Master The Wheel
Students learn to make pottery using a potters wheel in and out of the classroom.


Potterby Dallas Mickner


Wheel thrown - The term throw comes from Old English meaning spin. A piece of clay is

placed on a potter’s wheel head which spins. The clay is shaped by compression while it is

in motion. Often the potter will use several thrown shapes together to form one piece (a teapot can be constructed from three or four thrown forms).


Directions: Read all steps and watch video from Lakeside Pottery below before attempting pottery on a wheel.


1) First set up your working area, wedge, and make a ball of clay.


2) Center the clay (Eblows should be locked agianst your body)

  • Smack the clay ball against the bat on the wheel and pat the clay into a cone form.
  • Spin the wheel slowly to check for centering of clay before proceding.
  • Wet your hands and the clay cone slightly

3) Cone up and down (Elbows should be locked against your body)

  • Use your hands in a cupping upward motion to increase the height and balance of the clay cone.
  • Push down on the clay with your dominant hand in a chopping motion combined with your other hand in a similar movement but with your thumb tucked in yet still pointing.
  • This process is done at medium-high speed.

4) Opening (Elbows should be locked against your body)

  •  Use your thumb to find the center of your clay. Firmly and precisely insert your thumb downward into the center of the spinning clay and open the clay center by pulling your thumb in towards your body. 
  • Sponge away excess water.
  • This process is done at medium-high speed.

5) Raising (Elbows should initially be locked against your body)

  •  Place your dominant hand on the outside of the opened clay and your other hand inside the opened clay.
  • Using your finger tips or knuckles, create a pinching motion between your hands while also pulling both hands up in a even rhythm with the rotation of the wheel.
  • Move the clay upwards between your fingers until a desired height, opening width, and thickness is acheived.
  • Do this about 5-7 times depending upon type of clay and skill level. 
  • Sponge away excess water.
  • This process should be done at medium speed.

6) Shaping (Elbows can be lifted when needed for shaping the form of a pot)

  • Keeping your hands in the same positions and with a slight pinching motion begin to move the clay wall in a direction in which you intend to form the pot.
  • This process can be aided with a rib, wooden tool, or custom made tools on the inside of the pot while the dominant guides on the outside.
  • Sponge away excess water.
  • This process should be done a slow speed.

7) Finishing

  • You can use a tool such as a rib to remove unwanted finger marks on the outside of a pot by gently smoothing over them.
  • A shammy can create a smooth surface on a lip of a pot and help manipulate the form as well
  • This process should be done at slow speed.


8) Removing

  • Stop the wheel.
  • Grab a wire tool tightly between your hands. It is best to shorten the wire distance for better control.
  • Place your wire flat on the wheel bat on the opposite side of the pot (farthest from you)
  • Simultaneously pull the wire tawards you, flat on the bat, while spinning the wheel at the slowest speed.
  • Carefully remove the bat with the pot or even more carefully lift the pot from the bat for drying method of your preference.

Watch the video below from Lakeside Pottery for a complete step by step tutorial of using the pottery wheel with academic vocabulary and some great tips.