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How to Make a Ceramic Pot at Home

Do you know that you can easily make a ceramic pot at home?

It’s surprisingly easy to make beautiful masterpieces no matter which technique you prefer!

So, Let’s get our hands dirty and create a masterpiece out of ceramic.

Equipment

While making any pot, a lump of clay is the basic requirement. Besides that, there is some more equipment needed to make a ceramic pot.

List of things to make a ceramic pot,

Clay
Pottery wheel
Kiln
Tools for carving
Dish 
Glaze
Paint
Sharp knife
Needle
Rolling pin

Carving tools are optional you can use your hands to give your ceramic pot a detailed look. Also, you can use wood tools too. 

You can get wood tools set online or from any local shop.

Hand building a Dish

1. Choose the type of clay for your pot

For a hand-built pot, standard clay is the best. Use standard clay that is fired in a kiln. 

The next step is to select the color, while selecting color choose natural colors, such as gray or brown. 

Tip: Purchase a lump of clay in small amounts at first to ensure that it suits your needs.

In case you don’t have access to a kiln or you are using clay for the first time, consider air-dry, oven-baked, or polymer clay, you can also make the ceramic pot out of this.

2. Take out a small piece of clay to work

Take a small dish, such as a ring dish or a small plate, and roll the piece of clay into a walnut-sized ball. 

In case of a larger dish like a dinner plate or salad dish, start with a baseball-sized ball.

The point to remember in this step is that you can always remove excess clay but it would be difficult to add more clay once you have shaped your piece of clay.

Cutting Clay with wire

If you are using a piece from a big block of clay then it may be helpful to use a strand of wire to cut off a piece of clay to work.

3. Knead the clay to make it soft and roll it out 0.64cm (one-fourth) thick

Kneading Clay 

Press your thumb into the clay to warm it up. And to soften the clay, pinch and pull on the material.

Try to make clay as soft and pliable as possible. After that, gently shape the soft clay back into a ball and use a rolling pin to flatten the clay into a sheet.

Roll it out to make it one-fourth thick. You can also make the clay as thin as one-eighth (0.32cm) thick. But if the clay is too thin, it will become hard to work on that.

4. Pinch and shape the clay to give it the desired look

Using a pointed knife or any cutting tool gently cut the sheet of clay into your desired shape. Some of the ideal shapes are circular, square, or abstract shapes. Now, use your hands to smoothen the corners and edges.

If you are facing trouble smoothing the edges of your piece of clay, dip your fingers into a glass of water and run them along the clay to give it a smooth finish look.

5. If you are going to use a kiln, remove air bubbles to prevent cracking

While working on the clay, feel the areas where there may be air trapped inside the clay. Gently with the help of a needle poke the spot and release the trapped air.

After that, smooth that area with your fingers and use a little bit of water before allowing the clay to dry.

It is important to remove the air bubbles before firing and glazing because it can easily cause the pottery to crack or even explode in the kiln.

Using a Pottery Wheel

1. Select a pottery wheel

Electrical Pottery wheel

Choose a pottery wheel and 2Ibs (907g) of clay to make a ceramic pot. Select a standard wet clay with natural color. Also, if you are making the pot for the first time use an electric pottery wheel, because they are easier to use and control.

If you are working on a large block of clay, break it and weigh your clay before working on it. This is the standard practice, to begin with, because working with too much clay can be difficult for a beginner.

Once you get experienced in using the pottery wheel, you can use more amount of clay to build larger pots.

Also, make sure to read the package instruction before working with the clay. Because specific brands may have different requirements for drying and firing clay.

2. Knead and roll the clay into a large cone rounded point shape

As mentioned before, pinch, pull, and roll the clay to remove the air bubble to prevent cracking. Then, use your hands and form a smooth cone shape, press it down to the point of the cone to make it more rounded. This will give a firm, thick base to your pot.

3. Place the clay on the wheel with a downward- tip

While placing the clay on the pottery wheel make sure the wheel is off and completely dry. Place the clay cone such that the rounded point is directly over the center of the wheel. And press it down firmly to hold it in a place.

If your clay is soft enough, then it would be easy to yield clay under the pressure.

In case, the clay is not firmly planted on the pottery wheel, it can slip and slide around while shaping.

If clay seems hard, continue to knead it until it is soft and pliable.

4. Slowly turn the wheel and tap the clay with dry hands

Firstly, set the wheel to a low setting and use your hands to smooth and center the clay over the middle of the wheel. This will make the piece symmetrical over the base.

Now, monitor how clay moves while repositioning your hands and make sure there are no bumps in the clay.

Also, do not set the wheel in a higher setting before wetting the clay, it can cause rough dents in the clay.

5. Place wet hands on the clay

Dip your hands into the water and place them on the clay. Make the outside part of the clay smooth and get a feel for the shape and weight of the clay.

When you are ready, to begin with, the clay, push it forward with the palms of your hands, this is called a plow forward.

Keep a bowl or bucket of water near you while working with the clay on the wheel. Because dry clay can become rough and would make it difficult for you to shape the clay.

6. Increase the speed and use your hand to shape the clay

After plowing forward, set the wheel on high setting. Pull the clay upward to give it a vase or bowl shape. If you want to create plates, press outward.

Tip: While working on the pottery wheel, tuck your elbow near your body and use your hand to steady the clay. 

Each piece of pottery is unique so there is no right method to make a pot.

Coning method

A common method to shape the clay includes “coning,” which means pulling the clay upward and smoothing the sides of the clay into a cone before flattening it.

If you want to make a bowl shape, cone the clay upward and press the clay downward until it looks like a disc shape. 

Use your thumbs to press a hole into the center of the clay and pull the hole outward with your fingers and thumbs as the wheel spins. It creates an opening in the center of the clay with thick and sturdy walls.

7. Cut the clay away from the wheel

Cut as much clay as possible from the bottom of the piece. Turn the wheel off and wait until it stops turning.

Once the piece is stationary, drag a strand of thin wire under the base of clay and lift the piece off the wheel.

Tip: Take someone’s help to cut the piece away from the wheel while lifting. It will prevent the piece from becoming stuck.

Also, the wire should be close to avoid cutting a slanted base.

Adding Finishing Touches and Glazes

1. Creating texture with imprints, stamps, and other tools

If you want to give additional texture to your piece, add it while your clay is soft for the best effect. You can use items like leaves, needles, or rubber stamps for different textures.

Make sure to use stamps or any tools on clay carefully because they can easily puncture or dent your clay.

If by any chance, you didn’t like the stamp texture, simply dip your fingers in water and gently rub them over the texture until it is smooth.

Texture:

Texture stamps for clay

Stamps:  Press the rubber stamps against the clay firmly to make markings. You can get a rubber stamp from the craft store. The rubber stamps create a repeating pattern and it can be used as a “signature” marking of an item.

Tools: In tools, you can use household items, like forks, knitting needles, or combs. Press them against the soft clay or you can gently drag them across the surface to create an interesting pattern or rough texture.

Imprints: For imprint, use natural items like leaves, twigs, and stones. Press them gently against soft clay. They will leave a faint, delicate imprint on the clay before you fire it.

Leaves imprint

2. Allow the clay to dry overnight 

Check your piece’s instructions to find out how long you should let it dry before handling if it is made of air-dry clay.

If you are firing clay in a kiln, ensure the clay is dry to the touch, which can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the clay you used and the size of the project.

After that, you can transport the piece to the kiln.

Kiln

Placing items in the kiln

Before adding paint to air-dry clay, use fine-grain sandpaper, such as 80- or 120-grit, to remove small imperfections.

3. Apply the paint

If you want to add color, paint air-dry clay with acrylic or latex paint. While selecting a paint color, choose the one which is safe for clay and that does not require firing in a kiln, because air-dry clay can’t withstand high temperature. 

Apply the paint to the clay using brushes, sponges, or other techniques, after that let it air dry.

4. Fire the clay in a Kiln

To fire your piece, find a kiln at your local community center or art space, or schedule a time in the library. Carefully lower the piece into a kiln and close the lid.

Make sure the kiln is set at the right temperature for bisque firing, the first firing stage. After that, remove the item carefully from the kiln and add a glaze.

If you’re not sure what temperature to use, check the clay packaging.

If you don’t have the packaging, research the clay type you’re using to find the ideal firing temperature.

5. Apply a glaze

Put the item in the glaze, or paint the glaze on the newly-fired piece.

To add multiple colors, apply glazes with brushes or sponges since they will blend and run together in the kiln.

To protect the natural color of the clay, you can apply a clear glaze for extra protection.

Note: The color of the gaze may look different when it is fired. Therefore, choose the glaze based on the fired color. Also, do not put a glaze at the bottom of the piece because it can stick to the kiln.

6. Again, place the piece to seal the glaze

While holding the base, move the item into the kiln to avoid smudging the glaze.

Check the glaze packaging and set the kiln to the correct temperature, which is usually lower than the bisque firing temperature.

Close the lid of the kiln and make sure the item isn’t touching anything else in the kiln. Once it is done, carefully remove the item from the kiln.

Once the item has been fired, it is safe to touch and handle without affecting the glaze, as the glaze should be completely cured.

If you do not know the appropriate temperature, check online for temperature charts that list a variety of glazes.

Give yourself a pat on the back, because your ceramic pot is ready!

Benefits of Ceramics at Home

  • Ceramic pot holds moisture that helps the plant to bloom well.
  • Also, ceramic pots are porous, hence they provide sufficient air and moisture to the plant.
  • Ceramic pots are more massive compared to other pot materials, so they can endure the weight of the plant.
  • They have high hardness so it is easy to use cutting tools on them.
  • They are having a high melting pot which makes them excellent refractory material. 
  • They are generally chemically inert, so they are durable

FAQ

1. Are ceramic pots eco-friendly?

Ceramic pots are entirely eco-friendly. When clay is broken into particles, ceramics are not harmful to the environment. Ceramics might take a while to reach this point, but when they do, they don’t release any toxic gas into the atmosphere.

2. Do ceramic pots need drainage holes?

Yes. water is essential to all plants. After watering, drainage holes allow additional water to drain out of pots, which prevents water from pooling around the bottom of the pots, which also helps to protect sensitive roots from rot, fungus, and bacteria. 

3. Do plants grow better in ceramic pots?

Yes, ceramic pots wick moisture out of the soil, so they are a better choice if you tend to overwater your plants or if your plants prefer dry soil.

Conclusion

I hope you found this article helpful in your attempts to make a ceramic pot.

Honestly, making a ceramic pot may feel scary and messy at first but as soon as you get your hands on it, it’s actually calming and fun process.

So, Give it a try today. Surely, you are going to enjoy the process of making a ceramic pot.

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