History of Ceramics: The Pottery Wheel
The history of ceramics goes way back, well before 20,000 B.C.
The pottery throwing wheel is an important device in the history of ceramics. The pottery throwing wheel or potter’s wheel consists of a wheel with an axle running through it. It is an example of a simple machine.
Potter’s Wheel in Frankfurt, Germany-Image via Wikipedia
Pottery throwing wheels made their first appearance in the world of ceramics from as far back as about 3000 BC.
A potter’s wheel found in Ur (modern day Iraq) has been dated to this period of time.
Pottery Making in Nepal-Image via Wikipedia
The history of ceramics includes older methods of pottery making, such as coiling and beating.
The clay would usually be placed on mats or some other flat surface that could be turned so that the potter could get to all sides without getting up and walking around.
With the invention of the wheel potters found that they could easily and quickly manipulate the clay to form whatever shape they chose, while it was spinning at speeds of up to 240 rotations per minute (rpm).
Pottery Being Shaped as it Turns on a Potter’s Wheel-Image via Wikipedia
The mechanics behind this process is based on mechanical advantage. The potter’s wheel lessens the work that has to be done to move and turn the clay and led to greater creativity in ceramics design. The first bowls with stems were made after the potter’s wheel was invented.
Tsuboya-yaki Pottery from Okinawa Island, Japan-Image via Wikipedia
The first pottery wheels were mechanical. They are also known as kick wheels.
The first pottery wheel powered solely by electricity was made in the 20th century, about 1920. The first adaptable wheel for physically challenged persons was designed by AMACO-Brent in 1982. The American Art Clay Company (AMACO) made the first electric kiln for school and studio use.
Pottery made by Studio Artists at Wheaton Village Arts and Cultural Center, New Jersey-Image via Wikipedia
Potters today usually have a preference for a particular type of wheel.
Some potters prefer the electrical wheel and give reasons such as its portability-they are lighter and can be easily moved from place to place. They are also less expensive than kick wheels.
Others would never part with their mechanical wheel because they prefer to be able to control the speed more easily. Kick wheels also have a longer lifespan, on average, than electrical wheels.
Potter’s Kick Wheel-Image via Wikipedia
Brent, Skutt-Thomas Stuart, Pacifica and Creative Industries are among the brands which have built a reputation for producing sturdy, reliable potter’s wheels.
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