[Clayart] Lefty/Righty

wschran at twc.com wschran at twc.com
Tue Feb 14 07:45:50 EST 2017

When I was teaching I had the studio outfitted with several brands of wheels so that students would have the opportunity to try different wheels to develop a preference and better choose the wheel that suited them when they went out on their own. I also selected wheels that had reversing switches.

I would demo throwing right-handed and suggested any left-handers do the same, wheel rotating counter-clockwise. After a couple weeks if I saw a left-hander was really struggling because they were so left hand dominant, I would have them reverse the wheel rotation and I would sit and demo throwing left handed. I really had to concentrate on techniques in order to demo left-handed throwing, but I could do it. Over 38 years of teaching I had less than a dozen students who found better results throwing left-handed and other left handers were able to throw with wheel rotating counter-clockwise.

I know we probably throw right-handed in this country because our major influence was from England and Europe, but there are longer traditions from the Far East where pottery is turned on the wheel clockwise, so I see no problem throwing in either direction. Just a matter of what makes most sense to each individual.


William Schran
wschran at twc.com

---- Vince Pitelka <vpitelka at dtccom.net> wrote: 
> Keith Gordon's message is pretty my own experience as well.  I am left handed, but our culture's preference for right-handed people and tools forced me to use my right hand so often, and now I am ambidextrous.  I still write with my left hand, but can use most tools equally well with either hand, which helps a lot as a potter, and was even more important when I made my living as a mechanic and welder.  

Every time I get a lefty who wants to throw left-handed I try to talk them out of it, and if I cannot, then they can throw on one of the reversible wheels and face the challenge of doing everything exactly opposite everyone else.  It makes no sense when you are doing important things with both hands.  I am a guitar player since I was ten, and I play right-handed, again because I am doing important things with both hands and it makes no sense learning backwards from everyone else.  

My own theory is that left-handed people who insist on throwing with the wheel turning backwards actually enjoy being different from everyone else and want to openly display their difference.  I hate to see anyone struggle, but it's their choice.  
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft
Tennessee Tech University
vpitelka at dtccom.net  

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart [mailto:clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com] On Behalf Of Keith Gordon
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2017 4:26 AM
To: Clayart posting <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Subject: [Clayart] Lefty/Righty

I am a lefty - write, throw balls, hold fork in my left hand.  However growing up in a righty-dominant society, I've been forced to use my right hand to zip my pants, cut with scissors, open doors, etc.  As a result, I've become more or less ambidextrous, which I believe has been a great help as a potter.  My left-handed wife, however, never learned to use her right hand, and says it is non-functional & solely for visual balance. LOL Being able to use both hands with near-equal control improves my throwing. Throwing on the wheel requires fine motor skills, finger sensitivity and eye-hand coordination in both hands.  I work with the wheel turning counter-clockwise, so having my dominant hand on the inside of the pot is an advantage, IMHO. My teacher, the late Olin Russum, was right-handed, but while serving in the Korean War, was injured and spent time with a cast on his right hand & arm.  While wearing the cast, he learned to write with his left hand and told me that this helped him develop his skills as a potter/sculptor.
Keith Gordon
Cagey Creations Pottery
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.clayartworld.com/pipermail/clayart/attachments/20170213/f17837f1/attachment.html>

More information about the Clayart mailing list