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Tips for Pottery Beginners

Pottery is a craft that isn’t widely taught in community arts centres or schools anymore, and so often people are left wondering how on earth they can get into it. The answer, of course, is to start with a pottery class – but there’s a few things you can do before you enrol to make sure that you get the most out of your classes.

Learning pottery is frustrating. Nobody gets it the first, second, or even the third time. These tips should help you get started in a hobby that could change your life.

Remember, if you have any specific questions, you can always email me for advice and I will be happy to help.

Buy some basic equipment

Despite what you might think, you don’t have to have access to a potter’s wheel or a kiln of your own to begin potting. These tools are all that you need to get started with handbuilding pottery. As well as the below, you will also need a rolling pin and rolling guides.

Metal kidney

Rubber kidney


Cheese wire

Banding wheel


Experiment with air drying clay

Before investing in a block booking of pottery classes, a great way to get a feel for the art form is to order some air drying clay from a local craft shop.

Air drying clay is easy to use because it doesn’t need a kiln to be finished – simply wait til the clay is dry, then paint and varnish it at home. Whilst finished items made from air drying clay are unlikely to be food safe due to the paint and varnishes used, they really are a great way to begin.

Test out different techniques like coiling, slabbing and carving to work out what you enjoy. There are plenty of videos on YouTube or Instagram that will show you where to begin.

Join a local pottery studio

When the time comes and you know that you have enough affinity with clay to want to invest some time and money into it, the next step is to join a local pottery studio and sign up for some classes.

Some pottery studios offer block bookings of tuition, whilst some have a less rigid offering of studio time per hour, per week or even per month.

These classes will teach you how to work with clay correctly and safely, how to recycle clay, how to choose glazes and how to use the equipment. This studio time early on in your career as a potter will be invaluable as it will teach you your likes and dislikes.

Ask advice

Whether you’re new to pottery or have a bit more experience under your belt, the way that you’ll learn the most is by learning from other people. Find potters on the internet that inspire you – Instagram and YouTube are great places to look – and ask them questions about their practice. Potters tend to be a friendly bunch, so most will be happy to offer advice and guidance.

Pottery suppliers are also extremely knowledgeable. In the UK, Potclays and Bath Potters have excellent customer service and will be able to answer any questions you have about materials or equipment. If you can’t find an answer on their website – pick up the phone.