Hot Ceramics & Pottery How-Tos

How To: Pack an electric kiln with pottery

Any prolific potter will know that fitting all of you creations into your electric kiln can be like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, except the pieces are pieces of your heart. This handy video from Simon Leach offers advice on techniques for and a demonstration of packing your kiln properly to avoid damaging any of your precious pots while still firing them successfully.

How To: Install fiber to the exterior cage of a Raku kiln

This intriguing video is part of a set by Simon Leach that teaches anyone at home to create a Raku kiln. In this video, he takes you in a simple, step by step guide from attaching in the fluffy fiber to the exterior cage with specialty buttons and wires. All the steps are very clear, and he even repeats them just in case so that even the most novice craftsman can follow along. It's both practical and educational, as he explains why things need to be done and what purpose they serve for the fi...

How To: Fit a lamp base into pottery with Simon Leach

In this video by Simon Leach, we learn how to fit a lamp base into pottery with Simon Leach. First, you will take the lamp base that has all the wires inside of it. From here, you will wire the cables through the proper fittings for the light. Then, you need to put a hole in the bottom of the lamp base so you can string the light base through and then place the light bulb on top. When you are finished, the pottery can sit on top of the base and then you can add a light shade to finish up the ...

How To: Make a plaster bat for drying out your wet clay

Simon Leach is an online pottery instruction legend, and in this three-part video, he instructs us in a procedure somewhat outside his normal area of expertise by creating a homemade plaster bat, which is basically a flat plaster block used for drying wet clay. For the hardcore at-home ceramics whiz this could be a very fun and rewarding project. Just make sure you are comfortable working with both plaster and clay!

How To: Make a simple clay and ash glaze

This method of making glaze utilizes environmental supplies. That way there's no need to rely on a clay supply store, so it's great to save money or time if it's a distance to the nearest supplier. Watch this video pottery tutorial and learn how to make a simple ceramic glaze for firing out of clay remnants and wood ash. It's appropriate for use on raw glazing projects as well.

How To: Clean off ceramic pots before firing them

In this video, we learn how to clean off ceramic pots before firing them. First, take a knife to clean off any bits that need to be removed to make the pots completely smooth. After this, dip the top of the pot into glaze and let it dry on a flat surface. For the base, hold with your two fingers on the inside, then dip in the glaze and let dry. Once these are dry, take a knife and scrape the edges where excess glaze may be at. Then, scrape all around the edges and clean the back of the side w...

How To: Double dip or glaze ceramic

In this tutorial, Simon Leach teaches us how to double dip or glaze ceramic. This trick will save you a lot of time, just make sure you practice a lot. First, mix your glaze up in a large bucket and grab your pot that you want to glaze. Now, place your piece into the glaze and then flick the wrist to lift the piece up quickly. Don't let the glaze go over the base of the piece or it will become too messy. Now, dip the piece back in, getting some glaze on the inside and swishing the liquid arou...

How To: Collar a cylinder

This video shows how to collar a cylinder. The collar of a cylinder is a plate or ring used under the head of the cylinder for a lock. Put the clay on the spinner. Mold the clay while spinning the spinner. Mold it first to the shape you want. Tighten the neck of the vase that you are molding. By tightening the neck of the vase, you are now shaping the collar of the vase. Shape it to the size and design you want. Enjoy making your own vase with the color you want.

How To: Finish a lidded clay box

Simon Leach of Simon Leach Ceramics shows how to finish a lidded box, thrown on a potter's wheel. When cutting into the box, make sure to do so with a cut slanting downwards so that the lid is less prone to falling off. Proceed to smooth off the exterior of the box, beginning where the two halves meet. Once the outside is smoothed, the fit of the two parts is probably not perfect, and so the joint between the two can be smoothed off. Carved features such as scalloped footing may now be added....

How To: Decorate ceramics with a torch

Try using a blowtorch to dry the outer portion of a ceramic pot. While the clay is still on the pottery wheel, cut light marks into the outer wall of the pot. Dry the outermost layer of wet clay with a blowtorch. When you continue to stretch and form the wet clay on the wheel, witness an interesting cracking effect.

How To: Recuperate clay to soften it

Watch this ceramics tutorial video to learn how to soften clay by recuperating it. This helpful how-to video teaches several techniques to recuperate and soften your clay that are easy enough for beginners. You'll never be stuck again when your clay gets too hard after you watch this instructional video and learn how to recuperate and soften it.

How To: Make a butter dish

Watch this ceramics tutorial video to learn how to make your own butter dish. If you don't use butter, you can follow the same process to make a slightly bigger dish for cheese. This project is easy enough for beginners. The tips in this helpful how-to video will have you making your own butter dish in no time.

How To: Attach a vase neck to a pot

For more complicated pottery pieces, it's not possible to make the entire pot at once, but rather make two pieces to be attached later. This video pottery making tutorial shows how to attach a vase neck onto a pot. See as the two pieces are scored and sewn together. Learn how to attach a neck onto pot made out of ceramic clay by watching this instructional video.

How To: Decorate bisque pottery with red iron oxide

This is a video tutorial of decorating bisque with red iron oxide. Red iron oxide can be layered, fired, watered-down, and used in many ways to add a finish to a piece of bisque pottery. Bisqueware absorbs the color easily, so the two materials work well together. Pick up some new ideas for how to decorate bisque pottery with red iron oxide by watching this video ceramic design tutorial.

How To: Throw a lamp base

You all the know the scene from Ghost? Where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore are sitting and they are trying to make something using the machine? It's one of the most iconic scenes out there. Anyways, this video isn't about ghosts, or either of those actors, but rather that machine and what it can do. This tutorial will show you how to throw a lamp base easily. Enjoy!

How To: Throw a clay pottery fruit bowl

To throw a clay pottery fruit bowl, place a lump of clay on the potter's wheel and wet it with water. Use the foot pedals to spin the wheel while shaping the clay with your hands. Draw the clay up and then use your thumbs to create an indentation in the center of the clay. Apply slight pressure and the clay should assume a bowl form. Use water as necessary to create the right clay consistency. Draw the clay up to make the bowl walls thin. While shaping the bowl walls with one hand, create a r...

How To: Use wood ash to prep pots for the kiln

In this video, we learn how to use wood ash to prep pots for the kiln. First, grab wood ash and place it into a container that sprays. After this, blow in the appropriate hole and hold the container so the ash gets all over your pots. Continue to do this all the way around the pots. You will get out of breath while doing this, so take your take and take breaks to breathe. Make sure you do this in a quick amount of time so the ash inside the container stays ready to be blown. After this, the p...

How To: Make a ceramic slab plate

In this video, we learn how to make a ceramic slab plate. First, roll out the ceramic. After this, place the clay on butcher or newspaper and smooth it out with a plastic card. Repeat this on the other side. Next, use a paper template to help cut your design or use a circular object. Cut slits to help remove the surrounding clay. Use the excess clay to build support pieces then curve the edges of the plate up and place the support pieces underneath. Use a piece of leather to smooth the edges....

How To: Make an incense burner out of clay

Ilysa and Kira with Polymer Clay TV demonstrate how to make an incense burner out of clay. An incense burner is a great way to use up a lot of your scrap clay. You can also use molds, embellishments and pigments to create your incense burner. You can roll up your clay in a swirl to create the incense burner or use any other desired shape. You can also do pinch pot type shapes. To make an incense burner, you'll need a ball of scrap clay, a blade, and a rod. Use the rod to flatten pieces of a c...

How To: Wedge two types of clay together

Wedging two types of clay can give you a new color, which you can then use to further decorate your pieces. Make sure that the two kind of clay require the same firing temperature. You can mix your own personal clay to work with simply by selecting qualities in standard clays and kneading them together.

How To: Throw a wide bowl with Simon Leach

Watch this instructional ceramics video to learn how to throw a wide bowl with Simon Leach. As a preliminary step, one should throw a flat piece of clay onto the pad to assure easy lifting off of the bat. Centering is quite difficult with a larger piece of clay. Leach's visual guide allows one to view the delicate steps required to throw a wide ceramic bowl without letting it collapse.

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