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Advice for wannabe child potter?

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  • Advice for wannabe child potter?

    My 7-year-old boy has expressed an interest in learning pottery. He tends to be quite artistic, so I would really like to support him in this.

    What sort of things do we need to begin with? I presume that we need a potter's wheel of some sort (looking on e-bay at the moment) and obviously some clay, but beyond that I'm not really sure.

    I presume also, that until we have access to a kiln that it would be best to stick with air-drying clay, but some comments about that would be helpful. Any suggested reading?

    It isn't really possible to enrol either of us in classes, both proximity-wise and finance-wise. So, I have it in mind to try it with him (best way to teach him, afterall) and if either of us take to it maybe we'll try pottery a bit more seriously.

    Thanks for any advice...
    Single, expat American mother of four boys and a girl due 25 Nov.

  • #2

    I used to work in a toyshop.I definately remember it stocking a potters wheel for kids.I think it was around £40 so Im assuming it was a pretty sturdy one for beginners(sadly I didnt get the chance to try it out)
    Yep, I think its best to start off with air drying clay.Toyshops also sell the clay, if not you could try an artists shop.

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    • #3
      Not done pottery for a while but you will also need a tool that looks a bit like cheese wire with 'toggles of wood' on either side. This is used to cut the pot off the wheel and can also be used to reduce the size of the item you are making. Sorry I can't be more helpful but it was about 15 years ago that I did it last!
      You will have to let us know how it goes
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      • #4
        I would check with your local college. our's offer courses at the weekends for parent and child in various arts.
        full time mum and very very part time crafter.


        • #5
          Try Coiling (No Wheel)

          I suggest you think about coiling ...

          ... no wheel required, therefore, many expenses saved. - Ali
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          • #6
            My dad's a potter and I asked him at the weekend.. He advised that its often better if your son joined a class until he's well up for taking it up.. Its a lot of mess and a lot of work to look after a pottery studio and not like making cards or painting

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            • #7
              If your son has expressed an interest in pottery, then being as young as he is i would not worry about classes, equipment and so on, all you need to do is give him some lovely red earthenware clay thats really smooth and play with it with him.

              All you need is a knife (not sharp of course - craft knife) a wired to clut it and maybe some shape cutters (cant remeber what there called) .

              Make some tiles and sculptures, you dont need to fire them really anyway, paint them wiith PVA clue and it will be fine.

              He would love it.


              • #8
                You can always go the Raku route until the passion catches him well and good and then he might want a "proper" kiln. All you need for Raku is a back garden, bricks and sawdust/woodshavings.

                I also think that children's pieces work well with Raku.

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                • #9
                  Hi, if I were you I would forget the wheel for now. Get a bag of clay and let him" play" with it. It may be a thing that he grows into or out of. I hand build although I can throw. I have been potting for 10 years and my wheel never sees the daylight. Let the feel for the clay develop.
                  Good luck



                  • #10
                    Look at the dates of the threads!!


                    • #11
                      Hand build first then try throwing

                      Originally posted by Enchanted Ceramics View Post
                      Hi, if I were you I would forget the wheel for now. Get a bag of clay and let him" play" with it. .... Let the feel for the clay develop.
                      Couldn't agree more. There are plenty of possibilities for working in clay before tackling the daunting task of learning to throw - it's a bit like learning to play a musical instrument and can be very frustrating unless you really know it's what you want to do.
                      For example:
                      * Roll out a dozen tile-shapes and let him decorate them, cut them into other shapes, etc. A wooden clay knife is fine for this.
                      * Teach him to do pinch-pots. (A ball of clay, stick your thumb in the middle, pinch gently and keep turning the pot round and round in your cupped other hand until the walls are an even thickness all round and you have a bowl. Then place it gently but firmly on a board to create a flat bottom).
                      * Try 3-d modelling.
                      * Try coiling to make larger bowls, taller vase shapes, ovals, etc.
                      * Try rolling out slabs, letting them firm up slightly and then making slabbed vessels....
                      These things should keep his interest for quite a while!

                      ** BUT - HEALTH AND SAFETY THING ! ** - bear in mind that clay is perfectly safe when it's wet but the dry dust is largely silica and if inhaled can aggravate asthma and even cause silicosis. Always work with clay before it's fully dried, and avoid the temptation to, for instance, use a bit of sandpaper to smooth out a flaw (or wear a dust mask). Always hoover and/or wash down floors and worksurfaces - never dry sweep etc. If you're doing it in the house somewhere, wear a pair of flipflops/slippers/clogs so you can step out of them as you leave the clay area and avoid walking the dust through the rest of the house.
                      A kiln is a big investment, but you'll probably find there's a school, college or potter somewhere fairly local that will take a box of greenware and fire it for you, in the interests of fostering the next generation of potters! (Whereabouts are you?) Or you might try air-drying clay. I haven't used it but I'm told it's good these days...
                      It's great that you are so supportive of his creative urge - more power to your elbow!!
                      Best wishes and good luck