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Using a Throwing Stick
Perhaps you've seen these gizmos called throwing sticks. There is a photo at the bottom of this page in case you haven't. Learned from my friend Ben Ryterband at Mass. College of Art. The stick takes the place of the left hand (if you throw counterclockwise) on the inside of the form. Strategy used with throwing sticks is also useful in throwing forms you CAN reach into.
If you make a bottle-ish form without a stick, you pretty much HAVE to form the lower part before you "neck it in" because you can't go back an change it when the neck is too small to reach into. You can move the lower wall clay inward by pushing from the outside....... but not move it outward. Possible....but HARD.
I am sure that you have noticed that certain shapes of clay on the wheel tend to collapse easier than others. Physics in action.
So you pull a cylinder. Then you lightly bulge the middle just a tad. Then you start to narrow in the neck. You rough out the neck area pretty close to the finished diameter. Then you finish the shoulder curve and finally the neck details. Then the foot area. Bingo.
The stick can be used both to compress and move clay....or to simple stretch from the inside. The use of the stick (also called an egote in Japanese) allows this change of approach.
It takes some getting used to. You have to have FULL control of the stick, and learn to read sensation through it. Don't expect to master it overnight. I find that for most uses that you want the fingers of the left hand to wrap around it like you were grasping a pole to steady yourself on a subway or trying to hold a live ant in your hand until you could get it outside.... For me the KEY is the thumb position. It shouldn't be wrapped over your other fingers like a fist. This is the power and the sensitivity all at once in using an egote.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|