6 Practical Steps to Learning Pottery in Six Months
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Get familiar with pottery basics
  2. Gather your pottery tools
  3. Learn how to prepare clay
  4. Practice hand-building techniques
  5. Try out the pottery wheel
  6. Learn about glazing and firing

Imagine yourself six months from now, sitting in your backyard on a warm summer day, hands covered in clay, creating a beautiful vase or a cute coffee mug. Yes, that's right—you can learn pottery in six months! Don't worry, it's not as complex as it might seem at first. In fact, we've got a simple, six-step plan to get you started on your pottery journey. So why wait? Let's dive right into how to learn pottery in six months.

Get familiar with pottery basics

The first step toward mastering pottery in half a year is gaining a sound understanding of the basics. This doesn't mean you need to know everything right away, but a good grasp of foundational knowledge will give you a solid footing to build upon.

The Art of Shaping

At its core, pottery is about shaping. You start with a lump of clay and turn it into something wonderful. So, the first thing you will need to learn is how to shape your clay. This involves understanding how the clay responds to pressure, and how you can manipulate it to create different forms. A few common shapes that beginner potters often start with include cylinders, bowls, and plates. These basic shapes will give you a good foundation to start from.

Understanding Clay

Did you know there are several types of clay you can use for pottery? Earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain are the most common ones. Each has its own unique properties and uses. For example, earthenware is great for beginner potters—it's easy to work with and doesn't require a very high firing temperature. Stoneware is more durable and resistant to chipping, but it's a bit trickier to shape. Porcelain is the most delicate and fine of the three, and it requires the highest firing temperature.

The Pottery Wheel

Many people think of the pottery wheel when they hear the word "pottery". And yes, using a pottery wheel is a key part of the process, but it's not the only method. There are also hand-building techniques, like coiling and slab building, which we'll get into in the next section. But for now, just know that the wheel is a tool that can help you shape your clay in a more precise and uniform way.

So, there you have it—the basics of pottery. With a good grasp of these concepts, you're already well on your way to learning pottery in six months. In the next section, we'll discuss the tools you'll need on this creative journey. Stay tuned!

Gather your pottery tools

Now that you've dipped your toes into the basics of pottery, it's time to gather the tools you'll need to bring your clay creations to life. Don't worry—you don't need to break the bank to get started. A few key tools will help you shape, carve, and smooth your pottery pieces.

Your Hands

First and foremost—remember that your hands are your most versatile tools. From shaping to smoothing, your fingers can do it all. The best part? They're absolutely free! So, before you rush off to buy fancy tools, remember that your hands can perform a lot of the work, especially in the early stages of your pottery journey.

The Pottery Wheel

Remember the pottery wheel we mentioned earlier? That's your next tool. While it's possible to hand-build pottery pieces, a wheel can give you a lot more precision and symmetry, especially for round objects like vases or mugs. There are different types of wheels, including manual and electric ones. As a beginner, a tabletop wheel could be a good, cost-effective start.

Clay Sculpting Tools

Next, you'll need some clay sculpting tools. These tools—like ribbon tools, loop tools, and needle tools—help you add details and finish your pieces. They're great for carving designs, smoothing surfaces, and creating holes in your pottery pieces. You can often find a starter set of these tools at a local craft store or online.

A Kiln

Last but definitely not least, you'll need a kiln. A kiln is like a super-powered oven—it's used to "fire" or harden your pottery pieces. There are many types of kilns, including electric, gas, and wood-fired ones. For beginners, an electric kiln is usually the most practical choice. It's important to note that kilns can be quite expensive and require a lot of space, so you might want to consider sharing a community kiln or using a pottery studio's facilities.

Alright, now that you have your tools ready, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. In the next section, we'll talk about how to prepare the clay—the key ingredient in your pottery creations.

Learn how to prepare clay

Now that you have your tools, it's time to get up close and personal with your main material—clay. Preparing clay properly is a vital step in your pottery journey, and understanding this process can make a world of difference in the final outcome of your pieces.

Choose the Right Clay

First off, you need to choose the right type of clay. There are various types of clay out there, and they all have slightly different properties. Earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain are the most common types. For beginners, earthenware clay is often recommended due to its softness and ease of use. It's also the most affordable, which is a bonus when you're just starting out.

Wedging the Clay

Once you've picked your clay, the next step is to prepare it through a process called wedging. Wedging is a bit like kneading dough—it helps to remove any air bubbles and creates a uniform consistency throughout the clay. This is important because air bubbles can cause your piece to crack or explode in the kiln. To wedge your clay, you'll need a clean, flat surface and a bit of elbow grease.

Conditioning the Clay

After you've wedged your clay, the next step is conditioning. This involves moistening the clay to the right consistency. If the clay is too dry, it will be hard to work with and may crack. If it's too wet, it can be too sticky and lose its shape easily. The perfect consistency is smooth and pliable, but firm enough to hold its shape. This might take a bit of practice, so don't be discouraged if you don't get it right the first time.

Alright, now that you've prepared your clay, you're ready to start creating. In the next section, we'll dive into the fascinating world of hand-building techniques.

Practice hand-building techniques

With your clay ready, it's time to get your hands dirty and start crafting. Hand-building is a great place to start for beginners as it allows you to get a feel for the clay and understand how it responds to different pressures and techniques. Let's go through some basic techniques that you can start practicing.


Pinching is as simple as it sounds— you take a ball of clay and gently pinch it into shape. This technique is great for making small bowls and pots and is perfect for beginners. The key to pinching is to keep your hands wet so the clay doesn't stick and to turn the clay as you work to ensure an even shape.


Coiling is another basic technique where you roll out long, snake-like coils of clay and stack them to create a vessel. The coils can be left visible for a rustic look, or smoothed out for a more refined finish. Coiling can be a bit time-consuming, but it's a fantastic way to create taller, larger pieces.

Slab building

Slab building involves rolling out a flat piece of clay and cutting out shapes to assemble a piece. This technique allows for a lot of versatility and creativity. You can create everything from mugs to vases to plates. Keep in mind that slabs need to be joined carefully to prevent cracking or separation when fired.

As you practice these techniques, don't worry about perfection. Instead, focus on understanding how the clay behaves and experimenting with different shapes and forms. Remember, it's all part of the process of learning how to make pottery in six months. In the next section, we'll step it up a notch and introduce you to the pottery wheel.

Try out the pottery wheel

Once you're comfortable with hand-building techniques, it's time to try out the pottery wheel. This tool can be a bit intimidating at first, but with patience and practice, you'll soon find it's not as scary as it seems. Here are some steps to help you get started.

Get Comfortable with the Wheel

Before you start, take some time to familiarize yourself with the wheel. Understand its parts: the wheel head, the foot pedal, the splash pan. Learn how to adjust the speed, and remember, slower speeds are better when you're starting out. Also, ensure your wheel is at a comfortable height, and your seat is stable.

Centering the Clay

This is the first step when you're working on the wheel. Place a ball of clay smack in the middle of the wheel head. Start the wheel and slowly press the clay downwards and towards the center. This might take a few tries, but keep at it. Once the clay is no longer wobbly, you've got it centered!

Opening and Shaping

Now comes the fun part— shaping your pottery. With the clay centered, slowly push your thumb into the center of the clay to create an opening. Then, using your fingers, start shaping the clay into your desired form. This is where your imagination comes into play. Remember, if you don't like what you see, you can always start over.

Working with the pottery wheel might seem challenging at first, but remember, it's all part of the journey of learning how to make pottery in six months. So, take a deep breath, have some fun, and let the wheel spin. Next up, we're going to learn about glazing and firing.

Learn about glazing and firing

After you've shaped your pottery on the wheel, it's time to give it some color and shine. This is where glazing and firing come into play. These steps will transform your work from a simple clay object into a beautiful piece of pottery.

Understanding Glazes

Glazes are a mixture of silica, clay, and colorants that give your pottery its final look. They can be glossy, matte, or somewhere in between, and they come in every color you can imagine. Before you go wild with glazes, test them on a small piece of clay. This way, you'll know exactly what to expect when you apply them to your pottery.

Applying Glazes

Applying glazes is much like painting. You can use brushes, sponges, or even pour the glaze onto your pottery. Each method will give you a different effect. Remember, the thickness of your glaze can affect the final result, so experiment to see what works best for you.

Firing Your Pottery

Once your glaze is dry, it's time to fire your pottery. This is done in a special oven called a kiln. Firing hardens your pottery and makes it durable. It also melts the glaze, giving your pottery a glass-like finish. It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions when firing, as the temperature and timing can vary.

Glazing and firing may seem a bit technical, but they're an integral part of how to learn pottery in six months. With a little practice, you'll soon be creating pottery with interesting colors and finishes. And remember, mistakes are just opportunities to learn and grow. So don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with it!

If you're excited about learning pottery in six months and want to get started with the essentials, check out Meghan Yarnell's workshop, 'Pottery Basics: Everything You Need To Know.' It's a comprehensive guide to help you kick-start your pottery journey and achieve your goals in just six months!