The making of Athenian painted ceramic vases
Throwing gives a vase its general shape by using a potter’s wheel to form the clay. To throw a vase, the desired amount of clay is centered on the rotating wheel. While the wheel rotates, the potter pulls up the clay and forms it to the desired shape. The vase is then cut off the wheel by pulling a wire or cord through the base, and the vase is set aside to dry and harden.
Turning is the process of trimming and removing superfluous or uneven clay in order to refine the shape of a vase or reduce the thickness of its walls after it has been thrown. When the vase has dried to a leather-hard state, it is centered on the wheel again if the shape has to be refined. While the vase rotates, various tools made of wood, metal, or bone are used to trim and refine the shape. Extra clay is removed, and the surface is smoothed with a wet sponge or leather. Details such as grooves can be made at this stage. If the vase has been made in sections, they are now joined, and the whole vase is turned on the wheel.
Burnishing is an essential step in creating a perfectly smooth surface on the vase in preparation for painting. When the clay is leather-hard, the surface of the vase is vigorously rubbed with a hard, smooth object, most likely made of leather, wood, or smooth stone. The process of burnishing compacts and smoothes the surface of the clay, making it shiny and less susceptible to abrasion.