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How Do I Choose the Best Pottery Kit?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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The best pottery kit will depend on your ability level and budget for purchasing the equipment. A beginner potter may want to start with a less expensive kit that includes only the bare minimum of equipment necessary to get started with the hobby, while an intermediate or advanced potter will want higher-quality equipment. It is a wise decision to start with a less expensive, basic pottery kit if you are a beginner, since you do not yet know if this is a hobby you will want to stick with. If you are sure of your interest in pottery, consider a higher quality kit.

Consider, too, the age of the person who will be using the pottery kit. Special kits are designed specifically for children, and the pottery wheel is likely to be small, lightweight, and designed with safety in mind. Small children can play with the clay and begin to develop an affinity for the craft, and parents won't have to pay a significant amount of money for the equipment. Such a pottery kit can be made from lightweight plastic, in which case it is likely to be considered a toy; older children with more dexterity and patience may benefit from a heavier-duty kit that is not considered a toy but is not necessarily considered a professional kit either.

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It is a good idea to research the different types of equipment used in the pottery making process. A pottery wheel is the key component of any pottery kit, and many types exist. Perhaps the most commonly used wheel is the electric wheel, which can be plugged into an electrical outlet. The speed of the wheel can be varied using the accompanying controls. Vintage wheels may be powered by a foot pedal; this will require more coordination and effort to use, but can also be quite fun.

Most kits will not include a kiln, or oven, for firing the clay once it is fashioned on the pottery wheel. This means you will need to find a way to harden the clay another way. You can invest in a pottery kiln, but this can be quite expensive. Some clay can be fired in a conventional home oven, but this is not always the safest or most effective method. An alternative to either option is to use a kiln owned by a local potter, or if possible, at a local community college.

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clintflint
Post 3

@pastanaga - Most people interested in pottery are going to want to work in real clay though, because it can be made food safe and it's a cheap enough material to make large items. Most other forms of clay are some kind of synthetic material and cost much more per ounce.

Besides, clay is the only thing that will work on a potter's wheel and there's something about using one of those that is unique to the craft.

pastanaga
Post 2

@MrsPramm - My suggestion if you can't find access to a kiln is to try using a material other than traditional clay. That's difficult if you're hoping to make food-safe items, but if you're just making sculpture there are plenty of options that will dry in the air or set in a conventional oven.

Polymer clay is a wonderful medium, although it's quite different in texture from natural clay. There is also paper clay and other kinds of clay marketed under various names that you can find in art supplies stores. Don't feel like you need a lot of equipment to sculpt because you can do it at home with just a few tools and the right materials.

MrsPramm
Post 1

It is actually possible to get a kiln that will fit into your microwave, but they are not usually big enough or hot enough to deal with clay or glazing. I've only ever heard of them being used to fire glass jewelry, but I haven't gone looking for a pottery version.

The best place to check if you don't have a local community college or pottery club is any local high schools. Pottery isn't quite as cutting edge as it used to be (if it ever was) but some schools will still have the facilities available and may be willing to let you use it.

A club is still the best option though, as they will usually give you deals on glazes and clay as well as access to lots of tools if you pay the membership fee. Not to mention the lessons offered by most clubs are invaluable for beginners and it's a nice way to meet people.

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