How to Spin Wool With a Potter's Wheel

Faced with a growing pile of dog hair, the author figured out how to spin wool with a potter's wheel and turned that hair into dog wool.

| January/February 1980

When any craftsperson/artist gets involved in more than one line of creative endeavor, it's always rewarding and economical if he or she can use the tools on hand—in an original way—to satisfy the demands of the new project. It was just such a situation that inspired me to figure out how to spin wool with a potter's wheel.

You see, I had been spinning and weaving (with a homemade Navajo spindle) for a year or so, using the combings from my lady Samoyed, Tika. However, the dog's "wool" output had become so voluminous that I seriously began to consider either buying or making a spinning wheel, even though the former proposition involved more money than I could easily afford and the latter required too much time.

A Handy Solution

Then one day it occurred to me that I already had a piece of equipment that went round and round. Realization begat action, and barely an hour later I'd developed a simple spinning device that was based on my potter's kick wheel!

When I began to contemplate this machine's spinning potential, I envisioned having to remove the wheelhead and attach something directly to the exposed shaft. An attempt at that, however, indicated that my yarn would tend to pick up grease from the shaft ... and that the conversion would create unwanted complications when I was ready to switch back to ceramic work.

Luckily, my Brent wheelhead has symmetrically arranged pins (used for the addition of plaster bats) to which—I figured—I could affix a readily removable spinning rig.

Since I'm more familiar with the simple operation of a hand—or drop—spindle than with the workings of a conventional spinning wheel, I went scrounging for a dowel (or something similar) to use for the vertical shaft of my prototype spinner. What caught my eye was a wooden food masher that measured about a foot high.

10/22/2008 11:27:59 PM

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