7 Practical Steps to Learn Pottery in a Week
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Gather all pottery supplies
  2. Familiarize yourself with the wheel
  3. Learn how to wedge the clay
  4. Center the clay on the wheel
  5. Shape the clay
  6. Trim and dry the pot
  7. Fire and glaze the pot

Most of us have watched a pottery video online and have been mesmerized by how a lump of clay can transform into a beautiful piece of art. You've probably thought to yourself, "I wish I could do that!" Well, good news—you can! And guess what? You can even learn pottery in a week. Yes, you heard that right! In just seven days, you can go from a pottery novice to someone who can create a simple, yet elegant, piece of pottery. This guide will provide you with seven practical steps on how to learn pottery in a week, starting from gathering all the necessary supplies to firing and glazing your pot. So, let's dive right in and get our hands dirty, shall we?

Gather all pottery supplies

Just like any other craft, the first step to learn pottery is to gather all the necessary supplies. You wouldn't bake a cake without flour and eggs, right? Similarly, you can't start your pottery journey without these materials:

  • Clay: This is the bread and butter of pottery. There are various types of clay you can choose from, like earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. For beginners, earthenware is recommended—it's easier to work with and less expensive than the others.
  • Pottery wheel: If you want to create round, symmetrical pots, you're going to need a pottery wheel. You can find a manual or an electric one, depending on your preference and budget.
  • Tools: Basic tools include a wire cutter to slice the clay, a rib to smooth the clay surface, and a needle tool to cut and shape the clay. You might also need a sponge to add or remove water during the shaping process.
  • Glaze: To give your pot a shiny, glass-like finish, you'll need some glaze. There's a variety of colors and finishes available, so you can get creative with this one!
  • Kiln: This is a type of oven used to fire your pot. If you don't have access to one, don't worry. Some pottery studios allow you to rent kiln space.

Now that you've gathered all your supplies, you're ready to take the next step in your journey of learning pottery in a week. Stay tuned for the upcoming sections, where we'll familiarize ourselves with the pottery wheel, learn how to wedge and shape the clay, and finally fire and glaze our pot.

Familiarize yourself with the wheel

Once you've gathered all your pottery supplies, it's time to get comfortable with your new best friend—the pottery wheel. It may look a bit intimidating, but don't worry! With a bit of practice, you'll be spinning it like a pro in no time. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to familiarize yourself with the wheel:

  1. Find the perfect seat: Comfort is key when you're sitting at the pottery wheel. So, find a chair that allows your hips to be slightly above the wheel. This helps you apply downward pressure on the clay without straining your back.
  2. Get to know the parts: A pottery wheel consists of the wheel head (where your clay goes), the bat pins (to attach a bat, if you're using one), and the foot pedal (to control the speed). Spend some time understanding what each part does.
  3. Practice spinning: Use the foot pedal to spin the wheel. Try different speeds to see how the wheel responds. Remember, slower speeds are better for beginners.
  4. Prepare the wheel: Before you start, make sure the wheel head is clean and slightly wet. This helps the clay stick to the wheel.

Familiarizing yourself with the wheel is a critical step in learning pottery in a week. It may seem a bit tricky at first, but just like riding a bike, once you get the hang of it, it'll be a breeze. Now that you're comfortable with the wheel, it's time to get your hands dirty with some clay in the next section. Stay tuned!

Learn how to wedge the clay

Alright, you've conquered the wheel, and now it's time to get your hands on the clay. But before you shape it into your desired masterpiece, you need to prepare it. This step is called wedging, and it's similar to kneading dough. Here's how you do it:

  1. Start with a lump of clay: Take a manageable piece of clay, usually about the size of a grapefruit. Make sure your hands and the clay are a bit wet to avoid sticking.
  2. Push and roll: With the heels of your hands, push the clay forward and then roll it back towards yourself. This motion helps to remove any air bubbles in the clay, which can cause cracks later.
  3. Repeat: Keep repeating this process until the clay feels smooth and pliable, usually after about 50 to 100 kneads.
  4. Shape it: Finally, shape the clay into a smooth ball, ready to be placed on the wheel.

There you have it! You've learned how to wedge clay, a fundamental step in the process of pottery. It's a bit like the warm-up before a workout, preparing your clay for the main event: shaping it on the wheel. It's also quite therapeutic, so enjoy this calming process as you're learning pottery in a week.

Center the clay on the wheel

Centering the clay on the wheel is like finding a balance in life— it sets the tone for everything that follows. Here's how to do it:

  1. Place your clay: Take your well-wedged clay and firmly smack it down in the center of the wheel. It might not be perfect, but that's okay. The aim is to get close.
  2. Start the wheel: Get the wheel spinning at a moderate speed. A good speed is one where the clay isn't flying off but isn't too slow either. Remember, it's a process of finding the right balance, just like when you're learning pottery in a week.
  3. Apply pressure: Place your hands on the clay, applying steady pressure. The goal here is to align the clay particles in the center. Keep your elbows anchored to your body for better control.
  4. Check your progress: Slowly take your hands off the clay. If it wobbles, it's not centered. But don't worry, just repeat the pressure process until it spins smoothly.

Voila! You've centered your clay on the wheel. This step might take a few tries to master, but with patience and practice, you'll get there. After all, you're on a journey to learn pottery in a week, and every step is a milestone.

Shape the clay

Now that your clay is centered and ready, it's time for the fun part: shaping the clay. This is where your creativity gets to shine!

  1. Open the clay: Start by pressing your thumb into the center of the clay, stopping about 1cm from the bottom. This creates the inside of your pot. Exciting, isn't it? It's like watching a tiny universe being born right in front of your eyes.
  2. Pull the walls: Next, gently squeeze the clay between your fingers and thumb, and slowly pull it upwards. This is how you form the walls of your pot. Remember, it's not a race. Take your time and enjoy the process. Who knew learning pottery in a week could feel this calming?
  3. Shape the pot: Now, you can start giving your pot a shape. Want a bowl? Keep the walls wide. Longing for a vase? Make the walls tall and narrow. It's your world, and you're the creator!
  4. Smoothen the surface: Lastly, use a rib tool to smoothen the surface and remove any uneven parts. This is like the final touch-up before your masterpiece is ready for its first photoshoot.

And there you have it! You've just shaped your first piece of pottery. It might not be perfect, but every pot you shape from now on will be better than the last. That's the beauty of learning pottery in a week—every day brings a new achievement.

Trim and dry the pot

After shaping the clay into your desired form, the next step is to trim and dry the pot. This stage is vital to fine-tune your piece and prepare it for firing. Let's break down how to trim and dry your pottery in a week.

  1. Let it dry a little: Before you start trimming, allow your pot to dry until it is leather-hard. This is when the clay is firm but still slightly damp. It may sound tricky to figure out, but don't worry. After a day or two, you'll understand the difference between a wet pot and a leather-hard pot.
  2. Trim the base: Now, place your pot upside down on the wheel. As the wheel spins, use a trimming tool to remove excess clay from the base. This not only gives your pot a neat finish, but it also makes it stable when placed on a flat surface. Imagine creating a pot that wobbles—no thank you!
  3. Smooth the edges: Next, round off the edges with a sponge. Sharp edges and pottery do not mix! So, keep it smooth and user-friendly.
  4. Let it dry: Finally, let your pot dry completely. Depending on the weather, this could take a few days. Remember, patience is key when learning pottery in a week.

With the trimming complete and the pot dry, you're ready for the next step: firing. But let's hold our horses—we'll get to that in a bit. For now, take pride in your progress. You're almost there!

Fire and glaze the pot

The final step in your week-long pottery journey is firing and glazing. These processes will transform your clay creation into a finished piece of pottery. Ready to finalize your first pot ever? Let's go!

  1. Plan your firing: Depending on the clay and glaze you've chosen, you'll need to set your kiln to the right temperature. Basic earthenware usually needs a temperature of 1915°F (1046°C). Sounds hot, right? Well, that's how you get a solid pot!
  2. Fire the pot: Now, place your dried pot in a kiln. This is what will turn your clay creation into a sturdy, usable item. Depending on the size of your pot and the type of kiln, this process can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. It's all part of the process when you're learning how to make pottery in a week.
  3. Glaze your pot: After firing, the pot will come out looking dull and chalky. This is where glazing comes in! Glaze is a type of glassy coating that gives your pot color, shine, and a smooth finish. Apply the glaze with a brush or by dipping your pot into a bucket of glaze.
  4. Fire again: Yes, you read it right. After glazing, the pot goes back into the kiln for a second firing. This time, the glaze melts and forms a glass-like surface on your pot. And voila! You've created your first piece of pottery in a week.

If you've followed these steps, you've taken a lump of clay and turned it into a beautiful piece of pottery, all within a week. Look at what you've accomplished! You should be incredibly proud of yourself.

Remember, pottery is a craft that takes time to master. But with these practical steps, you're well on your way. Keep practicing and before you know it, you'll be throwing pots like a pro!

If you're eager to learn more about pottery and want to gain practical skills quickly, check out 'Pottery Basics: Everything You Need To Know' workshop by Meghan Yarnell. This workshop will provide you with a solid foundation in pottery techniques and help you hone your newfound skills in just a short amount of time. Don't miss this opportunity to enhance your pottery knowledge and create beautiful works of art.