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Pottery Wheel for Beginner

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Hi there, my mum runs a pottery painting business so I know the ins and outs of using a kiln and working with bisque but am looking to learn to throw pottery can anyone give any advice on what type of pottery wheel I should buy and if what I should avoid. Also would appreciate any recommendations on what clay is the best to use. Thanks in advance! 

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Can't give much advice, other than - buy a real wheel from a pottery supply company - do not buy a "toy" wheel - try Scarva who are (I believe) based on your island.  If looking at second hand, try before your buy, make sure the wheel runs and accelerates smoothly, starts and stops when asked.


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We have seen a lot of folks here and on FB try some of the small, low priced wheels from that South American River website. Some people really love them and have had good experiences, but we’ve seen several questions here about them having electrical issues. Which wheel to get depends on how you intend to work, and how you feel about things like right to repair.

The typical complaints about the ‘zon wheels are  switches either won’t turn on or turn off fully without unplugging the wheel, or the “foot” pedals don’t have variable speeds for long. I have seen some reports of them being difficult or impossible to repair due to poor construction.

I put foot in quotes because they’re too small for an adult to sit at comfortably, and they’re better used on a low table top. Not necessarily a bad thing, just worth nothing. They don’t really have the capacity to handle more than 2 kg of clay. Again, not a bad thing if you only want to make a few little things. 

If your intention is to work any form of long term, buy the wheel you’ll want to use in 5 years. Any of the major brands that have been around forever tend to be a one time purchase and are repairable. They will also have some resale value if you choose to not continue.

On clay: 

What clay is best is like asking what food is best. It’s a matter of personal taste. About the only recommendation I’d have is don’t start with porcelain if you’ve never used clay before. Think a little bit about the kind of work you’d like to make, whether it’s brightly painted earthenware, earthy cone 10 stoneware dishes or cone 6 that splits the difference. Whichever clay you choose, if you’re making functional pottery you should fire the clay to its maximum recommended temperature so it isn’t porous, and make sure the glazes you use fire to that top temp.

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If you have access to Shimpo/Nidec wheels, I suggest those.  I have a VL Lite but wish I had gone up a bit to the Whisper.  The VL Lite is their smallest wheel (well I don't count their ACTUAL smallest wheel, the Aspire, as a real wheel) and the VL-Whisper is the next one up from that.  The RK-Whisper has a hand lever for wheel speed, which I really like, but the foot pedal is attached right to the side of the wheel, which I don't like.  I hate the splash pan on the RK-Whisper.  I think the VL-Whisper is better than the RK-Whisper for a beginner but still enough to take you pretty far as you advance.  You may never need another wheel unless you suddenly turn into a production potter or a maker of huge thrown sculptural pieces.


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