6 Pottery Techniques that Beginners Must Try Their Hand At

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For those of you who are just starting to explore pottery, you must be familiar with the most common decorating techniques out there, namely slab and print techniques. However, there is a whole range of decorating techniques available that are definitely worth a try.

Read on and try your hand at the following techniques. Get creative if you like and mix them up! After all, pottery is about potential!

1. Brushing

Create ornate brush works by carving the clay when it’s wet, or carve the ceramic post the glazing stage to produce shiny brush work.

2. Combing

Combing is a technique that involves making parallel lines on the surface of the pot, either by “dragging” the combing tool on the clay or by wiping clear wet strips -producing a softer more naturally effect.

3. Finger swiping

The movement involved here is similar to combing, but as the name suggests, it requires the use of your fingers. A huge amount of the appeal in pottery is the intimacy between hand and clay, and the joy of moulding orange object without the requirement of tools. The technique of finger swiping is not unlike drawing, and it involves the fingertips and thumbs to create a light etching effect on the ceramic or clay.

 4. Impressing

Also called “stamping” or “embossing”, this technique uses objects or tools that are pressed onto the surface of the pot to leave a specifically shaped impression on the clay or ceramic. Usually done when the clay has dried into hard layer, this is one of the most commonly used techniques in pottery.

5. Sgraffito

In this technique, the artist does not just engage with the surface of the pot. The surface is redefined and treated as a series of layers that lead inward. Each layer has separate artwork and a distinct set of carvings. Unlike combing, where the slip surface is usually erased when it is still wet enough, with sgraffito, the artwork is performed post the drying stage.

6. Faceting

Faceting is the process of cutting the surface strip of a pot with a knife, razor or circular wire tool to make a certain angle (facet). This technique is done when the clay is still wet on the wheel. Faceting makes it easier to hold cups and bowls. The macro-shape of the object being made can be controlled and this allows for the potter to expand their creations to include a variety of objects.

Decorating the final pot is a tricky business but the techniques above are really rather simple once you get used to them. Do not be afraid to fail a couple of times or mix and match your approach to your pottery.

The beauty of pottery is in the dynamism that clay and ceramic offer. If you make a mistake the material can be reused after due process. So don’t be afraid to reinvent the wheel a billion times over and get creative.

Photo by Krys Alex on Unsplash



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