How to master pottery

When you think about making ceramics, you may well not have the time or resources to start doing it in a professional studio. If you are someone who spends a lot of time at home, looking after children or the like, then often home is really the best and only option. If so, you should think about making ceramics at home, and this article will show you how to figure it out, as well as give you tips and tricks to get ready quickly and efficiently.

Advantages of making clay products at home

There are several advantages to making ceramics at home, determining the popularity of this craft:

  • It’s cheaper in the long term because you don’t need to rent a studio.
  • All stocks of materials are always at hand.
  • It saves time, there’s no need to go anywhere.
  • You need a minimum investment.
  • It allows you to do it in a comfortable home environment.


There are also several disadvantages to doing it at home:

  • You won’t have a teacher to help you.
  • You have to learn everything on your own.
  • You may not have superprofessional tools that are available in the studios.
  • You may be limited in your choice of products that you want to make.

If you are just learning how to make ceramics, the first thing you need to do is work on the technique, and doing it at home is a good way to create a comfortable space and learn the basics of the craft. But if you don’t have a home studio, you should also try working in a specialized studio, especially if you don’t have your own materials. This will allow you to learn the basics faster and see if you can create a more comfortable environment at home.

Clay selection

One detail you’ll want to know for sure is the types of clay. If you were working in a studio, we would say just take the usual clay that is used for firing, depending on the temperature of your kiln, you can even work with porcelain.

Clay and ceramics are different materials that are widely used in pottery. However, the main difference between the two materials is that clay is a natural material that is extracted naturally. Ceramics, on the other hand, are different groups of substances that are added to the clay for its hardening when heated.

Pottery clay

The pottery clay has a low firing temperature and consists of fine particles. Such products can serve for years. This type of clay is easily processed, it is sticky and very plastic in nature. It is fired at 1100°C. The result is a hard but brittle material with a porous structure. In order to make the product non-porous, a glaze is applied to the ceramics and then fired a second time.

Porcelain

Porcelain clay is a fine white clay used for ceramics. It is very strong and gives a white colour due to higher levels of kaolin concentration. Porcelain can be fired at very high temperatures, ranging from 1200 to 1450°C. The result is a very hard, white, translucent, glossy material.

Stone clay

The color of such ceramics varies from dark brown to buff. The difference in colour is due to impurities and iron content in the clay. Stone clay has coarse particles that are fired at 1200°C. The result is a denser, more durable material, which by its nature is waterproof. Such clay does not require glazing.

Although these are the best ceramic clays used for pottery, if you are new to pottery and just looking at it, you can start with self-firing clay. It is very plastic, which allows you to create a variety of pottery.

Choosing clay at home

But at home, things can be a little different. You choose one of three different types of clay:

  • Kilned in a kiln.
  • Polymer clay.
  • Dried in the air.

Each of them has its pros and cons. Sintered clay has several advantages and disadvantages that you have to consider:

  • It usually withstands higher temperatures.
  • Better for ceramics used in consumption.
  • Usually more durable.
  • The biggest disadvantage is that it is harder to work with.

Clay dried in the air also has its advantages and disadvantages, namely:

  • You do not need a stove or heat source.
  • As a rule, you can create most products from it.
  • The disadvantage is that it is usually not as strong as the clay that is fired in the kiln.
  • It takes forever to dry.

This option is usually less similar to the real process of making clay products, but it is sometimes used when you just want to do something the easiest way.

Finally, there is polymer clay, which has advantages and disadvantages similar to the second option:

  • It’s an excellent clay for beginners.
  • It allows you to work with the form.
  • As a rule, it is strong, but not so much as fired.
  • Not the most malleable compared to the other two.
  • Typically used for moulding and nothing more.

The ideal situation would be if you had a kiln for firing and specialized clay for it, but if you are limited in money and do not want to invest a lot of money in expensive equipment, then these are your options.

Firing in the oven and the kiln.

Firing in the oven is an option if you work with fired clay. But if you are willing to spend a little more money, you can buy an inexpensive kiln.