How Pottery Wheel Works

Woman hands on pottery

You've probably seen potters use pottery wheels so smoothly and effortlessly that it appears as if making pottery is a piece of cake, but when you do it with your own hands, you end up ruining your pottery piece. You're not alone, my friend; many beginners experience the same problem, so today we'll look at the basic fundamentals of a pottery wheel to make you understand how a pottery wheel works.

Basic Parts of a Pottery Wheel

It's necessary to understand the basic parts of a pottery wheel before learning how it works. Over the years, several new components have been added to the pottery wheel. The essential elements have remained the same, despite the fact that the designs vary based on the designer. Some main parts are:

  • A revolving circular metal disc is the principal characteristic of a pottery wheel. This is known as the spinning table or wheel head.
  • The splash pan is a round protective cage that surrounds the throwing surface.  The splash pan collects any water, mud, or slip those drips from the pottery as it is being made.
  • The shaft is the part of the pottery wheel that transmits motion from the wheel to the head. A shaft goes through the wheel's body and connects the wheel head to the shaft. Allowing the shaft to spin rotates the head.
  • The support table's role is to support and keep the shaft from bending under the force of the throwing table.


How Does a Pottery Wheel Work?

So there are two main types of pottery wheels; Electric Pottery Wheel and Manual Pottery Wheel. Let's discuss these two to know how you can work with each of them.

Electric pottery wheel

Electric pottery wheels are the most popular these days. An electric wheel is powered by a high-torque or rotational-force electric motor. It comes with a foot pedal that, when pressed, accelerates the rotation of the wheel. The wheel is set on a frame and is around waist height. You sit in front of the wheel and lean forth to work with the clay. The wooden arm is connected to a series of shafts, which rotate the wheel. The wheel head rotates as a result of this.

It resembles the movements of vintage non-electric sewing in design. To spin the wheel head, the potter's leg continues to gently swing on the rotating arm. The wheel will spin endlessly as long as the foot pedal is pushed.  Although the bottom isn't as heavily weighted as a kick wheel, potters who use them appear to adore them.


Manual Pottery Wheels

The only difference is that the potter controls the rotation speed of the manual wheels. The potter uses his feet to rotate a second wheel at the bottom of the frame. He must move his feet quicker the faster the pottery wheel has to revolve.

How to make pottery using a potter’s wheel (step by step) 

  •       The first step in starting the wheel is preparing the clay by removing any air bubbles. Because an air bubble might cause a piece to break during firing. Twist the clay in a spiral form with your palm to compress it and burst the air bubbles.
  •       The following step is to choose your bat. Metal plates that attach to the wheel and provide a surface for the clay are known as bats.
  •       Before you can start shaping the clay, you must first center it on the wheel.
  •       Water should be applied to the clay while pushing and pulling the lump down and up, and you should continue these procedures until there is no wobbling.
  •       The next step is to open up the clay once it has been centered. You may achieve that by steadying the clay with one hand on the outside and putting the thumb of your other hand into the center and down into the clay.
  •       The next step is to carefully draw the clay up into the appropriate form once it has been opened up to the necessary width. This necessitates slowing down the wheel for more accuracy.
  •       Water is sprayed as needed during the shaping process to keep the clay moist. Excess water collects in the hole and must be wiped away with a sponge so that the piece may dry evenly.
  •       Because excess clay might build around the base of the artwork, the next step is to remove it using a rib. Ribs are clay shaping tools that come in a variety of forms and sizes.
  •       remove the item from the wheel using a long length of wire while the wheel is gently rotating and you have your item ready.

I hope you found this quick look at "how a pottery wheel work" useful. It's surely a broad subject, but I hope this has given you a good overview. Just keep practicing folks!

How Pottery Wheel Works