One of our more interesting Christmas gifts was the Grafix Pottery Wheel, an intro to clay throwing kit in a box for kids. It’s an interesting concept; but how does it work in real life? Read on to find out.
Our daughter is four years old and very interested in fine arts and crafting. She received a lot of non-drying sculptural clay this holiday season to help her develop hand strength and coordination. We saw this throwing wheel set as being a respite from the Sclupey and a chance to do something different and more guided with her clay building.
The kit includes a handful of plastic clay tools, a 6″ x 4″ x 4″ block of clay, sponge, paint brush, acrylic paints, a battery powered wheel (4 D batteries, not included) and floor pedal. The instructions are scant. If the parents do not have previous experience throwing clay, I imagine you will have an uphill battle to get anything accomplished. The instructions do not cover wedging (kneading), wetting or carving the clay. Needle and ribbon tools are not included with the kit (probably for safety reasons). Those are necessary to have anything approaching a professional product.
The wheel itself is woefully underpowered. Whenever I applied adult-level pressure (to help with centering or shaping), the wheel slowed to a halt. To have a pot tall enough to use the arm-guide (a creative idea for helping kids stay steady when applying designs) you will need to use your entire allotment of clay, rendering the kit useless until you order more. Assuming you get a finished product that you want to keep, your clay will dry to greenware and then you can paint it with the provided acrylics. There are no provisions to fire or glaze the pot to make it stronger or food-safe. If you are lucky enough to have a kiln available, the clay is high quality and ready to finish appropriately.
It probably goes without saying; but this should be used outdoors or in an open space that can be mopped easily. Throwing clay is messy, even for professionals. Have a bucket of water handy for wetting the clay and sponge and for letting your kid clean their clay-caked hands at regular intervals. If this is a first-time clay throwing experience for you and your child, do some additional research before attempting to use this kit. You’ll become frustrated very quickly. Youtube is full of great pottery throwing videos to get you started.
Unless you are a seasoned ceramics enthusiast able to guide your child through the process, I would encourage you to seek out another kit or better yet, enroll in a local arts class to allow your child to use professional equipment and receive quality instruction. Learning to throw pottery can be frustrating for adults and even more-so for little ones. Give your kid the best chance to succeed and skip this kit.