thick the walls are, and how much pressure to apply.

My Final Thoughts

Throwing cylinders is a wonderfully satisfying skill to develop. It’s almost like a dance between your hands and the clay. Remember, every potter starts with the basics, and every misshapen cylinder is a step towards mastery. So, get your hands on that wheel and start throwing, there’s a world of cylinders waiting to be shaped by you!

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