Throwing Pottery Basics

I’m back from my fun holiday vacation and happy to be at Southwestern Community College teaching the Beginner/Intermediate Throwing class.  This, I think, is my favorite class to teach because I can watch the students grow from knowing nothing to making a teapot in 16 weeks.

One of my students recently asked if there were any good sites online to help her learn to throw. Here is a short list of sites that can help anyone learn to make a pot on the wheel:

YouTube is a GREAT start!  Search terms may be: centering pottery, centering clay, wedging clay, pottery wheel basics, etc.  Expert Village has a vast number of videos on Youtube.  I have to say, watch more than one!  Everyone throws a bit different, and not everyone is a good teacher.  The more you see, the better it will translate to you.

Another place to find videos is the Ceramic Arts Daily website.  This site is brought to you by the publisher of several ceramic arts magazines, and so they are interested in selling.  However, beside the selling points, this site offers great tips for the new and initiated potter!  Videos, books, shortened articles from their magazines, etc.

Lakeside Pottery has a pretty extensive site for a small studio in Connecticut.  They posted photos of each step of the throwing process, handbuilding techniques, surface decoration and more.  They really do a GREAT job online, and I am sure they do a mighty fine job in person if you happen to live near them and take a class. does a great job with both photos and text to help any beginner potter.  I particularly like their tutorial on wedging (preparing) clay for those with hand a wrist strains, called the Cut and Slap method.

These links should keep a beginner occupied online for several hours.  Perhaps in the near future I will post a list of books I recommend for learning about throwing pots on a wheel.

Until then, if you are in Bryson City, North Carolina, check out the classes I offer at Pincu Pottery or consider taking a class at the Heritage Arts Institute!


Learning to Throw

Anita learns to throw a pot


Manabigama to Fire!


Joe Frank has done it!  The kiln is complete and we should be stoking the kiln all day Tuesday.

Here are some photos of the final kiln and the loading process… (oops… I forgot my camera during the last of the build!)

The first photo is of PROUD JOE FRANK.  He should be proud.  The castable went on smoothly and the kiln looks fabulous!  (Sorry for the poor quality – its from my cell phone!)

JoeFrank McKee proudly looks out from the Manabigama

Proud dad of a new Manabigama kiln! Check out the castable around the arch!

JoeFrank loads the kiln

JoeFrank loading the kiln!

Hank helps load the kiln

Hank, who made this entire project happen, helps load

Connie watches JoeFrank load her pieces

Connie watches JoeFrank load her pieces

Manabigama – LeVeL

Well…. Joe Frank did it.  Scott helped create a form and Joe Frank poured castable and concrete to level both the firebox and the kiln.  It, apparently, is now level and we are ready to begin building up, up  and away!

A Level Firebox

Firebox is now level.

Wooden form will eventually come off and we will begin bricking up the floor of the kiln.  The firebox is poured castable on hardbrick.  The kiln itself has concrete.  The firebrick will go ontop of the concrete.  Lets hope this baby lasts and lasts.  Personally, I have never poured anything but the keystone of a kiln (and used castable for the exterior).  Of course, to be perfectly honest, I have little experience building kilns.  I think I have participated in just one true kiln building class where we built a kiln from scratch.  So…. I just should keep my mouth shut.

Side view of Manabigama

Manabigama in construction - side view

On the right is the firebox (yellow brick = firebrick).  The wood frame is still there to hold the concrete/castable.  Next week we begin bricking the floor of the kiln!

We will have a wood kiln soon!!!!

I’ll keep you posted.