How to Learn a Pottery Craft at Home

In recent times, the potter’s wheel is purchased not only for production or workshop but also for home use. Those who don’t know how to choose a potter’s wheel need to pay attention to a number of factors. The choice of pottery wheels is so great that it can be difficult to cope with this task even for an experienced craftsman. To make truly high-quality products from clay is possible only with very high-quality equipment. Just one simple pottery wheel will help make not one hundred items of clay, which in the future can be sold profitably.

Advantages of making clay products at home

There are several advantages of making pottery at home that determine the popularity of this craft:

  • It’s cheaper in the long run because you don’t need to rent a studio.
  • All supplies of materials are always on hand.
  • It saves time, no need to travel anywhere.
  • Needs minimal investment.
  • Allows you to do it in the comfort of your home.

There are also a few drawbacks to doing it at home:

  • You won’t have a teacher to help you.
  • You have to learn everything on your own.
  • You may not have the super-professional tools that studios have.
  • You may be limited in the products you want to make.

If you are just learning how to make pottery, you need to work on technique first, and doing it at home is a good way to create a comfortable space and learn the basics of the craft. But if you don’t have a home studio, it’s also worth trying to work in a specialized studio, especially if you don’t have your own materials. This will allow you to learn the basics of the technique more quickly and see if you can create a more comfortable environment for making clay products at home.

How to choose the right potter’s wheel

Skill level. There are times when the product is intended for professionals. Only an experienced worker (master) will be able to use such a potter’s wheel. It is not suitable for a beginner. Products for professionals always cost significantly more than for amateurs. It will take time to master more complex equipment, so beginners should not buy the most expensive technique.

Cost. Home machines are many times cheaper than professional equipment. You can buy such equipment in some cases at a very low price.

Quality of manufacturing. In this case, you need to pay attention to the quality of assembly, material, and quality of the components of the potter’s wheel.

Manufacturer. Some companies master the production in a very short time. This inspires suspicion. If the company has been producing pottery wheels for decades, the likelihood that its equipment can boast of decent quality is high. It is also necessary to study the reviews on the Internet about the manufacturer. This is an objective indicator that allows you to assess the quality of products and the reasonableness of the price. If you can contact the manufacturer directly and ask him any questions, it is even better.

Convenience. It is necessary to immediately assess the level of convenience of the equipment. Modeling from such a material as clay is complex work, which must be done very carefully. In this case, it is not recommended to be guided by reviews on the Internet and reviews. It is best to choose a circle by practicality just for you. Otherwise, you will not be able to use it.

Availability of free space for a container of water. Not all models can boast of such an option. A free surface for a bowl of water is an important advantage that should not be ignored.

The height of the board. If the board is too low or there is no board at all, the clay will constantly fall to the floor.

An important enough characteristic for a potter’s wheel is its weight. And this is a stick with two ends: a heavy wheel, of course, is hard to move, on the other hand, a heavy wheel stands firmly on the floor and is not afraid of working with large products – it will not “wobble. For understanding we can apply a formula: the weight of a wheel should be at least 3 times the weight of the clay being worked. And this is a minimum! Otherwise, the body of the wheel may start to rotate itself. 

Design features of potter’s wheels

There are different types of circles depending on the principle of control: manual, foot, and electric.

Electric ones are the most modern and the most convenient. You can quickly learn their principle of operation and get used to it in a couple of hours.

But with the handwheel and the foot to learn how to work, beginners may take a few months to master.

It is also worth understanding that all the potter’s circles have inside a different type of motor. Let’s consider them in detail:

  1. Collector motor. The simplest type, which is often used on small pottery wheels. The rotation is one way, the speed can be adjusted, but there will be enough noise.
  2. Asynchronous motor. Can rotate in two directions, it will be necessary to adjust the speed.
  3. Brushless motor. These motors are used for professional models. They are more powerful, reliable, and make almost no noise.

Before you buy, try to sit at the circle and understand if you are comfortable. This is very important.

It is also good to pay attention to the noisiness of the lap – it is just more pleasant to work behind a quiet one. Usually, collector motors are noisy, but the right manufacturers isolate the housing, which greatly reduces the noise.

Also, pay attention to how organized a circle collection is in a slurry. Usually, there are 2 solutions: a bath, directly in the body of the wheel or a basin, removable or detachable. It seems to us a more convenient solution with the tub in the body, as it is extremely strong and reliable construction.

How to choose the clay

Another important question will determine both the quality of the product and the appearance. There are several types of clay.

If you were working in a studio, we would say, just take regular clay, which is used for firing depending on the temperature of your kiln, you can even work with porcelain.

Clay and pottery are different materials that are widely used in pottery. However, the main difference between the two materials is that clay is a natural material that is naturally mined. Ceramics, on the other hand, are various groups of substances that are added to the clay to harden it when heated.

Because ceramics contain metal oxides, it changes the molecular structure of the clay when heated. Consequently, all clays can be considered ceramics, but not all ceramics are considered clay. While there are different types of ceramic clays, porcelain, pottery, and masonry clays are mostly used in pottery.

  1. Pottery clay. This clay is great for making pottery. It has a low temperature for firing, pliable to work. The result is a porous product. To avoid porosity, such clay is further processed by glazing, and then dried again. Products are very fragile.
  2. Porcelain. This clay is white in color. It is very hard and pleasant to work with. Requires high temperatures at firing. But in the end a beautiful white product comes out.
  3. Stone clay. Comes in a variety of colors. Requires a medium temperature firing. This clay is quite strong and durable. Soft and malleable in the work, it is easy to work with.

Although this is the best ceramic clay that is used for pottery, if you are a beginner and just looking at pottery, you can start with the self-curing clay. It is very malleable, which allows you to create a wide variety of pottery. You can read more about pottery materials in our separate article.

Additional accessories

In addition to clay, you also need to buy different enamels for coating, glazes, paints, and other things. There are also special mixes that help simplify the process of processing products.

For gluing the parts you will need special glue. Also, you will need special tools to give the clay different shapes.

This is all the most basic that you will need at the initial stage.

Firing ceramics at home

Firing in the oven is an option if you work with fired clay. But, if you’re willing to spend a little more money, you can buy an inexpensive kiln.

Advantages of oven firing:

  • It’s cheap since you already have one.
  • It usually allows you to create decent ceramics.
  • The resulting products are quite durable.

But if you want to make the process more seriously, you need an oven, because your home oven won’t produce the desired temperature. It has many advantages over the oven:

  • Your products can be more versatile.
  • You’ll be able to create the right atmosphere to work in.
  • You will be able to work with a greater variety of glazes and clays.
  • The process is easier to manage because it is slower.
  • Allows you to use a high-temperature (biscuit) firing, which makes the ceramics stronger.

The oven is a good place to start if you’re going to learn how to do it at home. But we advise you, once you’ve learned a bit, consider buying an oven or firing it in a studio nearby.

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