Ceramics Learning Center

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

There’s so much to learn!

In the spirit of generosity, the following ceramic art teachers and a LOT more like them share their pottery skills on Youtube.  We’ve made it easy for you to learn from these pottery teachers by making their work available here on our digital home away from home. 

We’re eternally grateful for the gifts of they so freely share. We know that their wisdom and mastery didn’t come easily, rather it was earned the hard way.
It’s made all the difference for us and we’d like to share them with you. If you would like to contact any of the artists featured here, click on their video and find them online. 

Enjoy Learning! 


Hsin-Chuen Lin
In this foundational lesson on throwing, pulling, and lifting a cylinder. This lesson is perfect for novice potters as well as for intermediate potters who want to tighten their technique. Check it out and then make space for your own art retreat – a day or two when you dig into this skill and master it!

If you never had a ceramics teacher take the time to patiently walk you through the foundational process of pulling a cylinder, you’ll be so glad for this focused tutorial. Lin pays special attention to hand placement during both opening and lifting and demonstrates successful opens and lifts by cutting through his pieces to show off the internal structure of the vessel walls.

Here is what Lin covers in this video:

• Opening the clay, with a focus on hand placement

• Pull the clay

• Compress the rim

• Add water or slip to the inside and outside of the vessel

• Collar the vessel

• Repeat!

• Using rib tools in the final shaping of the pot

• A wooden rib for smoothing and pulling

• A flexible metal rib to define curves

Carol Bell Centers and Throws 13 Pounds with the Strong Arm Centering Tool

If you’ve ever wanted to throw a large quantity of clay, but aren’t sure you’re up for centering it, you might want to check out Carol Bell’s demonstration of the Strong Arm Centering Tool. This is a mechanism made of rotating wooden paddles and a hefty metal “finger.” The entire tool is permanently mounted onto her wheel with screws.

Here at Art Escape, we have two Strong Arms. One is attached to the wheel and the other to our stand-up work station.

In this video, she throws 13 pounds. She places it in an approximated center on the wheel head, patting the clay down firmly to make sure it won’t go anywhere when she begins to apply pressure.

Then, she pulls the wooden paddle of the Strong Arm toward the clay, anchoring it inside her right knee. It’s amazing how quickly that lump of clay becomes perfectly centered!

After her large ball of clay is centered (which happens astoundingly quickly!) she creates a shallow well in the top of the mound. Into this well, she pulls the “opening finger” of the Strong Arm tool.  This “finger” is attached to a secondary paddle that rotates forward and moves down as she pulls down on the paddle. Using water and slip to wet the clay as usual, she opens the clay with the finger, and simultaneously uses her own fingers to pull the opening outward.

When she’s done with the Strong Arm, she’s able to do a slow pull upward, compressing the rim now and then to strengthen and smooth it.  After just a few minutes, she’s pulled a generously sized, perfectly true jardiniere, or planter pot!

Strong Arm Centering Tools are handmade in New York and come in a variety of mounting styles, including wall mount, clamp, wheel mount. 

They run just under $300, so they’re not cheap, but if you’re planning to produce a good number of larger vessels or if for any reason you don’t want to have to work hard to center your clay, this is an investment you will not regret.

Giffin Grip Demonstration by Brian Giffin

The Giffin Grip is a modified bat made especially for trimming. It uses a triangulation of three movable supports which hold and center various sized vessels.  This means, no sticking a pot to the wheel with lumps of clay that might move or be slightly off center.

In this quick video, Brian trims a foot on a mug and then moves on to a wider bowl, demonstrating the versatility of the Giffin Grip. For the wider bowl, he chooses a different set of “grips” – wide sliders, which offer more surface area to support the bowl.

He suggests that in order to place the pot perfectly on center, the potter should first touch only two of the sliders to the pot, and then lightly adjust by wiggling the pot a bit before moving the third grip to the pot.

He finishes up the foot with a bit of burnishing and a signature. Honestly, Brian’s videos are so mesmerizing that they make me want to get into the Art Escape studio and trim the pots and bowls that I’ve had well covered for several weeks!

If you’re interested in trying out a Giffin Grip, check out Brian’s website. He shares ideas for using the grip in a variety of ways and includes a list of outlets where you can purchase his products, or, come on over to Art Escape and use ours!