Crafts & Creativity

DIY: Pottery Without the Wheel

Learning the art of ceramics!

How do you start? What tools do you need? Do you always have to use a pottery wheel? How do you make textures? I asked myself the same questions.

In my first ceramics class I realized it can be a very interesting, fun and relaxing way to practice and grow creatively.

Before this class I had no experience with ceramics or the process used to make a piece of a ceramics, while I’m learning I have found that I am not the only person that feels this way. I discovered it was more and more exciting each time I learned something new, especially because it was all new to me.

This class consists of garden accessories, artistic exterior pieces, flower sconses, window flower beds, flower pots, bird baths, decorative sculptures, lamps, and various other things. All of these things we are making without using a pottery wheel, you just need to flatten out your clay, cut it into rectangles, squares, circles or other shapes. For example, an easy way to make a flower pot is just cutting a rectangle piece of flat clay, rolling it and joining either end, you will have a cylinder, then cut a circle for the bottom and use water to fix it to the open end of the pot. The best part is you can use thousands of different types of textures to decorate your new pot.

Pottery for beginners

I’m very excited to continue learning about ceramics, in the mean time here are a couple things I learned in my first class:

1. You should choose which type of clay to use, red or white, I went with white for my first projects, the finished look depends on what color clay you use, once you paint it the clay original color will ultimately define the color of your piece. Think of it like putting a transparent piece of paper over the clay.

2, You can use a piece of wire to cut your clay.

3. You need to beat the clay on a flat surface, preferably covering it with a clean piece of cloth, being careful not to get dust, sand or other things on the clay. This helps to make the clay smooth and flattening and molding it will be much easier.

4. You can use a rolling pin to flatten the clay.

In the first class I made a flower sconce, we didn’t use a pottery wheel, just our hands, the clay and a couple of common day things like pencils, bracelets, zippers, buttons, and other things to give the clay some texture. A couple other important things that I learned working with clay for the first time are:

  • Flatten the clay until it is uniform
  • It’s easier to make textures and work with clay that is flattened to about 1/4th of an inch.
  • While working with clay sometimes you need to “join” two pieces, you will need to use some kind of a tool that will help you join both pieces, like a fork, use the fork or whatever you are using to make lines on both pieces then add a few drops of water and press them together.
  • You can make thousands of different shapes with clay and your hands. It’s incredible the amount of textures that can be created using everything things. One woman in my class used cloth to create borders, she placed the cloth on the clay and used a rolling pin the push them into the clay, it was beautiful, even a bracelet can make the beautiful finish you are going for.
  • It’s important to smooth out corners so they won’t be sharp when the piece is fired. With your finger and a bit of water you can smooth out the corners and get rid of that sharpness.
  • Clay gives in easily, if you make a mistake, it’s easy to smooth it out with your fingers and start fresh.
  • You can wait for the clay to dry out and work on it again a few days later before firing, it is important to always cover a piece with plastic.

Hope you enjoyed! – Xo, Elba

3 Responses

  1. Denise Duncan says:

    What tips would U offer to make sure the bottom of a narrow barrel shaped pot is flat, so it does not tip over?

  2. moooo says:


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