Is pottery easy to learn?

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Top Questions I get asked in the pottery studio

I’ll be honest, throwing on the wheel isn’t easy. But it’s not exceptionally hard. Over the years, I’ve never had a student walk out of a class with at least a few “keepers”.

Learning the basic premise of throwing can be achieved in my 5 week class. Learning to feel the clay so that you know how far you can push it on the wheel- and being able to get the shape you want- takes longer.

The students that come to my studio all have different reasons for taking a class. Some just want to get out of the house. Others want to develop skills to enjoy a lifelong hobby. Then there are those looking to pursue a career in pottery. More often than not, a students goals change over the course of the class as they achieve a greater understanding of the craft.

Once you learn the basic skills of making a pot, practice is the main thing that will increase the quality of your work. You may want to join an open class night and continue to practice your skills or jump in and buy yourself a pottery wheel to work at home!

In the beginning I was simply curious about pottery. Once I got to college I realized that there was so much more to it. From making glazes, clay bodies, tools, molds, to throwing on the wheel- I loved the intricacies, the process, and the creative aspect. I had quickly acquired a fascination with the unknowns in pottery. After college I started and stopped several times, worked with other artists and eventually taught at a community studio. My work was shown at the community studio and I also began to sell a little here and there at local festivals.

I’ve been consistenly selling at larger local art shows for the last 4 years. That 4 year mark concides with the purchase of my own equipment. I was no longer relying on someone else to fire my work and getting studio time. I think it’s usually the turning point for a lot of potters. You spend all this money on equipment and now have to find a way to break even!

My work over the last few years has improved dramatically, and is constantly evolving. Teaching has helped me increase my skill level in ways I never imagined. At the end of the day, I can make a decent coffee mug, but I still have a long way to go. In case you are wondering, this year marks year 20 for me.

Every potter’s timeline is different. What takes someone two classes to learn might take another potter two years. I would highly suggest leaving your expectations at the door and just enjoy working with the clay. This craft is like a road that winds and bends to a desination you are never really certain of. You can go as fast as you want or do a slow roll. I invite you to join me as I continue this life-long journey!

-Katie Bartle, KB Studios of Port Huron, Michigan