We received an email from somebody who viewed the “Our Pottery Studio” page and they asked the following question (approximately) regarding a pottery wheel and studio furniture;
“I came across your website when searching for reviews on the Gladstone pottery wheel! I wonder if you would mind letting me know how you have found it and how it compares to the Shimpo. It will be my first wheel to purchase and I’m trying to make up my mind about which one to get. I am fairly new to pottery but want to take it further if possible. I also wondered where you got your table in the middle of your studio which are metal framed with the shelf underneath.”
These are good questions and I’m glad to answer them here. All the views here are simply my opinion, nothing else.
The comparison of the wheels
In our pottery studio we have two pottery wheels – a “Bailey” Pottery Wheel from Gladstone Engineering and a Shimpo Whisper RK3E Pottery Wheel. They both cost me about the same amount of money and both have their pros and cons. Strange as it may sound, I think the Shimpo is the best wheel overall, but the Gladstone one seems to be my favourite that I use most of the time.
The pros of the Shimpo is that it’s height adjustable, it has a larger wheel head and I think the motor is stronger if you’re throwing exceptionally large amounts of clay. It also has a splash tray that comes apart in two pieces for cleaning.
The pros of the Gladstone Bailey wheel is that I just like the feel of it. The attached stool, the height of it, the feel of the splash tray and the attached wooden shelf at the back of it. It’s just nice to sit at and to use. I tend to use it most of the time. It’s not height adjustable and it’s a bit harder to clean because the splash tray isn’t removable, but it suits me and I like it a lot. Another good thing if you live in the UK, is that this wheel is made in the UK, so it’s supporting local people.
One other wheel to consider, if you’re not planning on throwing huge lumps of clay is another Shimpo wheel, the Shimpo RK-55, which is close to half the price and very reliable apparently. If you want to avoid spending too much money, that might be a very good option. We have one of these being used by a friend, and so far so good.
The studio furniture
The furniture we have in our studio was a big surprise. When we were purchasing our kilns through Northern Kilns, we realised that they also made pottery furniture. After a bit of discussion with them it became apparent that they can do almost anything. I was able to design the tables exactly as I wanted them and they made them to my design (different heights, some with shelves, some with overhang, one with a slate top). When they arrived, I was amazed at how solid they were. A couple of the tables needed four strong men to carry them, and they’re exactly what’s needed for a pottery studio – strong lumps of benches ready for any type of pounding and kneading that can happen with clay and pottery.
I don’t see any mention of furniture on the Northern Kilns website at the moment, so I’m not sure if they still make tables and benches but it would definitely be worth chatting to them if interested.