Well, I don't know the answer to your questions Biglou13. There is a wonderful pottery store 2 towns down that fire my little beginner items for a modest price. But, I live in NC and I took one wheel throwing class at the local community college, then 2 other handbuilding classes there recently. Before I took any classes at all, I watched every video on Youtube on pottery, and read almost every article on this site. And I went to local pottery festivals to see and touch and buy. Then, I began buying tools, a little at a time ( based on what experienced potters recommended). In my classes we made stamps and sprigs, and I continue to do that at home. The things I threw on the wheel were, ummm, well they were referred to as "primitive". NOT the look I was going for. I might take another wheel throwing class down the road (I saved up for a wheel but it will stay in its box till I master cylinders), but for now my goal is to make 6 plates, bowls, and cups. We belong to the Blind Pigs Horseshoe Club, and there is a chapter in Ohio. Our friends in Ohio brought me some Ohio clay, and there is an old moonshine still on the family property with revenuer hatchet holes that has some good flaky rust on the top. And we have 2 campout parties a year where the large fire pit burns hardwoods. So, there is access to iron oxide and ash. Want to figure out how to best use these in my dinnerware plan. It is all experimentation right now. Making tiles to play around with the stamps/stencils/patterns/texture and to take the clay I buy from the local pottery shop and encorporate the Ohio lighter colored clay in slips, etc. One day I'd like to dig my own clay and process it for use, but that is down the road a bit. Whenever I make a little cup or plate or tiles, I use the leftover bits to make pendants. People say, 'oh, it's just mud', but I don't want to waste a single giblet of the clay. I work fulltime/overtime, yuk, as a RN in the local hospital, so there is never enough time to play in my clay. Hope to retire early, in 3 years. Then, by gosh, there will be much pottery makin' goin' on round here! My home county is well-known for pottery, going back many generations. So, I observe and learn every chance I get. The ultimate experience would be to dig it, process it, use it and decorate it with locally sourced minerals. I have a box of rutile that I found sluicing in a nearby area known for mineral mines, and I'm reading about that in glazes. hmmmm, an idea is brewing. I once grew some green/brown cotton, harvested it, picked out the seeds, combed it, spun it with my handmade spindle, and knitted with it. That gives you an idea of how much I enjoy the process of making from scratch. The LEARNING. That is where it's at! K. There is some information about me. Just a newbie who is very excited and calm at the same time while playing in the clay.