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  • Writer's pictureThe 4th Dot

Updated: Jul 16

Is there a difference?

100% Yes. Sadly, some people think that Pottery and Ceramics are one in the same. I argue thee exact opposite to this mindset. There is an overlap, but they are distinctly different. For thousands of years, clay have played a significant role in human society, art, survival, and function. From prehistoric storage jars to the tiles on space shuttles, clay has been shaping our world. The two terms ceramics and pottery have been used interchangeably by people for far too long.

Perhaps I can give you some information that helps you understand difference and how your perception and subjective taste can lead you in the right direction.



Earth's Crust is a Clay-Bread-Food Recipe

Silica, Alumina, Iron, Magnesia, Potassium, Kaolin, Feldspar, etc. ​ All of these minerals can be found in different areas around the earth, different depths in the ground, and have different scarcities. Each style of clay has a totally different recipe. It depends on what you like, but there are tons of options: stoneware, redware, porcelain, versa, ball clay, earthenware, terra cotta. If you like baking bread, you would probably love developing up a clay recipe.

​ Some clays are great for sculptures. They are gritty and strong while others are smooth and more enjoyable to throw on the wheel. Some clays are very fragile but make colors more vibrant than ever. It all depends on your preference and what kind of work you want to make. My advice to everyone is to go out and try as many types as you can, find what works best for you. ​ Our origins are from the dirt. You are Mud. For millennia, the Bible, the Koran, and even Greek mythology have declared that life itself originated from clay, dust, our earth. We wander around a planet, and we are made of some of the stuff. The earth created life out of itself. The Earth's crust is 5% Mica and Clay minerals according to Scientists.

Technically, Ceramics Means Heated Up

If you want to get down to a true definition, ceramics objects are made from non-metal materials, that are permanently after being heated.

Clay is the perfect example because when it is wet, it turns into mud. After you heat, or fire clay, it permanently changes. Once it becomes insoluble, it is no longer clay, and is now considered ceramics.

THE WORLD IS FULL OF CERAMICS...

Your tooth crowns, space shuttle coatings, bricks, cement, diamonds, and more. Ceramics are one type of refractory material that are able to withstand high temperatures, tolerate pressure, not be corrupted by toxins and have a wide range of diversitility!

Pots'ery =Generic? No.

There are some serious pot throwers around the world. Speed. Consistent. Pot THROWERS! Turning and burning.

You're at the store. Shopping for utilitarian pottery. Potters grinding out mass dishware is like hitting a punch bag. Usually, mugs, or machine pressed plates that look like they came popping from a mold or press are a form of pottery.

Skil'ramics = Art'fuller?

However, when the word ceramics is used, it is generally used to describe something artistic or craft-like. Now, I understand, that this a loose way to look at the difference between these two words. The word Art is subjective to the eyes of the beholder. Sculptures and hand-made teapots are an easy example of ceramics. I like to describe ceramics like this... Buy it at Walmart or Pottery Barn, not ceramic art. Buying something mass-produced, usually not ceramic art. When you buy something that looks like it took time, attention, details, craftsmanship, design... you are more than likely buying ceramic art. ​ FYI: This is my perspective after creating with clay for over a decade.

Best Pottery Wheel Advice

Step 1: Center the clay. Step 2: Uncenter clay on purpose. Step 3: Center the clay again. ​ When you are sitting down at the pottery wheel for the first time, you need to go in with a mindset of keeping nothing. When I was first learning how to throw, my first teacher looked at a vase I just finished. He asked what I thought. I told him it was the best piece of pottery I have ever made. He then told me I should break it. I was confused. He told me that if I ever wanted to be great, I needed to learn how to break things. So I smashed it. My classmates thought I was crazy. ​ So, flushed with confusion and adrenaline, I went and grabbed another ball, and spent the next ten minutes trying to recreate the bowl perfectly all over again. Then I smashed it. Then I tried to make the same vase again, but faster. Then smashed it. Then bigger. Then smashed it. That was key to success. I needed to learn how fast I could throw. How big could I throw? How thin can I throw the walls. How tall and skinny can I make it? How strange, or purposefully wonky could I create. How round. again. Rounder. Cut. Add. Modify. What does 'Absolute Roundest' truly mean? ​ I learned how to throw on the wheel, by failing over and over again. So should you.

If you made it this far... MERP DERP!

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