Monday, May 9, 2016

Bowl Process Analysis

The process of throwing a centered bowl is very similar to the process of throwing a centered pot:

  1. Gather all the materials that are needed to throw a successful centered pot such as the needle tool (to check the thickness), the wood piece (helps make the pot a cylinder shape), bowl of water, sponge, and kneaded clay.
    1. Make sure that the clay is well prepared without air pockets because it will damage the outcome. The amount depends on how big/small you want your cylinder pot to be.
  2. Put your prepared clay on the flat, wooden board preferably on the center. Make sure that your clay is on the board firmly, or else, when working with the wheel, the clay piece will fall out.
  3. Before turning the wheel on, check which direction you want the wheel to spin (clockwise vs. counterclockwise). It depends on every person, but right-handed people usually prefer to use counterclockwise while left-handed people use clockwise direction.
  4. Always make sure that your hands are wet when working with the clay (dip your hands into the bucket of water)
  5. Allow the clay to turn using the pedal and control the speed as you work with it
  6. Keep the clay tight in your hands
    1. While doing this, sit close to the wheel and and keep your elbows tightly against your body
  7. Keep the wheel turning fast, and slightly push the clay forward with this position until you feel that the clay seems to stay in place/shape
  8. Slow down the wheel, and place your thumb on to the middle of the clay and start pressing downwards. It is important to just work on creating the dent in the clay instead of bringing it sideways. To avoid making a place instead of a cylinder, make sure that your hand is secured on the outer edge. Don’t go too deep since you might create whole on the bottom. In order to check this, use the needle point until you reach the right thickness.
  9. Wet your hands and start pulling the clay outwards. Make sure to create the 90 degrees when doing so.
  10. Once you’ve reached this step, you are ready to bring your clay upwards. Press your your hands between the wall of the clay and start bringing it up slowly. Continue this step until you reach the desirable height and thickness. It is very easy to get the walls outwards, and so if this occurs, don’t panic and get the wood piece and place it right next to the clay standing 90 degrees and this step will allow your clay to get in the right position.
  11. Now push inside of the cylinder outwards while having your other hand on the outside for support
  12. Keep your hands and don’t let the fingertips touch the bowl as that will leave a mark
  13. Once you opened it enough and made it into a bowl shape, smoothen the rims
  14. When the pot looks good to your eyes, then you can clean the plate with the sponge and wire the pot so that when it dries, you can easier separate it from the plate you worked with.

There were several difficulties I encountered while working on the bowl project. Even though we worked with the wheel to make the cylinder before, there were similar mistakes made. For example, I would speed up the wheel too fast that it would destroy the project, or not make the base and the wall 90 degrees. This is what happened with most of my bowls, but once I noticed this after it was fired, I took care of this notice. Also, I realized once again with this process, that the speed of the wheel is extremely important. For me, I sometimes like to speed the process, or sometimes, I just can’t control my foot that the wheel goes too fast. When this happened, my bowl would turn into a flat plate, or like a pizza. Thus, having patience is the key to making a successful bowl. Not only that, but for one of the piece, the bowl turned out extremely weird most probably because of the fact that it wasn’t properly centered. All of a sudden, the plate started to whirl in a weird direction and create wrinkles all over the place. Without a doubt, I just removed this, and did the whole process again. These difficulties, which I would like to count them as mistakes, were easily fixed.
Moving on to the actual difficulties, trying to save a flattened piece was quite hard. As mentioned above, this occurred due to the speed of the wheel, but trying to fix it was even harder. There were similar instances where my bowl would get wider and get shaped into more like a plate. In order to fix this, I placed my hand on the walls of the bowl and tried to bring them inwards. There were 50/50 chances to saving it. Sometimes, it would work out, however, at other times, it would create an overlap between the walls where it could no longer be fixable. There would be a possibility to fix it, which is to spin the wheel slowly, and place your hands on the walls so that it would smoothen. Yet, it’s much faster to give up, and start a new one.
Secondly, the uneven sides were extremely disturbing and annoyed me. I definitely knew that it was my mistake from creating this unevenness, but the thing that was irritating was the fact that I didn’t really want to keep it, but at the same time, I didn’t want to throw it and start a new one. The main reason it, it usually looks quite nice, but when you slow the wheel down and feel the unevenness of the wall, it’s sad. In order to solve this problem, you need to place both your hands on the wall without much strength, and let the wheel spin. This way, because of how your hands are placed are a source of protection, the part where it has most clay will smoothen out with the part where the walls are thin (thus, creating a an even wall).
Another difficulty I encountered was the thickness on the bottom as well as the 90 degrees. Sometimes, I would make bottom too thin that I was pretty sure it was going to get removed once wiring it. In order to solve this problem, instead of starting everything again, I placed a small bit of wet clay inside and added it. I tried to be careful not to create any air bubbles. Thankfully, this worked out because none of them exploded or got cracked in the firing process! The reason this happened so frequently was probably because I sped up the process to fast that my hands were going down too deeply quickly. To make this better, I slowed this process, and used a needle point tool to make sure that the thickness was to my desire. Also, I didn’t notice that my bowl pieces didn’t have an angle between the bottom and the wall. I only realized once everything was fired as mentioned before. To fix to problem, when making the cylinder before opening the sides, I made sure that there was a 90˚ angle from the base to the side. After this, I opened the walls making it into a bowl. Also, what I noticed in my bowls were that some of them turned out looking something between a plate and a bowl because of the walls on the side. In my eyes, plates should have a small wall around while a bowl should have a longer wall rounded. Yet, some of my was in between that which I didn’t really like.
Moving on, there were some differences between the bowl and the cylinder project. For the wheel project, you stop once it is 90 degrees, while for the bowl you need to reach that 90 degrees and then open the sides to that it is rounder and open. In order to have a successfully bowl, you must be able to do the cylinder project first as that is the basics. Working on the cylinder first was very nice and helpful as it was essential information for the bowls.

Difficulties encountered: (From the easiest to hardest)
Bottom of the bowl is not centered
It would be quite difficult to fix this problem, because the mistake has been made when centering. Thus, Ms.Ariani tried to help mine, but it didn’t really work out too well. For me, what I would do it instead of trying to fix it, it would be better to just scrape the clay out and start new again.
The thickness on the bottom of the bowl20160429_115408.jpg
As mentioned before, I had difficulty of matching the right thickness because I worked too fast. Sometimes, when I went too deep, I inserted really mushy clay on the bottom, so that it wouldn’t create air bubbles. Later on, I took more time to make the whole and used the needle tool to check the thickness to avoid the same mistake.

Flattened pizza doughScreen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.05.50 AM.png

There were two to three occasions where this happened. In one of those times, the piece became so flat that it got stuck to the wood. Also, sometimes the sides were stretched out because of the fast speed that it was extremely wobbly and couldn’t get fixed. Usually, when this happens, I try to bring it back up into a cylinder and start again. Yet, when it’s severe like these, then there’s nothing that can be done. This problem could be avoided by controlling the speed of the wheel, as well as having your hands always as protection.
It looks something between a plate and a bowl because of the walls
The reason some of my pieces looked somewhere in between a plate and a bowl was because the height of the wall was not low but not tall at the same time. When working with it, I never notice it. However, when I see it from far away, it doesn’t really look like a bowl nor a plate. I believe that this is a matter of how much clay you use and the size because if the base it large, and there aren’t enough clay to bring up, then it’s what happens.
Uneven sides
This was a problem I had since I worked with cylinder. It is tht there is an uneven side throughout the whole piece. It is extremely sad when you think your piece looks great, but then you notice that it’s all uneven when you slow down the wheel. What you need to do, is place both your hands on the wall and let it spin so that the clay can even out. Yet, for me, in most of the cases, this doesn’t work too well, so I just tend to leave it that way instead of messing it more. To avoid this problem, just taking more time when bring the sides up is essential.

Similarities vs. Differences

Bowl Set
Cylinder Set
Speeding is extremely important in this process because when you try to open your “cylinder”, it will become a pizza if the speeding is too fast and you work too fast. The reason is the walls are already thin and so if you work fast it will just flop. This happened to me once and it became a pizza shape, which I had to start everything again. Basically, for the bowl set, it requires slower spinning speed.
Speeding is also important for this project, but because you don’t have to open the walls you can work with different speeds, most preferably medium speed.
For the bowl set, you need to open the piece so that it is rounder, and looks more like a bowl than a cylinder.
For cylinder set, there shouldn’t be any sort of opening as it needs to stay in a right angle.
Position of hands supporting
The position of the hands supporting for the bowl has to be shaping outwards because it is round. If there is no hands supporting, there’s likely a chance that it will probably flop either because it’s too thin, or too thick that it’s too heavy. That’s why the thickness also has to be right.
For the cylinder, your hands need to be straight, and right angled from the wood. This way, the piece won’t open by itself or create a new shape in its own.

Ideas for decoration:

For now, I have no idea how I would like to decorate this piece. It’s either going to be a type of pattern, or I was thinking of ombre as I really liked how it looked like on my other cylinder sets.