If you’ve been wanting to learn how to make ceramic pots at home, you have found the right website! We have prepared this article as a simple and clear overview of all the basics of ceramic pottery making, including everything you need to know to go from shaping clay to making ceramics at home.
Read through the following sections to learn how to get started in the relaxing and useful arts of ceramic making. We’ll take you through the basic methods and essential applications; we know that using a pottery wheel can be very intimidating at first, but we have some tricks to show you how to ease yourself into it. Let’s take it from the start:
What you really need to get started making ceramics at home
The only thing you really need to make ceramic pots at home is clay. That, and of course some imagination, a sprinkle of water, some old rags and newspapers, and a little stamina to work the clay.
Regular clay is actually a reasonably inexpensive material: a 25lb bag should cost around $5-10. It’s all you need to start with ceramic pottery making; hand-building with clay will take you a long way if you put in the time and effort, and we actually recommend you to start from there before you even worry about firing your pottery so it will last for posterity.
So to begin with, you may just want a get a bag of clay and start playing around with it until you start feeling you could use a pottery wheel to help you work faster and create more symmetrical bowls. Around the same time, you should also start thinking about which methods you’ll eventually want to use for firing up your pottery, so the temporary clay shapes become hardened into permanent and shiny ceramics. More on that below; first, let’s consider the matter of when you should get a pottery wheel.
Knowing when is the right time to start using a pottery wheel
There is no point in rushing to get a pottery wheel from the beginning since it can be a bit expensive and it requires some getting used to. You’ll be better off learning to handle the clay on its own before you look into graduating to the complexities a pottery wheel.
When you start feeling confident you’re ready to start using a pottery wheel, it will be much simpler to learn from someone who knows how to spin it. To that effect, you may want to consider joining a pottery class in your local community college, art studio or by checking with any pottery business in your area of residence. This may also be useful to help you get access to a kiln that you can use to fire your clay.
Understanding the firing process for making ceramics
To make your favoured works of clay evolve from their malleable origins into a tough piece of ceramics that will last for potentially thousands of years, you will have to use the power of fire. With that in mind, you may be wondering if you can use your oven as a makeshift kiln… unfortunately, it’s not so simple. You see, to properly fire clay in a way that glazes its surface and makes it really hard, you’ll have to use extremely high temperatures that simply aren’t possible to achieve in your average home oven - we’re talking heat in excess of 1,500 F, after all!
If you’re really serious about working with ceramics, and if you have available space and resources, you may want to consider building your own kiln. While you’re still playing around and learning how to make ceramics at home, you can just try to find a kiln in your area of residence that you’ll be allowed to use. One of the simplest ways to find a kiln locally is to simply look for available pottery classes.
There may be, however, a workaround to using an oven when no kiln is available, as you’ll learn next.
Alternative options for firing pottery when no kiln is available
For smaller pieces and provided you heat them very gradually to evaporate the water before you start baking the clay… it might be possible. In such situation though - when you mean to use your oven and create smaller pieces - you may want to look into specific oven-ready clays which will guarantee much better results. Try getting some polymer clay, also known as air dry or oven bake clay. This type of clay can be much more expensive than regular clay, but it might be worth it if you’re producing small meticulous items.