Short Guide to Pottery

Short Guide to Pottery


John Tabari

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact timeline of how pottery came about, because the word includes so many different definitions. Can we include the prehistoric figurines or does ‘pottery’ only refer to pots and bowls? How about clay structures that have been dried but not fired? Here we’ll look at the origins of pottery in all its forms.

pottery guide

Where and when was pottery discovered?

The oldest known examples of ceramics appear to date back to anywhere between 29 and 24,000 BC. A notable discovery was a female figurine in the modern Czech Republic. Early examples include figures and shapes made out of clay. Not the pots and bowls we would use to define the art of ‘pottery’ today. Historians believe that these figurines had ceremonial uses.

Other archeological discoveries place the invention of pottery closer to 18 to 14,000 BC. As excavators found clay tiles in India and Mesopotamia dating back to this period. This is because not everyone considers the early figurines to be examples of ‘pottery’.

The jury is also out on where pottery originated. Some say China, some say Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America. Prehistoric examples of clay molding have been found in all those places. It’s likely that people from all over discovered pottery at different moments.

 

Ancient uses for pottery

No one can know how the first humans came to discover that mixing clay and water, then molding and heating the mixture would cause it to hold that shape. Some historians believe that people would line their wooden baskets with clay, when collecting water, to stop any leakage. Then, when they emptied the water out and left the baskets in the sun, they found that the clay dried out and retained the shape and markings of the basket. Others think that early humans made the discovery in clay fire pits.

Ancient methods of firing clay were similar to modern bonfires. Back in the Medieval age, people would mix sand with their clay so that they could fire it over an open flame. In ancient Egypt, people would use kilns to fire clay into pottery. This is how we distinguish between two types of pottery; ‘Earthenware’ and  ‘Stoneware’. The former is usually fired at temperatures up to 1,200 degrees and the latter around 1,100 degrees or higher. There is also ‘Porcelain’, made from kaolin clay and fired at temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 degrees. This particular type of clay and the higher temperatures are what give porcelain its translucent quality.

Around 9 to 10,000 BC, it’s thought that pottery was first used for storing food and other goods. Since its beginnings, pottery has had diverse uses including transportation, storage and decoration. We can guess that the earliest functional uses were transporting and storing fish and grain. Then, seeing how well these creations transported and stored produce, people likely began using them to cook and serve their food.

 

Invention of the Pottery Wheel

Historians can agree that the invention of the pottery wheel is much more recent. Evidence suggests that it dates to roughly 4,000 BC. The pottery wheel seems to have evolved from potters using the coiling method on a mat or large leaf. The pottery maker would roll their clay into long strips and stack them on top of one another. But instead of walking around the pot to join the ends, they would rotate the mat or leaf.

From there, people constructed hand manipulated wheels, and later, rotating wheels. The latter refers to a wheel that rotates on its own using speed built up from pushing or kicking it. Again, historians are unable to pinpoint exactly where this practice started. Evidence of wheel-thrown pottery has been found dating back to Mesopotamia, ancient China, Europe and Egypt.

We do know that the potter’s wheel, as we know it today, most likely originated in Egypt. It's there that workers developed a structure which resemble the modern appearance. Including the addition of a flywheel which makers would kick to keep it moving.

One thing we know for sure is that pottery is incredibly durable and lasting. These findings have been invaluable in giving us clues about preliterate cultures. Where we have been unable to find documentation about life so long ago, we can get a window into these early societies through pottery. Its compositions, the shapes, markings and colours all show us important aspects of prehistoric life.

 

Recent History

Jumping forward in time to the first millenium (in the Gregorian calendar), China began exporting porcelain. At the same time, they started producing it for decorative purposes. As the Modern Industrial era began in the 16th Century, the mass-production of pottery began. Most notably, the English city of Stoke-on-Trent was home to one of the first example of industrialisation of ceramic production. Around 200 factories dedicated to making ceramics employed roughly 20,000 workers.

 




Pottery workshops

Ceramic Painting Class for Adults

date_range Your choice of time

location_on St Leonards

8 to 15

label $80

2k

Make Your Own Teapot Workshop

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Bundeena

1 to 10

label $129 - $149

4.8 (44)

Introduction to Pottery Wheel Throwing Class

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Bundeena

1 to 6

label $129 - $149

4.9 (33)

Beginners Pottery Classes

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Crows Nest

1 to 30

label $180

4.9 (20)

2k

Beginner's Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Brisbane

6 to 10

label $130

Beginner's Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Albert Park

6 to 10

label $130

Kintsugi Workshop: Mindful Evening Practice

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Marrickville

1 to 6

label $90 - $100

5.0 (2)

Beginner's Kintsugi Workshop (Sydney)

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Sydney

1 to 12

label $120

5.0 (125)

Learn Wheel Throwing for Beginners

date_range Your choice of time

location_on St Peters

1 to 2

label $135

4.8 (25)

2k

Beginners Clay Hand Building

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Kew

10 to 20

label $100

Adult Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Croydon

10 to 15

label $140 - $175

5.0 (1)

Ceramic Molding Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Ringwood

1 to 15

label $75 - $100

5.0 (1)

Ceramics Mark Making Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Marrickville

6 to 10

label $145

2k

Traditional Kintsugi 2days Intensive Class (Syd)

date_range Sat 16 May, 1:30pm

location_on Sydney

1 to 6

label $385

5.0 (4)

Kids Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Croydon

10 to 15

label $180

Mindful Ceramic Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Fremantle

6 to 10

label $249

23k

Beginners' and Intermediate Ceramics Courses

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Croydon

3 to 4

label $300

4.8 (4)

Ceramic Slip Casting Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Marrickville

6 to 8

label $290

25k

Pottery Handbuilding Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Balcatta

12 to 45

label $175

12k

Beginner's Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

6 to 10

label $130

Clay Hand Building Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Thornbury

10 to 20

label $120

31k

Clay, Coffee and Cake Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Burswood

5 to 14

label $95

4.8 (4)

3k

Handmade Ceramics Workshop for Beginners

date_range Sat 23 May, 1:30pm

location_on Bondi Beach

1 to 6

label $145 - $155

5.0 (11)

2k

Perth Pottery and Sculpture Classes

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

1 to 6

label $167

5.0 (3)

A Paper Clay Sculpture Group Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

6 to 12

label $87

Kintsugi Golden Joinery Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Marrickville

4 to 8

label $120

2k

Masterful Mess Themed Ceramic Painting Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Burswood

6 to 14

label $30

3k

Ceramic Painting Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Burswood

6 to 20

label $28

4.8 (4)

3k

Beginner's Adult Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Ballarat Central

6 to 15

label $45

5.0 (2)

1k

Mobile Group Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Comes to you

10 to 20

label $50

1k

Kintsugi Makie Painting Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Marrickville

1 to 3

label $85

Kintsugi Accessory Workshop for Beginners (Sydney)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Sydney

1 to 10

label $88 - $143

5.0 (24)

Introduction to Wheel Throwing Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Kilsyth South

1 to 15

label $95

5.0 (5)

Pottery and Sculpture Class for Kids

date_range Your choice of time

location_on West Footscray

6 to 30

label $30

8k

3k+

Ceramics Surface Design Course

date_range Your choice of time

location_on West Footscray

3 to 8

label $260

8k

3k+

Porcelain Slip Casting and Mould Making Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Marrickville

4 to 10

label $180

Traditional Kintsugi Basic Course (Syd)

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Sydney

1 to 6

label $385

5.0 (5)

Mindful Clay Hand Building Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Fremantle

6 to 10

label $139

23k

Stoneware Ceramics Workshop

date_range Sat 6 Jun, 10am

location_on Windsor

1 to 20

label $165

8k

Introduction to Ceramics Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on West Footscray

4 to 30

label $95 - $110

3k+

8k

Team Building Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Kilsyth South

8 to 15

label $120

Pop Up Kintsugi Workshop in Potts Point - Private

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Potts Point

1 to 4

label $100

5.0 (8)

Beginner's Kintsugi Workshop (Melbourne)

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Melbourne

1 to 8

label $120

4.9 (17)

Traditional Kintsugi 2days Intensive Course (Mel)

date_range Sat 9 May, 1:30pm

location_on Melbourne

1 to 8

label $385

4.3 (3)

Introduction to Pottery Wheel Class

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Botany

1 to 2

label $125 - $138

5.0 (10)

Clay Hand Building Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Mordialloc

4 to 8

label $100 - $130

3k

Basic Ceramic Glazing Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Comes to you

4 to 30

label $100 - $110

8k

3k+

Beginner's Wheel Throwing Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Fremantle

4 to 10

label $85

5.0 (1)

1k+

Beginner's Pottery Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Canberra

6 to 10

label $130

Pottery Salad Bowl & Jug Making

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Applecross

4 to 6

label $150

Pottery Serving Platters and Dishes Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Applecross

2 to 8

label $150

Clay Hand Building Class: Pottery, Wine and Soul

date_range Sat 30 May, 7pm

location_on West Perth

1 to 20

label $120 - $150

5.0 (1)

Pottery Wheelwork Workshop (Wheel Throwing)

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Applecross

1 to 10

label $125

5.0 (5)

Pottery Hand Building Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Applecross

2 to 8

label $145

Wheel Throwing & Wine Night

date_range 8 May, 22 May

location_on Applecross

1 to 10

label $145

5.0 (4)

Adults Wheel Throwing and Hand - Building Course

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Mordialloc

1 to 10

label $320

5.0 (1)

3k

Build a Pot for a Plant Pottery Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Mordialloc

6 to 40

label $120

5.0 (2)

3k

Kids Pottery Course (7-16 Years)

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Mordialloc

1 to 8

label $240

3k

Wheel Throwing Workshop

date_range Sun 17 May, 2pm

location_on Mordialloc

1 to 10

label $65

5.0 (4)

3k

Hand Build a Ceramic Pot Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on O'Connor

5 to 20

label $120

2k

Beginners Pottery Course

date_range 10 May, 14 Jun

location_on Cammeray

1 to 8

label $240 - $250

5.0 (1)

1k

Art of Kintsugi Workshop - Private

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Marrickville

1 to 4

label $100 - $120

5.0 (6)

Pottery and Plonk Hand Building Workshop

date_range 16 May, 20 Jun

location_on Cammeray

1 to 25

label $95 - $115

5.0 (7)

1k

Group Kintsugi Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Comes to you

5 to 10

label $150

5.0 (2)

Kintsugi- Golden Ceramic Mending Workshop (Mobile)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Comes to you

5 to 10

label $150

5.0 (2)

Private Pottery Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Bondi

4 to 20

label $100

5.0 (1)

Handmade Overgrazed Teacup & Saucer

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Rosebery

1 to 6

label $99

Make Your Own Garden Olla Pottery Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Ballarat Central

6 to 10

label $95

1k

Ceramic Painting Class for Adults

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Cammeray

10 to 30

label $65

1k

Clay Sculpture Class with a Model

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Cammeray

10 to 30

label $85

1k

Clay Sculpture Class for Team Building

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Cammeray

10 to 30

label $95

1k

Basic Japanese Handmade Pottery Course

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Artarmon

1 to 10

label $180

5.0 (1)

Introduction to Handmade Japanese Pottery Course

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Artarmon

1 to 10

label $270

5.0 (2)

Introductory Wheel Throwing Class

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Sheldon

1 to 5

label $77

4.5 (8)

1k

Introductory Pottery Glazing Class

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Sheldon

1 to 25

label $77

1k

Intermediate Wheel Throwing Class

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Sheldon

1 to 5

label $198

1k

Advanced Wheel Throwing Course

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Sheldon

4 to 5

label $990

1k

Ceramic Painting Class for Kids & Teens

date_range Thu 23 Apr, 12:30pm

location_on Cammeray

1 to 30

label $40 - $50

1k

Hand Building Pottery Workshop

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Botany

1 to 6

label $120 - $130

5.0 (29)

Hand Building with Clay Workshop

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Fitzroy

1 to 40

label $140

5.0 (19)

19k+

Beginners Pottery Wheel Throwing Workshop

date_range Sat 18 Apr, 1pm

location_on Ballarat Central

1 to 6

label $125

1k

Ceramic Hand Building Class

date_range Sun 26 Apr, 3pm

location_on Fitzroy

1 to 40

label $140

4.8 (11)

19k+

Ceramic Club

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Mordialloc

1 to 8

label $160

3k

Kintsugi Ceramic Repair Course (Sydney)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Sydney

1 to 3

label $120

5.0 (1)

Wheel Throwing Class: Pottery Date Night

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Perth

1 to 3

label $195

5.0 (4)

Terrazzo Workshop: Coasters

date_range Sun 7 Jun, 2pm

location_on Newstead

1 to 20

label $155

5.0 (7)

19k+

Clay Hand Building Class for Kids Holiday Program

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Mordialloc

1 to 12

label $50

5.0 (2)

3k

Wheel Throwing Class for Kids Holiday Program

date_range 31 Mar, 7 Apr

location_on Mordialloc

1 to 8

label $50

5.0 (1)

3k

Pottery Hand Building Workshop

date_range 5 Apr, 3 May

location_on Cammeray

1 to 30

label $95

5.0 (2)

1k

Clay Hand Building 101 Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Redfern

12 to 40

label $90

4.8 (5)

19k+

Clay Figure Sculpture Class

date_range Sat 7 Nov, 9:30am

location_on Rozelle

1 to 12

label $161 - $189

5k+

4.6 stars (62+)

Concrete Planters Workshop

date_range Wed 10 Jun, 6:30pm

location_on Rozelle

1 to 12

label $85 - $99

5k+

4.6 stars (62+)

Clay Air Planters Class in a Coffee Plantation

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Tamborine Mountain

1 to 25

label $80 - $95

Hand Building Clay Class: Ceramic Servingware

date_range Thu 18 Jun, 6:30pm

location_on Brisbane

1 to 24

label $100 - $110

4.5 stars (118+)

19k+

Hand Building Clay Class: Cups and Bowls

date_range 14 May, 7 Jul

location_on Brisbane

1 to 25

label $110

19k+

4.5 stars (118+)

Superhero Puppet Making Class

date_range Contact for details

location_on Fitzroy

1 to 15

label $30 - $50

Ceramic Painting Class for Kids

date_range Your choice of time

location_on St Leonards

5 to 20

label $35

2k

Sculpture Class: Body Moulding and Casting

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Rozelle

5 to 12

label $161

5k+

4.6 stars (62+)

Hand Building Ceramics Class and Sangria

date_range 17 Apr, 8 May

location_on Fitzroy

1 to 40

label $140

5.0 (8)

19k+

Hand Building with Clay Class

date_range 2 Jun, 7 Jul

location_on Downer

1 to 14

label $125

5.0 (4)

3k

Kintsugi Accessory Workshop in Melbourne

date_range Sun 10 May, 4:30pm

location_on Melbourne

1 to 8

label $88

5.0 (3)

Beginner's Kintsugi Workshop in Canberra

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Comes to you

6 to 20

label $120

5.0 (78)

Intensive Traditional Kintsugi Course (Perth)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Comes to you

10 to 20

label $385

5.0 (2)

Traditional Kintsugi Intensive Course in Canberra

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Comes to you

4 to 20

label $385

5.0 (2)

Pottery Wheel Class for Kids (8-15 Years)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

4 to 10

label $80

5.0 (1)

Kintsugi Workshop: Gold Coast Pop Up

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Surfers Paradise

4

label $125

4.6 (5)

Sculpture Class for Beginners

date_range Sun 24 May, 10am

location_on Fitzroy

1 to 12

label $120

5.0 (6)

19k+

Clay Hand Building Workshop
: Bowl Set

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

2 to 8

label $145

Make a Clay Planter Workshop

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Kedron

1 to 25

label $75 - $90

Japanese Kintsugi Workshop

date_range Sat 16 May, 2:30pm

location_on Fitzroy

1 to 40

label $160

5.0 (6)

19k+

Pottery Course for Kids & Teens

date_range Wed 15 Apr, 12:30pm

location_on Cammeray

1 to 8

label $280 - $300

1k

Ceramic Pourer Workshop

date_range Sat 11 Jul, 1:45pm

location_on Newstead

1 to 40

label $100 - $110

19k+

4.5 stars (118+)

Pottery Spinning Wheel Class: Embrace Wheelfulness

date_range Your choice of time

location_on North Willoughby

1 to 4

label $125

5.0 (4)

Hand Building Pottery Course for Beginners

date_range Sat 18 Apr, 2:30pm

location_on Thornbury

1 to 11

label $220

Hand Building Workshop and Tissue Transfer

date_range Sat 16 May, 10am

location_on Perth

1 to 8

label $160

Pottery Wheel Throwing Course: Basics

date_range Thu 7 May, 6:30pm

location_on Perth

1 to 10

label $330

Ceramic Dinner Set Pottery Course

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

2 to 6

label $550

Easter Ceramic Painting Class

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Cammeray

10 to 30

label $65

1k

Pottery Hand Building Workshop for Kids

date_range Tue 14 Apr, 9am

location_on Cammeray

1 to 20

label $110 - $125

1k

Messy Crafts Class for Kids

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Cammeray

10 to 20

label $100

1k

Pottery Open Studio

date_range Contact for details

location_on Collingwood

6 to 8

label $40

4k+

4.7 stars (34+)

Hand Building Pottery Course: Make a Teapot

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Collingwood

8 to 16

label $200

4k+

4.7 stars (34+)

Wheel Throwing Course

date_range Contact for details

location_on Collingwood

1 to 8

label $385

4k+

4.7 stars (34+)

Introduction to the Pottery Wheel

date_range Contact for details

location_on Collingwood

8

label $85

4k+

4.7 stars (34+)

Button Maker Class Using Polymer Clay

date_range Sat 13 Jun, 10:30am

location_on Kyneton

1 to 10

label $125 - $145

4.9 stars (13+)

3d Sculpture Course

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Brookvale

1 to 8

label $350

5.0 (3)

Pottery Wheel Class: Full Day

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

4 to 10

label $255

Pinch Pottery Workshop

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Botany

1 to 20

label $120

Ceramic Hand Building Workshop

date_range 1 Oct

location_on Langwarrin South

1 to 15

label $140

Ceramic Suspended Sculpture Workshop

date_range Sun 4 Oct, 10am

location_on Langwarrin South

1 to 15

label $300

Pottery Wheel Throwing Class: Ceramic Bowl

date_range Sat 16 May, 2pm

location_on Perth

1 to 10

label $130

Pottery Glaze Class: Paint Your Pottery

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

2 to 8

label $120

Hand Building Class: Ceramic Mug (6-12 Years)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

4 to 10

label $75

Hand Building Class: Pencil Holder (6-12 Years)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

2 to 10

label $75

Hand Building Class: Wall Hanging (6-12 Years)

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Perth

4 to 10

label $75

Pottery Wheel Throwing Class: Tumbler or Mug

date_range Sat 27 Jun, 2pm

location_on Perth

1 to 10

label $130

Pottery Open Studio Session

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Cammeray

1

label $180

1k

Ceramic Hand Building and Glazing Course

date_range Your choice of time

location_on Thornbury

8 to 15

label $228

12k

2k+

Ceramics Workshop: Introduction to Hand Building

date_range Sat 25 Apr, 10am

location_on Thornbury

1 to 15

label $143 - $156

12k

2k+

Kintsugi Workshop for Beginners

date_range Runs regularly

location_on Dutton Park

1 to 12

label $120

5.0 (115)

Traditional Kintsugi Two-day Course

date_range Sat 20 Jun, 1:30pm

location_on Dutton Park

1 to 6

label $385

5.0 (4)

Kintsugi Accessory Workshop

date_range Sun 21 Jun, 4:30pm

location_on Dutton Park

1 to 10

label $88

5.0 (20)

Ceramic Painting Class for Kids: School Holidays

date_range Runs regularly

location_on St Leonards

1 to 20

label $50

2k

Family Ceramic Painting Workshop: Easter Eggs

date_range Your choice of time

location_on St Leonards

6 to 20

label $35

2k


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