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What can a beginner expect from a pottery course?

Beginners often ask about the level of a Beginner’s Pottery course. The first thing that needs to be explained is that it is not possible for someone who has never touched clay before, to suddenly throw pots on the final day! But do beginners have anything at all from a Pottery course?

If the beginners’ class is run by a good teacher, they should have everything they need to get started. In fact, as a beginner, you should be learning how to look after your pottery – an important thing to know! You will learn about all the equipment you need and why it is needed. You will also have an opportunity to try all the equipment out for yourself, although if you are using your own equipment at home, please bear in mind what has been taught on the Pottery course.

You will also be shown how to mix clay and throw on the wheel:

Step by step. There is more than one way of doing this Pottery course! You get lots of information on the course, enough for you to experiment and find your own way of doing things.

I advise students not to ‘overthrow’ on their first day:

Don’t push so hard that you can’t control what is happening! You will be surprised how much clay you need for an item like a small bowl. Don’t get disheartened if your first attempts are not very successful. The chances are that you will be able to make something useful on the second day – possibly even a plate!

Most pottery courses in Singapore and Southeast Asia are usually laid out in six lessons of one-and-a-half hours each, and there is the time at the end of the class for you to ask questions.

You will be amazed at what you learn in six lessons:

You will learn the six most important lessons. These are:

1) How to make a coil pot

You will learn how to measure the pot walls so they are not too thick or thin. You will learn how to make your clay bowl strong enough without being too heavy.

You will also be shown how to cut a larger piece of clay neatly into three pieces for making tall pot shapes, and this process is called scaling. It involves cutting the clay into sections that are all the same height.

2) How to make a pinch pot

You will learn how to cut out the pieces of clay and assemble them around your chosen form, so it is easy for you to handle. You need to know about coil pots – why they are strong enough but not too heavy – before you can do this neatly. If you do not understand coil pots, you will end up with a heavy clay urn that is difficult to make and uses too much clay.

3) How to make a slab pot

You will learn how to measure your piece of clay properly by looking at the point of balance and the center of gravity. This ensures your ‘slab pot’ (which is called a self-supporting sculpture) will stand up by itself.

4) How to make a handle for your pot

After you have thrown the pot on the wheel, you will be shown how to use more clay to attach a handle that suits the shape of your pot. You will also learn about attaching spouts and lids.

5) How to decorate your pot

It is important that beginners know how to measure the depth of their pot well. If you don’t, your design will be positioned far too near the rim of the pot, or it may well sink into the middle of your bowl! You should also be taught about altering the width of a design so it fits neatly around the sides of your pot. The first two lessons usually cover this quite well.

6) How to use salt glaze

The salt glaze is thrown over your pots, so they will become waterproof. On the first day, you should be shown how easy it is to apply salt glaze, and taught why fine details are not so easy to achieve.

You may also be shown how to vary the color of your glaze, which is done by adding different colors of clay. Again it takes several lessons to learn this properly.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you should find out how many lessons there are on the Pottery course, and make sure you can afford them.

You will learn more in six lessons than most people learn in a lifetime!

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