How Much Clay Is Too Much Clay To Throw?

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Throwing clay is an ancient Greek method of sculpting pottery that comes from the old word ‘thrawan’ (which means to twist and turn). ‘Throwing pots’ is the historically correct term that the potters use. A perfect throw gives an advantage to the walls at the right height.


The air pockets are removed in the initial stage, and the clay is thrown directly to the center to keep the spinning wheel in motion. The speed is customizable throughout the process according to the required movement. Next, the thumbs press the vessel into shape at the exterior and interior walls. The typical amount of clay is 2 pounds, but you might need to work hard for thick vessels.


Factors To Consider Before Throwing Clay

Proper measurement of a clay sculpture depends on the clay weight and thickness of the walls. While throwing it, you must calculate your clay pot’s weight according to your vessel’s size and dimensions. The thickness of the pots is affected by the speed of the motion of your potter’s wheel.


So, here are the factors you must consider before throwing clay and crafting a pottery piece from it.


  • Size Of Clay: Squeeze the water and press a finger down the center of the smaller clay piece. Then create a V-shaped hole in the center with an angle of the fingers. Keep stability of the larger portion of clay with one hand and use the thumb to guide.
  • The Thickness Of The Vessel: To ascertain the thickness of the bottom, you need to trim it. It should have a minimum thickness of 3/8 or ½ inches to cut the bottom. For an untrimmed base, it has to be ¼ inches thick for low and medium-weighted vessels.
  • Removing The Excessive Weight: The thickness of the bottom of the pots determines the weight that is important for the sculpture. Squeeze the extra clay off to get the uniform thickness of the vessel.


What Is The Right Amount Of Clay To Be Thrown?

The optimum weight of clay balls to start throwing on a potter’s wheel is 2 lbs. However, since the process of making large amounts of clay flat, centering, and distributing can be difficult, one must learn to manage at least 40 to 50 lbs of clay.



Besides, there are variations in the amounts of clay used in different pottery vessels. The amount of clay primarily depends on how you throw and trim a foot or the flat bottom. However, ensure to coordinate their motion to the spinning vessel on the wheel to get better results.


The Challenge Of Throwing Large Amounts Of Clay

There are specific challenges in throwing large amounts of clay on the potter’s wheel. Some of them are discussed below. Have a look!


1.  Amount Of Clay

You might need enough practice to determine the clay content. The amount of clay you use for a particular object should be multiplied by 1.13 because of shrinkage. The amount of clay will change depending on how tall your pot’s foot is and whether the trimming is done.


You will need more clay per cubic centimeter for the thick walls in proportion to a larger pot. While you use more clay, the practice will make you more skilled. You need more clay for better and taller pots, and you might need to trim the extra clay.


2. Dimensions And Weight Of Clay

You should buy half a pound of clay, and the dimensions of one pound of clay must be 13cm x 7cm x 4cm. For solid walls, you need to move forward from the common practice of creating thin walls because thick walls are more intact.


However, for repetitive throwing or production, use a chart to measure the clay weight at the throwing stage. The clay’s weight must match the pot’s dimensions because excessive clay can make the pot too heavy to carry. The standard throwing thickness is 3/16 inches for small objects and 3/8 inches for larger items, but you must customize according to the throwing type, which can be thin or thick.


But with different-shaped pottery items, the clay weight to be thrown vary. For example, a wide bowl needs extra clay left at the bottom to support the walls. On the contrary, a pot with a thick foot at the bottom and height needs more clay.


So, here are some pottery items listed, along with their typical clay thickness and weight for throwing.

Pottery Item

Thickness Of Clay For Throwing

Weight Of Clay For Throwing

5 inches
12 oz
Large mug
7 inches
16 oz
Small cup
2.75 inches
14 oz
1 inch
1 lb 4 oz
Small bowl
3 inches
1 lb
Soup bowl
3 inches
2 lb
Medium plate
1 inch
4 lbs
Large plate
1.25 inches
5 lbs
Large bowls
6 inches
5 lb 12 oz
Small bowls
3 inches
1lb 6 oz
Medium bowl
4.5 inches
4 lb
Coffee pot
11 inches
4 lb
Large mixing bowl
4.5 inches
4 lb



3. Selection And Control Of Clay

For throwing large clay bodies, use softer clay and throw it dry to avoid losing shape. Don’t use your fingers when using heavy weights of clay to throw. You should use your knuckles as fingers are used for small objects. It will be tough to control the clay or in lifting it.


Throwing a large pot needs less water, and lubrication is recommended for the softer clay. Beginners should start with smaller objects of 5 pounds of clay. You must use heavier clay that is hard too for heavier vessels and shape it with constant pulls and pressure.


Tools For Throwing Clay

You need a pottery wheel that can be simple or professional. You need 2 buckets to clean the pottery clay. You might also need towels and sponges for the messy process. Use polishing and sandpaper to improve your craft from the level of basic hand sculpting.


However, apart from the mentioned items, here are some essential tools that are a must to have for throwing clay.


  • A Good Quality Of Clay

The clay must be molded to push the air bubbles out, and the plaster must absorb the moisture. Ball clay or porcelain is recommended for throwing clay. Smooth stoneware and earthenware clay have the perfect texture and are also long-lasting.


Earthenware is porous and is perfect for shaping and molding the vessels on the wheel. You can easily use Bastex Low Fire Pottery Clay for your next pottery project and create fantastic pottery pieces.



  • Chamois

It is a product of about 2-4 inches used to compress and smooth the edges of thrown vessels.

It is a type of porous leather that is absorbent, and natural, and a trim tool that gives a perfect finish to the pots.



You can shape a pot perfectly by throwing the right amount of clay on the spinning pottery wheel. The methods of this process are hand building, slamming, and slip casting. Slamming the clay makes it stick to the wheel, which is the original action of the process of throwing.


Interestingly, it is a relaxing outlet for potters, and the finishing can be done with the tools for better quality than what can be achieved by the basic exercise of the hands.

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