Beaten By A Machine Powered Potter: Passing the Torch to the New Pottery World Record Holder

March 7th, 2016 we made history. A team of people documented me setting a new Guinness World Records™ title for ‘most pots thrown in one hour by an individual’ by throwing 159 pots in one hour, on a kick-wheel: 

Today I discovered that someone else beat it, on an electric wheel.

Congrats to James T. Calhoun, who made 193 and set the new Pottery World Record. Seriously, I’m happy for you, Jim! He is the new official record holder as shown here, and he probably won’t be the last potter to beat it (many other people have attempted just this year).

It’s extremely difficult to attempt, even on an electric wheel. Guinness World Records has extremely high, difficult standards and guidelines, that you can learn about here. 

My time in the limelight is over, but I’m astounded by the reach/buzz it created:

Today I’m passing the torch to the new holder. I set the record to inspire people to attempt and achieve great things, so I’m honored to be in the company of other ambitious potters like Jim. Great work, bud!

Electric Pottery Wheels vs. Kick Wheels

Guinness World Records™ doesn’t currently have a separate category for kick wheels vs. electric wheels, even though setting the record on a kick-wheel does feel different to me:

  • A kick wheel has no electric motor. It only spins when you kick it.
  • Kicking and throwing pots at the same time is more difficult than letting an electric motor do the spinning work for you.
  • Kicking requires different training: cardio, running, stretching and leg and back strength.

To me, the records seem fundamentally different. Again, there is no separate category for kick wheels vs. electric wheels, but we think that maybe there should be. What do you think? (Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post – I would love to hear your thoughts).

When I attempted the record back in 2016, the previous record holder used an electric wheel to make 150 pots in one hour. I knew that a kick wheel was not required by Guinness World Records, but decided to use it anyways.

Kick wheels are harder to use, which is why the vast majority of potters today use electric wheels. One of our most common Frequently Asked Questions on our popular Facebook Live videos is, “Why don’t you use an electric wheel?” With thousands of comments per video, we had to devote an entire blog post to answering it.

Bigger pots are also more difficult, making the electric motor even more important. At first, I requested to make tiny shot cups like in this video, but Guinness World Records required a “planter” with larger size and weight requirements.

Even after beating the record on a kick wheel, the chance always remained that someone would beat me on an electric, motorized wheel. Maybe I should have used an electric wheel instead.

But if I could go back, I wouldn’t have. I attempt the record in a new, innovative way on purpose.

Here is why: to inspire people to attempt and achieve difficult things. I did that the best way I knew how. That required the tool of my trade: a unique, historical kick wheel. Maybe I’ll attempt it on an electric wheel someday, but right now it doesn’t seem appropriate.

Jim Calhoun did remarkable work to win his time in the spotlight, and lets all raise a glass (or even better, a Cosmic Mug) to him.

Joel Cherrico World Record Pottery

This week is the last chance to buy my official “World Record Pottery” planters with Certificates of Authenticity from Guinness World Records™ paired with the pottery. This Friday 6pm Central, all remaining pots Certificates of Authenticity are going into my private collection, in archival storage. I’m keeping this body of artwork for future exhibitions in the coming decades of my “Pottery Journey.”

You can get them here, before this Friday: store.cherricopottery.com/world-record-pottery

(NOTE: please forgive the text that says Joel Cherrico is the official record holder. I AM NOT THE CURRENT RECORD HOLDER. Please give us 30 business days to make extensive website updates.)

If you would like to purchase one in the future, you can send inquiries here anytime and I will consider taking them out of storage to sell, maybe: contact@cherricopottery.com. They are pieces of art that I finished with care and attention, wood-fired in a traditional style, and then painted with care and detail. I’m honored to keep or sell them as part of my story for future exhibitions, and as part of my lifelong pottery career.

Do you remember the story of John Henry? Every schoolkid learns the folktale of the railroad worker who battled a machine and won, but died right after his victory. Historians argue about details, but a plaque in West Virginia summarizes his legacy:

“John Henry died from a race with the steam drill, during construction of the tunnel for the C.&O. Railway Co. May God Grant that we always respect the great and the strong and be of service to others.”

Obviously, the legend of John Henry is way different. Henry suffered the ultimate loss: the loss of his life. He lived in a time and place that struggled with all kinds of inequalities. His struggles were far more difficult than mine. However, all of us can be inspired by message he left in the wake of his accomplishment:

“…always respect the great and the strong and be of service to others.”

Congrats to all of you past, present and future record holders, and cheers to all of you pottery fans.

– Joel Cherrico (former Guinness World Records™ title holder for ‘most pots thrown in one hour by an individual’)

72 Replies to “Beaten By A Machine Powered Potter: Passing the Torch to the New Pottery World Record Holder”

  1. To me, there is no comparison between the strength and endurance you proved with a kick wheel. NO comparison. I think they should absolutely be separate categories, in my humble opinion!!! Keep on keepin on Joel!!!!

    1. I agree 100%. Comparison is apples to oranges. Joel is too proud to say so but they should be separate a record. Machine will always best put human power.😏

    2. Agreed!! Can’t compare manual labor to electric. They do not equate.
      Your record stands on its own merit.

  2. I agree there should be Separate category ~Electronic Wheel~And ~ Kick Wheel~ Kick wheel is so harder to master. I am sorry this happened and it seems wrong to me. Just keeping it real.

  3. Hi, Joel🖖,
    First, congratulations on your record! I’m glad you had the opportunity to get your name in history for doing well at what you love. Yes, there should be a separate category as it is not only physical, but a double process for your brain. It has to work both hands and feet as well as concentrate on the art. I believe you would beat his number if using an electric wheel.😁 Though I know that’s not you!

  4. They totally should be seperate records. I’ve never been near a pottery wheel but thanks to the lives I have been learning so much about the process.
    It seems all the extra factors involved in working on a kick wheel doesn’t really make it a ‘fair’ comparison.
    I do understand it’s a choice to use one instead of an electric wheel but they just seem so different.
    Congratulations to James as I’m sure it took a lot of hard work to get there.
    In my mind though you still hold a record even if it isn’t official anymore

  5. There should definitely be two categories. Not doing so takes the fairness out the challenge. But, still proud of you. Keep on inspiring the masses Joel 😊.

  6. That’s just crazy! Kick wheel should be a separate category! If that guy tried to beat the record on a kick wheel, he probably wouldn’t come near your numbers!

  7. Of course it should be a separate category Joel. What you do (and other kick wheel potters) is a very challenging process. It’s a tremendous accomplishment for an electronic wheel potter too but hard to compare.

  8. I think that you need to petition the GBWR to make two separate categories! Seems to me like it would be way easier to throw on an electric wheel vs a kick wheel!

  9. It should definitely be a delegate category. The training that you went through was much different than someone who uses an electric wheel. A kick wheel requires much more effort and skill and as such should have its own category!

  10. It’s clearly time to petition the Guinness World Records. I’m sure your fans and newsletter subscribers would be glad to band together for a very simple change considering the wide variety of Records on the books. Love seeing your art on Facebook and in the newsletter keep up the amazing work.

  11. To me… you are still the champ❣️
    There is a definite difference in the type of technique & should be judged as such.

  12. I COMPLETELY agree there should be a sepoerate category. Hands down, there is a lot more tha goes into a kick wheel. No doubt, I appreciate and respect the effort and abilities of James. However, in my heart you’ll always be #1. If there is any way I can help to have Guinness World Records make a sepoerate category, please let me know. Congratulations to James and much respect for you Joel.

  13. Bicycle, motorcycle. We can all see how much harder it is to make art with extra love and still stand tall against machines. I’ve enjoyed watching you grow as an artist and as a decent human being. Your honor and grace shines through when others might take the low road.

    Much love dear sir.

  14. No contest! They are definitely different categories.

    However, the graciousness by which you congratulate the new record holder is refreshing.

  15. Guinness should reconsider their guidelines or this to be fair. You wouldn’t put a bicycle and a motorbike in a race w/ identical rules! Joel, you are still in the limelight for most pots thrown on a kick wheel. I’ve watched your video several times and remain very impressed and proud of your accomplishment! Love your
    work! I’m a true fan.

  16. Why be a poor sport. Not only did he beat you by over 30 pots, but his were more functional and looked much more consistent from top to bottom. Kudos to you and him…but you were certainly bettered and complaining that it is like John Henry is a travesty and sign of jealousy. Sit down on an electric wheel and beat him…if you can!

    1. There are huge differences between jealousy and disagreement. I appreciate your feedback Adam, but mean, personal insults aren’t allowed on our blog, which is why your future comments won’t be approved. This blog is here to respect, not degrade, all artists’ skills, passions and abilities.

      The reason I wrote this blog post was to congratulate the new holder, address my change in status so people were informed, and hear other opinions. Every artist creates differently, and we respect each person’s skills, passions and abilities. But telling me to complete this feat on an electric wheel is no different than telling Jim to do it on a kick-wheel. They’re inherently different, and it would be nice if it was officially recognized that way.

      1. My congratulations to Jim is absolutely sincere. He did fantastic work. I don’t agree with your opinions, but that’s okay. I still appreciate your feedback.

  17. I am very disappointed in a company that people looked up to to find the TRUTH about contest holders. The Gunniess sentds examiners to make sure that there are no cheating or advantages that the person trying to beat the record is using plus they verify the amount. Gunniess you have dropped the ball on this one. One contest did have an advantage over the original record holder. He had an ELECTRIC WHEEL where as the original potter did not use ELECTRICITY to form his pots. An advantage has been used so you have to make two categories without electricity and with electricity.

  18. There is no contest. You are the number one record holder on the kick wheel, whether Guiness recognizes this or not. Watching you throw on the kick wheel is mesmerizing and relaxing. Thank you for all you give to us!

  19. Big difference in speed and power for centering alone (electric vs kickwheel). Totally different class-kuddos to you both, but the power wheel has an (unfair) advantage. I’ve used both, and have a BFA w Ceramics emphasis(long ago!). There should be separate categories! You go, Joel-it’s such a joy to watch you practice the beauty and age old simplicity of your craft.

  20. Man powered vs electric powered are very different and should not be under the same category. My comparison would be if it were a record for sweeping the floor and using an electric sweeper vs a broom, not that throwing pottery is anything as basic as sweeping the floor. It’s not the same and it’s as simple as that!

  21. Should definitely be two separate categories. It’s like having a race between a runner and a cyclist, both have their place but not in the same event.

    1. Definitely two different things! In my opinion I think you should be able to keep your record fot kick wheel pots, and he should get a record for electric wheel! Its apples to oranges really!

  22. Definitely should be separate categories! You set the record on a kick wheel and in my opinion it should only be beaten on a kick wheel! Really can’t believe GWBR didn’t think there was a difference.

  23. I too am agreeable that it should be a separate category. While both take skill and concentration, one is more involved physically than the other. Congrats on the work and title. Hopefully There will be enough support to make them separate.

  24. There really is no comparison your method uses the muscles of your whole body. We will be happy to write Guinness about categorizing pottery according to the method used. But keep in mind you were there first how many can say that? And once it is a documented record it is like a banner inviting someone to try and beat it. Continue your creative cosmic inspired journey.. Thank you for including us in it.

  25. I teach pottery to kids. In an hour, most have made 2 or 3 pieces (however it is often their first time using a pottery wheel). I frequently ask them what they think the Guinness World Record is, and point out that it’s one pot every 20-ish seconds. Then explain that it was on a kick wheel.

    While I’m a little happy that there’s a new number (to keep returning student on their toes), I feel that your record on a kick wheel is much more impressive.

  26. Runners don’t compete against cyclists. Cyclists don’t compete against motorcyclists.
    Rowers don’t compete against sailboaters. Sailboaters don’t compete against boats with engines.
    There’s plenty of precedent for different records depending on manual vs mechanized. Go get ’em.

  27. There’s absolutely no comparison… this shouldn’t even require debate.. the kick wheel requires a degree of physicality that an electric wheel doesn’t… not that both aren’t fabulous feats.. they’re just not the same. Now when someone beats you with a kick wheel we’ll consider you not the reigning champion.. till then.. you’re still the best in my opinion.

  28. I’m not a pottery or Guinness World Record expert, but it seems pretty obvious to me that there should be separate categories.

  29. Absolutely, there should be a category for each. Pottery from a kick wheel should be separate from an electric wheel. I don’t understand why it’s not.

  30. CONGRATULATIONS on holding the record! I believe they should be separate categories and records. Not to take away from the new record holder it just seems to me records on bikes are not compared to car’s ,right ? Just my opinion

  31. Dear Guinness World Records,
    Please consider making two separate categories for the “Most Pots Thrown In One Hour on an Electric Wheel” and “Most Pots Thrown In One Hour on a Kick Wheel”.
    As someone with an art degree who has thrown many pots on both an electric wheel and a kick wheel, I can assure you that there are vast differences between the two.
    An electric wheel runs smoothly and surely with just the easy touch of a foot pedal, similar to a car’s gas pedal – thus the Potter is free to concentrate fully on making the pots.
    A kick wheel requires constant precise timing, precise placement of the foot on and off of the fly wheel as the foot kicks it, at various efforts of energy to correspond to the desired speed – not to mention incredible endurance and strength to do this for one hour straight, all the while concentrating on both the mechanisms of producing the motion by foot and the effort of the entire body, and at the same time the efforts in producing multiple clay pots worthy of the requirements.
    Very different indeed!
    As the owner of a beautiful Cosmic Mug made on a kick wheel, I marvel at its beauty every morning when I drink from it. It would not have the same value, pleasure and appreciation by me if it were made by the ease of an electric wheel.
    Please add to the Guinness World Records a category for “Most Pots Thrown In One Hour on a Kick Wheel. Thank you!

  32. I whole heartily feel the kick wheel and the electronic wheel are two different categories. The Guinness World Record people should see the difference. Just like a bicycle and a motorcycle are not the same. I hope they change their minds. I am so proud to own one of your winner pots.

  33. Without a doubt there should be a separate category. Let’s see horse drawn buggy and a model-T???? Definitely different.

    There’s much more work being done with a kick wheel. I’m writing Guinness myself.

  34. There should be a distinction between the records. While both are a great accomplishments, I feel the kick wheel is much more intense and therefore requires a greater focus, physicality and coordination.

  35. Just a giant what the hell.

    Lance Armstrong was stripped of 7 Tour de France titles because he cheated, not because some clown came by on a car and did it faster than him.

    If there’s going to be a comparison between kick wheel and electric, then this “Jim” fellow, if that’s even his real name, should have beat your record by like 100 pots.

  36. I think they should be different records. On a kick wheel, you are the power behind the movement of the wheel. I wonder if you could contact Guinness World Records and ask about the specifications on the record. Have a category for both electric and kick wheel. Maybe we need to get a petition for Guinness World Records about this. 😀 I’d sign it 😀
    Keep on the sunny side.

  37. Definitely should be 2 separate categories, there is no question. To me its like having a race with someone who pedals a bike against someone who is on a motorcycle—— its not a fair or true measurable comparison . 2 different energy sources.

  38. Its a different tool. U wouldn’t compare a race on a motor bike n pedal bike. Your record should still stand.

  39. Invite him over. Have some good fun while talking shop and making pottery. He may agree with you that the two are different and you may inspire him to take up manual pottery kicking. =)

    1. I’d love to try a kick wheel, I’ve never thrown on one. Going into this event I knew that if I beat Joel’s record that there would be an asterix next to it, doing 159 in one hour on a kick wheel is pretty darn impressive!

  40. I believe there are enough differences between electric and kick wheel style of throwing pots that it should different categories. And I believe it’s fairly obvious why. But no worries, I’m sure eventually they will divide the categories out because as technology moves forward it will become an even greater difference between the two. You do beautiful work and nothing can take away from that. Guinness World Record holder or not.

  41. It doesn’t just feel different, it IS different. They should be two different records. Have the new guy try it on a kick wheel and I guarantee you, he’d fail.

  42. There should be a separate category. It is basically like a cyclist being defeated by a scooter. Both achievements are wonderful however they should be categorized separately.

  43. They should be two seprate catagories. They are two completely different types of wheels. One you turn it on or hold down a pedal and throw the clay, your foot is in one motion the whole time. The other you have to throw the clay while you spin the wheel with your feet, and you would have to probably switch feet so as one would not get as tired then the other, no matter how much training you put in to use this wheel.

  44. No comparison of the two. I hope you use these comments as leverage for a split of categories for the records and you regain your title.

  45. Bad form, Guiness, bad form! There definitely needs to be different categories. That’s like having a record for landspeed in a vehicle, then comparing Fred Flintstone to Mario Andretti! Sorry…but Mario’s feet and legs couldn’t handle it! No comparison with what you do versus a mechanized potter! You still hold the record as far as I’m concerned, Joel!

  46. Yes! There should be two categories! Is there any action that we can take that may help. I’m not a potter; however watching you use a kickwheel vs. someone using an electric wheel, one can obviously see that the kickwheel requires more physicial exertion of the whole body that is not required with the electric wheel. Build the pyramids with hand tools and muscle power or with cranes, power tools? Not the same. Both are amazing accomplishments but the path to achievement is greatly different.

  47. They’re not separate categories?!? That’s like saying someone racing on foot and someone on a motorcycle is fair. I think that’s a detail that they need to address.
    But a machine doesn’t have a soul or a dream, like you! Keep creating your galaxy of beautiful artwork Joel!!!

  48. There is a mix of two separate, but related issues in this discussion. First, of course these are not comparable efforts of performance any more than using a catapult to get higher versus using a pole to vault represents greater achievement. To me a better comparison is if Michelangelo had used power tools to create his statues. Joel is, ultimately, not about quantity, but of artistry and craftsmanship. For him to put more of his personal self into what he creates is what makes him and his art wonderful and special. I am glad for Joel’s publicity for achieving the record because it introduced me (and many others) to him and his work, but it isn’t what makes him so powerful. At some point, and now seems like a good time, I wouldn’t even want him to have a quantity record – his performance simply showed how he is a master of his craft from top to bottom. To the person above who stated that Joel’s work was not as “consistent” as what was produced by the new record holder, I say you completely miss the point of what Joel creates with every new piece… If you want “sameness” then go to Amazon (or any other mass seller) and buy your “product” in a box… I will stick with the art and craftsmanship of Joel and the uniqueness of his creativity!!!

  49. That guy needs to be challenged again….and somebody needs to pull the plug….lets see how far he gets then….You are still the champ!

  50. Well that makes no sense at all….kick wheel vs electric, c’mon Guiness, those are two totally different categories!!! But in my book, Joel will always be #1 and Cherrico Pottery will always be Art!!!!

  51. Joel, you earned the right to be called Guinness World Record Holder for most pots thrown in an hour by an individual and I believe you will always hold that title because you did it yourself and all by yourself without the help of electricity! Even though someone else has put out more pots in number, you are still the FIRST. My opinion is that a kick wheel and an electric wheel can not be compared as the same – it’s not like your kick wheel has some magical powers like electricity spinning it out – IT WAS ALL YOU! YOU WERE/ARE THE MAGIC! Keep on spinning and putting out those beautiful cosmic pots! I’m also a clay worker, but not on the wheel…I sculpt and love it. Work your magic Joel! In my book, you’ll always hold that title!

  52. Joel, I can’t believe the negative couple of comments at the beginning of the replies. Thank you for keeping them up because you are a soul beyond your age. You replied with respect and modesty and you should in no way think you’re inferior to such degrading. My grandson LOVES John Henry and when I read your post to him it led to a great conversation. Btw he’s 3. YOU are not only a magnificent artist but a magnificent person. NEVER forget that. I’ve never heard you bash any of your colleagues, but have praised them too as artists.
    And just a thought but the gentleman who won was doing it for charity. That too should be in a different category in MY opinion. You have thousands of adoring fans, not just mindless female cats in heat.
    And to make this comment even longer I recently took my grands to a historic village portrayed as the 1800’s, how they lived and I was overjoyed when in one barn there was a young lady doing KICK WHEEL POTS. She too is a college graduate. We had a lengthy conversation that made both of us giddy.
    Just keep up the good work. You’re teaching us A LOT about a dying trade.
    Don’t let anyone disgrace your individuality and keep up your amazing work!!!
    ———from a Fifty year old in NY ————

  53. You could regain the title with an electric wheel, but I know it would compromise your integrity. You are amazing no matter what! And I bet his facebook lives don’t get nearly as many views 😉

  54. You are definitely alone in your kick wheel category. There is no comparison between kick wheel and electric wheel. Kick wheel uses more physical energy to complete pots. Electric wheel, the work of spinning the wheel is done for you. No comparison, 2 different categories. In my eyes, you are still the champion!!! Long live kick wheel potters!!!!

  55. I can hear your mourning in your words, and I mourn with you. I’m disappointed too. Obviously they’re different records and maybe someday they’ll revise their categories. He beat you fair and square according to their rules, unfortunately. I threw production pots for a few years at a company and yeah, a machine is going to kick the manual wheel’s butt for speed and ease. Honestly, I bet at least half the potters I worked alongside at the production pottery could make a new world record with an electric wheel without much practice. But on a manual kick wheel?!?! No way. I made a kerokuro wheel last year and now that I throw on it, I can confidently compare what you did to running a marathon and what the electric wheel does for you–like riding a bike through the same marathon you’re running. Who’s going to win? Your record is impressive, Joel!

  56. I agree that there should be two separate categories, one for electric wheels and one for human powered wheels. Joel has been gracious and congratulated me and I thank him and others in this thread who have been congratulatory as well. Joel’s record is indeed very impressive and any observer can see the extra effort required to throw on a kick wheel. this whole event has been lots of fun for me and my family and I look forward to seeing how many I can do on a kick wheel after I get one built : ) I seriously doubt I can do 159 with my skinny old legs but I’d love to give it a try, it’s all for fun guys.
    Joel, you’re a great potter and a swell guy, thanks for being a good sport! And man, you really do make beautiful pots!

    1. Jim- I’m humbled by your response. Thank you, and I’m honored to pass the record to you. 193! Jeeze…I’m sure there is quite the story behind your epic record too, and I’d love to hear it in person someday and offer my congratulations with a handshake. Perhaps at NCECA in Minneapolis this year? (nceca.net) We plan to be there Thursday and Friday at the conference, and you should definitely let me know if you will be there because I’d love to meet you and hear your story about your record, and your pottery career:contact@cherricopottery.com Also we have 3 different kick-wheel designs in our studio and I’d be happy to talk shop at NCECA if your curious about them. This blog post might be helpful for your building project: https://www.cherricopottery.com/2017/03/27/the-art-of-throwing-pottery-on-a-kick-wheel/ Thanks again, Jim and congrats to your epic Guinness World Record! – Joel Cherrico

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