6 Tips for Pottery Beginners

pottery_mia casal ceramics

Pottery is a tricky art form that requires lots of patience. If you’ve seen Ghost enough, you’ll know how much work Demi Moore’s character puts into the vases and bowls. Not to mention how messy it is because of the wet clay. You get the picture.

At the same time, I find it intriguing how people can create something by molding a piece of clay on a turntable. And if you’re looking for a new activity to do this summer, pottery is a good option. We asked ceramics expert Mia Casal for some tips before you dive into your first pottery class.

#1 How much clay to use?

“The amount of clay to be used depends on what kind of pots to make. For beginners, they start using one kilo of clay.”

#2 Creating the base shape

You don’t make a bowl by instantly shaping it into one. Mia advises that you first need to knead, center, and hallow the clay. Next, you create the base shape, which is used for creating all kinds of ceramics. “All shapes start in a cylindrical shape,” Mia says.

#3 A guide to hand positions

If you look up hand positions used in pottery, Google will give you many to choose from and study about. Mia says that the hand position “depends on what is being done to the clay” and what functional item you’re trying to make.

For example, you use cupped hands when you want to create a round-ish shape. This hand position will also make it easier for you to control the friction between your hands, arms, and the clay.

A post shared by Mia Casal (@miacasalceramics) on Apr 28, 2017 at 7:07am PDT

#4 Mastering the footwork

“All it takes is patience. Some students get it right away. And the others don’t. Practice is key in learning how to center clay,” Mia advises. She also compares hand and feet coordination to dancing and following a rhythm. “In making pottery, footwork is balanced with the rhythm of what the hand movements do to the clay.”

#5 Wait before you decorate

“Designs are applied on clay when they are leather-hard dry. The moisture content in the clay is between very wet and almost dry clay. Clay can be applied with patterns and texture in this stage.”


A post shared by Mia Casal (@miacasalceramics) on Apr 29, 2017 at 1:19am PDT

#6 Correcting mistakes take patience

Don’t get frustrated when your pots go lopsided or you shaped the clay wrong. Mia says you need steady hands to correct these. However, there will also be times wherein you need to start from scratch. “There are times when it is better to start all over again. Like I said, practice is key. But to push one’s self in creating something is needed too.”


Photo courtesy of Mia Casal Ceramics’ Instagram account

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