How to UnF$%k your opening

This weeks blog post will be dedicated to the point in wheel throwing that you’re most likely to fuck up the entire process: opening.

Now before we get into it, I recommend you go back and read my other posts, if you aren’t already following this blog. The reason being, is that I discuss fundamental strategies and preparation techniques that will set you up for success.

As a quick refresher and to give context: You’ve arrived at the studio, know what you want to make, have set up your wheel, wedged your clay and now have centered the clay.

It’s at this point that we pick up the process.

Many a pot hasn’t been initially ruined by bad opening, but it sets you down a dark path that will dominate the destiny of the pot (there will be many more Star Wars references where that came from). By opening badly, the piece will either be badly off center or the walls might be damaged which will make it much more difficult to pull, thus setting you back and making life so much more difficult than it has to be.

I say lets work smart, not hard.

Here are some examples of opening techniques, that personally I DO NOT RECCOMEND, but want you to be aware of to inoculate yourself.

Now I don’t want this post to become a critique of this video, though I have no idea why he mentioned his pants…I’ll say that some of the techniques demonstrated are better than others but overall I personally wouldn’t use any of them. However, if you do see something that you like, you try it and it works for you…Then Huzzah! Go make a shit ton of pots with it!!!

Anyway, my main critiques of these techniques is that they are limited and don’t work well with your anatomy. The openings either only work for certain shapes, amounts of clay or there is a a good chance you’ll overdo it and push the clay too far too soon.

What I prefer about my technique, which I developed through being a production potter and have noticed many people on YouTube also have created and use, is that it is adaptable to any size, any shape, works with your anatomy so you’re always in a comfortable place of strength and also gets you pulling your first wall and compressing the rim seamlessly in smooth motion.

Here it is:

To make sure you get exactly what is happening, here it is from another angle:

So as you can see, not only did I open, but I did so easily and smoothly while also pulling a wall and compressing the rim.

Now for those who prefer to read directions, here they are:
(If you are left handed, just reverse the hand positions for yourself and everything will still work)

After opening, keep your left hand on the piece in the same position.

Take your right hand, wet it in your water and leave the sponge in the water.

Keeping your elbows still tucked into your body (up against your rib cage) you want to use either your middle finger or a combination of your middle finger/index finger to open the clay. To do this, relax and rest your hand on the clay and bat. Find the center of the clay with your fingers. Then, only using the muscles in your hand and fingers push down with your fingers. Do not remove your arm from being tucked into your rib cage and make sure to bend your fingers, DO NOT keep them straight and rely on your bones.

You want to go roughly, one knuckle deep depending on your hand size and the size of the clay ball. Basically stop, once you’ve gone past the cuticle (this is based on a ball of clay about the size of your fist).

Continue to curl your finger to create an under hook inside your clay.

Use the muscles in your shoulder and forearm to pull towards you till the clay is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.

Pushing gently forward with your left hand and using the under hook your fingers have created pull the clay upward, becoming more gentle with the pressure from the middle finger as your hand gets higher.

Once your right hand passes beyond the clay, use your left thumb to gently compress the rim.

Remove both hands away gently.

Congratulation you have opened the clay!!!

Make certain to practice this multiple times.

Now, go make something!!!

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

5 Responses to “How to UnF$%k your opening”
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] should pull your walls immediately after opening, click the link if you need a refresher on opening. My style of opening already pulls your first […]


  2. […] Choplet you’ll know that these techniques aren’t as physically demanding as centering, opening or even pulling a […]


  3. […] pushing down a little more with your top hand thus making the clay a little wider and second in opening the ball of clay. Pull the opening a little wider than you usually would. So if you open to an inch-inch and half, […]


  4. […] You’ll want to, of course, center the clay and open it. […]


  5. […] of course start by centering and then opening, however unlike last weeks post on U shaped bows, I’m not going to open wider. Since […]


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