Generally, pottery classes can be categorised as either hand built or wheel thrown. Some classes will focus on one of these techniques and other classes may teach both. Courses that cover both methods will require a longer time commitment as hand built pottery encompasses several different methods.
We’ll dive into the different types of pottery classes and techniques, and even suggest some novelty ideas for learning about pottery. Even if you don’t become a ceramics expert, you’re guaranteed to have a lot of fun!
All levels of pottery class are available from total beginner to intermediate to expert. You can choose to take part in a group class or a private, one-on-one session. Group classes can be fun for experience gifts and family days out.
Most institutions offer long-term commitments, short courses and day classes. Long term classes, over 12 weeks for example, can be great for someone starting out, who wishes to become an expert.
One-off classes can be fun for people who want to try out pottery before committing to a longer period of lessons. They also make the perfect gift for a friend who is into into crafts. Not only that, but they are great for families as a lot of classes cater for little ones too. Speaking of kids, you will likely find schools that offer short or long courses specifically for children.
Wheel Throwing Pottery Class
Exactly as you would imagine, wheel-thrown pottery involves the use of a rotating pottery wheel to achieve your desired shape. You will learn how to treat the clay, work the wheel and the best posture and gestures to optimise your experience. The name ‘throwing’ comes from the most fun part - throwing the clay mix onto the wheel!
Hand Building Classes
- Press molding
This technique is ideal for creating shapes that might not be so easy on a wheel. Press molding refers to pressing your clay into a mold so that it takes on that shape. There are two main materials for molds, namely, the Bisque mold and Plaster of Paris. Clay can be molded into a convex or concave structure, depending on the desired result. The clay must be pressed into the mold so that it fills every crevice and doesn’t crack. In these classes, you will learn how to manipulate the clay and fill up the mold.
- Slab Building
Likely the method you used if you made a clay mug at school, slabbing is a traditional way to make pottery. This technique involves rolling out slabs of clay in any shape and building your creations with them. These classes are perfect for complete beginners. They familiarise you with the materials and techniques that make the basis for ceramic production. Like press molding, it allows you to make shapes that you wouldn’t necessarily achieve using a wheel.
This specific technique involves starting out by rolling out your material into long, thin strips. Then, you choose how to use the long rolls to build up your creation. Sometimes the long rolls are stacked on top of one another in a ring shape. They can be smoothed down or left for a textured effect. Another way to use the coiling method is to make the rolls into circular, coil shapes. Which can be stacked atop of one another or flattened into the structure.
Some may say that the most fun part is decorating! This can be included as part of the other types of classes, but can be a class in itself. In the latter case, the school may provide pre-made pots or encourage you to bring your own unfinished ones. There are special techniques to decorating ceramics; ones that are best taught by the professionals.
- Couples Pottery or pottery for two
Most people are familiar with the famous scene from the movie Ghost, even if they haven’t seen it. The one where Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze get hands-on with a throwing wheel and some clay. If you’ve ever wanted to recreate that moment, there are classes for that! There are pottery classes out there for instance called ‘Romancing the clay’, you and your partner use the same throwing wheel to make a bowl, into which you carve your initials.
- Destination classes
Sure, you could search online for pottery classes that are close to home. But why not make a vacation out of it? Certain regions in Italy, France, Morocco, Mexico, Bali and the States have a strong tradition of local pottery. If you’re inspired by a certain style of ceramics, chances are you can head to the origin country and learn from the masters. The locals have such a strong heritage that learning about the history and tradition can be fascinating.
- Make a Teapot class
You can also make your very own teapot transformed from a block of clay where you learn techniques such as pinching and coiling. Make your own with your own style and colour and re-energise your mind with your own wonderful creativity.
It’s good to note that in most pottery classes, your teacher will likely fire your finished creation for you. The process takes a long time, so be prepared to return to the class to pick up your finished piece.