Classical clay requires intense heating in the kiln to harden. But what some hobbyists don’t know: there is also modeling clay that can air dry: so-called soft clay. Although this can be fired (at 1040° to 1200° C), it also becomes extremely solid at room temperature. In order to then seal the surface, it should be treated with a special varnish – also called clay seal – and thus made waterproof. This article summarizes which other steps are important when pottery at home and what belongs to a solid basic equipment.

In addition to the aforementioned soft clay (including clay seal), which you can process without a kiln, the following materials are among the most important basic equipment when pottery. They are not a must, but make modeling and subsequent decoration easier in many places:

Important: The sealing protects the surface of the soft clay from moisture, but it should not come into permanent contact with water. Accordingly, vases or cups should be fired better, decorative elements, on the other hand, are adequately protected by the clay density and the acrylic paint.

If this is your first time making pottery, you can use the following steps as a guide. They contain the most important basics that you should consider – from the raw clay to the finished result:

Pottery is not difficult, but it does take some practice at first – at least when you work with the soft modeling clay for the first time. To help you get started, we’ll tell you a few common pottery methods.

The rolling technique: whether plates, vases or bowls: If you want to create a shape that includes large areas, you can easily roll it out. For flat surfaces, cut off a thick slice of clay and roll it out thinly, for example with a rolling pin. For curved surfaces, you can then place the thin clay surfaces over a bowl to press them into the right shape.

The Ball Technique: If you want to use this technique, first form the soft clay into a ball and then press a hole in the center with your thumb before modeling the clay and shaping it into its desired shape – such as a cup or a vase. You can use a damp sponge to smooth out any bumps on the surface.

The layering technique: In this case, you roll out several layers of clay thinly, cut them to the desired size and connect them one after the other – until the desired surface is reached. It is important here that you have to use the slip to connect the individual elements so that the surfaces merge seamlessly. Then model the clay to the desired shape.

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