Art 204: Ceramics - Assignment #2
Second assignment on the wheel
5 tall pieces for Practice and 2 for Keeps

DUE DATES: _________________ (to be announced)

PURPOSES: To gain skill in creating vertical forms on a potter's wheel. To gain experience with slip decoration.


1. Throw 5 cylindrical vertical vase forms from no more than 2.5 pounds each.

2. None may be saved until you are able to achieve a 6 inch cylinder from 2.5 pounds. The signature of an assistant or instructor is required to permit keeping forms.

3. It must have a bottom in it. No water in bottom. You must be able to place your hand in it and reach bottom.

4. Decorate, trim, and sign 5 before they are dry.

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5. Fire the best 2. Soak 2.

HINTS: Follow procedures suggested in the demonstration and by Colbeck's book. Refer to the instruction sheet or poster for hand positions. Ask for advice if things aren't going well. Have the instructor or assistant watch you do the part which gives you difficulty so that he/she can suggest possible corrections. Almost everyone benefits from some individual tutoring at this point.

While raising the cylinders: PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

1. Don't begin raising until centering and opening is accurately completed.

2. Open the bottom several inches wide and flatten the inside bottom before raising.

3. Do not let the top opening get larger than you need to insert your left hand for raising. Practice using outside pressure only to bring up a cone shaped cylinder with a top smaller than the bottom.

4. Sit very close and brace arms to body to hold them steady while raising. Depend on your body to keep yourself steady, not just your arms, hands and fingers.

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5. As you bring the clay up, most of pressure will be from the outside of the cylinder - especially in the top half.

6. When you get near the top, always release the inside (left hand) first while the right hand stays steady to even out the top before slowly moving sideways to take the outside hand away (never slide up off the top).

7. When it gets a wobble, wet it and straighten by using a raising motion without raising it. Keep your forearms clamped to your body very close and steady. Don't try to raise it - just straighten it.

8. If the top is uneven, practice trimming with needle. Brace your right arm on the pan of the wheel. Place your left index finger against the inside of the top rim. Lay the side of the needle against the side of the clay cylinder and move it against the bracing finger in the cylinder.

9. With a stick or ruler, measure the height after each raise to see if you are pressing enough to make a difference. Be assertive enough to raise it without tearing it off.

10. When it falls or twists always use the wire to cut it in half to see what you can learn before smashing it.

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What to consider when making a vertical form? How to make them better?

1. Proportions. Pay attention to size relationship. How tall is it related to how high it is?

2. Consider an important top rim. A rim can make the form look like you intended it to be whatever it is instead of simply running out of clay at the top. A top rim can make it confident looking.

3. Consider design lines. Design lines are well defined edges and changes in contour. A form with definite changes in contour may look more intentional and less accidental - if that is the feeling you are after.

4. Make the decoration relate to the form in ways which enhance the form. Consider repetition and expressiveness. Use symbols or abstract marks. Consider the size and shapes of the blanks areas just as much as areas you fill in.

© Marvin Bartel, instructor
Goshen College students may make a copy for personal use. Any other reproduction or publication is prohibited unless permission in secured. E-mail:

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updated January, 1999