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Video: Making a Plate on the Potter's Wheel

By: Cat Collard - Updated: 26 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss

In this short video, Gillian Nichols of The Potters Wheel, Blakemere demonstrates making a plate on the potter’s wheel.

Video Transcript
I'm Gillian Nichols of the Potters Wheel at Blakemere Craft Centre and on behalf of Craft Expert.co.uk I am going to demonstrate making a plate on a potter's wheel.

First thing we are going to do is centre the clay, this gets rid of any irregularities in the clay and any unevenness and gets it centred ready for making the plate.

If you start off with an un-centred piece of clay you will end up with an un-centred pot and it will probably end up with one side larger than the other or with a plate you will have one side bulging out further than the other.

I am going to slow the wheel down. What I am going to do now is slowly press down with a fist in the centre of the clay. So instead of making a hole and opening it up the clay just gets pressed down.

Now be careful when you're doing this not to push this end down and trap air underneath - otherwise you'll end up with bubbles underneath your pot or plate.

So taking it out to the side, less and less pressure as you go out, leaving a little bit of clay for the rim at the side.

Get a bit of water on their so it's a bit easier. The other to remember when making a plate is really compact this middle bit otherwise those S shape cracks after firing will keep appearing, so really make sure that's pressed down.

You then have to clean off the inside of the plate using a potter's rib. With a vase or a mug shape you would skim the outside; on this one you skim the inside.

And with this tool, a round potter's rib you can start to do the edges, supporting the outside as you go round. Clean off round the edge and clean off the underneath a little bit. Don't worry too much about how thick the plate is at the sides because that does need to be turned down, if you try and take out too much at the moment then the edge of the plate will just flatten down and look a mess so with plates you do a little more turning than other things.

So that's the actual throwing done. We'll take it off now.

Now with plates you do need to throw on the bat because it's almost impossible to lift a plate off the wheel without distorting it. So you just wire through the plate, take the whole thing off with the bat (I have a wheel with notches on like so), so you can take that and leave it to dry and then maybe later on today or the next day wire through it again just to make sure it is loosened from the bat so it can contract.

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