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Two Things You Need To Know About Pottery

Teaching new potters is always a lot of fun.  When people don’t know all their is to know about pottery (if that’s even possible) they are more likely to experiment.  Sometimes they do things that I might consider a mistake but they end up with fantastic results.  Of course sometimes they end up with a mess and very often they end up with broken pots.  Sometimes that’s where the fun begins.

If you’ve spent a few minutes trying to throw a pot and it collapses or you dent it you can always dry and re-wedge the clay then start over.  It’s no big deal and hopefully a lesson was learned.  But as you get further into the process of making a piece it becomes harder and harder to let it go.  This is especially true for the new student.  It takes so long to make a piece, then you have to wait for it to dry, which could take days or even weeks depending on conditions.  Then they have to wait for the kiln to be loaded and fired, another day for cooling and then they see a piece that is ready to be decorated.  After it’s glazed more time is spent waiting for the pot to be fired and cooled.  It takes patience.  Meanwhile, all your friends are asking to see what you’ve made in pottery class.

Pile of Broken Pots

At any point in the process something can happen and the piece can break.  It may be a weak seam that cracks, it may be an “S” crack that forms on the bottom of a thrown pot, it may get dropped or bumped.  Sometimes uneven drying can cause cracks and breaks.  Some cracks don’t even show up until the piece comes out of the glaze kiln and not much can be done to save it.

Professional potters have to consider the time it takes to repair a piece and decide if it is worth it to spend that time and will the piece be perfect when it’s done or will it be compromised.  If it’s compromised or if it takes far too long to fix it then it’s best to let go of the pot.  But students have the time and are highly motivated to fix a broken pot.

So what are the two things you need to know?  How to make it, and how to fix it.  Information on both could take up volumes.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. Knowing how to make it, oh yes that glaze experiment with the crack after the glaze firing, I kept the bowl and am waiting for the next firing to hopefully re-create that glaze again. I don't try to fix or repair broken pieces but I do think knowing how to fix what was done wrong for the next time the pieces is made is important.

    1. That is really, really important to know Linda.

  2. What is wonderful is when you have years of experience and the frustrations are mostly behind you and what you can imagine making becomes a pot--that is the benefit of getting OLDER!

  3. What a great lesson in discernment and letting go! XO


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