Benefits of Pottery
Pottery - 1

The Remarkable Benefits of Pottery as a Hobby

By Miemie van Loggerenberg

Pottery is an excellent hobby because it has remarkable benefits for your physical and mental health. According to Emmie, a potter and teacher, the creative process has definite therapeutic value. Not only do you experience the pleasure of making your pieces, but you also enjoy using them.

“Clay is a very interesting and fundamental material – it’s earth, it’s water and — with fire – it takes on form and life”. – Rithy Panh 

In this article, we will discuss the following:

Let us look at some of the benefits of the hobby.

1 The Remarkable Benefits of Pottery

With pottery, you create functional art that you can use or display in your home. It allows you to express your creativity through a vessel that you can shape and decorate according to your preference.

a) Making pottery is relaxing

Eva Herzigova (model and actress) says, “A great way to wind down after a stressful day at work is to use your hands to create a pottery piece. Working with clay can help you release tension and calm your mind. I do pottery. I love it. It’s very relaxing; it takes me to another planet”. 

b) Pottery teaches patience 

You must follow a process to make pottery, from preparing the clay to firing the finished piece. You cannot rush or skip any steps. Otherwise, your pottery might crack or break. Pottery helps you learn to be patient and enjoy the journey. “You can’t rush it. Things will crack and break and fall off. This is the opposite of an instant gratification activity”. Amanda Moffat (ceramist)

c) Pottery improves focus 

When making pottery, you must concentrate on the clay and its response to your touch. You cannot be distracted by your phone or other things. Therefore, it helps you improve your focus and attention span.

“Hours can pass without thinking or caring about anything else—what is known as the ‘potter’s nod. It’s a feeling similar to being at the mercy of a wonderful drug, except in this case, it’s a holistic antidepressant”. Jennie Jieun Lee (contemporary artist)

d) Creative Outlet 

Pottery allows you to express your creativity and create something unique and personal. It is a beautiful way to unwind and relieve stress.

Benefits of Pottery

e) Mindfulness 

Pottery requires focus and concentration, which helps you be more present and mindful. “A potter is one of the few people left who uses his natural faculties of heart, head and hand in balance – the whole man”. Bernard Leach (British potter and art teacher)

f) It is meditative

These are the thoughts of artists and designers.

“My love for pottery started by chance when a good friend recommended I take a class. When I sat down at a pottery wheel, it was like love at first sight. 

It was so profoundly meditative, and I felt connected right away”. Jeremiah Brent (designer)

“It turns off a higher level of thinking. You have to let go and give in to the unpredictability of it. You can go in with an idea of what you want to make, and the clay doesn’t want to do that”. John Sheppard (ceramist and designer)

“It is so gratifying, and I get so much joy from it, giving me many answers in my life”. Toshiko Takaezu (ceramic artist and teacher)

g) Sense of Accomplishment

Creating a piece of pottery can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride, especially if you see progress in your skills over time.

h) Social Connections

Pottery can also be a social activity. If you join a pottery class or an open studio, you will meet people who share your interest in pottery. You can learn from each other, exchange ideas, and make new friends.

i) Therapeutic Benefits

 Pottery can have therapeutic benefits, such as improving hand-eye coordination, increasing skill, and even reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is also effective for trauma release. 

j) Sustainability

Creating pottery can also be a sustainable hobby, as you can use natural materials and avoid disposable items.

Pottery is a fun and rewarding hobby that benefits you in many ways. But how do you start?

2 The process

Pottery creates functional or decorative objects by shaping clay and then firing it at elevated temperatures to harden it into a durable material. The pottery process typically involves several stages. 

a) Preparation

Preparing the clay is the first step in making pottery. The clay must be kneaded and worked to remove any air bubbles and make it pliable. To adjust the properties, you can mix additives like sand, grog (crushed fired clay), or organic materials like straw.

b) Forming

Once the clay is ready, you can shape it into the desired form. Several clay-forming techniques include hand-building (using only the hands to shape the clay), wheel-throwing (using a potter’s wheel to shape the clay) or a mould.

c) Drying

Once the object has been shaped, it is left to dry completely. This can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the size of the object and the humidity of the environment.

d) Firing

After the object has dried, it is fired at a hot temperature in a kiln. This process hardens the clay and makes it more durable. There are two types of firing: bisque firing and glaze firing.

e) Glazing

The potter will apply a glaze if they wish to add colour or a glossy finish to the object. The glaze is a liquid mixture of minerals you apply to the object’s surface. Once the glaze has been applied, the object is fired again at an elevated temperature to melt the glaze and fuse it to the object’s surface.

f) Finishing

After the object has been fired and glazed, the potter will often sand or polish the surface to give it a smooth, finished appearance.

Pottery is, without a doubt, a lengthy process that needs continuous commitment from the potter. And there are various techniques for different effects. Let us look at a few.

3 Techniques

For each technique, you will require different skills.

a) Wheel throwing: This technique makes pottery on a potter’s wheel. It involves shaping a lump of clay into various forms using a rotating wheel. 

Benefits of Pottery

b) Coiling: The potter rolls long clay coils and then stacks them on each other to create a form. Coiling is one of the oldest techniques used in pottery. 

c) Slabbing involves rolling out slabs of clay, cutting them into various shapes, and then joining them to create a form. 

d) Pinch pottery: In this technique, the potter uses their fingers to pinch and shape the clay into a form. This technique is often used to make small, delicate pieces. 

e) Mould making: The technique involves making a mould of an object and then casting clay into the mould to create a form.

f) Slip casting: In this technique, pour liquid clay into a plaster mould, allow it to set, and remove it from the mould. This technique is often used to create multiples of the same form. 

g) Raku: This technique requires firing pottery at a low temperature and removing it from the kiln while it is still hot. The pottery is then placed in a container filled with combustible materials, such as sawdust or newspaper. This creates unique surface patterns on the pottery.

Benefits of Pottery

But apart from the effects of diverse techniques, the type of clay you use produces different results.

4 Types of Clay

Air-dry clay, earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain are all types of clay used for creating pottery. Still, they differ in terms of their properties and firing temperatures.

a) Air-dry clay

Air-dry clay, also known as self-hardening clay, hardens naturally in the air without firing or baking—made from natural materials, including clay, water, and fillers like paper pulp or sawdust.

Benefits of Pottery

Air-dry clay is a popular choice for artists and crafters. It is easy to work with and does not require special equipment or a kiln for firing. It is also an excellent option for children’s art projects, as it is non-toxic and easy to clean up. Once air dry clay has been moulded into the desired shape, it can dry for several hours or overnight, depending on the object’s thickness. Once dry, you can sand, paint, or varnish it to add a finishing touch to the piece. However, air dry clay is less solid and durable than fired clay and can be prone to cracking or breaking over time.

b) Earthenware

Earthenware is a type of clay fired at a lower temperature (around 1000-1150°C) than stoneware and porcelain. This type of clay has a porous and somewhat gritty texture and is typically reddish-brown or buff in colour.

Benefits of Pottery

It is the oldest and most common type of pottery, often used for everyday dishes, plates, bowls, and decorative items. Earthenware is relatively soft and porous, which means it’s not waterproof and can be scratched easily. This type of clay is usually glazed to make it waterproof and more durable.

c) Stoneware

Stoneware must be fired at a higher temperature (around 1200-1300°C) than earthenware, resulting in a denser and more robust final product. It has a smooth, hard texture and is usually grey or tan.

Stoneware is less porous than earthenware, making it more waterproof and less prone to chipping or cracking. Stoneware pottery is often used for dishes, cookware, and decorative items that require greater durability.

d) Porcelain

Porcelain clay is the finest and most refined of all pottery clays. It is fired at a very high temperature (around 1300-1400°C), which makes it vitrified and extremely hard. Vitrified refers to a state where a material has been transformed into a complex, glass-like substance through vitrification. This process occurs when the clay is heated to a hot temperature until it reaches a molten state. It then begins to cool and solidify into a non-crystalline, glass-like structure. When clay is vitrified, it becomes tough, dense, and non-porous, making it resistant to water and other liquids. This property makes the clay ideal for applications where strength, durability, and resistance to wear and tear are essential.

Porcelain is usually pure white, although it can also be decorated with assorted colours and patterns. It is non-porous, which means it’s completely waterproof, making it an ideal material for creating delicate China vases and decorative objects. Porcelain is much more expensive and more complicated to work with than earthenware and stoneware.

Each type of clay produces different outcomes. According to Emmie, the best part of pottery is to open the kiln to see the results of your patient labour.

“They say that every piece of clay is a piece of someone’s life. They even say it has its own small voice and sings in its own way”. – Byrd Baylor in “When Clay Sings”

5 How to start realising the benefits of pottery

Emmie was lucky enough to have pottery as a subject in school. She suggests that you start by attending classes with a knowledgeable teacher. Pottery wheels and kilns are expensive, and a teacher will have these available for your use. Additionally, they know the tricks that will make learning easier. There are also many online resources to help you.

6 What to do next

The easiest way to start (and experience the benefits of pottery) will be to find a knowledgeable teacher to help you decide if you want to be a potter. This will allow access to a pottery wheel, a kiln, and the know-how of an experienced potter. 

Join us at the next self-awareness Art Retreat at Rock Rabbit Art Gallery, and meet Emmie in person. You can experience working with clay and decide if the hobby fits you.

Additionally, you can have a relaxing day away from the normal hustle and bustle with like-minded women.

Come and experience the therapeutic benefits of working with clay!


You can contact Emmie Crafford at the “Rock Rabbit Art Gallery” for class times and prices.

Cell: 082 963 5896

E-mail: Emmie.crafford15@gmail.com 

I highly recommend starting as soon as possible to reap the benefits of pottery as a hobby.

Benefits of Pottery

7 References

The Pottery Wheel. (n.d.). How to Start a Pottery Hobby: Tips and Tools for Beginners. Retrieved from https://thepotterywheel.com/how-to-start-a-pottery-hobby/

Hamer, F., & Hamer, J. (2015). The Potter’s Dictionary of Materials and Techniques. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Bainbridge, S. (2019). Earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. The Spruce Crafts. https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/earthenware-stoneware-porcelain-2746085

Glover, J. (2019). Ceramic Processes: A Manual and a Source of Inspiration for Ceramic Art and Design. Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Martin, A. (2019). Ceramic Studio: Hand Building. The Crowood Press.

Rhodes, D. (2018). Clay and Glazes for the Potter. Crowood Press. Crawford, J. (2016). Making Ceramic Sculpture. Bloom

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