Thrown Pottery and the pottery wheel

A leading development in the world of craft and design that took some time to arrive is the pottery wheel. The wheels of early potters were more like ‘Lazy Susans’ or ‘Turntables’ that were spun by hand to make it easier to make a pot. Like the current potters’ wheel, the clay was not meant to be worked at speed, and the wheel itself would most likely have been made of baked clay, stone or wood, pivoting on a peg. These wheels were possibly in everyday use from as early as 5000 B.C. across large stretches of the Middle East, Far East and parts of India.

The wheels got faster.

Most potters in Europe and Asia used the fast wheel by the time the next century rolled around, which used a platform similar to the slow wheel, except the platform rotated more like a toy top on an axle. The potters started with a lump of clay sitting on the wheel, then gave a good spin or kick to the wheel, allowing them through the spinning motion to draw the pot out of the clay. A significant technical advancement was the fast wheel since it made it possible to function quickly and replicate the same design. Electricity’s invention gave us the motorised potter’s the wheel we know today.

Pottery remains one of the most common and commercial of all artisan practises in today’s craft and design world. Few things invoke the human spirit as much as a handmade pot, with its delicious imperfections and thumbprints of the creator, with all the durability and uniformity of factory-made ceramics. Today, due in part to internet websites such as Etsy and Instagram, the ceramics culture is more diverse and connected than at any other time offering manufacturers a chance to both communicate with and sell to a broad audience.

MASHIKO, JAPAN – 1971: A Japanese potter shapes a clay teacup on his potter’s wheel in Mashiko, Japan, a town known for centuries for its traditional handmade pottery and stoneware. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Stress releasing

Thrown pottery because it is rhythmic, repetitive activity that makes use of your hands and delivers an effort-based reward that can alter your brain chemistry by boosting serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. A quality that forces the creator to slowly read, respond, and understand the material they are working with is also wonderfully unpredictable. Thrown pottery, with its need to turn off certain parts of the brain and interact with others, is often compared to meditation. At the same time, others enjoy the concept of producing or owning a one-of-kind piece that they use every day and engage with.

A woman takes a ceramics private lesson at a workshop in Moscow on February 12, 2011. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Arts and Craft movement took place at the end of the 19th century it connected many outstanding creative talents across Europe and North America. It responded to the dehumanising trends of industrialisation by rediscovering the dignity of labour in workshops, influenced by an idealised vision of the Middle Ages, rooted in the teachings of John Ruskin and exemplified in William Morris’ work.

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