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Hello. I’m new to the world of pottery and so far I’m in love. I’m currently taking a weekly beginners wheel course, but I’d like to really invest my time into the clay. 

So I’m looking for recommendations on a beginners potter wheel. Below is what I think I’m looking for. Any feedback would be wonderful!

Primary use: Hobbyist.

Wish List: relatively quite (it doesn’t have to be silent, but at least not sound like a truck), metal bat versus plastic, Can Handle a good amount of clay. I’m a beginner now, but don’t want to “outgrow” my wheel once my skills progress, & variable speed  

There’s always the option of purchasing new, but I’ve seen a few listed used, including the following:

AAMACO Model 101 $380

Speedball Artista $200

Pacifica GT400 $400

 

I’ve included some of the used prices so hopefully a more experienced eye can tell me if it’s a deal or a rip off. Thanks in advance for all the feedback. 

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I have an Arista as a spare wheel for demos and working on a change of clay body when I don't want to change my primary wheel. They are good for smaller work. I also have an Aspire by Shimpo. This has a small wheel head. I use it for polishing  bases after woodier. Also use it for small work. Tea bowls, mugs, bowls. Bats are about 8". Both are tabletop wheels.

Selecting a wheel is a big investment. You really need to decide what you plan to do with it and your future demands for it. If you plan to sit 8 hours a day, you don't want back aches. Do you plan on getting to the point of throwing casseroles, dinner plates? You may need a larger wheel.  I had some old Amaco wheels similar to the 1-101 in my classroom when I started teaching. They were old in '75. . They can be slowed down while centering. remove from list.

Arista nice beginner wheel but long range may be limiting.

Pacifica is a good wheel for the price with more potential depending on where you plan to take it. You could adjust the height , if needed, by putting it on bricks or it may come with adjustable legs. Get a chair/stool that adjusts to your body needs. 

Marcia

 

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i am using a pacifica that i bought in 1972.  it is certainly enough for the things i have done, some of which are quite large.  it is also very quiet.  put it and a brent in the same room and all you can hear is the noisy brent, no radio, no conversation.  listen to the you tube demos that are done on brents and you will hear what i mean.

the belts on an older pacifica may need replacement.   try out the wheel and try to stop the head as it is turning.  if you can, the belts need replacing.  four large rubber bands, basically.  easy to do.  but that might be a way of lowering the sale price.  if it doesn't, $400 invested there is better than $400 spent on something inadequate.  

Marcia Selsor likes this

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There's no difference between a beginner's wheel and an expert's wheel. I think what is marketed as "starter wheel" should really be called "kids wheels." Adult potters all need the same thing.

Of the three options you listed, the Amaco appears to be an older model with only two speeds. That won't work, you need a variable speed wheel. The Artista is a tabletop model. I would skip that one too, too small to be your primary wheel.

$400 for a Pacifica is a good price. Check it out first as oldlady recommends. My experience with Pacifica is that the splashpans are flimsy, easy to crack. But otherwise it's a solid wheel, and nice and quiet. 

Briana and Pres like this

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I have a Speedball Artista and love it. I have a very small home studio and needed something portable. It is heavy, solid and smooth and a great beginner's wheel. Personally, I wouldn't call it a kids' wheel - it is great wheel for a beginner, hobby potter and I have started a nice, part-time business with it. Now, when I have a larger studio, I will get a larger wheel and will happily use my Speedball as back up. :) 

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3 hours ago, oldlady said:

i am using a pacifica that i bought in 1972.  it is certainly enough for the things i have done, some of which are quite large.  it is also very quiet.  put it and a brent in the same room and all you can hear is the noisy brent, no radio, no conversation.  listen to the you tube demos that are done on brents and you will hear what i mean.

the belts on an older pacifica may need replacement.   try out the wheel and try to stop the head as it is turning.  if you can, the belts need replacing.  four large rubber bands, basically.  easy to do.  but that might be a way of lowering the sale price.  if it doesn't, $400 invested there is better than $400 spent on something inadequate.  

Lady, thanks for the tip on testing. Any other suggestions on checking a used machine?

 

 

4 hours ago, Marcia Selsor said:

I have an Arista as a spare wheel for demos and working on a change of clay body when I don't want to change my primary wheel. They are good for smaller work. I also have an Aspire by Shimpo. This has a small wheel head. I use it for polishing  bases after woodier. Also use it for small work. Tea bowls, mugs, bowls. Bats are about 8". Both are tabletop wheels.

Selecting a wheel is a big investment. You really need to decide what you plan to do with it and your future demands for it. If you plan to sit 8 hours a day, you don't want back aches. Do you plan on getting to the point of throwing casseroles, dinner plates? You may need a larger wheel.  I had some old Amaco wheels similar to the 1-101 in my classroom when I started teaching. They were old in '75. . They can be slowed down while centering. remove from list.

Arista nice beginner wheel but long range may be limiting.

Pacifica is a good wheel for the price with more potential depending on where you plan to take it. You could adjust the height , if needed, by putting it on bricks or it may come with adjustable legs. Get a chair/stool that adjusts to your body needs. 

Marcia

 

Thank you all for the advice. I’ll likely checkout the Pacifica. As for what I intend to use it for. Right now, small pieces including planters, bowls, etc. 

In the future I would love to progress to larger vases, plates and other kitchen items  as my skill set allows. Marcia, when you say a “larger wheel”, what sort of diameter are you talking? Honestly, I’m too new to differentiate between sizes and what I might need. 

 

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Marcia, when you say a “larger wheel”, what sort of diameter are you talking? Honestly, I’m too new to differentiate between sizes and what I might need. 

I meant that the Arista may not be sufficient if you want to make casseroles or dinner plates. 

Marcia

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buy it now if it is still available.  used wheels go fast.  diameter of the wheelhead is a non problem.  the little one you mention is probably the only one at that size, i don[t know.  bat pin spread is the only thing you have to worry about and do not worry.  they are pretty standard at 10 inches on center.  

 

'

 

'

Briana likes this

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Thanks everyone for the information. I’m happy to say I’ve officially purchased my first home studio equipment!

I purchased the Pacifica and actually also ended up with a medium sized Parragon Kiln , plus a few extras including  quite a few tools, books, clay, glazes etc. Grand total was only $750.  I wasn’t quite ready for a kiln purchase, but the deal seemed too good to pass up. 

I think I’ll just need new bats as the wooden ones that came with are a bit wobbly/warped. I’ve never thrown on wooden bats and I’m not sure that I’ll like that. I believe in the course I’ve taken we did it directly on the wheel head.

Now I’m sure you’ll find me on other areas of this forum troubleshooting my work and equipment! 

Thanks again for all the input. 

Edited by Briana
Min likes this

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Congrats Briana! $750 for the whole package is a great deal. 

I agree that you should toss the warped bats, but you are going to need a few bats before too long, when you want to try larger and wider forms. There is lots of info about bats on this forum. Everyone has their favorite types of bats but it depends on your needs. I would start by searching the forum for "bats" but you can start a new thread if you have specific questions.

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Cool for you Briana.

My only suggestion now is to make sure you keep the Pacifica peddle dry and away from moisture of any sort.

Basically they are great wheels, but the peddle and electronic box are very susceptible and expensive.

Have fun!

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