A Beginner’s Guide to Pottery: What You Need to Know

Posted October 10, 2022 by in Lifestyle

The pottery industry has been around for ages, and it is no surprise that we are still using the same techniques to make ceramic goods today. This article is meant as a beginner’s guide for anyone who wants to get into the industry with a little more knowledge on what they might need to know.

Person making pottery

What is Pottery?

Pottery is the process of making vessels from clay. Clay is a natural material that can be found in the earth. People have been pottering around with clay for centuries, and it has become a popular hobby.

There are many different types of pottery, and each has its own unique features. Here are a few cool facts about pottery: 

  • Pottery can be made from many different materials, including porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware.
  • Clay is mixed with water to form a soft paste. Then the potter starts shaping the clay by hand or using an electric wheel or other tool.
  • After the pot is finished being shaped, it’s fired in a kiln at a very high temperature to create the desired color and texture.
  • Pottery can be used for everyday objects like cups and plates, as well as for decorative pieces like vases and bowls.
white pottery vases by window

How to get into ceramics?

If you’ve ever thought of learning how to pottery, now is the time to do it!  You can join ceramic workshop for gaining more knowledge about ceramics. Also, here are some things you need to know before getting started:

1. There are many different types of pottery that you could choose from, so find something that intrigues you and get started! 

2. You don’t need any special equipment to start pottery, but there are a few things you will want to have around if you want to improve your skills. These include a kiln, an oven, and some clay.

3. Be patient when learning how to pottery – it takes time and practice to get good at it!

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re having trouble with something – there are plenty of experienced potters out there who would be happy to help you learn.

What Materials are Used in Ceramics?

When it comes to pottery, the materials that are used can be a bit confusing for those just starting out. Here is a list of the most common materials used in ceramics:

  • Clay: Clay is the foundation of pottery. It is mixed with water and other ingredients and then shaped into an object or vessel. There are many different types of clay, but the most common is kaolin clay. Kaolin clay is very soft, so it takes a long time to dry. It’s also a little more expensive than other clays.
  • Lustre: Lustre is what gives pottery its beautiful sheen. Lustre comes from tiny particles of minerals that have been suspended in the clay. When the pot is fired, these minerals fall out and give the pot its shine. There are many different types of lustres, but the two most common are iridescence and glaze. Iridescence is when the colors change as you move around the pot, while glaze is a uniform color throughout the pot.
  • Firing: Firing is what makes pots look their best. After clay has been formed into an object or vessel, it
wet pottery in woman's hand

Where Do I Find Ceramic Supplies?

If you’re just starting out in the world of pottery, you may be wondering where to find all the supplies you need. Well, fortunately, there’s no need to break the bank on your supplies! Here are five places where you can find ceramic materials without spending a fortune:

1. Local thrift stores: If you’re looking for cheap ceramics, try checking out your local thrift store. You may be able to find some great bargains on used pots and pans.

2. Online retailers: Another option for finding cheap ceramic supplies is to go online. Sites like eBay and Amazon offer a wide variety of ceramic items at affordable prices.

3. Craft stores: Finally, if you don’t have access to a thrift store or online retailer, check out your local craft store. They often carry a variety of ceramic materials, including paints and glazes.

4. Art supply stores: If you’re looking for specific types of ceramics (like clay), check out art supply stores. These stores usually carry a wider variety of materials than typical retail locations, so you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for more easily.

5. Ceramic supply stores: These stores are mostly found in larger cities and have a wide range of supplies. Some offer classes, too.

6. Craft fairs: These events are great sources for ceramics supplies, including ceramic paints and glazes, as well as additional clay materials like stoneware clay (like Mod Podge).

7. Local art supply store: If you can’t find what you want at your local art supply store, check online to see if any brick-and-mortar stores in your area carry the materials you’re looking for.

8. Ceramic shops: If all else fails, search for a local ceramics shop in your area and try asking around other crafty people who frequent the shop for their recommendations on good local resources.

9. Craigslist: If you know there’s a specific type of material you’re looking for, try posting into the Arts & Crafts section in the free classified ads on Craigslist. Not only will your ad show up to thousands of people, but it will also help keep your local community members updated about your needs and interests!

10. Become a vendor at an arts festival or craft fair: This is a great way to get access to materials without having to pay any upfront costs (other than gas and time). Most festivals have application processes, so check ahead and be sure that you have the supplies you need before trying this option out.

pottery tools in artist's hand

Basic Techniques: How do I Create a Dish?

In order to create a dish in pottery, you will need some basic techniques. Here are the basics: 

  • Wash your pot and your hands thoroughly before beginning.
  • Choose a suitable clay body for your project. This can be done by feeling or rolling the clay between your hands to find a shape that feels comfortable. If you are making a vessel, make sure the clay is thick enough so that it doesn’t crack when you heat it up.
  • Mix the clay with water until it is wet, but not too wet. The consistency should be like soft mud.
  • Knead the clay until it is smooth, then add more water if needed to make a workable ball.
  • Allow the clay to rest for about 20 minutes so that it can cure and thicken slightly.
  • Shape the ball into whatever form you wish and let it cure for another 24 hours.
  • Once the ball has cured, use a sharp knife to cut it into desired shapes.

Different Techniques: How do I Create a Vessel or Bowl? 

When you’re starting out with pottery, it can be difficult to know where to start. This beginner’s guide will walk you through different techniques for creating vessels and bowls. 

First, decide what kind of shape you want your pot or bowl to take. The most common shapes are circles, squares, and triangles. Once you have an idea of the shape you want, you need to decide on the material you’ll use. Clay is the most common type of pottery, but there are other materials available, like sand or wax. You’ll also need some tools to create your pot or bowl. The most important tool is a potter’s wheel, which helps you shape the clay into the desired form. Next, you’ll need a kiln or oven to heat the clay up to a specific temperature and then let it cool down slowly. Finally, you’ll need a tool called a glaze to finish your pot or bowl. There are many different types of glazes that can be used on different types of pots and bowls. So whether you’re starting out with simple pots or more advanced pieces, this beginner’s guide has got you covered!

Person making a plate with clay

Safety Guidelines

When you’re starting out, it’s important to know how to properly handle your clay and tools. Follow these safety guidelines to keep yourself and your studio safe: 

  • Wear a dust mask and eye protection when firing your pottery.
  • Keep your work area clean and well organized.
  • Use the right tools for the job. Don’t use a chisel if you need a knife, for example.
  • Never put your hand in the fire.
orange pottery on table

Have you ever considered taking up pottery as your next hobby?