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Frankiegirl

Teaching Wheels on a Budget

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Hi! Looking to begin teaching wheel classes and shopping for wheels. I'd like to start with 4-6 wheels and I want them uniform, so used is not going tok really work. Keeping in my budget is important, but I also want decent wheels. I am between the clay boss, big boss and VL-Whisper. I have always used Bailey and Brent but they are out of my price range. Any instructors to weigh in would be appreciated.

Edited by Frankiegirl

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I know it can be a pain, to have a mixed bag of wheels, my classroom has three different types, that I have to explain the intricacies of.  But, I'm just happy to have, as many as I do. 

Even if you want to have uniform wheels, you CAN still buy used.  Check out the surplus sites, like Public Surplus, or Govdeals, and you can sometimes find an organization getting rid of several, of the same type. 

It's not a guarantee, and a bit of luck is involved, but always an option.

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I would definitely stay away from the kick wheels, even motorized as they have take up too much real estate  and have maintenance issues with beginners not understanding how to kick up wheel speed instead of starting from stand still with the power-wears out the drive puck. Any used Brent B, or C should work fine, and a lot of them out there.

As Neil says, if on your own a more sturdy wheel, but for classroom use get what you can.  You have not said how you are doing this, in a private school, public school or on your own. I believe that the effort for better wheels in the school settings if more important as it will mean greater use of the wheels. If doing it as private classes, you may only have a few classes a week with some open studio time. . . big difference. I had HS classes, and started studio with two kick wheels and an old Amaco. We started a class for adults, put all of tuition money into the bank, Second year I bought a Bailey, third year also, then the 5th. . . when I retired we had 6 wheels there. It means giving up your own time to build the studio but in the long run it depends on how invested you are in your situation.

 

best,

Pres

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@Pres  giving up your own time indeed!

I spent the last few weekends, modifying/ building new sections to, my classroom's "Waiting to be fired" shelf.  It was too long for the space, so I cut it down.  It was painted, which I disliked, so I stripped it down, stained it and coated it with a water resistant varnish.  I also made a top portion, with more storage, which also created space to hang brooms and dust pans.  And for good measure, and to make the custodial staff's life easier, I put some wheels on it, so they can  move it out of the room easier, when they clean in the Summers.

I figure it will outlast me.

 

Also, I agree on the kick wheels Pres.  I learned to throw on them, and they are great wheels, but waaaay too much space is taken up.  And they are a paint to move. 

With that said, every classroom, I have taught in, has had at least one.  My first classroom, had two, one with a motor, one without.  The motorized one, was off center, and neither myself or others had the know how to fix it, at the time.  My second classroom, had a single Brent kick wheel, that was only used for trimming.  The rest were nice Brent Bs. 

Currently, I also have single Brent kick, that is mainly used for trimming, but I do allow students to use it to throw, though they tend to avoid.  Physical labor and teenagers, are two things that don't mix well.

I actually had two other kicks, well one kick, and one treadle, but I got rid of both.  The treadle worked well enough, but it took up space, and was awkwardly tall (Leach Style).  The kick wheel did not work well, and I'm the only thing in the classroom, that can both not work well AND take up space...

Edited by Benzine

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@Frankiegirl  Will you be moving the wheels around your classroom much? Or will you set them up and leave them for the most part? I ask because the connection between  pedal and controller of the VL Whisper is more or less a coaxial cable and is pretty delicate. In my classroom we often pull the wheels away from where they're set up for throwing in order to clean beneath/behind. This cable on our VL Whisper has broken a couple times when moving the wheel and after a handful or repairs I ended up just hard-wiring the pedal to the controller.  Also, even though the splash pan design has been improved in the last few years, it's still not great. It is one of the messier wheels when beginners are working in the studio. More experienced students and many of our studio members love the VL but I have opted not to purchase  ore of them as our studio serves many beginners.

Have you considered the Pacifica GT-400? They cost $700-$800 (right in the middle of the Clay Boss and VL) and are no-frills work horses, more than adequate for students and hobbyist potters. When I give studio orientations and get asked about our different wheels I describe them as the Honda Civic of pottery wheels: function over fashion but not without attention to design or aesthetic, easy to operate, low cost of ownership, easy to repair when needed, attractive price-point.  Plus they have a great splash pan design, especially for students who tend to use a lot of water.

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Thank you for your input! You have given me much to consider. The classroom I am building is quite small (modest in size?). My goal is to just get my feet wet in teaching (I am actually a production potter branching out). Considering the space, a kick wheel isn't really an option just YET. Though, it does sound really cool, now that you mention it. I would love to be able to add that to my classroom down the line.

Based on what you all have to say, I think I will stay away from the Whisper Lite too. It seems like it isn't the best choice for my classroom environment, even if it is quiet. With space limitations, I may need to move wheels around. There will also be multiple instructors teaching at different days/times and I really need a "workhorse", as Chris said,. The Pacifica GT-400 is back in my consideration.

Thank you all again for your input! I am so lucky to be a part of this wonderful community!

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