Is Pottery Hard? (Every Beginner Should Know)

To become an expert-level potter you have to keep honing your skills to perfection; day after day, month after month, and year after year.

Pottery is certainly doable and worth it, so don’t be intimidated by the flawless pieces made by experts who have been mastered their artistry for years.You’re likely going to get too mad after making a mess the first time.

If you don’t curse at the wheel, you’re probably doing something wrong. But don’t be afraid, pottery ought to be a relaxing thing and it’s always rewarding to see a beautiful piece of craftwork at the end.

Here’s The Answer To Whether Pottery Is Hard

Pottery is pretty hard to start for a beginner as it requires a lot of time to learn and practice. You’ll need equipment like glazes, a potter’s wheel, a kiln, and other pottery gear, which can be very expensive. Tutor lessons or rental payment for studio space with equipment can also be expensive.

What Is Pottery?

Pottery is creating objects out of clay. The craft of mining clay, shaping it, coloring, and hardening it to have a functional piece of art is an ever-evolving pursuit.

Pottery is also complicated because it takes many forms. There’s a broad palette to work in pottery, making it a satisfying and wondrous way of life.

It can be practical such as mugs, bowls, and plates. It can also be hand-built pieces by coiling, pinching, or made from rolled slabs of clay.

Can I Teach Myself Pottery?

Pottery is pretty much entirely self-taught. Sure, you can get an arts degree in ceramics, but you don’t need a degree to be a potter. You need the knowledge. If you have a nearby studio, GO!

Being at a studio gives you access to the experience of everyone there. You’ll need some guidance, then practice, practice, practice with periodic check-ins with them.

Be prepared to make mistakes, so don’t strive for perfection on your first pot.

You can binge on videos on YouTube channels, read tutorials, or opt for a university, but community centers are way cheaper than private for-profit studios.

Most pottery studios afford you the ability to rent a space and use communal studio equipment.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Pottery?

The short answer is forever. Even veteran ceramic artists are constantly learning new techniques and information about clay.

Taking a class is, however, the quickest way to go. You can learn enough in a few months to light up the inspiration and want to set up your studio.

How Long Does It Take To Be Good At Pottery?

You could make your first clay product after just two weeks of learning, but you’ll need at least three thousand hours of active practice to get your skills up to speed.

Traditional approaches to pottery generally require about five years of studying to be a competent master. You’ll, however, still need a lot of practice to explore new and make new pieces of art.

Is Pottery An Expensive Hobby?

There is no getting around the fact that pottery is an expensive hobby, especially at the beginning. From the get-go, expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $40 for each pottery class. An eight-week course will cost you at least $200.

You’ll also need a kiln which costs as little as $300 and as much as $6500 depending on the type. A potter’s wheel also costs as much as $2500 even though there are cheaper options with low quality.

Clay molds, a toolset, glazes, and clay will also cost you money. At the very least, you’ll need $1,500 to get started in pottery.

However, it’s cheaper to attend a local community college and use their lab and equipment as you figure out precisely what equipment you’ll need to set up a functional facility in your garage.

What Tools And Equipment Do You Need For Pottery?

The tools and equipment you need depend on the type of pottery you’ll create.

Potter’s Wheel – If drawn to symmetry, you’ll need an electric wheel for modern convenience or an old-school kick wheel. If drawn to the unique quirks of hand-built pottery, then you’ll need a baker’s rolling pin instead of a wheel.

Kiln – Pottery kilns come in various forms, with the primary function of drying and hardening clay. Some of the most common kilns are Raku kilns, electric kilns, gas kilns, wood kilns, and computerized kilns.

Is Using A Pottery Wheel Hard?

Throwing a wheel is more complicated than it looks in pictures and tutorials. The zen of wheel throwing comes with persistent and dedicated practice.

For beginners, it’s ideal to binge on videos on how to throw or closely follow your instructor.

To master wheel throwing, you have to master centering. Always remember that centering is not just a one-step process, but it’s every step.

Don’t shy away from water, and always embrace your elbow. Most importantly, ensure to apply equal pressure at all times.

Here is a really cool video on how to use a pottery wheel…

What Is The Best Pottery Wheel For Beginners?

When getting a wheel as a beginner, don’t skimp. Pottery tools are like any tools. It’s worth investing in a good wheel and avoid having to rebuy crappy wheels every few years.

Buy a Brent wheel or Shimpo. The workhorse of the wheel world is Brent. A good Brent will be a family heirloom, without a doubt. If you don’t mind used, cheap beginner wheels are going for $500 or less.

Here are some great pottery wheels for beginners with approximate prices:

Shimpo Aspire Pottery Wheel with Foot Pedal$544Link
Shimpo VL-Whisper Potter’s Wheel$1449Link
Brent Model CXC Power Wheel$1759Link

Is Using A Kiln Hard?

Generally, using a kiln isn’t hard, albeit the slowest process in pottery. It’s a progressive learning curve that gets better with time and experience.

However, the level and the way the process of firing a kiln varies depending on the type of pottery.

A kiln is basically a giant toaster with insulated walls and a lid. Modern kilns like computerized kilns are even more simplified as you’ll simply be reading a manual and pressing buttons to fire things up.

What Is The Best Kiln For A Beginner?

Go for something small like an 18” Skutt Electronic Kiln with Kiln Master Controller, something you can fill up quickly and fire more often.

The controller is suitable, changing the elements is easy, and Skutt has good customer service. If you’re a beginner who plans to advance, you’re going to fire a lot.

When you’re getting started, acquiring and firing a big empty kiln is a waste of energy. The experimental stage of pottery often leads to a lot of disappointments, and it’s perfectly normal.

It’s, therefore, a waste of time, glaze, and energy to fire a big kiln full of pots, yet you’re unsure if your glaze is going to work.

Here are our top picks of kilns for beginners with approximate prices:

KM 818 – 240 volt Skutt Electronic Kiln with Kiln Master Controller   $1890Link
Paragon Touch-N-Fire Kiln – TNF-82-3, Cone 10, 208V, 1P, 35A$2280Link
Paragon Iguana Digital Front-Loading Kiln, 240V-1PH – 240V, 1PH, 22 1/2” x18”x18”$4629Link

What Other Gear Would You Need For Pottery?

There’s just too much pottery gear out there. Wheel throwers generally need fewer tools than hand builders. Across the spectrum of work, you’ll need these basic pottery gear:

  1. Round hand sponge
  2. Rubber tipped clay shapers
  3. Bucket or water bowl
  4. Scoring tool
  5. Wire tool
  6. Metal ribs
  7. Needle tool
  8. Wooden ribs
  9. Rubber ribs
  10. Paintbrushes
  11. Calipers
  12. Sponges
  13. Towels and aprons
  14. Fettling knives
  15. Scrappers

How To Start Pottery At Home?

First things first, you’ll need a home pottery studio which will require some investment. The best part is a well set up home studio will last for many years.

Pottery gear, tools, and equipment are available online or in most supply stores. You’ll also need a storage shelf to keep your pieces and an excellent damp room to store your pieces.

A small greenhouse with shelves with plastic on the bottom shelf would be a good damp room. An old refrigerator with shelves in it can also work well since the goal is to keep your pottery damp.

Invest in good clay storage, a work table, and set up a glazing area. From there, the sky is the limit. Remember to start with the basic stuff and always upgrade your equipment as you learn new techniques.

Can You Make Pottery Without A Wheel?


In thousands of ancient cultures and much of human history, pottery was made without a wheel. One method is the coil, pinch, and slab building techniques; lowest-tech but high on skill.

You’ll need a non-sticky space for rolling out coils, after which you’ll join them into the shapes you want.

Working without a wheel tends to be unique because clay responds differently to different hand-building techniques.

With hand-building techniques, you will be able to craft serviceable, decent, ornamental, coarse, or refined pottery without the need for a wheel.

Can You Make Pottery Without A Kiln?

Sure you can. But to have pottery to use and keep, it must be subjected to very hot temperatures.

It’s called “pit firing,” which entails setting up fire on top of dried pieces of formed clay.

You’ll then use wood in the three feet deep pit then let the fire burn hot over the clay vessels for at least six hours.

Leave the fire to cool down, after which you’ll have your pit-fired pieces cool slowly. Our ancestors pit-fired clay vessels in a similar fashion for thousands of years.

Pit fire pottery is, however, very porous and isn’t ideal for containing water for long. Pit fire pottery also can’t be used in a microwave.