Discipline and Creative Self Control

Part 4 of my preface on the “mental game” of pottery

As an instructor at Choplet Ceramic Studio and Island Pottery Studio, as well as my career as a production potter and ceramic studio technician I have seen more pieces die because the potter was fucking about with it than I care to count.

Let me paint you a familiar scenario: You’ve thrown a bowl or a cylinder. Manipulated the shape into a vase, mug, etc, but now you just want to…Insert whatever little thing you like. Flare the rim, make the neck of the bottle more narrow, widen the base, widen the rim, blah blah blah. On you 5th or 6th time messing about with the piece it flops or the rim twists or some how you put a hole in the piece.

This is classic.

The solution to the problem is also simple.


Most likely you’re constantly playing with the work because you’ve already made the mistake of not knowing what you want to make. To cure that problem, please look at my previous post from several weeks ago. So what you are doing is fiddling around with the piece to achieve some sort of meta perfect pot in your mind that never will exist.

When you sit at the wheel to throw, you have to know what you want to make. Have a system of steps in place that will allow you to make it and then, most importantly, STOP once you’ve made it. Let it go. Move on. Make another piece.

“Oh, but its not perfect!” You might say.

That doesn’t matter. You have your basic shape. If pots were meant to be perfect, then we wouldn’t have a trimming stage in the process, now would we?

Throwing is your first draft. Get your basic shape, to the size you want and then move on to the next piece. There will be time later in trimming, carving and scrubbing to bring the piece closer to perfection.

Now, as always, stop reading and go make something.

Questions on the technique, email me at sparanoarts@gmail.com, like what I’m doing feel free to shop my Etsy store

One Response to “Discipline and Creative Self Control”
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  1. […] Second is the throwing – I like to think of this as a first draft. The point of it is just to make an approximate shape that you will refine later. It is akin to stretching and prepping canvas in painting. This is the time when a lot of potters play too much with their work. You can read more about that here. […]


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