Resource Guide to Ceramics

By: Francesca Fiori

Since ancient times, humans have always had an affinity for the beautiful objects and works of art that can be created with ceramics. Ceramics are typically made from heated clay and other materials that are shaped and left to cool down and harden. Notably, ceramic art has been practiced in cultures around the globe. The beauty of ceramics is that while it makes for a wonderful piece of art, it can also be used for practical purposes such as containers or kitchen wares, such as plates, mugs and jars. In Ancient Mesopotamian culture, ceramics were even used to create wall art in the form of colorful painted tiles. Ceramic art is still alive and well today, although styles and methods have changed over the centuries. Creating ceramics is an enjoyable, creative activity that beginners and even children can learn to excel at. The following resources provide an in-depth look at ceramics through history, the techniques, as well as tips and projects.

History of Ceramics

Ceramic Techniques and Care

  • Kiln Firing Chart (PDF) – This practical chart indicates the best temperatures for the various changes in ceramic formation.
  • Basic Techniques – This page is an excellent introduction to ceramic techniques including coiled forms, slab construction, wheel throwing, and more.
  • General Pottery Tips – Pottery sculptors of all levels will benefit from reviewing these helpful tips on the various aspects of working with clay.
  • Pottery Ergonomics – Poor posture and workplace conditions contribute greatly to ergonomic issues in potters.
  • Maintaining a Safe Studio – Before starting to work with ceramics, ensure that the workspace is setup safely and that you are wearing the appropriate protective gear.

Ceramics for Beginners

  • Getting Started with Ceramics – Find out what is needed to start creating ceramics, where to get help, and how to start.
  • Painting Glazed Ceramics – Learn all about china painting with a detailed tutorial and a list of required supplies.
  • Using a Potter’s Wheel – This fun, photographic guide shows step-by-step details on how to prepare and use clay with a potter’s wheel.
  • Understanding Clay – Read a straightforward explanation about the properties of clay, how it changes and behaves, and how to manipulate it in the best ways.
  • A Ceramics Glossary – Look up explanations of words commonly used in discussing ceramics and pottery.

Advanced Ceramics

  • Navajo Ceramics – Follow a series of lessons to learn about Navajo pottery and techniques, and the philosophy behind this unique style.
  • Glaze Formulas – Find recipes for creating gorgeous, professional-looking ceramic glazes.
  • Cordmarked Pottery – Learn how to create in the distinct style of cordmarked pottery.
  • Advanced Pottery Techniques – Add a few more special techniques to your pottery repertoire, such as slip trailing, and salt firing.
  • A Raku Tutorial – Raku is a particularly beautiful type of pottery technique that was used in Japan and China.
  • Advanced Ceramics Tips – Learn about using ribs, a bull’s eye, and re-centering properly.
  • Working with Paper Clay - Read about a new type of clay called paper clay, and then review some tutorials and tips in the Studio Support section.
  • Polymer Clay – Polymer clay can be applied in many different ways and it can even be used as a veneer on other objects.

Ceramics for Kids

  • Make a Gargoyle! – A simple lesson plan introduces children to modeling detailed forms with clay.
  • Pottery Through History – An article for kids reveals how pottery was made and used by ancient civilizations.
  • Benefits of Pottery (DOC) – This article for parents discusses how working with clay helps children to express themselves and explore creativity in a safe, fun way.
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