Pottery is something humans have been creating for thousands of years. Since all that’s needed to make pottery is a pottery wheel, pottery supplies, wares to make pottery from and a pottery kiln, it is fairly simple to make. The earliest forms of pottery were made from clays that were fired at low temperatures, either in pit-fires or open bonfires.
The definition of pottery, as given by ASTM, is “all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural and refractory products.” Interestingly, additives can be worked into the clay body before forming. This is mostly used to produce desired effects in the wares. Adding coarse additives like sand or grog, for example, can give the final product a rough, rugged texture.
In a process called “throwing” a ball of clay is placed in the center of a turntable, and a potter then rotates the table with a stock, foot power, or a variable speed electric motor. The origin of the term comes from the Old English word “thrawan,” which means to twist or turn.
Once a ware has been designed, it is put into a kiln to harden and become the final product. A clay body can be decorated either before or after firing, but in order to have hardened wares, pottery must go through a kiln. There are a variety of kilns to choose from, such as paragon kilns, olympic kilns, and even electric kilns.
Kilns make a big difference in the look of the final product. Many people like paragon kilns, and many people don’t like to use kilns powered by coal or fire, because the smoke can affect the look of the pottery involved, marking it with ash.
At the end of the day, creating pottery is a wonderfully productive hobby, and can be very therapeutic. All one truly needs to create pottery is to learn the art, then acquire pottery supplies, a pottery wheel and a pottery kiln. Then they can start enjoying the wonderful art of pottery.