Ceramic Pottery Maker Careers

How to become potter

What does a potter do?

Potters use a number of different methods to shape clay or plastic clay into different objects, ranging from plates and cups, to wash basins. The pottery processes involved might include:

  • throwing or moulding softened clay while turning or rotating it on a wheel is the traditional method of making pottery. It is rarely used in the ceramics industry today, but is frequently used by craft potters

  • jiggering, the process used to make flat goods such as plates. It can be carried out by hand, but is often part or fully automated

  • jolleying, which is used for making hollow ware such as cups. It can be carried out by hand or by machine

  • casting, which involves pouring liquid clay or slip into moulds to form items such as bowls. Casting has become a mechanised process in many large companies, although there are still opportunities for casters in smaller companies and craft potteries. Please see the Designer: Ceramics profile for information on designing/making.

  • finishing by turning and shaping takes place on a lathe, using either hand tools, semi- automatic or automatic processes.

While machinery has taken over quite a lot of the work once done by hand, there are still opportunities for craftspeople in the industry and also in smaller craft potteries where traditional methods are still in use.

What's the working environment like working for potters?

As a potter you will work a basic 39 hour week over five days, with the possibility of some overtime. Some companies operate shift systems. Work is carried out either in a factory or in a craft studio/workshop. Self-employed craft workers set their own hours, depending on the availability of work.

There may be some lifting and moving of large items, although many factories now have lifting devices installed.

What does it take to become a potter?

As a ceramic/pottery maker you will need:

  • a good eye for shape and attention to detail

  • good co-ordination

  • patience to carry out intricate processes by hand or with semi-automatic or automatic tools

  • physical fitness

  • ability to work independently and as part of a team

  • good business skills (for self-employment).


Further information

If you would like to know anything about pottery that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St

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