The first step in the process is called “centering,” during which you shape the clay into a cone, and then flatten it, and cone it and flatten it again, until it spins in the center of the wheel without showing any signs of wobble.
The trick is bracing your elbows against your body so that your hands put even pressure on the clay. You make yourself as solid as possible so that the clay moves in the way you are directing it – rather than having a wobbly mound of clay make you move and wobble, too! (I was pretty wobbly, at first, until the brilliant head of the Ceramic studio, Nadiege, came over and helped me adjust myself. Thanks, Nadiege!!! You’re the best.)
This shot was taken in the beautiful backyard garden work-space at Choplet in Williamsburg. Those are my two wheel-spun pieces, sitting on bats, starting to dry. (Next step: shaping and trimming. Then: firing and glazing!)