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Hi everyone. I'm just starting out making pieces to fire and sell and feeling a little overwhelmed. I've always loved playing with clay but never had a kiln until now. I'm teaching myself as I go along, taking it step by step, absorbing all the info that I can. I was just wondering how others have started out and if they have any helpful tips for a beginner. Thanks in advance!

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Hi Nightshade.


When I was starting, I couldn't wait until I had years of experience under my belt. I felt as you do, an overwhelming amount of unknowns. It is tough, but it is what gives you experience. When you have no idea what you are doing bad things happen of course, but so do some really good and significant things. Pottery becomes your own, not someone else's ideas or philosophies.


An idea from Warren Mackenzie that has helped me along my short journey so far: Make work. Keep making work. Make lots of work.


Yes it is good to think about making work, like sketching, going to museums/art events, and handling pots. But making work is above all. Get into that studio and make! The more you make, the better your forms become. You learn from each piece. Good luck!

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I started at a communty college. Still attend to visit and discuss work with others.


This is a great place to get tips and share. People of all ages attend and there is lots of support and most potters are very friendly. Cost is reasonable and offer alternative firing possibilities.

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Guest alabamapotter

<<<< I was just wondering how others have started out and if they have any helpful tips for a beginner. >>>



In the winter quarter 1990, I took an independent study course in Indian ceramics as a senior research project in a 4 yr. college.

Made lots of bowls, read about 32 books, and wrote a report on the experimental archaeology project.


In the spring quarter 1990, I took throwing on the wheel. It was required to make 40 6 inch cups and cut them in half,

10 bowls, a large item, and a 3 piece, joined item,(not including the handle or lid) plus an annotated book report on a ceramic book.

Several of the class were able to accomplish this task by getting at the art dept at 9:00 pm and throwing til sun up... (can't do that now).


After the wheel throwing class was over, I stayed in touch with the art dept, by joining the Student Art Association. When there

was a pottery making event for fund raising, I went in and tried throwing, trimming, or glazing. The money raised was for the art dept.


I continued making the Indian pottery ever since and in around 1996 I signed up for pottery at a local community college.

Eventually, I was able to teach a couple of weekend and night pottery classes. (your skills greatly improve when you quit teaching

yourself and start teaching others).


Advice would include:

know what you're making before you sit down..... have an example of what is to be made. drawing, photo,

xerox, etc. Throw a general shape, take your rib and give the shape a general form, then trim the piece to what you want.

Make more than you need, since there will be losses.

It is easier to learn with soft clay.

Cut your losses early. Don't spend 20 minutes trying save a cup, when you know it takes 10 minutes to make a new one.

Find out who has an Empty Bowls Charity event and volunteer to make bowls, or wedge clay, etc..... you'll find your comfort level

and make new pottery friends.


Hope this helps,


Alabama potter

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