a vase by means of a wheel (its moving mechanism has been
modified down the centuries), dates back to the middle of
the IV millennium B.C.; it was first used in Mesopotamia and
later spread to the rest of Asia Minor; in the second millennium
it was first used by Cretan and later by Greek vase-makers.
In the VIII century B.C. it spread to Italy and from here
to the whole Danube basin.
The foot-driven potter’s wheel appeared later and to
date has still not been affected by substantial structural
modifications. The potter’s wheel is made of two circular
planes fixed to the central spinning axis. The lower wheel
is larger and forces the smaller upper wheel to make rotational
movements (the lump of clay to be modelled is placed on top
of this wheel); the spin is given by the vase-maker’s
foot or in modern potter’s wheels, by an electric motor.
The potter’s wheel allowed the vase-maker to improve
and elaborate production so as to meet the increasing demands
of the community where he lived. The clay that is used for
throwing must be accurately mixed and prepared in quite big
lumps according to the object to be shaped.
The first phase of modelling is centering: this is carried
out by forcefully throwing the lump of clay onto the spinning
pulley; the left hand placed slightly onto the surface of
the pulley gently pushes the clay lump towards the centre
of the disk and is aided by the right hand that pushes it
in the opposite way; the arms are placed in a rigid position,
especially the left that has to be kept very close to the
The clay mass is moved towards the top and then back towards
the bottom with the pressure of the lower part of the hand
palms. This operation is used both for mixing clay and for
the centering. The following phase is the opening, which is
carried out by pressing the mass centre with one finger. The
hands are always positioned so as to keep the clay mass to
the centre of the spinning pulley. When the hands get dry,
it is necessary to wet them with water so as to increase the
plasticity and ductility of the material. The side lifting
is carried out by slightly pressing the inner surface with
one hand, while keeping the other hand on the outside of the
This operation has to be repeated several times, starting
from the bottom and gradually rising up to the ends of the
It is necessary to be cautious and wet hands whenever necessary.
It is also important to check that the edge is uniform. The
accomplished vase is then detached from the pulley by sliding
a steel wire through the base of the pulley level. When the
turned objects have reached a level of hardness that allows
handling without causing any deformation, they have to be
refined through suitable tools. An adequate tool must be used
also for making the supporting foot so as to avoid the enamel
sticking to the firing level during firing phases.