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good basic books

updated fri 16 apr 99


carrie or peter jacobson on mon 12 apr 99

To Faye and all other stumblers: I, too, have had trouble figuring out just
what was going on in there, inside the pots, where you couldn't see the
teacher's fingers.

I found Elsbeth S. Woody's "Pottery on The Wheel," The Noonday Press,
Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Virtually every project in the book is shown whole, and then sliced in half
vertically, so you can see the inside and the outside at nearly every
stage. It is really wonderful.

I just did not get the feeling of pulling -- almost extruding -- the clay
up the wall of the pot until I saw the bulge under which this potter's
fingers lay in these photos. In fact, a student right now is struggling
with this very thing, pulling up a skin of clay rather than the wall
itself, and I will lend her this book. I've showed her, had her feel, etc.,
but people learn in different ways, and she is more visual/intellectual.

I also have found, from my limited teaching experience, that students are
more impressed when you throw a cylinder... but that cylinders are way
harder to throw. I did not understand why my instructor didn't start with
bowls... I think she got off on the students' excitement. I have vowed to
work to teach them, rather than impress them. Bowls it is!


Carrie Jacobson
Pawcatuck, CT

Alison Hamilton on tue 13 apr 99

> students are
> more impressed when you throw a cylinder... but that cylinders are way
> harder to throw. I did not understand why my instructor didn't start with
> bowls...

Perhaps your instructor began with cylinders because if students can
throw a cylinder, they can throw anything. Being able to throw a
cylinder is like practising scales when learning an instrument, doing
plies at the barre when learning dance .... And anyway, the reality of
beginner potters is that their first cylinders often result in bowls (!)
despite the fact that they were attempting a cylinder. However, their
minds were working on the concept of cylinder and their bodies were
learning to speak the language of cylinders.

I have noticed that students who start by learning to throw bowls often
have difficulty going back to learn how to throw cylinders. I'm not
sure why that is - maybe because they're so successful with bowls that
throwing a cyclinder seems too much of a struggle? Has anyone else
noticed this?

Perhaps it's a tradeoff - gaining technical discipline/expertise at the
expense of morale??

Alison Hamilton
Dorset, ON

Mike Gordon on wed 14 apr 99

I always start my begining students with cylinders. For some reason the
left hand always wants to push out to a bowl shape. They should learn to
controll the clay rather than the other way around. Mike

Timothy Dean Malm on thu 15 apr 99

When teaching wheel I always stress cylinders first . A well thrown
cylinder can become whatever you desire if you're willing to
practice until reaching your goal. I also explain that there is a great
likelihood that many of the initial pieces will resemble bowls growing
wider than higher until eventually collapsing. I suggest that this
phenomena shows both the outward forces of a spinning wheel and the fact
that the human body moves easiest in curving actions. I usually mimic the
action of a mother rocking her baby. Cheers, Tim Malm in Seattle
where at least for today it's sunny.