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Need help learning about Pottery, Clay, Glaze, etc.

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I have started hand building in a pottery studio I am a member of and want to learn as much as possible about pottery, clay, glazing, firing and everything that comes along with it.

I'm a visual learner and always prefer to learn from observing. I've taken classes on learning wheel throwing and hand building techniques, but a lot of pottery classes don't go in depth about pottery, clay types and bodies, chemistry of glazing, etc.

I did find this workshop online: https://www.ceramicmaterialsworkshop.com/ but it's pricey.

I've been trying to find relevant videos on this site and on ClayFlicks but it's mostly about technique. Does anyone have any online resources, videos, classes, etc that have been helpful for this?

I also live in San Francisco, so if anyone knows of any classes in the area that would be great!


Thank you!

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Not a lot of stuff for visual learners, but a giant truckload of stuff for people who can learn by reading or autodidacts.  If you can stomach some reading there are books upon books about glaze chemistry and clay bodies.  And really there's good reason for that, because chemistry isn't something you pick up from watching someone, it requires a lot of reading, math, super boring equations and ratios, calculating, etc.

Ceramicmaterialsworkshop is a good start on learning about glaze formulation.  It's not that expensive and I've heard it's worth every penny.

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Hi and welcome!

My advice? Pay the $300 and take the lecture-only version of that class if you want to save a few dollars, but that one is probably one of the best ones going right now. Save yourself a lot of time and go with that one if you like the technical side of things. There can be a lot of misinformation when you’re trying to cobble together an education from free online sources, or figure out which books you’ll find most applicable to your practice. While it can be done, there’s a lot of sorting through different sources to find the accurate info. Matt Katz knows his stuff. 

The reason chemistry or firing mostly isn’t taught to beginners as a rule is it’s a whole other skill set to add on to people who are already working on something reasonably complicated. Usually it’s easiest to provide students with a handful of known glazes chosen by the teacher or the teaching facility so that beginners aren’t hopelessly overwhelmed in their first couple of courses. 

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I think that the lecture-only version might not be any better than a good book like Mastering Cone 6 Glazes or John Britt's books. If you really need help understanding written material then you'll need to be able to talk to someone. $500 is pricey IMO, considering that the video lectures are already made a ready to go and you'll be supplying your own materials to test. I charge about $250 for an 8 week course where everything is hands-on and we're mixing tests every week and I'm answering questions non stop. That said, there aren't many options for glaze formulation classes, so you might be stuck with that. I'd start with a good book first, and see if you need additional help. The basics of glaze formulation aren't that difficult, and a lot of it is just familiarity with glaze materials. Once you can identify what each ingredient in a glaze is doing, it's relatively simple to tweak glazes to get what you want. There's very little reason to formulate a glaze from scratch nowadays, since there are so many recipes available on the internet. Basic formulation knowledge will make it easy to find something that's close to what you want and adjust it to get it perfect.

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