Throwing pots left handed
I put the following post on a Facebook group recently, questioning how to teach left handed people how to throw pots and in particular what wheel direction you should use. The responses were so interesting I thought it would be worth sharing them on my blog;
How do you teach throwing to left handed people? I have only ever had wheels that spin anti clockwise, so I have always taught the same hand positions (more or less) whether people are right handed or left handed.
I have just bought a new wheel that has the option to spin clockwise. Should I now teach left handed people on the clockwise wheel with their hands the opposite way round (for opening out and lifting the wall)?
I’m left handed and I throw right handed with tons of left handed habits. Just teach right handed, they will figure it out (at least I did)
I’m left handed and teach students that are left and right handed. I practiced throwing clockwise and counter clockwise so I can demonstrate on either side of the clay. If I have to fix something gone a bit wild, I switch the direction of the wheel to my preferred direction if necessary to get things back under control.
I teach left and right handed the same way, spinning anti clockwise. To me it’s a bit like playing piano, throwing requires working with both hands. There are minor differences for left or right handed but the principle is the same.
I’m a leftie who doesn’t believe we should throw any differently. There is no such thing as a left handed piano; both your hands are doing something equally important, there is no dominant hand.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re left handed or right handed. Japanese and Koreans throw with the wheel spinning clockwise, and the rest of the world throws with it spinning anti-clockwise. Both hands are needed to throw, so it doesn’t really make a difference which your dominant hand is. The other one just needs to learn more.
I’ve taught hundreds of people. They struggle wayyyy less when you switch the wheel. Make the effort to try to learn their direction. It makes a huge difference
I’m totality left dominant and started learning with the wheel going counter clock wise.. I was in a tec school program with a good instructor. I made some progress over several weeks, but when I switched the wheel it felt intuitively right to me. I think it is more about body position,, orientation in space,, direction of lean …etc. I teach both right and left handed people.
Some people are more at ease with the wheel going one way than the other, there is no rule really, I have left-handed students who throw like a righty and turn like a lefty! What works best is the correct technique. Another reason for using a kick wheel
I throw right handed as a left handed person. If they have never thrown before + they won’t know there is another way. As an adult I have become much more ambidextrous because of computer use. I’m sure the kids are the same way.
So what I do is start off teaching by letting the student experience both left handed and right handed. I start off doing it the right handed way because I am right handed and then if I see they have difficulty, I turn the wheel on in the opposite direction. The student makes the decision which way they prefer.
Throwing is a two handed process. In Japan they spin the wheel the other way and that is nothing to do with right or left handedness. Just carry on as normal. The psychology is interesting. Potentially the focus may be on the inside instead of the outside of the pot which affects the results in an interesting way
I reverse the wheel and my hand positions with left handed people and sit opposite them. But I have found a lot of left handed people are not fully left, many prefer throwing right handed.
Everything is the same it is just a different dominate hand. So before you speak or show someone, think of what you do with your right hand and do the same with the left, and vice versa. Trimming and everything is easier for some left handed people when you change wheel direction.
I am left handed and was taught the right handed way I believe when you don’t know anything at all it doesn’t matter you learn the way you are taught! Was so funny the subject was never brought up when I was learning. And months later my teach said, “wow you’re a lefty?” And I said yes, she laughed and said well now you’re a right handed potter!
I am left handed and learned right handed. All you are doing is having the strong hand inside the form like they do in Japan. Handedness isn’t important on an electric non-kick wheel.
I’m left handed. I throw on a counter clockwise wheel. It is a two handed process. Neither hand is dominant.
I find that the issue isn’t often with throwing but with trimming. Most people can learn to throw either way, but trimming is a whole other story. I teach with my wheel turning clockwise and just explain and demonstrate the different hand positions
I’ve been throwing for 43 years, teaching for 20: left handed potters throwing counter clockwise have the advantage, as the left hand is inside, and easier to control the form that way.
I would demo counter clockwise to my beginning wheel students. After observing them for a few class meetings if I noticed any that were really struggling I would ask if they were left handed and have them try throwing with wheel going clockwise. For some VERY left handed students having wheel going clockwise helped.
I am also left-handed, and throw counter clockwise. Both hands have such important jobs at different times that I honestly think unless you are truly ambidextrous it doesn’t really matter. I have wheels that switch and give students the option but few of them choose to do so.
No matter which hand starts out weaker (and brain stupider), it will strengthen both physically and neurologically until they’re pretty much equal, regardless if you’re throwing counter clockwise in the US or clockwise in most other countries.
I am a left handed teacher with 27 years’ experience & all my students are taught to throw with the wheel going counter clockwise. Pulling is done at the 5:00 position.
Well they are using both hands. I wouldn’t focus on right handed or left handed because some cultures learn to throw with the wheel going clockwise regardless of what of what hand they use. My teacher taught me that it’s not about left or right. It’s about what you prefer. Let your student experience throwing both ways.
I’m left handed and my left handed pottery instructor taught me to throw right handed as she does, simply because many pottery wheels don’t switch direction for left handed throwing. Also, we left handers, living in a right handed world our whole lives (door knobs, car ignitions and switches for example are all right handed), so we are very adaptable. Plus, since our dominant hand would be inside the pot being thrown, we have an advantage supposedly too.
If the wheel has an option for lefties this is what I do:
First I teach the right handed way. Then I adjust the switch to spin for left handed and tell the student to do everything opposite what I say. Once they have experienced both I allow them to choose. More times than not they continue to throw like right handed folks
Both hands have different, but equally important roles to play and I teach this to my students. There really is no left/right dominance issue when you think in this way
As a leftie I prefer a clockwise spin. Tried for ages the other way and when I changed the direction it just clicked. So talk about which hand the clay catches, or the dominant hand rather than right or left. Let them try both way and see what feels best
The same way you teach right handed people! Both hands have to work together to get it done. It doesn’t matter which hand is dominate. I can throw in either direction. Clockwise or counter clockwise.
I’ve always had all wheels going counter clockwise. It is so new to students working with both hands together that right or left handedness doesn’t really make a difference. The students whom I have taught and and throw have also told me that handedness us not an issue.
The responses show that nothing conclusive can be drawn from this question. There is clearly no such thing as a right handed or a left handed wheel when traditionally in different parts of the world people have learnt how to throw with the wheel spinning in only one direction regardless of what their dominant hand is (Japan – Clockwise, Europe – anti-clockwise). I think there is a strong case for arguing that both hands are of equal importance when throwing, so does the direction that the wheel spins really matter when learning? (I suppose I could test this theory by attempting to learn how to throw with the wheel spinning clockwise).
Some left handed people are happy making pots with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise and some prefer the wheel spinning clockwise. My feelings are that centering and opening the clay out can be learnt with the wheel spinning either way, no matter what your dominant hand is. The question is when you lift the wall do you prefer to work at 4/5 o’clock with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise, or do you prefer to work at 6/7 o’clock with the wheel spinning clockwise? Interestingly a few people have commented that with the wheel spinning anti clockwise a left handed person is at advantage when lifting a wall, as this puts their dominant hand inside the pot and so gives them more control over shaping the pot.
One thing I have discovered and a number of replies confirm this is that when turning a pot, left handed people seem to prefer the wheel spinning clockwise as with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise it puts them on their backhand.
After much reflection on this issue, I have decided to continue teaching with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise regardless of which hand is dominant. I am partially forced into this anyway, as four of the five wheels we have at Bentham Pottery only spin anti-clockwise. However if a left handed person is really struggling I will swap the wheel direction (on the one wheel I have that allows me to do this) and see if that improves their technique. I will offer left handed people the option of turning with a clockwise wheel, as I think this definitely helps them.