Sounds simple doesn't it? I know you veterans think you don't need to know how to roll a ball, and you newbies are confounded. Here is a tute I think will bring harmony to us all.
Why are there so many steps to rolling a ball? Well, if you have a hunk of raw unconditioned clay there is no air trapped inside. You can cut off a hunk and if it's soft you can roll a ball without fear.
What if it's hard? Then you can either roll like hell on a hard surface, bruising your palm... or you can condition.
Condidtioned clay is softer and easier to work with, but what if you have a lump of old clay and you need a smoooooth ball? Here's how to do it.
1. Take your lump of clay and warm it in your hand for a minute.
2. Lightly roll it into a loose ball shape.
3. Oh no! A crack! That's good. You'd rather have your ball ruined now than later.
4. Smash the clay into a sort of flat, mostly even kind of rectangle.
5. Fold it in half, being sure to press tight to make sure all the air is squeezed out.
6. Fold it in half again making a dense cube.
7. Press your fingers hard all over the surface to smooth out the lines. Form it while pushing to a sort of ball.
8. Press tight with your hands cupped around the ball while you roll. As your ball becomes more and more even lighten your touch until you are just barely touching it. The surface will be a little sticky because of the heat.
Set your perfectly smooth and shiny ball aside to cool before using it!!