Pottery is a creative hobby that can be both relaxing and rewarding. However, starting pottery can be daunting for newcomers. This is especially true if it comes with an expensive price tag.

There are all sorts of different pottery supplies. These include clay, kiln wash, pyrometric cones, grinding pads and more.

1. Clay

The most fundamental pottery supply is clay. There are several different types of clay, but the most common for beginners is polymer clay which comes in many colors and can be baked in your home oven.

You can also make your own clay from other raw materials like silica sand, feldspar, or bentonite. These raw materials usually come in powder form and can be mixed with water to create various clays or glazes.

Clay is versatile and can be used to make a wide range of items from pots and vases to jewelry and decorative ornaments. It can even be added to existing objects to make them more unique. For example, you can add handles or three dimensional designs to a vase or pot using modeling clay.

2. Tools

Pottery is an art form that combines creativity with technique, so the right tools can make all the difference. This guide dives into the essential tools for hand building, sculpting and wheel throwing, plus some great product packages that include them all.

Clay tools are any implement that can be used for a specific task while working with clay, whether forming it, trimming, decorating or firing. They can be metal, wood or plastic. Most are fairly small and can be easily misplaced, so most potters use some form of storage solution like a heavy-duty plastic artist or tackle box or utensil tray.

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Scoring tools are used for roughing up the surface of clay, often when attaching two pieces together. Ribbon tools cut strips of clay for handle shapes, and ribs can be used to shape or smooth clay.

3. Kiln

The kiln is the heart of any ceramic maker. It is an insulated chamber that can be heated to very high temperatures for the firing of pottery, glass and metals.

There are many different types of kilns for beginners to choose from. Small kilns are often electric and digital, designed for use in home and studio settings and are generally less expensive than industrial kilns.

The most common types of kilns used by beginning ceramic artists are gas, electric and wood fueled kilns. When using the kiln, always make sure all potential combustibles are cleared away and that there is at least a foot of clearance around the kiln. When firing, pay attention to the pyrometric cones; when the temperature reaches peak range the tip will bend and allow the artist to know the work has reached its desired temperature.

4. Paints

The right paints are essential for any artist, but especially a beginner. It’s easy to get excited about a new medium and buy a lot of supplies only to use them rarely.

Beginners can find good value in boxed sets that are designed for the kind of painting they want to do. You’ll want to choose a set that gives you the broadest range of colors possible.

It’s also important to note that not all paints are the same. Some are considered student quality, which contains less pigment and more extender than professional-grade paint. Student paints are a great option for beginners because they’re affordable and easy to clean up. Eventually, if your budget allows, you can upgrade to the artist-quality paints that offer better results and longer shelf life.

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5. Glazes

Glazes are liquids that can come in almost any color and are used to waterproof and decorate pottery once it has been fired once. They can be poured directly on the work, or they can be applied with brushes.

While many potters create their own glazes from scratch (and those are basically molecular chemists – the margin for error is so small) most buy pre-mixed glazes that have been tested and vetted. This way they know what they are getting, and the results will be consistent.

It is important to thoroughly mix your glazes before you apply them. This helps to eliminate air bubbles and ensures a smooth consistency. When brushing on the glaze, it is important to load the brush well and change the direction of the brush strokes to avoid streaking.

6. Paintbrushes

The paintbrush is the tool that allows an artist to pour their thoughts onto canvas. The type of brush you use will determine the types of marks and consistency of paint you can achieve.

There are a few different brush shapes to choose from:

Flat brushes have square ends and are best for blending large areas and painting in straight lines. Round brushes have a larger belly that tapers to a fine point and are ideal for creating bold strokes and details.

Angle brushes are shorter than a round but have the same shape and are used for one-stroke painting. Dagger brushes look like a fan and are great for blending but also have a good point for lines (straight or curvy).

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Always wash your brushes with a gentle detergent after each use to remove any residual paint and prevent the bristles from being permanently damaged. It’s a good idea to keep them upright in a jar or cup when you’re not using them.

7. Tools for decorating

There are plenty of tools that can be used to add extra flair to pottery. Carving and shaping tools allow for unique designs that can make a piece truly your own. Other tools like ribbon and loop tools add extra textures to your clay while trimming it. These are typically metal bands or wire loops connected to a wooden handle and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Serrated ribs or combs are another way to add different grooves to the surface of your pots. These are usually available in wood or plastic and can be found online for a couple of dollars per rib.

Other tools include rulers or similar measuring devices, shrinkage gauges which help to create consistent pottery, and sanding disks for smoothing and preparing the base or foot of your pots.

Ready to unleash your creativity in pottery? Find all the supplies you need at Mid-South Ceramic (www.midsouthceramics.com) From clay to kilns, they’ve got you covered. Start your artistic journey today!