[Clayart] hand building
wschran at twc.com
Wed Jan 19 21:52:27 UTC 2022
I also in my first semester ceramics class began with pinch pots,
beginning with simple bowl forms moving to hollow spheres than making
a whistle with a sphere.At the start of the second semester, beginning
wheel throwing during the intro class I would have them make a pinch
pot and talk about that process of moving the clay up from the bottom
working towards an even wall thickness. I would then demo the basic
wheel throwing process and relate actions to what they did with the
pinch pot, but now instead of hands turning the clay, the wheel turns
William Schranwschran at twc.com703-505-1617
-----------------------------------------From: "Snail Scott"
To: "Clayart international pottery discussion forum"
Sent: Wednesday January 19 2022 1:31:55PM
Subject: Re: [Clayart] hand building
> On Jan 16, 2022, at 10:29 AM, mel jacobson wrote:
> my discussion on hand building was, and is a reaction
> to those that work at home, small kiln, and hand build their work
> in clay. It is often overlooked. Hobby potter sort of thing…
Most of my students had their first and last experience with
handbuilding in the third grade, or so, making pinch pots. They imbibe
the notion that the wheel is for the big kids, and handbuilding gets
set aside forever as a lesser form, because they never learned its
I start my intro college course with pinching, and I can see the
immediate reaction…'Oh, I know this, it’s kid stuff.' It’s not.
Kids are actually really bad at it, as they lack the manual dexterity
and finger strength to make proper use of it. Pinch pots are all
simple squishing between thumb and finger. Easy - pressure makes
things thinner and wider. I call it the ‘Road Kill Effect: the more
it gets squished, the thinner it gets and the further it spreads. Icky
"Now, control for consistent thickness and curvature; make a
hemisphere." ("Why does it keep getting too thin and floppy?" "Road
Kill Effect!”) “Now, take that hemisphere, and make it a sphere.
Bring that rim back inward, keeping a consistent thickness and
curvature.” How to make it thicker and shorter, instead of wider and
thinner? 'Why does it keep folding?!?’ (Now reality sets in!)
“Now, pinch a cube. Make sure the walls are the same thickness right
to the corners.” "Make it low and wide…now make it tall; reverse
the proportions without rotating the form or cutting and attaching.
Move without removal.” Not kid stuff after all. Very few
only-wheel-throwers, even with a lifetime of experience with clay, are
any good at it.
I start the course with pinching, not as an end in itself, but
because it teaches how the material responds to the maker. It’s
fundamental. Teach your fingers physics. Pinching is its own
technique, but also the means to augment every other technique:
coiling, slab, and wheel. Students who get good at pinching will learn
every other method faster, and use it with more versatility; even the
wheel. The wheel is just a tool for bringing the clay to your hands,
instead of moving your hands to the clay. Squeezing perpendicular to
the plane makes the clay thin and/or wide; compression along the plane
brings it in. ‘Pulling' a wall combines both. Bellying; collaring;
all just pinching, with a power assist.
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