A potter’s wheel is a tool used to shape (or “throw”) round ceramic objects known as clay on a pottery wheel. The wheel can also be used to apply incised decoration or colour rings and to trim superfluous bodies from leather hard dried ware (stiff but flexible). The Old World saw extensive use of the potter’s wheel, but the Pre-Columbian New World did not, where pottery was manufactured by coiling and beating, among other techniques.
Sometimes, a potter’s wheel is referred to as a “potter’s lathe.” Though that name is more appropriate for a different sort of machine that is used for turning, a different kind of shaping process akin to that used for metal and wooden materials
How Does a Pottery Wheel Work?
A skilled potter might appear effortless when throwing clay on a wheel. But how precisely does a pottery wheel function, and what happens when pottery is being created on one? This article examines the throwing of pottery and the operation of a pottery wheel.
The wheel head or plinth of a pottery wheel revolves while the potter’s hands are free to mould the clay. The potter moulds the clay by applying pressure against the clay’s centrifugal force. Both a manual motion and an electric motor are capable of moving the wheel head. (Foster, G.M., 1959)
Pottery wheels types
Pottery wheels generally have different spinning mechanisms, with the majority of them spinning mechanically. The two primary forms, foot pedal and switch, operated, each has advantages and disadvantages.
Pedal Operated by Foot
A pottery wheel with a foot pedal works somewhat similarly to a sewing machine. The pedal sits on the floor, and you simply press the pedal with your foot. This starts the pottery wheel’s spinning mechanism and makes it turn.
Although it necessitates a bit more concentration and coordination, a foot pedal can provide you with far more control. Your child must simultaneously sculpt the clay with their hands and the foot pedal.
This type of wheel is a fantastic long-term alternative for an older youngster. But a smaller child might find it too difficult to utilise. Excellent for those over the age of eight.
Switch-operated pottery wheels have an “on” switch that starts the spinning mechanism. This type of pottery wheel could have several different speed settings.
Pottery wheels operated by switches don’t provide the same level of control as those operated by foot pedals. However, they let you give all your attention to using your hands to mould the clay. This makes it a fantastic option for young children (6+) who are just starting to work with clay.
The Best Pottery Wheel You Need For Adults
Brent Models B and C Power Wheels
Brent wheels are a standard in studios and schools because they are dependable, strong, and easy to use. You’ll receive a strong machine that can manage large loads of clay. If you can afford one of these wheels, so do so. Each has a sturdy splash pan, steel legs, and a belt-driven engine. The main difference between the B and C models, which Blick sells, is their motor horsepower: the former has a 12 HP motor, while the latter has a 34 HP engine that can constantly churn over 200 pounds of clay. The speed range for both is 0 to 240 rpm.
Nidec Shimpo VL-Whisper Potter’s Wheel
If you want to live in an apartment, noise may be a key consideration. The wheel made by Nidec Shimpo may be the quietest one available. Its mechanisms are electronically controlled by a magnet system and are powered by a beltless, brushless direct drive motor. As you press the pedal, you’ll be able to feel the hardware moving smoothly. The 12 HP motor provides considerable torque and a speed range of 0 to 250 rpm, although some potters might find it restricting. It can centre up to 100 pounds of clay. The Shimpo’s legs, which are removable for simple travel and storage and adjustable to accommodate various throwing postures, are another fantastic feature.
The Small Wheel by Small Ceramics Ltd.
Tiny pots are big, in case you haven’t been paying attention. However, the only miniature pottery wheels that are now on the market for under $200 are either novelty wheels that fit within canisters the size of a palm or miniature wheels that lack torque, bats for lifting the pot off the plate, and splash pans. So here it is, the Small Wheel, created by two passionate potters in the UK. A Small Wheel is a reliable machine with a strong motor, changeable speeds, a wheel that can spin in either direction, a replaceable bat system, and an effortless to clean collection pan. It is not a toy. The wheel comes with four bats (more bats can be ordered separately), a printed user guide, and an appropriate power supply for your country. It is available in four vibrant colours and black. Consider including the Company’s little pot tool set in your order if you are just starting.
Speedball Clay Boss Potter’s Wheel
Speedball’s Clay Boss, another wheel with a 1/2 HP engine, is perfect for hobby potters. This wheel is reasonably priced, a little less expensive than our other recommendations, and excellent for use at home because it is somewhat quiet. It can hold up to 100 pounds of clay, but you’ll notice the motor slowing down as you get closer to greater loads. Even so, this wheel is great; it rotates steadily and smoothly, and you can easily adjust its speed from 0 to 240rpm.
Nidec Shimpo Aspire Pottery Wheel
Consider a tabletop pottery wheel if you lack space. The Nidec Shimpo Aspire has a somewhat lower power output than the three options above but more portability to make up for it. Its motor is a 1/3 HP, 100W DC motor. For the majority of little crafts, including miniature pots, this model will be more than suitable with speed ranges of 0 to 230 rpm, a 7-inch wheel, and a 20-pound centring capacity. Available with a foot pedal or a hand lever.
Skutt Thomas Stuart Legend Pottery Wheel
The Skutt brand is well known for manufacturing heavy-duty wheels, many of which are constructed like tanks. The Legend model is a popular one to pick up at a fair price point for a Skutt wheel. This one has thick legs and a powder-coated aluminium frame that can withstand the force needed to toss big items. You won’t need to be concerned about placing too much stock in it. With a 1/3 HP motor, this wheel has incredible torque and can centre more than 100 pounds of clay. We also adore the sizable, detachable splash pan because it will make cleanup quicker.
Best Pottery Wheels for Kids
MindWare pottery kit for beginners
The MindWare Pottery Wheel for Beginners is arguably the greatest pottery wheel for children. The Dyson of children’s pottery wheels, essentially. MindWare goes so far as to offer an ac converter to power this beauty because it was made to be the toughest and most resilient. (Yes, batteries are not required here.) The ability of this pottery wheel to operate in numerous directions and speeds due to the power adapter results in higher-quality finished goods (we hope). The largest selection of all beginner kits, this one includes 2 12 pounds of clay, 12 paints, a splatter screen, and numerous moulding, carving, and cutting tools. The focus on safety is, however, our favourite aspect. A splatter screen is helpful for shielding our walls, but MindWare equipped this pottery wheel with a pressure sensor. The wheel stops if too much pressure is exerted to avoid the engine overheating or burning out.
Cra-Z-Art Children’s Motorized Pottery Wheel Activity Set
This Cra-Z-Art pottery wheel for novices, which has received five stars from a 13-year-old customer on Amazon (we all know they don’t like anything, EVER), is sure to be a hit. Our children will be prepared for hours of fun with these inexpensive projects that come with enough materials to finish many tasks. If there isn’t a nearby container of water for frequent hand dips, working with the clay will undoubtedly cause frustration. By allowing the wheel to start and stop at their demand, the foot pedal will offer our LOs control when they need it, allowing them to fix their job as necessary. It’s time to embellish after Picasso has finished moulding the two pounds of air-dry clay that is included! This kit comes packed with all the materials needed to decorate the final product, including six vibrant paints, a glitter pen, and sparkling gems to finish the effect.
Cool Maker, Pottery Studio, Clay Pottery Wheel Craft Kit for Kids Aged 6 and Up
The setting of Pottery Cool Studio is ideal for learning sculpture. Everything our LOs require to get going is included in this all-in-one kit, excluding the C batteries! One of the best parts of this kit is the five metallic paints. There are enough of them to cover every project. Although some of the tasks are more difficult than others, the step-by-step instructions make them all achievable. The Pottery Cool Studio Kit, which is best for children aged six and above, is simple enough to put up and use (with thorough directions) that our kids could maybe do it themselves, giving us some much-needed “me time”!
MindWare Beginner Pottery Tool Kit for Kids
The MindWare pottery setup is slightly different from some of the other items on the list. The hand-wheel allows kids to assemble their masterpieces manually. Since every instrument within is made specifically for children, you can trust that they can use it independently and without much adult supervision. Although this wheel doesn’t come with any clay, you can start by using either the polymer or dry air variety.