The Pottery Process – from Clay to Finished Pots

Pottery does not have to be hard or need lots of skill.
There are simple and quick ways to make beautiful pots.

There are many steps to the whole process – even if the first step is “not right” it’s worth following through to learn/practise the later steps.

And remember, the ceramic process takes time for the clay to dry and the kiln to heat up and cool. So it’s worthwhile having several pots “on the go” at the same time each at a different step.

There will be pictures and videos of each process together with complete projects.
– – watch this space or sign up for the newsletter HERE

Step 1: Inspiration and Plan

  • Ideas from nature or a manufactured article
  • Out of the mind creativity
  • Functional, Decorative or both
  • Plan the build

What skills do I have and what skills would I like to practise/improve?

  • Choose the clay
    …Earthenware
    …Terracotta
    …Stoneware
    …Porcelain

Choice of clay governs the choice of glaze and
the kiln firing temperature.
A wrong combination will result in poor quality or spoilt pots
and can damage the kiln.
If you want to use your own clay or glaze please check first.

Step 2: Make the Form

There are many ways to create the form

  • Hand Build
    …Pinch
    …Coil
    …Use former
    …Slab build
    …Sculpt
  • Slip Cast
  • Throw on potter’s wheel

At this stage you can apply decoration or texture and alter the form

  • Apply coloured slip
  • Alter
    …Stamp or emboss
    …Use roller or paddle to shape
    …Pinch the form for a pouring spout

Step 3: Assemble and Decorate

After 1-2 days the clay has firmed up (leather hard) and can be handled

  • Assemble
    …Stick handle on cup/mug
    …Stick spout and handle on a teapot
    …Apply sprig moulds
  • Carve into – “Sgraffito” to reveal underlying colour and texture
  • Turn
  • Chatter
  • Use oxides to draw designs onto the pot

The clay form then needs to dry out (bone dry) over several days.

Into the Fiery Furnace for a “bisque” firing

Step 4: Glaze

Glaze is a glass like substance that melts to form a waterproof impervious layer on the clay body.

Glazes are coloured with various minerals, interesting effects can be achieved by layering different glazes.

Apply the glaze

  • Dip
  • Pour
  • Sponge on
  • Paint

You can jump in here with PYOP (paint your own pot) where commercially available earthenware forms can be painted with ceramic glaze.

Back into the Fiery Furnace at top temp

Step 5: Post Firing Decoration

After the top temperature firing you can:

  • Apply ceramic transfers
  • Paint/decorate with ceramic paint

If this step is done it’s back to the Fiery Furnace at a much lower temperature.