Pottery is making quite a comeback in recent years, especially in amateur circles. From playing with play dough as children to sculpting, there is something inherently human about touching and molding clay – be it children or adults, Pottery as a hobby is truly one of the most popular ones.
In fact, the pottery hobby has become popular even with kids!
In short, humans are predisposed to creating art, and pottery is just one of the many forms it takes. Which is understandable considering how engaging and therapeutic this process tends to be.
Pottery has existed for millennia (all the way back to 5000 BCE!), and so, naturally, there is an abundance of information, techniques, tools, and technologies that exist.
For first-timers looking to take it up as a hobby, it can be overwhelming to sift through all that knowledge and try to understand it.
That’s why we’re here – so you can minimize the misinformation and learn the truth,
After all, with words like ‘kilns’ and ‘pottery wheels’, you might assume pottery is an expensive hobby and disregard it. But while kilns and pottery wheels are pricy, pottery itself doesn’t have to be.
This is also where you can visit our list of pottery wheels you can get on a budget! Just visit here: List of Cheap Pottery Wheels.
Let’s look at how to get started, some of the techniques and their costs, as well as the options you – as a beginner – should consider.
Firstly, and this is the option we recommend, you should sign up for pottery classes. Through these courses, you can gain access to all the necessary equipment and the teacher’s knowledge and have the option of trying different pottery techniques to see which one you prefer.
You can familiarize yourself with the equipment and techniques because learning the right techniques is easier than unlearning the wrong ones. Classes also allow you to test if pottery is a good choice for you.
On average, a class costs around $20-$40 or over $150 for an eight-week course.
Books and Online research:
If, for some reason (these days, the biggest being COVID-19), in-person classes aren’t available to you, try learning from books and the internet. YouTube is an incredible source for all your needs; YouTube probably has a video for every question you might think to ask.
This is the cheapest way you can begin your pottery-making journey. Afterward, you can start buying your supplies once you become more dedicated.
Know Your Technique for your Pottery Hobby:
There are a couple of popular techniques to choose from, and the cost you incur will depend on the technique you choose. Lots of potters mix and match their techniques, but for a beginner, it is recommended that you start with one and then branch out.
There are three main ways to make pottery:
1. By Using a Pottery Wheel:
This method is often called wheel throwing. This is also the most well-known technique due to its efficacy. Pottery wheels are fun, challenging, satisfying, and you can make different kinds of pieces.
It is also the most expensive. Pottery wheels can be anywhere from $200 to $2500.
Keep in mind that if you’re interested in wheel throwing, you need to look for a smoother clay to avoid damaging your hands.
Relevant Article: Simple Steps of Using a Pottery Wheel (And What Mistakes to Avoid)
2. Hand Building:
As the name implies, you make pottery with mostly your hands. It requires minimal tools and even has further subcategories.
- Pinch Pots: made by pinching a piece of clay until it creates whatever shape you’d like.
- Coil Pots: for these, you make coils of clay, stack them on top of each other, and connect them.
- Slab Pottery: you make slabs using rolling pins and shape them into cups, bowls, or anything else you can make out of them.
- Or you could use a mold. It doesn’t have to be one bought specifically for pottery. You could even use bowls wrapped in newspapers as molds.
Hand building is inexpensive and allows you to understand the way that the clay behaves.
3. Slip Casting:
The clay is mixed with enough water to make it pourable. This method is relatively economical as molds tend to be items you use repeatedly.
It is important to pick the technique you think will suit you most and go from there.
Choose a Clay:
The clay is the most important part of the pottery-making process. There are four main types of clay you can use:
1. Air Dry Clay for your Pottery Hobby:
As the name suggests, this is clay that dries on its own. Therefore, it doesn’t need a kiln. This type of clay is excellent to practice if you want to improve your technique but don’t want to bear the expense of firing.
The drawback is that it’s weaker than the others and remains porous even after glazing.
2. Porcelain Clays for experienced Potters:
Porcelain is the most beautiful of the clays and is thus very popular. It is very smooth to the touch and, after firing, becomes sturdy with a beautiful finish.
Admittedly, it is a little on the pricey side.
We don’t recommend porcelain for beginners because it’s a stubborn material prone to breakage during pottery production.
3. Stoneware for your Pottery Hobby:
Like porcelain, this is durable and non-porous after firing. Stoneware is recommended for beginners because it is the easiest to work with in terms of plasticity, strength, and whatnot.
4. Earthenware for Beginner Potters:
It’s similar to stoneware in terms of its workability. However, it remains porous after firing, which makes it unsuitable for dishware.
Be careful when selecting clay, as the wrong clay can hinder your learning process. If you’d like to know in more detail, be sure to visit this article: The Types Of Clay For Pottery – Choosing The Best One For You.
Also, do consider which technique you’re using when picking out the clay because the chosen method will change the type of clay that will work best.
Firing your pottery in a kiln tends to be the most difficult and frequently the most expensive part of the process. It is also the most crucial. Firing is what turns your clay into ceramic and gives it its strength; otherwise, the clay structure would crumble.
Kilns are not cheap, as even small kilns start at $800.
And firing isn’t something you can do with an oven, nor is it something a beginner should do alone. In most cases, your local pottery studio will have a kiln and will happily fire your product for you, usually for a small price.
The Takeaway – Is Pottery as a Hobby worth it?:
As you can see so far, pottery expenses are relative. While some equipment is expensive, you don’t always need those things, especially if you’re just a beginner.
So, in connection, here’s an article which narrows down the best pottery wheels for you: Ultimate List Of Best Pottery Wheels For Beginners
You can enjoy this hobby by repurposing the things you have and enlisting the help of the pottery-making community! The more expensive items are investment pieces that you’re welcome to buy when you’re ready!