ClayCraft Q&A

Every month we are asking your questions to our panel of experts.

We have a great team of recognised experts in Jacqui Atkin, Alan Ault, Billy Byles, Kevin Millward, James Otter and Alan Parris. They have extensive knowledge across all the areas of pottery, and are here to help guide you through the intricacies of this wonderful subject.

Question from Issue 2

Q: I’ve joined an evening class and have just started throwing. Everyone else seems to be able to do it, but I’m really struggling. My clay sometimes flies off the wheel, and I don’t seem to be able to get the hang of centering. Sometimes I can’t do it at all, other times I think I’ve got it but when I start to lift the sides, the pot’s off centre. Help! 

PE, Cambs

A – Kevin Millward answers: If the clay’s coming off the wheel, either the wheel head or the clay is too wet. Metal wheel heads are easily over-wetted, and become slippery. It should be just damp – wipe a sponge over it, don’t splash on lots of water with your hand. If the surface of the clay is too wet because you’ve handled it with wet hands, wipe it with a towel, or put it to one side for a while to dry out.

For your second point, if the rim seems centered but the body of the form isn’t, you are not applying enough pressure with the hand that’s controlling the side of the clay. It needs to be held more rigidly. Make sure that both your hands are braced correctly against each other. The Skill School feature on page 8 shows the right positioning for your hands and fingers. Remember it can take a while, but one day it’ll just click and you’ll have it. Practice, practice, practice!

Do you have a problem with your clay? Is a certain technique eluding you? Do you need the low-down on firing? 

So, if you have a question, however big or small, just email it to and we’ll answer it.

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