The Beginner’s Guide to Wheel Throwing by Julia Claire Weber

The Beginner’s Guide to Wheel Throwing: A Complete Course for the Potter’s Wheel by Julia Claire Weber


As recipients of a new pottery wheel, fresh off the Amazon truck in my kids’ school supply purchase, I was keen to grab a book that would help us all learn to use it well. I read this one cover to cover as soon as it arrived. Julia Claire Weber has a gift for explaining how to use clay to beginners of all ages. We began initially with free play to get a feel for/sense of what the types of clay could do. Then we took turns to follow the directions for Traditional Bowl (page 36) with inconsistent success. My 10yo daughter hated her bowl and scrapped it. My 12yo son loved his. I tried several times, but couldn’t manage a shape I liked with the now-too-wet clay. We let it dry out again and tried again a week later.

We grabbed The Beginner’s Guide to Hand Building from the local library + began to play with hand building while someone else used the wheel, slowly accumulating techniques that worked for us. After weeks + weeks of play, we found calm in the wheel and our clay play that had everything to do with the process and nothing much to do with the final product, which varied wildly. It has been so much fun to learn to use the wheel with this book – even without a lot of final products to show for it.

One small tip from a parent: if you’re teaching kids, wait until summer! The hardest part of clay art is the cleanup, but it’s a breeze with the hose. For winter, which is when our wheel arrived, we set a tarp over the kitchen floor + still found clay spatters on the wall, the trash, etc. Just saying that it’s as much fun as it is messy.

I highly recommend The Beginner’s Guide to Wheel Throwing for its simple format, full + precise directions, + ease of use. We also enjoyed perusing the gallery of products + admiring what practice could do for this art. After all of our play, the kids have added a kiln to next year’s supply list. (Can’t say I blame them!) While we have not worked our way up to the more detailed pieces in this book + I have no reference for you on whether they’d work, we’re finding that we improve each time we use the wheel now. I’m looking forward to some solid clay planters by the end of summer.

FROM THE Publisher… “Welcome to the wheel, from artist and instructor Julia Claire Weber. In The Beginner’s Guide to Wheel Throwing, you’ll find all you need to develop the skills (and patience) you need to make your first forms.”

Who is this book written for?

All ages of beginners who want to work with clay on a pottery wheel. No wheel? Learn to build by hand with this book’s sister wife, The Beginner’s Guide to Hand Building, instead.