How Do I Choose the Best Handmade Pottery?

T. Carrier

Pottery is one of the oldest decorative and functional human creations. These objects — including pots, dinnerware and other objects — are often made by hand and are highly sought in the marketplace. For an individual who is purchasing handmade pottery, the first factor considered should be whether the pottery will be used in everyday activities. Durability is a guiding consideration in these cases, so stoneware pottery is a good option. Particular pottery types and techniques also are important for any handmade pottery collector. For people who are more concerned with aesthetic appearance, considerations include specific designs and naturalized versus industrial looks.

The pottery wheel method allows for more refined and specific shaping of the materials.
The pottery wheel method allows for more refined and specific shaping of the materials.

An individual should determine what kind of particular pottery is desired. Pottery is available in kitchenware such as bowls or plates. Other forms, such as vases, are more decorative in nature. If the pottery form is functional rather than decorative, hardier forms and methods are desirable. For example, Polish pottery is often made of durable stoneware that does not chip easily. It can withstand a variety of different environments, including dishwashers and freezers.

Ceramic glazes are a popular way to finish pottery.
Ceramic glazes are a popular way to finish pottery.

Glazed pottery also offers protection against breakage. Glazing gives the pottery an attractive sheen, but some collectors of handmade pottery might prefer a more smoke-fired appearance. In these types of pottery, the object is smoothed with a rock, giving it a bit of a glow. The pottery is then placed in a heating device with sawdust for a period of time, which creates a smoky and shadowy appearance.

Handmade pottery that is made from porcelain, while it is less durable, often has a more contemporary, glassy look and intricate designs. Other individuals favor a more natural and rustic look when decorating with pottery, and it can be better achieved with certain forms, such as earthenware pottery. In addition, people of specific cultures produce pottery with distinct patterns and designs that can be attractive to individuals who are interested in that particular culture.

A more naturalized look for handmade pottery might be achieved if the pottery is made via the coil-and-pinch method. This is the earliest and most direct method for making pottery by hand. In this technique, the maker simply creates a base from the clay and molds it into the desired shape with his or her hands and fingers. A related method occurs when the maker cuts out shapes from a slab of clay. The more contemporary pottery wheel method, on the other hand, allows for more refined and specific shaping of the materials. Handmade pottery achieved through this method is likely to have a more finished appearance as well.

Pottery making can be a very messy hobby.
Pottery making can be a very messy hobby.

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