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Craft How To Instructions

Untraditional Pottery 101



No Need For Traditional Clay

Go to a store such as Wal-mart, or a craft store if possible. Choose childrens non-firing pottery clay. This stuff is great to work with and doesn't need to be fired. It air dries nicely on a table and doesn't require being baked in an oven to complete the drying process.

Don't Use Traditional Glazes and Paint

At the same store (or even a dollar store), purchase poster paints. They work best and they're oh so cheap!

No Potter's Wheel!

Have a kitchen table or counter with smooth a surface? I'm sure you do. Good enough we say! If you'd like to cheat a little bit though, you can always use a Lazy Susan, just to turn the pottery as you're working on it.

Other than clay and poster paint, all you need is the following:
  • stiff wooden ruler
  • pencil
  • butter knife
  • water
and it helps if you have...
  • an open mind for childlike play
  • some patience, at times
General Instructions and Tips

You should always knead your clay throughly in order to get rid of any air bubbles. If the clay begins cracking or seems dry, add tiny amounts of water to relieve the problem. Not too much water though! Just add a teaspoon at a time. You want your clay to be manageable without cracking. But not gooey!

With almost every project you will need what is called "slip" (a kind of clay glue or binder). You make this by adding water to a small amount of clay, mixing well until you reach the consistency of smooth yogurt.

For the coil method projects, you will be making a lot of clay "worms". In other words, rolling clay into long thin 1/4" to 1/2" round worms. This is best done slowly to avoid breaking pieces.

When allowing the clay object to dry, use a damp room to slow the drying, thus avoiding unnecessary cracking. If a damp room isn't available, place the object on a newspaper (preferably in a dark place such as a closet or cabinet) and then take another newspaper and create a tent over the object.

You never want to force dry this type of clay (i.e. hair dryer, open window). Ideally, you should allow the object to dry for about a day (24 hours) before painting it.

It might be a good idea to play around with the clay just to get used to the texture and limits, as well as the kneading process.

No glazing! When the object is thoroughly dry, just use poster paints! Create your own designs, use stensils, or just plain colors.

Use ziplock bags for storing leftover clay and slip. No wasting now...this stuff costs money!

For great templates, print out graphics from your computer. You can have perfect hearts or swans, roses or vines, or whatever your imagination wants... just cut out the graphic itself, place the paper shape on the dry clay piece, and then dab paint around it!

If you'd like to add a decorative pattern to your pottery, you'll find some in the Patterns & Plans section.

Add white poster paint to your basic colors if you want to create lighter shades or pastels.

Create the four projects listed below or try creating some your own ideas. Make a child's tea set for an heirloom. Or decorate your patio or sun room with matching bowls, vases, pots, etc.


Clay Projects

Matching Clay Bowls
Coil Pots
Slab Coil Pot
Pinched Pot