Potters make both decorative and functional works of art, such as bowls, mugs and vases. Since many potters work on their own, there is no clear-cut training to become a potter. Some potters may take individualized pottery classes over time, while others may pursue a formal ceramics degree. Mentorships are often important for those seeking advancement in the field.
Pottery training programs teach students how to use a pottery wheel, how to construct a piece of art and how to glaze, decorate and fire a piece. Individual courses can range from 1-2 days a week for 4-16 weeks, and pottery-related associate's and bachelor's degrees are available.
Associate Degree Programs in Pottery
At the associate degree level, aspiring potters take part in labs, lectures and internship experiences and gain a liberal arts foundation. They may take supporting classes in sculpture, drawing and design. For their core program, they learn to manipulate clay through wheel and hand techniques. They also study:
- Pottery decorating
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics
Individuals who want to train in pottery and acquire a 4-year degree can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics. Ceramics majors gain a foundation in art history and learn to create pottery as art; they may also exhibit their works at their college and participate in a work experience.
Students also learn about technical pottery aspects, including glaze development and applications, kiln firing, molds, forming processes and slipcasting techniques. Some common course topics might include:
- Ceramic design studio
- Image and clay
- Figurative clay
- 3D seminar
- Clay studio
Popular Career Options
Depending on education and experience, potters may find work as:
- Retail pottery instructors
- Community center or summer camp ceramics instructors
- Ceramics gallery salespersons
- Studio artists
- Production potters
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, job opportunities for craft and fine artists are expected to grow 2% from 2014 to 2024. This growth rate is slower than average compared to other occupations. Fine artists make an average yearly income of $54,170 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Potters can look to continuing education resources like books, magazines and instructional DVDs to further their professional development. Online, potters can gain tips by reading pottery blogs or participating in virtual discussion forums. Additionally, industry websites may post articles or allow visitors to subscribe to e-newsletters.
Colleges, high schools, art centers and pottery studios also often sponsor informative pottery workshops and seminars. These events may range from 1-5 days and often incorporate hands-on training, lectures and demonstrations. Additionally, mini-workshops may be found at pottery fairs and festivals, which are held various times of the year throughout the country.
Pottery training programs vary according to the length and type of the courses, but all teach students the hand techniques needed to use a pottery wheel and construct artistic works from clay. Depending on their level of training and experience, graduates may work as pottery instructors, studio artists and ceramics gallery salespersons.