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.