Monday, April 1, 2013

How to Turn Your Flexshaft Into a Potter's Wheel

Last month, I took a pottery class at The Pottery Loft Studio in Everett, Washington. Evelia Sanchez (below left, with my lovely classmate Karin) took us through all of the necessary steps to throw a clay pot, from how to kneed the clay, loading the clay onto the wheel and work the clay before opening it into a pot.  That's me below, working on my pot and the pot finished and embellished a bit. I had a blast!


Of course, I immediately wanted to go out and buy a potter's wheel...but reality set in and I knew I had not the time or funds to go down this path. But, like most new techniques I learn, it haunted my brain. I really wanted to make some small forms to incorporate into my other work, but found handforming cumbersome. And then it hit me, I had everything I needed right at home!

Before I proceed, I should mention that this tutorial, although it feels like an April Fools joke is real!

Creating a Potter's Wheel Using a Flexshaft

1. Gather your supplies. You will need a round Ziploc container lid, screw mandrel and some silicone adhesive.

2. Drill a hole in the center of the lid (which is marked with a divot), place the lid on the screw mandrel with the screw on the inside of the lid, and apply silicon around the mandrel to prevent water for dripping through onto your handpiece.

3. Place your flexible shaft handpiece in a vise. I have a nylon attachment that holds my handpiece, helping me to avoid damaging the handpiece and giving it a good, firm grip. Throw a lump of kneeded clay onto the lid, centered as best you can. Make sure it is adhered to the lid. Place a bowl of water nearby.

4. Using your foot pedal, start the "wheel" spinning, very slowly. This reminded me why I need a new pedal. Mine, the standard one that comes with a Foredom, is very touchy and hard to keep at a low speed. Moisten the clay and your fingers. Position two fingers on each side of the clay, and one finger on the other side, giving it gentle pressure. On a full size wheel this would be your whole hands.

5. Keep adding water as needed by dipping your fingers in the bowl. Once the clay raises, use your finger to push it back down. You are working towards making sure the clay is truly centered, and that there is no wobble as you work the clay up and down. What I kept forgetting to do was anchor my hand by placing my thumb on top of the other thumb. This has come up in both the pottery class and a flexshaft class I took. It allows for more control.


6. Once the clay goes back down into a squat cylinder, it is time to open the pot. Gently place a finger on top of the clay,pushing downwards and then pushing the clay between your finger and the thumb on the outside (once again forgetting to anchor my thumb). I also tried opening the pot using a nail set. It worked perfectly and I had more control (below).

I still have a lot more playing (lot more = years) before I get my ceramics skills down, but the wheel worked just fine. I will, however, be seeking a slightly firmer lid with a bigger lip. My shirt, my dust collector hood and my morning coffee took the brunt of the spray when I got a little crazy with the water!

Create recklessly this week!



  1. you are a( i want to use expletive here but....) genius! I love living my life vicariously through you.. And I don't have to clean up after! Please keep on amazing all of us! xo

  2. you sure named your blog appropriately--you are so crazy and fun to watch...I agree with Vicki on that one! For me lighting my torch is creating recklessly....

  3. Hey, I think that a plastic bowl would be more sturdy and the side may contain some of the water.

  4. I just discovered your blog today after reading your interview on the wire-sculpture site. This is such a fabulous idea! I am enjoying taking a little tour through your blog. I love your motto, "Create Recklessly."