The Beginners Guide to Working with Clay
If you’re just getting started with pottery, we do suggest taking a beginners class, but it isn’t imperative. From creating your own vases to mugs and plates, the only limit to working with clay is your imagination. Here are a few tips for getting started on your own.
The Best Place to Work with Clay
Working with clay is best kept to a single room or an outhouse of its own as clay dust is incredibly fine and will not be picked up by household vacuum cleaners. The room in which you work with clay should have the following:
- A floor which is easy to clean such as concrete or linoleum
- Access to running water
- A solid table
- A work surface which clay won’t stick to
- Solid shelves for the drying of pottery
- A storage area for glazes and tools
Things to Consider Before Buying Clay and Glazes
Deciding on the type of clay to purchase requires some consideration as there are plenty of variables in clays and glazes. The most important factor to consider is at which temperature the clay matures and the glazes have to have corresponding temperatures of maturation. Most clays and glazes are rated by ‘cone’ which is similar to temperature and is used to measure heat work.
Fortunately, you don’t have to become an expert on clays and glazes overnight as ready-to-use clay and glazes are largely readily available. Similar to the variety of online casino games in NZ, there is an assortment of colours and temperature ranges and if you’re unsure about compatibility, you can always check with your local art or ceramic supply store. If you’re planning on making large pieces, consider buying clay and glazes in bulk quantities as it will be far more cost-effective.
Pottery Tools to Consider
While some form clay using only their hands, there are a number of tools which you may find extremely useful especially if your pottery pastime turns more serious. We suggest the following tools for beginners and veterans alike:
- A small bucket for holding water or slurry for while you work
- Two or three large buckets for cleaning up
- Sponges for carrying water to the clay and for cleaning
- A large, soft brush
- A wooden trimming or modelling tool
- A potter’s needle
- A cut-off wire
Best Work Surfaces
Clay will stick to almost all surfaces and you may find it impossible to separate a newly formed object from the surface it was created on. As such, we suggest working on a piece of sturdy canvas such as mid- to heavyweight cotton duck. Not only will the canvas protect your work table, but it’s also easy to pull the canvas away from the clay object.
Finding Kiln Space
Most clay is ready to fire when it is completely dry and no longer cool to the touch, but for this you’ll need a kiln. Enquire with local potters about renting kiln space, but keep in mind that you may have to wait a while before they have a full kiln-load ready to fire.