Centering the Clay

Centering the Clay

Stay On Balance

Centering the clay on the potter’s wheel is the first step in throwing pottery and is the one that determines the success of your finished piece. The reason is simple; if the clay is not in the center of the wheel the centrifugal force will make it lean to one side as the wheel turns. You will not be able to mold the clay properly between your hands unless it is standing straight up on the wheel.
  1. Prepare to center the clay on the wheel by seating yourself comfortably so that your elbows can press against your thighs for support as you force the clay to the center of the wheel.
  2. Throw the wet clay onto the wheel as close to the center as possible. Throw it with force so the clay sticks to the wheel.
  3. Spin the wheel slowly while using both hands to pat the clay into the shape of a cone.
  4. Turn the wheel faster and lean into the clay with both freshly wetted hands while using the weight of your body. The objective is to force the clay to the middle of the wheel. Remember, the clay must be balanced in the center of the wheel so it stands straight up.
  5. Use the left hand as a guide to mold the clay while the right hand forces it straight down.
  6. Hold one hand on each side of the clay while pressing your elbows into your body for added support to assist in holding your hands steady and unmoving.
  7. Slowly push inward with your hands to force the clay upward. Use slurry on the clay to provide lubrication. If the clay is dry it will catch on your hands and go off-balance.
  8. Bring the wheel up to full speed. The clay is centered when you no longer feel any pressure pushing against your hands along the sides or the top of the clay.