How It Works

How pottery was made


The potter’s wheel enabled us to easily create round ceramic wares such as pots and gourds. The machine worked by supplying the potter with a rotating circular platform upon which, via hand moulding, clay could be shaped as desired. The rotation was provided by a large kick wheel, which once set in motion – the potter literally kicked it, hence the name – supplied energy to a smaller modelling wheel, which sat above on a metal shaft. As the kick wheel was much bigger than the modelling wheel, it acted as a flywheel, storing rotational energy that could be used to power the modelling plate, which due to its smaller circumference, span at a greater speed.

Thanks to its ease of use, the potter’s wheel remained the method of choice for making pottery for many millennia, eventually evolving to be driven by a motor.