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Video: Throwing a Mug on the Potter's Wheel

By: Cat Collard - Updated: 27 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss

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

Video Transcript
Hi I'm Gill Nichols of the Potter's Wheel at Blakemere Crafts Centre and on behalf of CraftExpert.co.uk I am going to demonstrate throwing the body of a mug.

One of the things you do have to remember when you are starting to throw a mug is the sort of size it's going to be when it's finished. I always go for something like a 500g ball of clay because it has to be made bigger than it's going to finish up because as you may realise things do shrink when they dry and get fired, especially when you are taking it up to stoneware temperatures. So 500g usually makes quite a nice size mug.

Make sure the wheel is wiped off and there's no excess water on there to stop the clay flying off, which has happened to many a potter.

Then you take a piece of clay, 500g for the mug shape and bang it into the centre. The banging is actually quite important because it does make the base of the pot, if you don't bang it across the base you can end up with cracks in the base as well.

You can use your finger or your thumb to open the clay up - I tend to use my thumb for smaller pieces. Once you've got it to that stage you can start to slow the wheel down.

Remember to compact the base of the clay to stop cracks appearing in the bottom.

When you're making clay taller, it tends to open up, so if you start from that position it will open up to straight, if you start from straight it will just get wider, so always try to start with it further in at the top.

And then adding a bit of a nice shape for the handle.

Clean off round the base with a tool called a potter's rib, taking it right down to the bottom.

There are two things that are quite important when making the body of the mug, one of them is how it is going to feel on your mouth, so you don't want any sharp edges round the rim, so I am just going to smooth those, working my fingers on my right hand like that, so it's smooth on the inside.

The other thing to remember is this distance between the front of the mug to the back, because that distance has to be the distance between your mouth and between your eyes - that's the most comfortable distance, so whilst that shrinks to about here it'll probably be a nice distance - it's just something to bear in mind.

Get that nice and clean.

You wire through and then you put as much of your hands in contact with the pot as possible, tip up at the back and it will lift off and the pattern that's on the wheel there will also be on the bottom of the mug.

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