THROWING STANDING UP

This post was made by Eileen Egan, check out her pottery at eileen-egan.com. If you’re interested in posting on our blog, shoot us an email!

I sat at a desk for many years as part of my non-clay life, and I am a combination of very active and apparently clumsy, managing two relatively big sports-related injuries between 2006 and 2011.  Added to that, I’m tall, long-waisted, and lanky, so sitting, be it (the worst) in a vehicle or (the best) at the pottery wheel, makes me feel fidgety, too tall, and like I’m being collapsed like a folding chair.

When I found studio space in 2011, I decided to buy Pacifica’s “B” leg extensions along with my GT800 pottery wheel so that I could throw standing up.

Many potters have written about throwing standing, and I have to echo what many of them say first:  if you are considering a standing wheel because of any injury or pain, talk to your doctor first.

My reasons were not caused by pottery, but I love the idea of throwing comfortably for a long time and knew I already hated sitting.  Here’s what I like about throwing standing up:

  • I’m standing up & that is very comfortable to me. Did I mention how much I dislike sitting?
  • I have a better angle at which to view pots. Being so long-waisted made me feel like I was overshooting the mark when I sat down to lean over the wheel.
  • I have a better sense of the profiles and lips of my bowls. I love to fuss over detail, and those are a couple of them.  My face is much closer to my pots now.
  • It makes for a convenient way to give a demo. As a 5’10” woman, a number of people can see me when I am standing.
  • Standing tends to make me less sedentary and encourages me to mix up what I'm doing (view the pots from across the room, stop to draw designs and cut stamps at my worktable, etc.) when I am lucky enough to have a long day in the studio.

A couple of considerations, neither of which have bothered me:

  • Standing and throwing reminds me to use good form. I brace my upper arms against my sides for stability, and, most importantly, it has made me very aware of where I am applying pressure, especially when I am throwing big. The center of gravity on a standing wheel is much higher, so you can make the wheel want to lean on two legs if you lift clay thoughtlessly.  Upper body strength has also helped me.
  • Not everyone is tall and wants to stand. I need a second wheel for students to use, and demoing for kids at a standing wheel meant they had to stand on chairs to watch.  As you can see, it was adorable, but not ideal for them.

In short, I love it.  I still comfortably throw sitting down at another studio once a week, and it hasn't been a problem, but I prefer throwing standing up.