Why I Do What I Do: I throw different.
Throwing is the process of making a piece of pottery on the potter’s wheel. The process consists of a series of steps. Centering, Opening Pulling and Shaping. I will provide links to videos at the end of the article so you can see the process.
In that first year of being solely dependent on making and selling pottery to provide for my family, I realized that I needed to increase the speed with which I made my pottery. I had an initial realization that it was possible to increase my production speed while reading an article in Ceramics Monthly about a potter in an Asian country. He was a farmer part of the year and made storage jars the other part of the year. He was able to make about 90 jars a day using 20 lbs. of clay each. He used a kick wheel, that was recessed in the ground, so the wheel head was just above ground level. He kicked the wheel with his foot while standing beside it and then bent over to throw the jar. Just preparing the 90 lumps of clay without mechanical assistance would have been a backbreaking task. But to then throw those beautiful jars on top of that would have been beyond my physical ability, and I had an electric wheel. It made my back hurt just thinking about it.
Over the next couple of months, I began to examine my process of how I threw on the wheel and weeded out unnecessary steps where I could. That winter, at an art show in the Dallas area, I saw a potter by the name of Jim Sanders from Marshall, Texas, working on his wheel. He had a very different method of throwing than I did, and he was very fast. He could center and open the clay in one smooth fluid motion by forcing the heel of his hand into the ball of clay. He could pull the cylinder in one move by pushing the clay into the thumb of his left hand with the fingers of his right hand. As soon as I returned to my studio, I adapted his throwing technique, which significantly increased my throwing speed, but this is only one step out of a minimum of eight to ten in the process of making a piece of pottery.
If you want to see this method of throwing on the wheel, here are some videos from my Youtube channel.