I am a retired pottery teacher. I have not used the QuickCenter device.
This is what works well for my students.
1. Make centering easier by starting with soft clay that is not too large for their hands. About 1.5 to 2 pounds. After they know how to center, they can try firmer clay when they make their taller work.
2. The clay must be kneaded (and/or wedged) until it is perfectly lump free.
3. The first assignment is to make small bowls of any form. They are to make twice as many small bowls as they will fire. Small bowls are easy and students get the needed practice to learn centering and opening before facing the frustrations of raising.
4. The number of bowls should be as many as time allows. No bowls are fired unless they have a properly trimmed foot rim, but they can invent their own foot rim style.
5. Nothing is fired unless the student as made and trimmed two or more bowls. Then the student has to select the best half of what they have trimmed. They know in advance that they will be asked to soak half of their practice pieces, but all pieces must be trimmed before they can be counted and sorted. I have them discuss their bowls with two other students before they make their choice.
I also require decoration on each bowl before it can be counted and sorted, but this part is not to teach throwing. My decoration requirement is for them to learn more about art and design concepts, how to get ideas, and so forth. By discarding half of their first attempts they get over some of their fear of decorating. We take some class time when I have them do a bunch of hands-on decorating processes on some clay, just for technique practice. They have to think of their own content. I have them make individual content lists of personal subject matter content using a conversation game.
HOW TO HOLD HANDS TO CENTER, OPEN, & RAISE
I have posted some photos of the hand positions so that the body is used to hold steady during centering. Search Learning to Throw by Bartel. If you are a teacher, send me a note and I will send you permission to make copies to laminate and put at your wheel for students to refer to when they are having trouble.
HOW I DEMO THROWING
The best way that I found to do the beginning throwing demo Is in a classroom that haS enough wheels for every student who was learning to throw to sit and do it as I do the demo. We arrange the wheels in a circle facing inward so that I as well as each student can begin with a piece of clay at the same time. I showed them what to do and what not to do. We go one mini-step at a time. We stay with each mini-step until every student in the circle has achieved that step.
If we have only a few wheels, this can require a lot of demos, but even with only three wheels, It may be a good way to start. Two hands-on volunteers are first students to participate while the rest of the class observes. They see the actual learning specifics and points of difficulty. This demo process can be then be repeated with other students when the wheels become available for additional students to learn the basics. Some students may learn it without having the hands-on coaching session if they watch often enough.
Throwing is a skill a bit like first learning to ride a bicycle. Once you get it, it is a lot of fun to do. In a sense, learning to throw, is like learning to draw (except in drawing I do not demonstrate). Neither throwing or drawing is art unless it is done artistically. these are skills that we use to make art. Throwing gives students another very enjoyable way to make pottery and sculpture. This might be art. According to Daniel Pink, in DRIVE, mastery is one of the three most best human motivators.
On Feb 2, 2011, at 7:42 PM, RalphandGretchen wrote:
Have any of you out there used the Brent QuickCenter device with students or
personally? How would you rate it in terms of ease of use by beginners?
Thank you, Gretchen Schultz