How to Use Throwing Tools
Gyubera (literally "cow's tongue" in Japanese) is a traditional tool used in Arita,
a major pottery center in Kyushu, Japan, known for its delicate porcelain ware.
This traditional tool works equally well with stone and porcelain clay.
It is used to shape the bottom and sides of a bowl, or to expand a cylinder into a bowl. Also, the
shorter version can be used to compress the bottom of a
plate or bowl.
The Marugote A and B
After opening a cylinder with the Gyubera tool,
the Marugote is used to create a curve on the side wall.
The Marugote can also be used to compress a piece's bottom.
Unlike a flat, rubber rib, the Marugote's gently rounded
surface will not scrape up clay.
What is the difference between Maugote A and B? A is used
to create a bigger curve, and B is used to create a
smaller curve (on the side wall of the piece). The smaller
round end of Marugote B is the perfect tool to round out
the sharp transition from a piece's bottom to its side wall.
Tsurunokubi ("crane's neck" in Japanese) is very useful for
shaping the inside side wall of tall or small-necked pieces
(such as flower vases and sake bottles) which are too narrow to
get a hand inside.
Throwing a large-bottomed piece by pulling the clay out
with your fingers can be challenging -- but that is not the
only way to do it. If large bowls and plates frustrate you,
try this method!
First, place your left elbow on your thigh as an anchor.
Then, rest your left fingers outside of the clay, and put
your right hand over your left hand (resting your left thumb
on right hand).
Using your right hand's heel
(below your little finger, when the hand joins your arm)
push out on the clay towards the 11 oclock position (just to
the left of center). Do not let the rotation of wheel effect
The pictures below show a piece with the bottom already
opened. However, you can use this method as soon as there
is an opening in the center of the clay wide enough for
Once the piece has reached the desired size, it will be
easy to compress or flatten its bottom with a Gyubera or