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Throwing on the pottery wheel is exciting and fun. Once you can center, you’ll never get tired of the many things you can create with the potters wheel. Here we’ve gathered some tips and techniques that will show you how to use a pottery wheel in the most efficient and effective ways. If you want to throw sets on the wheel, here are some simple gauges for the potters wheel you can buy or make. Or for duplicating profiles, you can make wheel throwing templates. Another ingenious technique is to facet freshly thrown clay then continue throwing the clay and watch the pattern expand. Finally, you’ll enjoy the survey of trimming accessories for wheel thrown pottery—maybe there’s a tool that’s right for you.
Here’s an excerpt:
The What and Why Before You Buy a Potters Wheel
by Bill Jones
When it comes to buying a pottery wheel there’s no shortage of choices. Ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to nearly $2000, potters wheels are separated by degrees of capacity, construction, and accessories. While there’s nothing wrong with buying the potters wheel you used as a student, or happen to be using in a community studio, you may be missing out on an opportunity to find the best pottery wheel for your needs. If you’ve limited yourself to one or two wheels, you may not know if a different brand or model would be even better, or whether those models are still in production. To find out which potters wheel is best for you, you must assess your needs and understand what wheels can offer.
Assess Your Needs
The two most important things to consider when buying a pottery wheel are how often you’ll use it and how much clay you realistically expect to throw at one time. If you plan on using the wheel a lot, such as in a production situation, then you’ll want to look at sturdier professional models. Additionally, if you plan on centering large amounts of clay, then you’ll need to look at wheels with at least ½ hp (horsepower) motors.
In addition to level of use and capacity, you may also want to consider how much space you have, whether you need a portable wheel, if you just need a “starter” wheel, and, of course, what you can afford.
Assess the Wheels
Steven Branfman, in his book The Potter’s Professional Handbook, describes the features you need to consider when looking at wheels:
Power: A wheel’s power in practical terms is a function of hp and torque. What you really want to know is whether you can apply the necessary force to the largest amount of clay you will work with and not have the wheel slow down or stop.
Speed: Speed is related to power but is really a different performance issue. Your style of working dictates the speed or RPMs (revolutions per minute) of the wheel head you require.
Control Sensitivity: Your sensitivity to extremely slow speeds and the degree of gradual increase as you apply it will dictate any concerns you have in this area.
Smoothness and Vibration: Again, personal style and expectations will make this more or less of an issue.
Weight: If you use 30 or more pounds of clay, the weight and stability of the wheel could be an issue. You don’t want the wheel crawling along the floor as you apply pressure to the clay.
Wheel Head Diameter: Although you can use bats of almost any size, the diameter of the wheel head may be a concern. The smallest head is 12 inches, with heads going as large as 16 inches.
Miscellaneous Features: Splash pan, integrated seat, attached worktable, adjustable height, choice of rotation (reversing switch), construction materials and finishes, are all options you need to be aware of and assess as to their importance.
About Ceramic Arts Daily:
Ceramic Arts Daily is a free online website and newsletter written and produced for the benefit of potters and ceramic artists worldwide. The newsletter features both renowned and emerging artists, their work, techniques and artistic perspectives. Regular features include tips and techniques designed to help every artist expand their skill set and widen their artistic horizons. Ceramic Arts Daily also delivers video tips, in which potters and ceramic artists demonstrate various projects and processes. Think of them as e-workshops!
Ceramic Arts Daily is designed to be interactive, inviting your comments and fostering a community in which each person can contribute to the growth of their own and others’ skills. You may be surprised at what you learn!
Ceramic artists on Ceramic Arts Daily know what ceramic art is all about – from functional pottery to abstract ceramic sculpture. This is about community. You’ll be drawn in by artists’ stories, inspired by their work and find confidence to try some of their techniques. With Ceramic Arts Daily, you’ll learn a little bit of everything. Then you can choose the techniques you enjoy the most to create something new!
So start today by downloading our free Tips, Techniques and Tools for Getting the Most Out of Your Pottery Wheel. Then, get ready for Ceramic Arts Daily to introduce you to new artists and show you new techniques!
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