finally found this section so i can post something about my background. all of my advice is from the school of hard knocks. i have had no college or art courses other than workshops given in various places by very good potters. when i started working with clay, i had no money and 2 kids to bring up alone. books from the library were my only teachers. there were no potters available for mentoring, a word not yet common. working for the phone company was so time consuming and having 2 handicapped kids (don't let anyone tell you that disabilities have to be visible to be real) left little time for claywork. had to keep working to keep feeding us.
fortunately, i was able to save up $69.00 for a potters wheel, a spinning tiger. no kiln until i got a promotion and was able to buy a tiny apartment (some new thing called a condominium) for us. my mother in law gave me the down payment, not realizing i had saved it up myself. so i got a kiln and a real potters wheel, took over the small 3rd bedroom and had a studio at last.
"Pottery Workshop" by charles counts was my classroom. still one of the best for starting out. clear, simple instructions that progress in a logical way to learning some skills. it was the first book i actually bought. all the rest followed that simple beginning. paying attention to every step and thinking about a better way to do things is just the way i work. will be a student all my life, someone else knows what i need to find out. i just have to figure out who. maybe it is you.