FREE ONLINE POTTERY CLASSES
Mastering pottery is a lifelong pursuit. Decades of practice may never yield perfection, so the potter must always be learning. Now the search for knowledge has been significantly advanced by the internet; tens of thousands of potters can now share pictures, videos, ideas and techniques from all over the world and learn from each other.
But where does the beginner start? Ideally, you would start with a lesson at a school or community center, but if those kinds of lessons aren't an option in your community then there are plenty of free and paid online courses to start you down the path of becoming a potter.
This site offers wheel throwing courses in the form of videos for the absolute beginner, with beginner, intermediate and advanced projects. There are also tips on selecting clay, making clay and building a studio, plus pottery jokes, stories, history, links to artists and a free e-magazine.
It is a little light on troubleshooting advice and is almost exclusively for wheel throwing (hence the name), but all in all, pottery-on-the-wheel.com is an excellent resource.
- Clear instructions - pottery on the wheel will take you from preparing clay to centering to throwing step-by-step, with each step given its own dedicated video.
- Useful to potters of all levels – lessons range from beginner to advanced, with plenty of inspiration for new projects.
- Written instructions with all videos.
- Exclusively geared toward wheel-throwing – there is not much mention of hand-building or casting, even glazing and firing is somewhat neglected compared to the actual throwing videos.
- Little troubleshooting – great for making things, but not so great for when those things go wrong.
Who it's for:
- Absolute beginners looking for a first-time wheel experience.
- Novice potters looking for inspiration, or a refresher on wheel throwing.
Hsin-Chuen Lin is a Taiwanese-American potter who has created some of the most thorough, well thought out and practically applicable pottery videos on the internet. Most of them are simply shot and light on dialogue, but he has a talent for showing basic techniques from an unusual angle (watch this video where he cuts a pot in half to show you what your left hand should be doing when pulling a wall!).
This series may not be for the absolute beginner, but Lin adds videos fairly regularly, and the playlist for beginners is growing steadily.
- Inventive – Lin will either show you something new, or show you something you thought you knew in a new way that will be very revealing about your own techniques.
- Well-made – all of his videos are cleanly shot and well-edited, often times showing the same basic motion over and over on different pots to emphasize the point.
- Learning curve – The instructional videos start out teaching basic techniques like wedging, centering, opening and pulling, but once you are past those basics it goes right into projects and can be daunting.
Who it's for:
- Novice and intermediate potters looking for advanced tips on beginner concepts.
- Advanced potters ready to re-learn techniques they thought they mastered.
Tim See has a series of videos that are about as helpful as Lin's, while being almost exactly the opposite. See's videos are heavy on verbal instruction and are mostly filmed in one continuous shot from a single stationary camera.
See uses a step-by-step instructional method that is about half-way between the very slow, determined pace of pottery-on-the-wheel.com and Lin's project-based, throw you into the deep end as soon as you can doggy-paddle videos.
- Steady learning curve – See's videos go from throwing posture to centering then throwing basic forms like cylinders, bowls and plates then on to trimming and glazing.
- Lots of verbal instruction – if you are looking for someone to tell you and show you how to make pottery then Tim See is right for you.
- Not well-shot – usually one shot, all of the action isn't always in frame and the videos quality is not great.
- Not frequently updated, if at all.
Who it's for:
- Absolute beginners looking for a first-time experience on the wheel.
While they don't offer a unified beginners pottery course, it's impossible to talk about learning pottery online without mentioning Ceramics Arts Daily. The site is 100% free, although some sections do require a free registration.
Videos are uploaded daily and span all topics in pottery making, including beginner wheel throwing, trimming, decorating and firing – if a potter has done it, someone has posted it on Ceramic Arts Daily.
- Comprehensive – everything and anything can be found on Ceramic Arts Daily, and if not, it can be found in their premium magazine - Pottery Making Illustrated
- The Forum – if you have a question, don't be afraid to ask, the forums are friendly and populated with a wide range of members, from potters to professors to higher-ups at pottery equipment manufacturers and clay and glaze suppliers.
- Disorganized – get ready to wade in with the search bar because there is nothing to say “start here,” and it can take a while to find what you are looking for.
Who it's for:
- Anyone and everyone – literally, if you have any interest at all in making pottery then this is the place to be. It may not be designed for the absolute beginner, but it certainly does not exclude them.
Once you master the basics and try your hand at the more advanced techniques, check out our wide selection of clays, tools and wheels.