The Process, Continued - Throwing
Throwing is the process of creating a pot by using a potter's wheel. Some potters build everything by hand without using a wheel. The wheel permits the potter to create a completely symmetrical form, and to do so much more quickly and evenly than with forms built by hand. Handbuilding creates a different look, and permits the creation of shapes that can't be made by throwing.
There are various types of potter's wheels, but fundamentally they are all mechanisms that spin a horizontal disk at speeds controlled by the potter. Most are now powered by electric motors, but some potters continue to use foot-powered models. The disk is called the wheelhead and is generally made of metal.
The first step in throwing is to prepare the clay. The clay is first "wedged" by kneading it in a manner somewhat like bread dough. This aligns the clay molecules and helps expel any trapped air. The wedged clay is placed on the wheelhead, and by spinning the wheel and manipulating the rotating clay with both hands, the potter "throws" a pot, as described on the following pages.
The wedged clay is first placed firmly near the center of the wheelhead. With the wheel spinning, the potter uses both hands to ensure that the clay adheres to the wheelhead (or to a disk, called a "bat", made of plaster, plastic or wood that is attached to the wheelhead).