A Cool Aunt Reviews the Pottery Wheel Set from Making in the Moment
Roll up your sleeves, cause we're about to get clazy!
Full disclosure: I consider myself a relatively crafty person. My hot glue gun gets regular use, and I keep a very active Pinterest account that includes both “Have to Try” and “Tried It” boards. But pottery was something relatively new to me.
Sure, I tried pottery at summer camp when I was 8, churning out a couple of wonky catch-all bowls, but I honestly can’t be sure what flavor Pop Tart I had this morning – let alone remember a well-meaning camp counselor’s pottery tips from thirty years ago. So I approached this pottery wheel set as I expect most people (kids and adults) will: as a total newb.
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The kit sets up the aspiring potter with everything they need to jump right in, and get their hands dirty. There's a variety of clay tools for leaving different impressions and textures, sponges, 2 pounds of air-dry terracotta clay, paints, a paintbrush, jewels, the pottery wheel — which can be operated with 6 D batteries, or can connect to an A/C adaptor (not included) — and a foot pedal.
It’s important to note that this is air dry clay, and the pieces made with the contents of this kit are not to be used for food or any liquids. But is is possible to make pencil cups, catch-all bowls and mugs, and decorative vases. And when you or the kids are ready to graduate to kiln-fired clay and food-grade materials, the basics earned with this kit absolutely still apply.
The wheel has a well for water, compartments to hold tools, and a drawer that conveniently stores the paint kit and jewels. Setup was pretty easy to figure out, especially with the diagrams in the user instructions. Aside from what’s included, there should be a small bowl of water onhand, paper towels nearby, and newspaper or a drop cloth for around the work area, because bits of clay can and will go flying.
If I had a porch, balcony, or deck, I definitely would have brought this outside, but It wasn’t as messy as I anticipated, especially since you’re literally playing with what is essentially mud. I set up at my work desk, exiled my electronics for the afternoon, put some towels down and got right into it.
Diving into the booklet, I learned how to wedge clay, and studied the diagrams and numbered steps on essential pottery know-how, and it wasn’t long before I was spinning away! There's a learning curve, but practice makes perfect.
As I practiced, I thought about what I wanted to make, and in the end my choice was “anything that doesn’t completely fall over.” The result looks sort of like an ant hill that I’ve decided is a decorative vase. Removing my decorative vase from the wheel was a little harrowing. There are instructions in the booklet on this step, but I found the process a little tricky.
With the piece successfully freed from the wheel, I set it on a baker's rack to dry. Determining the exact dry time can be tricky, because if the piece is thick, it may take longer to dry all the way through, so the best bet is to give it a few days before decorating.
A few days later, I used the wheel as a staging area to paint my creation as the instructions suggested. The paint is acrylic, and it would be possible prime the clay creation first by painting it all in white, letting it dry, and painting over it like a fresh canvas, but I found the colors were pretty vivid even over the terracotta if you build up the layers enough.
The paint has a cool, pearlescent sheen, and dries within a few hours, if the paint isn’t too thick. Wait till the paint is dry before trying to adhere the gems. Gemstones finally placed, my first clay creation is complete. I folded a paper flower for this vase, but it could swaped it out with dried flowers, or even feathers if you're fancy like that:
Bottom line, I was able to create a cute decorative piece of pottery right out of the box, with basically zero experience. This set is recommended for ages 6 and up, and I would absolutely recommend this for any kid with an interest in arts and crafts, but also for adults who want to try a new craft without the startup costs taking up pottery typically entails. The wheel and clay tools will work with any air dry clay, so when you finish the 2 pounds contained in the kit, more can be found in basically any craft store — and the same goes for replacement paints.
So craft away! A coat of paint and some gemstones gave my wonky little anthill a major glow-up, so don’t worry about what your first attempts look like, so remind yourself to just have fun – and remember to let the kids have a turn!
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Updated June 2022
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