Working on the wheel for some weeks definitely was an adventure as it was my first time. In the beginning, when Mr.Ariani gave us a demonstration of how working with the wheel worked, there were too many steps to remember. This made me very nervous and made me search videos on youtube of the process. There were several times when I got frustrated because it would turn out uneven, too small, very thick, etc. Not only that, but when I saw others’ works, theirs were extremely well done and smooth looking. There was a class where I was able to make 3 cylinders in a class which I was very proud. The main reason was because I knew I was behind, and had to practice more than the others to catch up with them. Therefore, I remember trying my hardest in the class to improve on the skills. I was proud at the time, but now looking at the cylinders I made in the past, they are not that great to be honest. The most important thing while working on the wheel is patience. You NEED to be patient in order to create a successful cylinder. For me, I don’t really have patience, and I’m quite quick-tempered so it took some time to adapt to the “environment”. Even after making about 15 cylinder pots, I still don’t find my creation perfect in any way which helped me realize how hard it is to produce a great piece. What I realized is, when I’m working with the clay, I finish it when I’m satisfied with the result. However, after I see my piece fired, it seems less appealing, and I can clearly see how it’s unbalanced and where I need to work on. Not only that, but it does get a lot smaller after it is fired which made me sad. In order to avoid this problem, this led me to create an even bigger cylinder so that after it is fired, it won’t be as small.
(Before working with the clay, I like to make it into a circle)
(You can tell how thick my pieces were before)
As you could already tell from my first paragraph, there were countless of difficulties I encountered while working on this project. First of all, to avoid having air pockets during the process of throwing, I made sure that the clay was kneaded thoroughly (no cracks during the process of firing). For me, it took some time to get comfortable with the seating while working on the wheel. To fix this problem, I tried using 2 different wheels, and tried to use the one that fit me, and worked the best with me. Unfortunately, there was another friend of mine who also liked the wheel I liked which became slightly a problem, but it was easily fixed.
Secondly, I always made sure that the clay was stuck to the wooden piece so that it wouldn’t fall out while I was working on it. This happened several times which definitely frustrated me but I tried to fix the problem by hitting it even harder on the wooden plate. This made a huge sound which surprised even myself and the whole class. Due to that, Ms.Ariani told me a solution that would work is to wet my hands when working with it, and instead of pressing it forward from the beginning, I should press is downwards and keep the clay steady. Therefore, I noticed that the main problem was that I was trying to work too fast and avoided this earlier step.
Thirdly, I am not really considered to be a ambidextrous, but I do use both my hands for different uses. For example, I would cut scissors with my right hand, but write with my left hand. Pitch the ball with my left hand, but swing the ball with my right hand like all the other right handed people. Now for the wheels, it was the same process. I would work with the wheel spinning counter-clockwise, but trim when the wheel span clockwise. Sometimes, I would even get those two mixed up and work with the wrong direction of where my hands were supposed to be placed. For me, I didn’t notice that it was a problem since both worked well, but Ms.Ariani noticed it and would correct the side where my hands had to be located while working on the piece. For me, it honestly depended on the day when I would use counterclockwise or clockwise on the wheel which may have affected some of the cylinder creations. Either way, even if my hands were in the wrong place, I didn’t even notice it, and thankfully it still produced a normal looking cylinder. This wasn’t really a difficulty I faced, but I guess it was something I had to keep in mind while working on my project at all times, since I got confused as to which direction fit me the best every class.
Fourthly, the main problem I had that I changed recently was not creating the 90 degrees between the bottom of the pot and the wall. In the beginning, I didn’t really notice it and didn’t think it was a problem. However, after looking at other cylinder projects, I noticed the vast difference between mine and the others. (I actually learned a lot looking at other’s cylinder pots). Mine was curvy in the inside, and didn’t really have an edge which later on disturbed me. Due to this, Ms.Ariani taught me that it is very important that I keep patience and only start to make the hole on the bottom without spreading it yet. I followed the steps very carefully and started opening the pot only when the bottom had the right thickness. This definitely helped me in creating the beautiful 90 degrees. If it didn’t come out too well, then I would just take a longer time on that, by putting my fingers between the wall and the bottom to mold it that way.
Fifthly, I noticed that all my pieces were very thick on the walls only after it was fired. I actually realized all the mistakes once it was fired since they were all visible to my eyes. I definitely spent most of my time trying to make the piece tall and thin. This involved several practices, and even until now, I can’t create a perfect one, but it’s totally reasonable since I can’t expect the perfect piece only after making 15 pots. The main problem I encountered was that the walls weren’t equal in size, most probably because my hands weren’t steady and worked too fast. At most times, I would feel that one part of the wall was thicker than the others which stressed me. To solve this problem, I just placed my hands on the wall and let the wheel do its part by spinning and spinning. Then, eventually with the pattern the clay would spread out evenly. This process takes a very long time (at least for me). Sometimes, I just stare at the pot while it spinning and spinning which hurts my eyes. It seems like I’m getting hypnotized.
Sixthly, when the top end isn’t even, it frustrates me because it is where you can clearly see. Before, what I did that was terribly wrong was, I placed the needle tool on top of the pot and trimmed that way. To be honest, it worked pretty well so I didn’t really notice it as a problem. However, my friends started telling me that it was the wrong way, and so Ms.Ariani came and helped me. She placed the needle tool below the top, and let the wheel spin so that it would eventually go through and create a nice, clean top.
Eightly, creating a bigger piece was definitely a challenge I made myself. Even though I knew my skills weren’t fully developed, I knew I couldn’t keep continuing making the same sizes. Due to that, I started to try making bigger ones. For me, they didn’t seem harder to make. Only for the part when I had to make the walls thin because I had to control the speed of the wheels and make sure to give no pressure in my hands when working since the clay was extremely fragile. I also made sure that my hands were wet at all times so that the clay wouldn’t stick but flow on my hands smoothly.
It was difficult for me to get the right thickness. In the beginning, the bottoms of my pieces would come out extremely thick. Then I would just try to carve while trimming. It was hard for me to start making the hole because there were times when I made the hole too deep or too thin that when I wired it, there would be no base.
In order to solve this problem, I started using the needle tool. In the beginning, I didn’t really like using it since it created a small hole on the base, but I knew I had to use it since it was better than just making the base too thin/too thick.
There were times when I had difficulty controlling the strength of my hands. Sometimes, I would press the clay or use too much strength which created something like this.
I controlled the speed of the wheel so that the wheel would do the job instead of my hands trying to sculpt the clay. The picture on the left was actually one of the greatest failures. It kind of looks like a flower but there were so many problems that led to this finale. First of all, I worked too fast and wasn’t able to keep the sides 90 degrees. It looked more like a plate, and because the speed of the wheel and my hands didn’t collaborate well, the walls kept going down and my force also pushed it down. However, the walls were quite thin that it led to making this flower-like texture.
The problem in the beginning was making plates instead of cylinder pots.
Mentioned before, I started out my project by making plates. It was very difficult for me to make the piece 90 degrees and cylinder shape. The tool that was extremely helpful was the flat wooden tool. I would use it whenever it was off and keep it straight so that the clay would also get linear. Also, I would also make the position of my hand different. Instead of my hand lying downwards, it would be upwards and I would use it to support it.
Centering the clay was tedious in the first few days and my hand would even scratch from the wood. Not only that, but I stayed bent the whole time and use my shoulders as a force which made my back hurt a lot.
To fix this problem, I placed my elbow near the stomach area and used the body’s force instead of using my arms as strength. This allowed me to work for a longer period since my arms had a place to settle.
For my set themes, I decided to make a pattern with several shapes consecutively but use different tones of colors that match with each other. It would kind of look like polka dots but also the leopard prints. I still haven’t decided if I want all the designs to be like this. I’m thinking of different patterns that match with the two other pots by using similar colors. I’m still in the process of figuring this out though.
In conclusion, even though I was very behind (like an ugly-duckling) and had much difficulties, I was able to go through the process step by step and learn through all the mistakes. The trimming part was the easiest to learn because I’ve worked with it before for ceramics I. The only difference was that the cylinder pot was on a wheel and all I had to do was place my finger on top and control the way I wanted to shape it. I’m very excited to learn more about the wheel after doing the extruder project!
(The way Ms.Ariani is holding the trimming tool is the best to work with)
These are only the ones from the beginning. You can tell how I started out by making a plate, to a cup, to better cylinder pots. (The gradient color looks very pretty :P )
Before: One of my first successful pot
After: You can tell how thin the walls got and larger in size.