Choosing and Preparing the Clay
Choosing the type of clay to be used to make a piece of pottery depends on the skill of the potter and the item they are making. Clay has imperfections within it, and the potter must understand how to choose correctly. While many projects can be done with a variety of clays, some require specific amounts of purity or impurities. Kaolin, a clay product, is an important factor in choosing clay. Clay used for porcelains and ceramics generally have higher kaolin content. A student will need to learn how this will affect their project when it is fired. The presence of a knowledgeable instructor can help them make the correct choice for their project.
Before it can be worked, clay must be prepared. This is not a difficult step, and it takes very little time. It is an important step that must be done to ensure the best possible end product. If there are any large air bubbles in the clay, the object may break during drying or kiln firing. Once that happens, it cannot be reworked or made whole again. The person working the clay must restart from the beginning.
There are a few excellent online videos that show beginners how to prepare clay. They are taught by people that understand what they are doing. It is unfortunate that the beginner student cannot feel the clay on the video. They can only see it, and this does not assist them in learning how to feel when the clay has been kneaded properly. Texture is the issue here. Watching a video will not assist the beginner with this vital step.
Choosing and preparing clay for pottery requires a potter to have hands on knowledge. Videos cannot help with all of the complex choices and processes a student must learn. An experienced teacher can demonstrate how and why these choices and skills must be learned in class.