Potters are artists, craftspeople and utensil manufacturers.
They work with clay to make pots, vases, plates, cups, saucers, teapots
and other household utensils that humans have used for tens of thousands of
By definition, pottery is an object that has been formed with clay and
baked in a kiln at a very hot temperature. This process, called "firing,"
causes changes in the clay's chemical properties, making it harder and suitable
for daily use. A special coating, called a glaze, may also be applied to give
the piece a shine or color.
Some pottery is made by "throwing" it on a potter's wheel. This means the
clay is placed on top of a spinning flat disc. As the wet clay turns, the
potter uses their hands to shape it into a vase or another object.
Some pottery is created and bought for its artistic qualities. However,
most pieces are functional, meaning they are used as well as admired.
Only the most successful potters are able to support themselves solely
by selling their work. Many more teach art in schools or at the college level.
Many others run their own shops, selling their pottery and the work of other
artists and craftspeople.
Part of the challenge for potters and other artists is that their income
isn't usually steady. A sale of moderate size may have to hold you over for
a long time.
Many potters are hired as employees in other studios, helping to produce
the designs of a better known artist. These years often become apprenticeships
for young potters, as they watch and learn from their more experienced employers.
Making pottery takes strong and careful hands and it may be necessary to
lift heavy pots and vases. You also can't be afraid of getting dirty. Some
clay even stains hands for days after it is washed off.
Most potters work in studios. Often, those studios also serve as the artist's
home or gallery. Because potters need expensive kiln ovens as well as working
space, several potters will often share the same studio space.
Originality is important, so the potter is constantly trying to come up
with new ideas and designs.
Potters work regular hours as employees, although it's very flexible work.
Some potters do their best work after 9 p.m. Others are strictly morning people.
It's up to you (or your boss).