Pottery: Tips for Beginners

If you got the pottery bug, and you appreciate the art of the potter's wheel, here are some tips that might help you get started.

1. Learning the skill – Even though it is far from simple, the complicated skill of pottery is acquired over time. Perseverance and persistence will gain you control over creating better and better pots.

2. Buying a potter's wheel – Even if you're just starting out, purchase a wheel, a used one can be enough. It will jumpstart your working skills in more ways than you think. A used wheel costs about NIS 2000 ($500) and is easy to resell when you don't use it anymore.

3. Choosing a tutor – It is important to choose the right tutor. I recommend visiting the artist's studio before signing up, just to get an impression of his or her work. Remember! Your tutor is your role model, and it is important to choose someone who does things you like.

4. Being an apprentice – Find a place where you can work (or volunteer) as a potter's apprentice. Don't hesitate to do even the simplest works, such as wiping the items with a sponge. Over time you will find much of your learning is by watching the potter at work.

5. Sentimentalism – When first starting out, the tendency is to keep every little peace we make, and attach ourselves to every lump of clay. My advice is to get over this tendency as soon as possible. Be picky. Don't waste your time, and keep only the best of your work. These items represent you as an artist.

6. Selling your art – Start selling your work from the very beginning, even if it is just a hobby. This will make you responsible and more committed to your art.

7. Feedback – Ask for honest opinions and criticism from professionals as well as "laymen". These are your potential clients, and it is important you understand what they like and adjust yourself appropriately. The more you "feel" your clientele, the better you will be able to combine your internal art with the market trends.

8. Preplanning – When working on the wheel it is highly important to plan the item you are about to make. Don't give up on it. Don't just "go with it". It reflects self-renunciation. Aspire for good ideas and realize them.

9. Glazing – Don't take glazing lightly. Glaze only when you know the specific glazing powder and how it reacts to furnace heating. Even if it contains detailed instructions, test it in at least two different places inside the furnace before using it on your art. I've known wonderful potters who ruined beautiful items by glazing irresponsibly.

10. Self-criticism – Remember, self-criticism can be very harsh on the beginning potter. Try to avoid expecting immediate results. People tend to give up after just a few failures, but sometimes it takes numerous attempts to get to your desired result. Take Thomas Edison for example: After the inventor of the light-bulb has performed his 10,000th experiment, one of his apprentices asked him: "Why do you continue after 10,000 failures?" Edison's reply was, "I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Good Luck!

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