What To Look For When Buying a Pottery Wheel For The First Time

I still remember the first time I held a handmade ceramic mug. It felt so different, unlike store-bought mugs. Although that never changed my obsession for all types of mugs. Ceramic mugs always amazed me.

Pottery is a type of solitary art. I also like to believe that it will help you discover a thing or two about yourself, it’s therapeutic!

If you’d like to take on pottery as a hobby. Allow me to explain further what you should look for when buying a pottery wheel!

What Are the Different Wheel Types?

There are 2 types when it comes to choosing your pottery wheel. There is an electric pottery wheel and a kick pottery wheel.

Electric Pottery Wheels

This is the lighter version of pottery wheels. It completely relies on electricity, so forget using it if there’s an electrical problem that was to happen!  It can also be transported with ease due to its weight and size.

You should know though that the electric pottery wheels tend to be noisy. If you’re a beginner be sure to experiment a little with the speed. You could adjust it wrong and it might damage the throwing process.

Kick Pottery Wheels

This the manual kind of wheels. Although both wheels have their pros and cons to them, I find that the kick pottery wheels give the artist a better feel for the project.

You are in full control of the speed if you do struggle a bit with that though. You might find some kick wheels that come with a motor to help a bit with adjusting the speed.

You can easily change the direction of the spin depending on whether you’re right or left-handed. Due to its heavyweight though, it’ll be extremely hard to move around.

Since this wheel depends on your own leg movement and force. You may develop some knee problems.  I suggest that you don’t overuse the wheel and spread your work on a period of a couple of days rather than working for long hours.

If you start developing some pain in your knees, make sure to get that check out early on to avoid complications like arthritis.

Price: How Much Should You Invest?

When you’re buying a pottery wheel, what you need to keep in mind, is what you’ll be using the wheel for. The price is determined based on the pottery wheel’s capabilities and features.

The price starts at around $150 and can go up to $1,500.

You’d need to consider the space you’ll be placing the wheel in, and for how long you’ll be using it for.

For a beginner potter, you’d invest in something that isn’t as costly. Usually, when you’re just starting you don’t need a pottery wheel that holds a ton of clay. Some pottery wheels can hold up to 500 lbs of clay, and those are for the more advanced users.

Some wheels have the option of a reversible spin used depending on which one is your dominant hand. So check the direction the wheel spins and whether it’s suitable for you or not!

Choosing the Best Workspace

Before you start your investment you’d need to take a look around your apartment or studio and see where you’d like to place your wheel.

The pottery wheel comes with the wheel head, a frame, and the power source. Some have in addition working tables and splash pans, as they decrease the mess a bit. These parts might interfere with the throwing process though.

Now that I have mentioned the mess, you’d need to make sure that you place your wheel in a location that is easy to clean. Being a beginner, I can’t emphasize enough on the mess that is going to be created as you’re still getting used to the amount of water you need to add.

If you don’t have that much space, you could lay around a tarp on the areas you’re worried might get ruined from the clay. This will make cleanup much faster and easier.

I also suggest getting the right tools to get your pieces coming out to better aid you in creating your envisioned product! We have put together an article with tools in mind.

Keep in mind that pottery wheels can be a bit noisy to some people as well. So if you’re living with others, try to place it in a place away from them. The most common place pottery wheels are placed is in the basement.

You’d also need to have shelves and tables. I suggest having a shelf for finished products, a separate shelf for damp products, and one for the products that need to be glazed.

How Long Should It Last?

With the many options that you could find with pottery wheels. You’d want to make sure that you get the one that will meet your needs in the long run.

For instance, when you’re a beginner most people don’t like to invest with a big bulk of money. They might fear they won’t continue with pottery. That’s why I recommended classes before getting your own wheel. 

But if this is something you plan to continue doing as part of your daily routine. Then you’d want to spend a bit more money than intended. This way it’ll last a while.

Electric wheels may last about 10 years, give or take. Although, that does seem like a long time, when you invest in a kick wheel this one will last you for a lifetime! So make sure you take your time to think about what are the options you want. As well as how long you’d want to continue pursuing this hobby.

Mobility: Can a Pottery Wheel Be Easily Moved?

In the beginning, I didn’t know what to get. I needed to make sure though that I could easily create any project. Which meant, I needed something that can take up lots of clay weight.

This, of course, differs from one person to another. Getting a portable pottery wheel is more suitable for those who like to teach pottery lessons in different locations, plan on relocating in the near future, or maybe someone who likes to travel a lot.

That’s why it’s recommended getting an electric pottery wheel for easier mobility. Electric pottery wheels usually weigh around 35 lbs, which also means that it has a small clay weight capacity.

If you’re someone like me, who doesn’t care as much about the placing of the wheel. Then I suggest getting the kick pottery wheel.

Kick pottery wheels are motorless, they rely on the user and the force they use. They’re made with such heavy material that weighs 300 lbs on average.

Make sure you think about your future plans. If you plan to move in the future it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to invest in the kick pottery wheel. But, if you’re more of a traveler then getting an electric wheel would be the best option for you!

Wheel head Options

Now for the fun part! The wheel head is the part where you place your clay on. Those have different sizes usually ranging between 8 and 14 in. The size depends on the type of project you want to implement, and the size of your pottery wheel as well.

When I first started pottery, I invested in the wheel but I forgot to get the bats. Those awesome tools are used so you could remove your artistic piece with ease.

Most wheel heads come with pre-drilled bat pinholes. That is to ensure easy removal of the bats without damaging your pieces.  Those bats have so many options for them ranging from different sizes and materials.

The best material you could get would be something porous, can absorb water, like wood. That’s because the more water is absorbed, the easier it’ll be to remove it. Just make sure to start removing your project once it starts drying up.

Getting plastic material would be harder to get it removed as plastic doesn’t absorb water. So to remove your pieces you’d need to wire it off. Wiring isn’t that complicated, but for beginner potters, you might cut your pieces wrongly which would damage your art.

In Conclusion

Starting a new hobby is always thrilling and a bit risky. That’s why you should always think about this hobby from all aspects like the price it will cost, will it be a lifetime activity or something to fulfill the phase you’re in.

As fun as pottery can be, it always requires a lot of work and dedication. I can’t tell you how long it took to get a basic bowl made. That’s why it’s ok if you failed in the beginning, keep trying!

Invest in the options you want to have when it comes to purchasing the wheel. Think about all the projects you want to accomplish and get the proper wheel head bat to accommodate your art piece.

I recommend you taking classes first. To see if it’s something you’d actually enjoy.

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