When you’re itching to do the thing you can’t do…

Like devouring the delicious garlicy, buttery, carb’o’licious goodness of garlic bread, fresh out of the oven  (umm… so you can assume part of our dinner tonight).

For one, it’s too hot – saying goodbye to tastebuds isn’t a pleasant experience and two, once its eaten, there’s no spare garlic bread to pair with the meal.

But I didn’t intend on writing a post about garlic bread tonight.

No, I wanted to take advantage of this forced mini-break from my pottery wheel and show you something that I’ve been trialling for the past month.

In case you didn’t know, on Saturday I hurt my right ankle. Sprained it brilliantly as I was walking the washing basket down the back stairs to the machine. I might never do washing again after this incident. The link between washing clothes and pain might prove too strong an association. Thankfully, I woke up this morning with some extra movement and less pain – its healing!


I’m hopeful that come Thursday, I’ll be back on the pottery wheel. You might be thinking, why is an ankle stopping production? Good question. It’s not like I shape the clay with my toes. But I do control the speed of the wheel with my right foot – my venco’s pedal is to the right of the wheel. Just like in a car, I need my right foot to speed up and slow down the wheel.

I’ve got a few special orders to complete and all I want to do is hop on the wheel and bring them to life!  But I’m being a good girl and I’m resting up, using my crutches to get around and wearing my compression bandage. At least the bandage hides the fact that I haven’t shaved my right leg since last Thursday. Too bad I don’t have another to hide the left leg! ha!

But back to business.
For the past month, when I’ve been on the wheel, I’ve been trialling a small change that has created a big difference in my practice.


Can you see what I’m talking about?


Here’s another angle….

It was a hot tip I found when researching how to replace grommets from WSI arts wikispace:

Some potters prefer a seat that is tilted down toward the wheel head, to encourage good posture.

At TAFE, we were encouraged to prop our left foot up with a brick or two so that our feet were at a balanced height when throwing (the right foot is already higher as it rests on the pedal). Since moving to Brisbane and setting up the studio space, I’ve had the wheel propped up on a few bricks as my current chair is slightly higher than my old Melbourne seat. I’ve also been taking advantage of a mirror which helps me ‘see’ each piece I throw. No longer do I lean to the right, craning my neck around, to check out a vessel’s profile. Instead, I look directly at the mirror and it reflects the shape while my neck and back stay straight.

Following the links provided on WSI, I quickly read about the benefits of a titled chair and decided to try it out for myself. Inspired by John Zentner especially, I propped up the back legs of my seat with two wooden blocks.

If seeing is believing, feeling is all-convincing!
My back and hips have been rejoicing with this simple tweak.

I’m now looking into getting some more along the lines of Zentner’s wooden step made…

…a step/shelf which is more stable than the two loose blocks I currently use. But they work! If you are experiencing some tenderness and pain in your lower back, I’d definitely recommend you try tilting your chair. It might not completely alleviate your pain but it has certainly has lessened and reduced mine.

So yes, now I’m even keener to get back on my wheel!! But for tonight, I’ll head to bed and finish off Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Bourne Identity’ – a birthday present from my beloved.

With a big smile for you, Rachel.

4 thoughts on “When you’re itching to do the thing you can’t do…

  1. I find the rest for the left foot useful and I use an adjustable stool which I have on the same level as the wheel head. Still haven’t got into using a mirror… it is in the to do list though…

    1. I’ve found the mirror to be really helpful Anna 🙂 Let me know how you find using one when you get around to it. Thanks for sharing your setup too!!

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