Pottery can be fulfilling, and you can take it up without needing particularly fancy equipment. Therefore, there is no need to source obscure pallets and plaster of Paris.

Clay is readily available pretty much everywhere. Also, it is a very flexible medium; you can always remold your pieces before firing them in the kiln.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that pottery is becoming popular among the masses. Enthusiasts even liken its therapeutic effects to playing with play-doh as children!

Finding pottery courses and tutorials in America is not difficult to do. The worthy question to ask is how many of these courses are any good.

Searching for “pottery lessons near me” or “pottery classes near me” on the internet will return numerous results. However, not all of them deliver when it comes to learning this art form.

If you’re looking to learn pottery in New York, Chicago, or anywhere in between, here are a few things to keep in mind before starting your lessons:

A person sculpting a bowl with their hands on a rotating pottery wheel. The first few weeks of your pottery class will entail learning your way around the pottery wheel. Once you’re adept at it, the real learning begins!
Your pottery instructor will start you off with basic utensils like bowls; getting you to perfect your techniques before they start teaching you complex methods and designs. (Source: Unsplash)
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Pottery For Novices

Human beings have an innate sense of creativity and a natural desire to craft things of their own accord. When we create something from scratch – be it machinery or abstract art – we feel a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re looking for an avenue to tap into your creative skills, there aren’t many options better than pottery.

Just like Play-Doh and paper mache attract children, pottery grants adults the artistic ability to get their creative juices flowing.

Almost every major city – from Houston to Chicago – provides countless pottery lessons, and you don’t have to be Picasso to join a course!

There are no requirements for art prerequisites to enroll in a course. Pottery lets people tap into their creative side without the nuances you would expect from a painting or drawing lesson.

With just a few lessons, you’ll be well on your way to creating nifty pieces for your home. Seeing your creations being used will give you confidence in your ability to create.

You can even start gifting your designs to your friends and family members! And as we know, creating a gift adds sentimental value.

A set of three clay vases with a natural brown tone resting on a white surface. Some of the most basic pieces you can make in your pottery lessons include household utensils like bowls, mugs, and vases
You don’t have to create complex sculptures to qualify as a potter. Even a simple vase, crafted with ingenuity, can be eye-catching and win accolades from viewers. Many of the most famous artists are known for their simple designs. (Source: Unsplash)

Pottery And Personal Growth

With time, your work will get progressively better. Day by day, as students see their designs improve, they’re bound to learn the value of hard work and patience.

Pottery is also a great way to ground those that consider themselves restless. Being one with the clay while working on a pottery wheel can help them get rid of their mental clutter.

With pottery, there’s no right or wrong. And for people who have trouble letting go and relaxing, it can be a progressive way to help them destress.

It grants students the liberty to explore and experiment on their pieces as much as they like, without needing to strategize or make blueprints of designs.

Need a bowl to hold your salad? Why not just make one since you know pottery? If it does the job, bravo. If it doesn’t, you can always try again!

Lastly, you’ll get to meet many new people in your pottery classes. If you enjoy socializing and interacting with large groups, a pottery course can help you interact with like-minded individuals.

Working in a traditional studio setting – as is routine for many art courses – promotes engagement and helps individuals soak in the creativity of their peers.

A brown rock formation under the blue sky during the daytime. Many colored clays occur naturally in nature and are sourced directly from rocks and boulders. Some introductory pottery lessons will also educate you regarding the origins of clay
The red ochre found in specific rock formations is used to add a tinge to pottery clay. While some potters prefer painting their pieces, others prefer using naturally colored clays for a more dramatic effect. (Source: Unsplash)

Getting The Right Material For Your Pottery Lessons

When you enroll in a class – be it a pottery course or a gym class – you must be prepared with the tools necessary to partake.

Thankfully, for pottery, that list happens to be very short, and most studios provide the necessary equipment to their students. What you’ll need is:

  • Pottery space
  • Clay
  • Pottery wheel
  • Kiln

This list of items is enough for beginners since you won’t need a lot of material when starting with pottery.

You could be in Dallas or Chicago; it won’t be hard for you to source any of these things no matter what city you’re in.

With all that said, you need to learn to use the tools you will be needing. Therefore, make sure you pay attention in your introductory classes.

Unless you know how things work, you’ll never be able to master them or use them correctly. This is often the reason why people tend to drop out early.

Clays

It’s important to know which type of clay you’ll be using for your work. There are many different types available in the market, and choosing the right one can be difficult for beginners.

To get around this problem, keep a close eye on the properties of each clay you’re working on. Among other things, check for:

  • How much moisture they absorb
  • How long each clay takes to harden
  • How much moisture it already has

These are some of the essential traits that can help you understand different clays and help you select the right type.

Your clay should be pliable and flexible enough to allow you to knead, bend, and twist it the way you want it.

Additionally, It shouldn’t become too sticky when you add water to it. Clays that are too sticky are impossible to work with and end up creating an overall mess.

When checking for hardness, go for clays that are soft and easy to work with. Your clay should not give you a hard time when you try shaping it.

Remember that most clays come with essential minerals that add a natural color to them.

If you want your pieces to look a particular shade, choose clays by color. Don’t choose harshly colored clays for regular projects; these can be difficult to glaze or paint.

Furthermore, some clays need to be dried with heat or fire, while others dry up naturally when exposed to air. Each type of clay has different hardening times, so choose the right type according to your needs.

Lastly, take into account the toxicity of clays. Make sure the clays you select are environmentally friendly and non-toxic. You don’t want clays that can exacerbate allergies and health conditions.

Wheel

The pottery wheel plays an essential role in giving shape to your clay. Therefore, you must choose the right kind of wheel for your pottery work.

What are the key features to look for in a pottery wheel, you ask?

Before you invest in a potter’s wheel, ensure that it is durable and can withstand the casual knock or hit. Ensure you don’t get an inexpensive wheel just because of the price tag – there is no need to compromise your safety to save a couple of bucks.

Also, try and opt for a portable pottery wheel. A mobile unit can come in handy if you need to take your wheel home to practice your pottery.

And lastly, make sure you choose the dimensions of your wheel based on the size of your potential projects and the scope of your work.

Pat Yourself On The Back

Pottery should never be a chore. It is an activity where you want to celebrate your accomplishments, seeing your designs bear fruit in front of you when you craft them by hand.

Remember not to dwell on your faults, or you’ll get stuck in a loop and never get better. Make sure to focus on your successes and pat yourself on the back from time to time.

Also, consider displaying your work at an exhibition if you feel up to it or even put it up for sale if it’s an extraordinary piece.

And if you’re looking for pottery classes in Los Angeles, Chicago, or any major American city, make a profile on Superprof, find yourself a pottery tutor, and learn according to a customized schedule.

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Ian