Pottery Tips and Tricks: What you Need to Know

Check out our tips and tricks to make your potting go more smoothly

Ditch the Saran wrap and use a pair of tights to line plaster moulds
Ditch the Saran wrap and use a pair of tights to line plaster moulds. Getty

Use a Pair of Tights to Line Moulds

It can be tempting to line plaster moulds with Saran wrap so that the clay does not stick to the mould, but sometimes they can leave marks in your perfectly smoothed out clay and be a little messy to remove once the clay has dried. A great solution is to cut up a pair of old tights and line your mould with them. They don’t leave marks on the clay when you remove the clay from the mould; they’re more durable and also come off cleanly in one piece.

Put Vaseline on the Top of the Glaze Jar

When you have a selection of glaze jars, they can get really sticky and hard to open and close. A nice way of avoiding this is to coat the inside of the lid with Vaseline (or petroleum jelly) so they open smoothly. You can also do the same thing with the lids of glue.

Set up a Right Angle Jig for Square Pieces

To make perfect square pots a nifty and simple trick is to make a right angle jig. You won’t need anything more than a few pieces of ½ inch plywood. Cut them to roughly 12- 15 inches and into a right angle shape. From there you’ll need to connect the two notched ends with around two 15 inch braces and one 14 inch brace, attaching them to each side of the jig and the middle. Put two pieces of plywood into the space and you’re ready to start laying your clay on top. Roll them out to the thickness you need and lay one piece on your jig before putting a little slip and marks in your clay to join the pieces. Continue this on all four sides and you’ll have the perfect square pot.

Recycling Clay

Save money and time and waste by recycling your any clay that you don’t use. For trimming scraps, which are dry, you can spritz them with water and put together in a bag and leave for 24 hours and you’ll be able to re use them. You should be able to re use any unfired clay.

Marble your Work

If you love experimenting with ceramic glazes for different effects then this simple technique will update all your pieces. It involves creating a large circular base of shaving cream (slightly bigger than the bowl or plate you would like to glaze). Drop in all the different glaze colours you want to use, then use a paintbrush to swirl the colours around. Then turn your bowl or plate upside down onto the marbled shaving foam. If you lightly rinse off the shaving foam, being careful not the soak the bowl, you’ll end up with an interesting marble pattern on your work.

Balloon Glazing or Hand Building

If you want to glaze the inside of your ceramic vase or jar a different colour to the outside of your bowl then a balloon is a great way of ensuring that none of the glazes mix together. You can just use a regular latex balloon and blow it up inside your vase to make sure it fills the piece. Then carefully dip the outside into the glaze. After the outside of your piece is perfectly glazed you can pop the balloon to remove it. Another way of using a balloon in ceramics is to blow it up to the size you desire then form the clay around the outside of the balloon to create the perfect spherical shape. Using a balloon is also great if you want to create interesting cut away shapes as the balloon will hold the form of the clay until it's dry and you can pop the balloon ready for firing.