The Process, Continued - Throwing, Drying & Trimming
Once the basic cylinder or bowl shape has been created, the potter can then modify that shape while the wheel is turning or is still. These modifications can be made, for example, by applying pressure from the inside or the outside with fingers or tools, by cutting or pushing in designs, or hitting the sides with a paddle to create flattened planes, or by adding clay selectively to the work. There are infinite possibilities for shaping.
Once the pot has the rough shape desired by the potter, the clay is allowed to dry to a state called "leather hard". At this point, the clay can hold its shape while being handled and turned upside down. But if left in water, it would melt back down.
In the leather hard state, tools are used to trim excess clay from the sides and base of the vase. A foot can be cut into the bottom of the vase and decorative incising can be applied to the exterior, if desired.
The vase is then allowed to dry fully in preparation for the first firing. If the vase isn't completely dry when fired, it will blow up in the kiln. Up to this point, we simply have clay in the shape of a vase. If it becomes wet, it can turn back into raw clay. It is called "greenware" at this stage.