Pottery Courses and Classes Overview

Individuals can enroll in pottery classes for personal enrichment or take ceramics courses as part of a credited program. Read on to see course descriptions for full programs and standalone pottery classes.

Essential Information

Pottery (or ceramics) courses may be taken as a part of an associate's, bachelor's and master's degree program in art through an area of concentration or as a specific major. Admission into these programs may require a portfolio.

Standalone pottery courses may also be available through art schools or community centers for those who would like to learn it for recreational, non-academic purposes. The classes are often categorized by beginner, intermediate and advanced skill level. Programs may ask students to supply their own equipment, such as an apron, towel and tool kit. The classes vary in length; they may be held in the mornings or evenings for consecutive weeks or days.

Here is a list of commonly taught concepts in ceramics courses:

  • Types of clay
  • History of ceramics
  • Sculptural techniques
  • Pinch, slab, press, mold and coil methods
  • Kilns and firing
  • Glazes
  • Wheel work

List of Pottery Courses

Beginning Pottery

This course introduces pottery as an art form and explores the basics of forming and shaping clay. Taken at the beginning of a ceramics or sculpture program, this course introduces glazing, firing, designing and kiln loading. Students receive an overview of the history of ceramics and acquire techniques in hand-building. Programs may require students to create glaze notebooks, which allow them to record accrued glaze recipes, preparation facts and application techniques. These notes are used when students begin experimenting on a variety of pottery projects.

Introduction to Throwing

This course teaches students the fundamental wheel-working skills used for shaping clay. Students practice using the potter's wheel and begin throwing basic forms, such as bowls and mugs. They also learn how the firing process impacts the form and aesthetics of a ceramic piece, as well as how to incorporate decorations and embellishments. Students generally take throwing classes after completing an introductory ceramics or pottery course.

History of Pottery

Toward the middle of a comprehensive pottery program, aspiring craftspeople study the history of pottery. In addition to learning about the origins of the craft, the course can serve as a source of inspiration for original products. Students develop a deeper appreciation for pottery as they trace it back to its roots in the Neolithic era and follow its evolution through a variety of early civilizations. Pottery history courses also explore the work of various contemporary potters, discerning influences and innovations from earlier periods. Presentations and reports encourage students to develop critical skills, while hands-on training allows them to explore creativity and hone an individual style.

Advanced Hand-Building and Throwing

Students continue their exploration of ceramic art by practicing advanced hand-building techniques, such as pinching and coiling. The design and creation of utilitarian pieces is emphasized; students learn balance and proportion, wall thickness correction, surface decoration techniques and new firing options. Students often have the liberty of making creative pieces, but also learn how to make 'functional art', such as vases, cups and bowls. Advanced aesthetic, technical and conceptual problems are also covered. With guidance, students assist in the bisque and glaze firing of their own work. This course is usually taken as a secondary, mid-program pottery class.


Students who take ceramics or pottery courses often take a sculpting class. Sculpting classes range in difficulty and may be taken in succession to provide progressive instruction in clay modeling, casting, subtracting, forming, constructing, and design. Students learn the origins of pottery sculpting and how the art has evolved. They also explore geometric, abstract and organic forms through readings, discussions, critiques and hands-on sculpting projects. Most sculpting courses are completed once students have gained foundational skills and a basic knowledge of clay.

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