THE POTTER’S WHEEL

Hi Everybody!

Have you ever wondered how the pottery wheel was invented? Don’t you think it odd that somebody could come up with the idea of getting a wheel, placing it on a flat surface and then spinning it round and throwing a lump of clay onto it and shaping it with their hands? Opinion is that the potter’s wheel was invented about 3129 BC in Mesopotamia, the modern day Iraq, where a stone wheel was found. But the facts are a bit unclear, as fragments of wheel thrown pottery of around the same dates have been found in southeastern Europe and China! As to how the potter’s wheel was invented, it may have been a development of someone turning a coil pot on a wooden disk to decorate and realised, if the disk was spun faster, they could shape the clay, but it’s all speculation.

However, today I thought I would talk about other inventive ways of using the wheel apart from throwing traditional pots. The main shapes you can produce on a wheel are cylinders, which can be made into mugs, bowls, vases and bottle shapes and of course plates, which are thrown on the wheel using a wooden bat attached to the wheel head so the plates can be easily removed. You can also make sculptures on the wheel by throwing a thick-walled cylinder and then ‘morphing’ and squeezing it with your hands to create a body and head in the same way as the early ‘Groggs’ that were made in Pontypridd, Wales. Other things I have thrown include a frog, which started life as bowl, a horse’s head, which started out as a thrown cylinder, which I twisted into shape and a steam locomotive, which was made out of several cylinders put together.

It’s all great fun using the wheel in different ways. So, if you have access to a wheel, see if you can come up with some different figures and shapes.

Bye for now,

Barry