For centuries, pottery has been the go-to method of creating cups, jars, plates, and other items. In fact, a team of Chinese, American, and Israeli anthropologists discovered ceramic remains in China’s Hunan province.

These remains are believed to be between 15,400 to 18,300 years old!

A collection of ancient pots displayed at an old pottery shop. According to various sources, pottery dates back to 18000 and 29000 BC; however, no proof says that the practice couldn’t be even older!
Also famous as ceramics and ceramic art, pottery is one of the oldest art forms humans invented. It’s the art of creating different objects such as cooking vessels from molding wet clay. (Source: Pixabay)

Apart from the functional aspects, utensils crafted through pottery are also aesthetically pleasing, meaning that this art form will remain relevant for generations to follow.

Pottery is fun for people of all ages — creating something out of clay is a fulfilling and exciting experience.

In addition to that, making pottery and ceramic objects can be a relatively easy, therapeutic, and satisfying hobby to undertake.

This means anyone – whether a kid, teenage, adult, or an elder – can become a potter if they have the right approach, tools, and motivation.

Although you can learn the art of pottery from reading books or watching YouTube tutorials, the best and the most effective way is through pottery lessons.

Superprof provides pottery classes in Houston, Dallas, and other cities in the States, so jump on the bandwagon and learn how to make pottery like a pro!

And to help you ease into the process, we’ve made an all-encompassing guide to the fundamentals of pottery:

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Fundamental Pottery Techniques You Need To Know To Get Started

There are two main pottery techniques you should know about:

  • Wheel-thrown
  • Hand-built

However, finding credible pottery lessons in Houston, New York, or elsewhere in the States will provide you access to more than just these two techniques.

Meanwhile, let us shed light on the two that we mentioned:

Hand Built

Between the two primary methods of creating pottery, the hand-built technique is the easiest, to begin with, mainly because all you need is clay and your hands.

Hand-built pottery is further divided into three subsidiary techniques, which are:

  • Pinch Pot: One of the simplest and the oldest forms of hand-built pottery. The potter or ceramist kneads the crude clay and crushes it into a dish, pot, cup, or bowl
  • Coiling: In this method, the potter rolls the clay until it turns into a long roll. After that, they put one coil over another to create different shapes and forms
  • Slab: The potter cuts a thick slice of clay into shapes that are combined to make an object. Then, the potter uses slip (clay slurry primarily used to join individual clay pieces) and scores the edges

Wheel Thrown

The wheel-thrown pottery technique is a bit different from hand-built pottery and slightly more challenging.

This is because it requires more knowledge about the pottery wheel, such as how it works and manages the clay as it spins, among various other things.

A pottery wheel is used for shaping (throwing) various ceramic wares. If you want to use the wheel-thrown method, keep in mind that it will take some time to master this technique; however, it’s pretty easy to do once mastered.

You can power the pottery wheel both manually (by kicking) and through electricity.

Since it’s more intricate than the hand-built method, it’s better to learn it through practical pottery courses, whether in Houston, Los Angeles, or other parts of the US.

Clay Types For Pottery

A teapot made using the pottery method is placed at one end of a table. You can make a teapot, cups, flower pot, flower vase, coffee mug, etc. using this versatile art form; throughout history, it was seen as a replacement for wood and metal
Pottery has several kinds of clay, including stoneware, porcelain, and earthenware. All these materials serve different purposes. Porcelain requires greater time and effort than earthenware and stoneware pottery. (Source: Pixabay)

Now that you know about the techniques you will need to use let’s have a quick look at the clay types (materials) you’ll need to make pottery.

Though there are many clay types available in the market that you can use to create pottery, the main types include stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain.

  • Earthenware: made from baked clay and is mainly finished with a glaze. Because earthenware pottery is an opaque, coarser, and porous material, it can easily break as it is susceptible to heat and water (Don’t )
  • Stoneware: arguably one of the more popular clay types, stoneware pottery is often used to create tableware because it’s impervious to heat and liquid. This clay material has the opaqueness of earthenware and the hardness of porcelain and is available in multiple color options( red, tan, white, speckled, and more). The composition of this material varies greatly and is mainly based on the recipe you follow and the region you live in. Its consistency can vary from rough (several additives) to smooth (some impurities)
  • Porcelain: this clay type is made using a mix of materials such as china stone and china clay. It has three kinds: hard-paste, soft waste, and bone china; it is also known for resembling glass. However, it’s best if you don’t start with this clay type right away. First, develop your pottery skills on stoneware and earthenware before advancing to porcelain.

Whether it’s porcelain, earthenware, stoneware, or any other clay material, they can all be used to make different types of pottery objects.

And to develop your techniques in molding either of these materials, you can find pottery classes in Houston, Chicago, or anywhere in the US.

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Equipment You’ll Need

If you’re a beginner learning pottery on your own, you should also know that you will have to become adept at using the pottery wheel and kiln to become a pro at pottery.

However, you will require supervision when starting because there is a chance that you can injure yourself.

Kiln 

A kiln is one of the main pieces of pottery-making equipment, a device used mainly for baking and firing the glaze.

This contraption is used to “bake” your creation and make the shape permanent. And these are pretty easy to find in any reputable pottery class in the USA.

Although it’s not essential to use for smaller pieces, the kiln is vital to make pottery pieces you will likely use in your daily routines, such as cups, vases, or tableware.

If you can find expert pottery lessons in Houston or elsewhere, you’ll be allowed to use a blend of firing processes that include:

  • Gas kilns
  • Commercial-grade wood
  • Electricity

But before you use them to make pottery, it’s best if you stick to an electric-powered kiln, which reaches 2340°F temperature maximum.

Pottery Wheel

A woman is seen throwing clay on a pottery wheel and carefully working her way out to minimize the imperfections in the final article. Potters who sell their wares usually have years of experience under their belts
Though you can create a final product by only using your hands, pottery wheels are the best equipment for making high-quality pottery and ceramic objects; they help perfect each piece, including the finer details. (Source: Pixabay)

If you want to make more advanced pottery and ceramic pieces, you will need a pottery wheel.

Furthermore, these wheels are available in both manually powered and electrical powered styles, and both these styles have various strengths and weaknesses.

For beginners, it would be beneficial to depend on a small electric-powered wheel because it doesn’t require as much coordination between kicking and maintaining the clay shape. It also provides you with more speed control and torque to manage heavy samples of clay.

On the contrary, a manually powered pottery wheel can offer you more control over an electrically powered one. That’s because the potter is given complete control of its speed!

Some Other Special Tools You’ll Require

Apart from the primary equipment mentioned above, you’ll also need a few other tools to make clay-based pieces:

  • Towels and Apron: Use towels and an apron to keep the hands and clothes clean as pottery is messy
  • Sponges: Sponges are handy when working with the wheel. They distribute and absorb water throughout the throwing process, allowing you to shape and mold the clay with ease
  • Fettling knives: available in hard or soft temper, fettling knives can be utilized to obtain the desired cuts and angles. Dull knives are more flexible than sharp ones and can help you shape clay with relative ease

Find Pottery Lessons Near You In Houston

Learning pottery isn’t hard; however, learning it the right way to become a professional potter is different.

It requires proper training and teaching, which you can achieve only if you take pottery lessons. Conduct a quick Google search for “pottery classes near me” or “pottery courses near me,”

You’ll see numerous platforms providing pottery lessons in your area. The best out of the lot is undoubtedly Superprof.

Superprof will provide you with several options to choose from, and each pottery instructor will be qualified with their own lengthy pottery experience!

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