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A beginner (David)

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Hi, I'm sure you've been asked to opine on this type of question before, but here goes.

My wife and I are thinking about getting into pottery. In a typically impulsive manner, I have ordered a cheap pottery wheel, and found a local supplier who says they have clay.

I was able to restrain myself (just) from spending more money immediately, on a kiln for firing what we produce.

My wife is quite artistic, and paints and sells floral canvasses. I am more interested in the practical side of things, but look forward to dabbling as well.

I have quite a large shed with abundant power (the shed houses my milling machine and lathe etc) so I thought we could setup some kind of studio in there.

The questions I have atm, and the items I think I'll need are below but please feel free to add to these things:

1/ Will the cheap wheel I've already ordered do to get started? https://www.vevor.com.au/pottery-wheel-c_11146/vevor-pottery-wheel-10-inch-pottery-forming-machine-350w-electric-wheel-for-pottery-with-foot-pedal-and-lcd-touch-screen-direct-drive-ceramic-wheel-with-3-support-legs-for-diy-art-craft-blue-p_010873506654?adp=gmc&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=19552769274&ad_group=148724078321&ad_id=644652220212&utm_term=&gad_source=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjw-ai0BhDPARIsAB6hmP7c5yvGsEcx0EXN2XRBWHY6a_p8zJd8zuQTjXci99kdhrOpa7hzilQaAqo_EALw_wcB

2/ Apart from some clay, which of the following do I need? Glazes, Drying room, Different types of clay, Tools, Kiln?




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If you’re just dabbling, a small wheel like that will get you started. They are very much a “get what you pay for” item though, and some folks do report assorted small electrical issues with them. They are not meant for heavy duty use, and they have no resale value. 

If you haven’t yet though, it’s a really, REALLY good idea to take a class or 2 if you can. An in person instructor will be able to guide you through a lot of the initial difficulties, and you can test drive tools and other things to see what you like and what you can dispense with. 

Do NOT get a kiln early on. They are expensive as a piece of equipment, expensive to install, and may alter your insurance needs. They also have their own learning curve in figuring out how to use one. Let someone else do that to start with. The best thing you can do is to connect with a local to you studio (ideally one you’re taking the classes at) and see what they recommend about firing. 

I would also venture you don’t need an entire drying room. A few wareboards on a shelf and some plastic work a treat. If you want to get fancy, one of those small starter greenhouses is nice. 

Tools: many tools are inexpensive or easy to make yourself. Wire tools, assorted ribs or stick tools, sponges, 1 gallon buckets, a few old towels for your hands and a plastic drywall scraper are all available for little money either through your clay supplier, or you can make them yourself. There’s lots of dollar store or hardware store purchases (wooden spoons, dishpans, drywall scrapers, utility knives) that can be reworked or repurposed for studio use. Wareboards can be offcuts of plywood, drywall, hard backer, etc. Use what you have. Once you have a more clear idea about how you want to work you can add tools or upgrade them as you go. 

The few things I’d recommend “splurging” on are a mid level or better trimming tool, a little red rib from Sherrill for finishing work, and a good grout sponge that can be cut up. And even those aren’t going to run you much. Get the Kemper metal pin tool while you can, and maybe a couple of their wooden ribs via your clay supplier. Kemper has been the go to for beginner tools for many a long year, but unfortunately they’re being displaced and are going out of business. I don’t like their beginner kit because the trimming tools dull quickly, and the wooden knife thing isn’t useful for a lot. 

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On 7/7/2024 at 8:06 PM, Dmbgo said:


Big mistake. Don't buy anything before you actually know what it is that you need to know.   Whether a hobby or a germ of an idea to start a business, having  a foundation in the tools of the trade, the essentials of the craft, the science and chemistry of the materials, low fire? mid fire? , the physical skills for throwing (and handbuilding) are essential. It's important to learn the proper techniques. To get all charged up and just buy stuff because you're enthused and optimistic is a great way to lose time, effort, and money. And possibly get discouraged and bail because of a sour experience, which is avoidable.  Some basic education and hands-on classes are imperative. It would serve you well to do more reseach before spending more money.You mentioned "getting into pottery"--that covers a lot of territory. It may be helpful if you post a bit more about what type(s) of ceramic items you envision making. 

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David, welcome! I have to agree with Lee on this. Take some classes first to see if you actually like this craft. You will save yourself time, frustration and money. It can be a very expensive hobby and you want to be sure that you buy the right tools and equipment. I say no to a kiln at this time. 




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