I was back on the wheel and trying to work on something new this week. It was not easy at the beginning since I had been stopped throwing for a few months. It took me a bit of time to wake up my hand muscles.
I think wheel throwing is probably the best hand exercise; it makes use of every part of your hand. You have to use your palm for coning and centering; thumbs to open the form; knuckle to pull up the clay; fingertips to hold the shape and compress the rim. You also have to be very control on the position and the pressure of your hands, not to mention the way you hold the tools. It sounds very complicated, but once you got a good grip on the skill, your hands could work like a magic wand!
I always admire potter’s hands. They might look rough after years of practice, but the way they manipulate the clay against the speedy wheel is kind of like choreography, moving up and down swiftly and beautifully. To be honest, I am far away from that and still honing my skill. But when I looked at my hands end of the day, covered in clay, slightly swelled and crinkled after long hours soaking in the water, I had a feeling of content and found my hands were beautiful too.