The art of making pottery is a very complicated process and takes years of practice to master. There are many different steps required to create a fine art piece. First, you need to select an appropriate clay to use.
There are different types including terracotta and other low fire clays, stoneware, white stoneware, and porcelain. Each clay gives different properties to the finished piece and affects how the glaze looks. Stoneware is most often used for more earthy colored glazes or in wood kilns. Porcelain allows glazes to have more vibrant colors.
Each clay also is different to work with. Some are easier to form than others and some feel smoother. Porcelain is the smoothest clay, but it is also more difficult to throw with on the potters wheel as it can slump and absorb to much water if you are not experienced with it.
It can be fun experimenting with different clays to find one that works best for your needs. Your final firing temperature is also a factor. Porcelain is typically fired to 2350 degrees Fahrenheit, and low fire clays are fired to about 1900 degrees.
The next step is deciding what method to use to create your pieces, wheel throwing or hand building. Both require a great deal of practice and it is not as easy as it looks. While a nice vase or mug looks simple, it is far from that. Stay tuned for further articles about the ceramic process.