The Perilous Life of Pottery

I’ve decided to put together some time-lapse videos showing the different stages of the life of a piece of pottery.

My technique is by no means the best, but I think it may give you some insight into what a piece goes through before you even get a chance to see it.

Stage One – Throwing

So you have a lump of clay.

What do you do with it?

You chuck it on a wheel, of course 🙂

Stage Two – Trimming

Once you’ve thrown a decent looking pot, trimming – some people call it, turning – is your chance to refine the shape and make it beautiful.

Stage Three – (Only for mugs) – Attaching a handle

Once a mug has been trimmed, you need to give people something to hold it with. Although I find that a bit diva-ish, bowls don’t insist on a special thing to help people hold them…

Anyway, here’s how you ‘pull’ a handle. I decided time lapse was safer, because normal speed would just be too rude 😉

Stage Three – (for other pieces) – Surface decoration

This is where I get all artsy, I roll out some clay, cut out shapes and stick them on. It’s quite simple really, but not enough focus or a bit too much pressure on leatherhard clay and you can deform it, crack it or completely destroy it. 

Stage Four – Glazing

Once you have decorated your piece, you then have a choice.

To underglaze or not to underglaze?

Underglaze is colour put onto the piece either on Greenware – when the clay is dry, but has not been fired, or on Bisque – like a pre-firing, to firm up the piece and making it safer to decorate.

Occasionally, over-enthusiastic decorating can bring about the demise of an unsuspecting piece


The benefit of underglaze is that you can control the colour and do more intricate work.

If you decide against underglaze, you have a choice of brush on glazes or dipping glazes. My dipping is rubbish, so I’m unlikely to make a video for fear of being pilloried 🙂

Two things I definitely know:

  1. you never know how the glaze will come out of the Kiln and

  2. the Kiln gods delight in surprise/mischief

And if the piece survives the Final Firing, it is truly a monumental achievement.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the journey they go through before they start their many years of long service to you, the new owner… 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s