John Colbeck Kneeding and Wedging Clay at La Meridiana

Taking and watching these two short videos are how I learnt how to prepare clay. John Colbeck is an experienced ceramicist who teaches at La Meridiana every year. He has written many books including this one on throwing.

And this one on materials.

If you have to mix clays of different consistencies, colours, or just want to thoroughly mix some old clay then wedging is the way forward. John said if you follow this cutting, turning and bashing technique twenty times then the clay should be ready. Sometimes it doesn't take a full twenty times, sometimes more. 

I spent my mornings at La Meridiana spiral kneeding before breakfast, as Michael Cardew suggests is the way to learn. The problem was that I was doing it all wrong before watching John; the lump of clay would inch away, riding along the bench, getting away from me. Taking the following two videos, watching them repeatedly and practicing allowed me to get them. Spiral kneeding should not tire you out, it is all about using your body weight to press down, not your arms. John makes it look as easy, as it should be.