Throwing Large

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Name Throwing Large

Throwing large work is definitely challenging and takes a different approach than throwing normal-sized pots. Nic Collins looks at throwing purely from the perspective of making very large work. He assumes you can already throw, but different techniques are needed when making large work because of all the added problems—buckling, collapsing, warping—not to mention that the techniques needed to physically throw much larger work are very different. Nic looks at all of this, offering clear guidance on how to make work successfully, covering the various traditional techniques used (such as those used by the Onggi potters of Korea), as well as how to avoid disastrous pitfalls.

Do you have what it takes?
Unlike throwing regular-sized pots, throwing large pots takes a little design and planning. Before you even begin, you’ll need to consider the size of your kiln and how you’ll move a large pot from one area to another. Nic addresses all the issues you need to consider before trying to make large pots, but for the most part, you’ll find everything within your reach.

The coil and doughnut
If you thought there was only one way to make large pots, you’d be mistaken. Nic describes several methods, which is good, because it gives you a chance to pick the one that’s right for you and for the pots you want to make. One of the oldest methods is the coil technique where you build a pot by adding coils of clay one at a time. Closely related to the coil method is the doughnut technique. The advantage of each of these methods is that you do not have to center one large hunk of clay at one time—what a relief!

Throwing in sections and slabs
Another way to throw large pieces, anything from tall narrow forms to wide bulbous ones, is to throw them in sections. This method, along with a Korean/Chinese technique for making large pots using slabs and constructing the pots on a wheel, will add to your arsenal of tools you can choose from when you decide to supersize it.

The size is right
Have you ever looked at a really large pot and wondered how someone could throw something that big? You’re not alone. Throwing large pots can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know the tricks. Imagine what your family and friends would say if you were to throw something really large. Heck, imagine what you would think! If you decide you want to try your hand at making something substantial, then Nic provides the advice and step-by-step instructions you can use to assure your success. When wondering if bigger really is better, there’s one sure way to find out—try it.

Review by Sumi von Dassow
Pottery Making Illustrated May/June 2011
This book is about using the wheel to make forms ranging from large to massive-but if you are a human of ordinary proportions, don’t feel daunted by the subject. It could be subtitled “Strategies for making super pots without super-strength.” Never once does the author suggest trying to center 25 pounds of clay-he centers no more than 10 to 15 pounds at a time, usually by centering two smaller lumps one on top of the other. In fact he specifically addresses the challenge of moving large ware around by admonishing the reader not to wear out his or her body lifting massive pots single-handedly, sensibly pointing out that if you damage your body so that you can’t keep on making pots, you might not be able to make a living any more. As an instructor I really appreciate this approach-I often have students who want to throw large pots by wrestling with a huge lump of clay and who think it is cheating to throw in sections. Even if you are comfortable centering 25 or 50 pounds of clay, you may want to make a pot larger than you can handle and you’ll want to know Nic Collins’ techniques. And conversely, if five pounds of clay is the most you are comfortable wedging and centering, that is no bar to creating pots as large as your kiln can accommodate.

So, how does the author make his pots, which range up to four feet in height? He employs a variety of techniques for throwing in sections, such as building a form using coils or donuts of clay, and throwing two (or more) manageable sections and stacking them. Each technique is illustrated with many photographs of each process, and described in detail-down to how to roll smooth, even coils by hand, and how to wedge and shape a lump of clay for ease in centering. He generally throws slowly, using a kick wheel, and some of his techniques are more like wheel-assisted handbuilding than straight throwing. Collins has made a career out of creating giant wood-fired pots and he has obviously spent much time demonstrating and explaining his methods to others. He knows the problems you are going to face at every step of the process; in choosing and preparing the clay, in forming the pot, drying the finished pot, moving it to the kiln, and in glazing and firing. For instance, you might not think to sketch out the form you want to create before you throw the first section-but since it is necessary to dry each section partially before adding another one, the initial sketch is crucial to developing a controlled form.

The book is written in a conversational, non-academic style, drawing upon the author’s years of experience and largely illustrated with his own work. In addition, he describes and illustrates several methods of throwing large pots used by other potters, including traditional Korean and Chinese techniques, and profiles another dozen or so potters who specialize in large pots. If you are a potter with a desire to go beyond your current comfort level in potting, this book will be useful. Even if you don’t need to throw four-foot-tall garden vases, you will learn something that will help you create bigger pots with greater ease than you ever thought possible.

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Softcover | 142 Pages