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Hi everyone,  i've just set up a work space in my kitchen,and i'm going
to teach myself ceramics  im handbuilding  untill my fenton wheel
arrives(HA)   any tips for a biginner?

Re: new member
Hi and Welcome!  How much of a beginner?  Where did your interested evolve
from?  Where will you be firing?  What style of pottery do you like.  Have
you worked with coils or slabs before? So much to ask - so little
bandwidth... :)

It helps to know where you are at to know what to offer.  You say you are
working in your kitchen.  I am going to assume for now that you know

Don't!!!! put clay down your sink.  Get yourself some 5 gallon buckets to
clean up in.  When the bucket gets too full of clay, let it settle out over
night, scoop out the clear water and then deal with the left over clay in
one of several ways.  You can pour it in the garden in a place that you do
composting.  You can recycle it (pour it into a recycling bucket where you
add clay scraps that have dried out).  You can let it dry out and put it in
the trash (not a good solution in my way of thinking).  Just don't put it
down your drain.  One of our posters offered a suggestion that I will always
be grateful for (one of the Steves - sorry guys - brain freeze).  He pours
his recycling in the leg of a pair of denim pants that have been tied off
and lets it drain and reach the right dryness for wedging.  I had some
plastic burlap bags that I used from this idea.  I simply put the bag in a
bucket, add my dry clay (no piece bigger than a small apple), pour water in
and when it has soaked over night, pull the bag of clay out, hang it or move
it from bucket to bucket until it is drained.

Start saving interesting shapes.  For example those Styrofoam containers
that meat comes in make nice forms for draping a slab of clay over to make
trays for sushi or other dishes.  Picture frames at garage sales can make
for great forms.  In fact, garage sale hunting can be a fun part of the

Do a lot of browsing on the web to give yourself something to aim for.

For me two must have links are - has great archives for seeking out answers to questions. is one of the best
resources you can have

Be patient with yourself.  In any profession it takes about 7 years of full
time work to become professional at the job.  That doesn't mean you can't
have a hell of a lot of fun between here and there.  Besides once you are
highly skilled you will look back and wish you had some of the freedom of
ignorance you once had.  So as with children, enjoy each stage.  It only
comes once.

And again, welcome!


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Re: new member
Hi again, Thank you donna for your email ,how nice of you.Yes I know
nothing , i'm working with coils,this is helping me to get a feel and
understanding of the clay,it's fab.I've been working with glass(staine
glass) for a number of years.But  this is not something I can do from
home, so I've had to change direction.My aim is to work with clay and
glass together,but one step at a time right now it's clay! I know what
i'm getting for christmas.........BOOKS, BOOKS and more BOOKS!


Re: new member

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Hi Sam

I am a relative newbie myself - 4 years now. If you only get one book, you
have to get Clay: A Studio Handbook by Vince Patelka
( product link shortened)

I have been reading lots of different books, but this one covers more and
explains more than any of the other ones I have.

Slab building is great fun. I had the amazing luck to find a used tabletop
slab roller for sale. Makes making slabs a dream. But if you are working in
your kitchen, it probably wouldn't be practical. Do you have different
thickness sticks that you use when you roll the slabs? Remember to roll in
different directions - as the clay has a "memory" and will want to go back
to that shape a little - which can cause cracks and such.

I totally agree with Donnas advice to keep clay away from your house pipes!
It will clog them and you can get a huge plumbing bill!

What are you making with your slabs?

Good thing you are going to take courses. I have had 3 different teachers
and have learned different things from each. My present teacher is a real
all-rounder and can answer just about any question I have.

Especially now that you are getting a wheel, you should get instruction.
Then practice and practice and practice at home. This means a lot of
recycling of clay, though, so read up (there are a few threads on this group
about it - and also on clayart) and figure out how you will do that.

Welcome to a great group!


Re: new member
Hi marianne, thank you for your email, there are so many books out
there so it's great to get advice on what one's are good.I've been
coiling,but this week i'm going to make with slabs,and your right it is
a great group!                                           sam.

Re: new member

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Hey again, Sam

You might or might not know this, but when you slab build, try to let the
slabs dry to a rather stiff leather-hard - still soft enough to use a tool
to intermingle the corners/sides, but stiff enough to stand straight on
their own. Makes for a lot less trouble getting things to stay where you
want them :-)

Have fun!


Re: new member
Thanks for that marianne i'll let you know how i get on. sam

Re: new member

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Another tip that I have found very useful is to use tarpaper
(sold as "roofing felt" in building supply stores) as a backing
for the slab pieces.  You make templates from the tarpaper
and after you roll out your slab, you wet the template and
roll it right onto the slab.  Then use that as a guide to cut
out the piece with a very dull pin tool (or even a butter knife,
except it has more drag).  The tarpaper supports the piece
while you pick it up and move it to drying boards, etc.  

Better yet, you can do a lot of construction without even
waiting for the pieces to stiffen, since the tarpaper adds
enough stiffness to hold the slab upright, at least when
it is joined to others to form (say) a small box, butter dish
lid, etc.  You can make mugs from a circle (bottom) and
a long strip that you wrap around and join at a seam to
make the sides.  Having the templates allows you to
try things out ahead of time.  You can leave the tarpaper
on the outside until the work stiffens, then gently peel
it off.

Best regards.

Bob Masta
            D A Q A R T A
Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
Home of DaqGen, the FREEWARE signal generator

Re: new member
 Hi Marrianne, I have sent copies of my notes to Sam's email; I
couldn't make out whether it was Sam or yourself asking for them, I
have asked her to forward them to you, just in case.

Re: new member
Hi Samantha, I can recomend a good book if you want to check out glass
slumping and fusing ( kiln formed glass techniques); I too have been
considering work with glass and ceramics and this book has been a God

"Techniques of kiln-formed glass" by Kieth Cummings. ISBN
-10:0-7136-6120-8 or ISBN- 13:978-0-7136-6120-0

Re: new member
Hi andrew, thanks for that, i'm going to become amazon's best customer!

Re: new member
Hi againe, have you gone to google warmglass? sam.

Re: new member

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Donna gave you so much.  My suggestion if you are a real beginner, join a
pottery group, or go to night classes, have a look around your area to find
out what is available.  For a start you will get access to a kiln which
means your work can be fired, but you will also have contact with lots of
other people interested in clay and learn heaps from them.  There is so much
to learn.
Good luck, and welcome.

Re: new member
Hi Annemarie,this is something i've been looking into,   and there are
a couple of classes that i can join in the new year,this will be good
for me because then i can move to another stage the glazes and
firing,because there is sooooooooooo much to learn i'm breaking in to
stages. thanks sam

Re: new member
Welcome Samantha,

I will only add that pottery is very like playing the Guitar:

The Guitar is possibly the easiest Instrument in the world to get a nice
noise out of, and probably one of the hardest to play really well. So
it, like clay, can be greatly enjoyed at ANY level, from total beginner
to absolute professional.

It has kept me sane all my life, and will do up to the finish.
Then my family will have to decide what to do with all the stuff I've
left them.


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Steve Mills

Re: new member
Hi steve, only last night my 9 year old son was saying that he does'ent
have to go to his guitar lesson anymore,because he can read the music
now.I told him that it's not just been able to read the music that
makes you a good guitar player, it's the practice and the  love of
playing and not giveing up when you find it difficult. O my how this is
now going to ring in my ears now when things don't go right, and i want
to throw the clay out of  the window!


Re: new member

I am cursed with a very good ear and an equally good memory;
consequently reading the dots is very hard work!


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Steve Mills

Re: new member

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Don't throw it out the window! Just into a collecting bucket! Let it dry -
recycle - and repeat! :-)

I am thinking of practicing my turning at my course from now on (we can
choose what we want to learn when there - great course - ongoing!) - so that
I use my teacher's clay, and I don't have to do all the heavy work of
recycling in my teeny little studio at home. Might be an idea for you.

Also - if your son doesn't "get it" from what you say, I BET he will get it
from what you do! He will see your pots getting steadily better - and you
can compare that to his guitar-playing getting even better :)

Marianne - wishing she hat 48 hours to the day so she could both practice
guitar AND pot! But potting comes first!

Re: new member
Hi Marianne,my wheel has not arrived yet,so i'm still handbuilding
                                                  and my pots are
getting better each time ,and it worked with my son
                   i'm not haveing to ask him to practice anymore,its
all good thank you.                                    sam.

Re: new member
Hi Samantha, if you are able to receive and open attachments I could
send you some of the stuff (handouts) that I use with my students, it's
mostly handbuilding techniques for beginers; send me an email if you
are interested and I will respond ASAP.

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