Have you always wanted to give pottery a try but not sure how to get started? Well, pottery making is a wonderful hobby. It allows you to create brilliant pieces, and you can turn it into a full-time business if you have a knack for it.
However, learning pottery can be challenging. There is a lot to learn, and with lots of practice required, it tends to be overwhelming. But, there is nothing to worry about. With the right guidance, good learning materials, and some essential tools, you can easily learn pottery.
From this pottery beginner’s guide, you will discover all that you need to master the craft. Read on!
The process of learning pottery involves many things. You have to know the different forms of pottery to go with, the items to choose for a start, and where you can learn several concepts or find inspiration. The tips below will help you learn pottery successfully:
The concept of pottery can be divided into three different forms. They include:
The main differences between these three forms are durability, type of clay used, water resistance, and strength of the finished products.
Stoneware is made when the clay is fired at temperatures above 1,200 °C. Firing clay at such high temperatures leads to dense, highly durable, and waterproof products.
Earthenware is a form of pottery where clay is fired at relatively low temperatures, ideally between 1,000 to 1,150 °C. Despite the hardening, the products are somehow brittle and slightly porous. Such products have to be glazed before being fired again in a kiln.
To make porcelain, clay has to be refined and fired at extreme temperatures of about 1,200- 1,450°C. This results in a tough, shiny material that’s more durable. The concept of porcelain is said to have originated from China at around 1600 BC, and up to date, it’s still applied to make highly durable pottery products.
Pottery is highly practical, and to learn it the best way possible, it’s best to get some essential tools. They include:
The wheel is perhaps the most essential tool in pottery. It plays a crucial role in shaping the clay. Pottery wheels vary in size and shape. The best pottery wheel for beginners should be small and, if possible, electric. The traditional wheels can be challenging to maneuver when you have never used them. A wheel enables you to try different concepts, unlike when shaping by hand.
A pottery kiln is an oven that’s capable of generating extremely high temperatures to harden clay. The role of the kiln is to dry the clay and turn it into a ceramic once shaped. Unlike kitchen ovens that generate seemingly lower temperatures, a pottery kiln is designed to give enough temperatures. Whether you want to make porcelain, stoneware, or earthenware, you can fire anything you want with the best electric kiln.
Pottery clay is a fine-grained soil material that’s moistened before refining. Clay material has various properties that make it ideal for pottery.
Porcelain clay requires proper refining. Also, you have to mix it with water strategically. It looks beautiful, but to get your way around it, you must gain some experience.
Stoneware clay is highly versatile and easy to work with. It’s the best pottery clay for beginners and comes in a variety of colors. Its earthen counterpart is heavier, thicker but tends to be relatively weaker.
Other essential pottery tools for beginners include:
With the best tools, you can easily get started. Acquiring these products beforehand simplifies the learning process, as you can try different things at a go.
Clay throwing is the process of molding and bending clay between the fingers. While it sounds simple, this is an intricate process that requires lots of skills and technique.
When learning pottery, the first step is knowing how to throw clay. When doing it on your own, it can take a lot of time. You can throw clay on the wheel thousands of times and still not get perfect. It’s best to find relevant classes, study materials, or some sort of guidance.
Here are some ways on how you can learn clay throwing:
Online courses help learn pottery at home. With all the materials needed at your disposal, you can easily follow through all classes, grasp the key concepts, and practice various techniques. Here are some of the best pottery classes for beginners:
Skillshare has a wide range of classes to hone your pottery skills. The Pottery on the Wheel for Beginners Course teaches how to throw clay onto the wheel. It starts with teaching clay refining tactics and goes up to removing a fired pot from the kiln. Designed for beginners, this course lets you brush up your skills and achieve success within a short period.
Another class, The Art of Ceramics, teaches students all the processes of making ceramics. It walks you through the process of preparing clay, throwing it on the wheel, glazing up to finishing. This class was designed for aspiring potters who don’t mind getting their hands dirty while learning pottery. The instructor demonstrates all processes seamlessly so you can gain knowledge and explore various options.
Udemy has a variety of courses to help you learn pottery. The Wheel-Thrown Pottery for Beginners, one of the highly-rated Udemy courses, turns beginners with no experience into talented professionals. Through this course, you will learn the technical concepts involved and the best wheel-handling practices. It’s well organized, and students can learn through demonstrations, skill-building exercises, and texts.
Another Udemy Course, How to Make Pottery on the Wheel for Beginners, blends fundamental education and artistic guidance to brush up your skills. It introduces you to pottery, walking you through the process of setting up the workspace, mixing clay with water, throwing on the wheel, and much more.
Craftsy is an ideal platform for learning different types of crafts. The Introduction to Pottery course helps you learn pottery throwing essentials. Sarah Wolf, the course instructor, takes you from start to finish, demonstrating all the crucial concepts that you need to understand.
To start, Sarah shares tips on arranging your tools. She also gives a brief overview of some concepts so you can easily get started. She also demonstrates the most essential concept; centering. This involves balancing the wheel speed and aligning your clay. By the end of the course, you’ll have made your ceramic mug.
The Ceramic School has some highly intuitive pottery courses for beginners. The ‘How to Decorate Surfaces’ class teaches you how to decorate surfaces after you’ve made some top-notch ceramics. The course instructor, Meghan Yarnell, teaches how to create awe-inspiring patterns and symbols in your ceramics.
Reading books can help a lot if you want to learn pottery in depth. With books, you can learn from the best on how to become a good potter. Here are some must-read books to expand your pottery knowledge:
This book is a great asset to help you master the art of ceramics. It provides an introduction to wheel-throwing and helps pottery beginners learn different techniques. This book combines galleries from top artists and expert insights. Any potter looking to dive into a world of unending opportunities can hugely benefit from this book.
Another book, the Pottery Handbook by Simon Leach, helps struggling potters to get their way around the craft. Regardless of whether you are struggling to refine clay or balance the wheel, this book provides all answers and advice you need. The clear tutorials are packed with loads of instructions on all pottery techniques.
The Complete Pottery Techniques book is ideal for both beginners and potting professionals. It covers all techniques, from clay handling and firing to glazing. The step-by-step photos taken from actual pottering helps you know how to move hands when throwing clay. Besides providing guidance, this book serves as a big inspiration to potters looking to perfect new skills.
A pottery guild is a great idea if you want to connect with other potters. It also comes in handy when you don’t have a workspace at home.
Through pottery guilds, you can meet other folks that enjoy the same creative hobby as you. Pottery guilds are great sources of information that would be hard to get when potting at home. Even if you have a home studio but want to learn, try to join a guild.
During those ancient years, pottery was learned through apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is suitable for beginner potters who want to learn from experienced potters.
It’s best to look out for apprenticeship programs in your locality. These programs give learners time, space, and guidance to develop their work.
If you are going to join an apprenticeship program, make sure you are seriously considering life as a potter. Most apprenticeship programs involve lots of manual work and may be meaningless if you are not looking to advance professionally.
With all the above tips, you will surely make a great porter. Committing to learning pottery will help you master the craft like a pro. Ensure you have all the essential tools, learn the basics, and join a pottery guild. This way, you are good to go!
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