Info and tips for working with clay and pottery

July 29, 2015

If you're just starting out, here's some things to know about pottery and working with clay.

Info and tips for working with clay and pottery

Popular pottery

  • Pottery is a worldwide phenomenon. That such a common "found" material as clay can be changed into beautiful objects has captured the attention people worldwide.
  • Since the beginning of civilization, each continent, country and region has had its own distinct style and tradition of pottery.
  • Anyone can make almost anything with clay, but it's commonly used to make practical, everyday, household utensils.
  • Pottery objects created for purely ornamental or religious purposes take places of honour in many of the world's great museums.

Pottery and you

  • To make high quality, commercial-grade claywork in modern times, you need technical knowledge about materials and sophisticated firing processes.
  • It's possible to explore the properties of clay on an enjoyable, personal level. You can use clay from the ground and use a simple kiln at home for firing.
  • To begin, you need nothing more than an enquiring nature and a sense of adventure.
  • Working with clay gives hours of entertainment to both children and adults — age is no limit.

The right tools include your bare hands

  • No elaborate or expensive equipment is required to begin making pottery.
  • Other than clay, the two most important tools you need are your hands.
  • It's important that you develop a sensitivity to the clay using your fingers — and a reliable heat source to fire the finished product.
  • Throwing, or making pottery on a wheel, may look easy, but it's actually a difficult technique to master.

Gather your basic tools

The basic tools needed for pottery can be bought or made using materials readily found around the house. Gather together the following items to have on hand when getting started with pottery:

  • Fruit knife
  • Needle tool
  • Brushes
  • Natural sponge
  • Cutting wire
  • Metal kidney
  • Rubber kidney
  • Wooden rolling pin
  • Wooden kidney
  • Wooden rib
  • Banding wheel for handbuilding and decorating (wood or metal)

Pottery is a fun hobby with a rich history that gives you things you can actually use. When starting out, you don't need very much, but the results could astound you if you're patient with yourself and your clay.

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