If you’re running a pottery business, then you know that having the right supplies like clay is essential. This can be tricky, as there are many different types of pottery supplies available, and it can be difficult to know which ones are right for your business. In this article, we’ll discuss 10 places to get pottery supplies for your business. Let’s get started!
The Ceramics and Pottery Industry in 2022
According to IBISWorld, the Ceramics and Pottery industry is expected to have a market size of $2.8 billion in 2022. Despite facing challenges from high imports, the industry is seeing moderate assistance and a steady growth rate of 0.6%. Overall, the market size has grown at an average rate of 1.9% annually between 2017 and 2022. The use of clay as a primary material continues to drive this industry forward.
- READ MORE: Where to Sell Wholesale Craft Supplies
Top Places to Buy Pottery Equipment and Pottery Supplies Online
If you’re looking to shop online for clay and other pottery equipment and supplies, then check out these sites. You’re sure to find what you need and may even find some great discounts throughout the year…
Amazon is an e-commerce website that allows individuals and businesses to buy and sell a wide variety of products and services. It was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos and has since become one of the largest online retailers in the world.
Etsy is an online marketplace that specializes in selling handmade or vintage items, as well as craft supplies. It was founded in 2005 and has since become a popular destination for those looking for unique items.
3. Clay King
Clay King is an online retailer that specializes in selling clay and other pottery supplies. They offer a wide range of products, including clay bodies, glazes, tools, and more.
Small Business Deals
4. The Ceramic Shop
The Ceramic Shop is an online retailer started by Mark Lueders that specializes in selling pottery and ceramic tools and supplies.
5. Sheffield Pottery Ceramics Supply Company
Sheffield Pottery is an online retailer that sells pottery supplies, including clay, glaze, pottery wheels, and more.
6. Bailey Pottery
Bailey Potter, which was started by two professional potters named Jim Bailey and Anne Shattuck Bailey, offers various tools and supplies for your pottery business.
7. Ceramic Superstore
The Ceramic Superstore offers brushes, stamps and mats, ceramic and clay tools, and pretty much anything your pottery business needs.
8. Laguna Clay Company
The Laguna Clay Company was started in 1976 in sunny California with its first location opening right on the beach. They ship nationwide and have distributors all over the world.
9. Aardvark Clay
Having opened in 1972, Aardvark Clay is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Like the Laguna Clay Company, Aardvark Clay is located in California.
10. Axner Pottery Supply
Axner Pottery Supply was founded in 1978 by Howard Axner and boasts the longest-running ceramic supply online store.
You can also find the best deals on pottery supplies here!
Essential Pottery Supply
Earthenware is one of the oldest materials used in pottery. It is a porous clay that is fired at a lower temperature range, between 1745°F and 2012°F (950°C and 1100°C). The lower firing temperature means earthenware remains somewhat porous even after firing, making it less sturdy and more prone to chipping than stoneware or porcelain. However, its softness allows for detailed ornamentation. Typical earthenware items include decorative pieces, terracotta pots, and some dinnerware. Due to its porous nature, it’s often glazed to make it watertight.
Stoneware is a durable clay that is fired at a higher temperature than earthenware, between 2150°F and 2336°F (1176°C and 1283°C). Its name is derived from its stone-like qualities post-firing. The result is a more robust material that is watertight even without a glaze. It’s a popular choice for functional pottery like dinnerware, mugs, and serving dishes because of its sturdiness and durability. The natural color of fired stoneware can vary from light gray to tan to dark brown.
Porcelain is a white, translucent clay known for its fineness, strength, and purity. It’s fired at the highest temperature range of all the pottery clays, between 2336°F and 2552°F (1283°C and 1400°C). The high firing temperature results in a very dense, non-porous material. Porcelain is renowned for its delicate appearance, yet it’s surprisingly strong. It’s used for both artistic and functional pieces, such as fine dinnerware, figurines, and decorative items.
Ball clay is a highly plastic, fine-grained clay that’s used as an additive to other clays to improve their workability and increase their strength. Alone, ball clay is not typically used for the main body of pottery due to its less aesthetic gray or tan color. However, it’s essential in pottery for its binding properties and plasticity, helping other clays achieve the right consistency and strength.
Fire clay can withstand very high temperatures and is primarily used to make refractory products like fire bricks. In pottery, it’s sometimes used to produce stoneware. It has a coarse texture, which can provide a unique, rustic appearance to pottery pieces. Because of its high firing temperature, items made from fire clay tend to be very durable.
Kaolin (China Clay)
Kaolin is a pure, white clay that is the main ingredient in porcelain. It has a non-plastic texture, meaning it’s less malleable than other clays. However, when combined with other clays or materials, it can be made more workable. Kaolin is used not only in pottery but also in papermaking, paint, rubber, and many other applications.
Raku clay is formulated specifically for the Raku firing process, a traditional Japanese method of pottery-making. This clay is often coarser and more porous, designed to withstand the thermal shocks of the Raku process, which involves rapidly heating and cooling the pottery. Pieces made with Raku clay often have a unique, crackled appearance and are more decorative than functional, as they remain porous even after firing.
|Material||Description||Firing Temperature||Common Uses|
|Earthenware Clay||One of the oldest pottery materials. It remains somewhat porous after firing due to its lower firing temperature, making it less sturdy. Its softness allows for detailed ornamentation. Typically glazed to make it watertight.||Between 1745°F (950°C) and 2012°F (1100°C)||Decorative pieces, terracotta pots, some dinnerware|
|Stoneware Clay||Fired at a higher temperature than earthenware, resulting in a durable, watertight material even without a glaze. Has a stone-like appearance post-firing.||Between 2150°F (1176°C) and 2336°F (1283°C)||Functional pottery like dinnerware, mugs, serving dishes|
|Porcelain Clay||A white, translucent clay known for its purity and strength. Fired at the highest temperature among all pottery clays, resulting in a dense, non-porous material. Despite its delicate appearance, it's strong.||Between 2336°F (1283°C) and 2552°F (1400°C)||Fine dinnerware, figurines, decorative items|
|Ball Clay||A highly plastic clay used as an additive to improve workability and increase strength of other clays. Alone, it's less aesthetically pleasing. Essential in pottery for its binding properties.||Not typically fired alone||As an additive to improve properties of other clays|
|Fire Clay||Can withstand very high temperatures. Primarily used for refractory products. In pottery, it's sometimes used for stoneware. Has a coarse texture.||Varies but high temperatures||Refractory products, some stoneware|
|Kaolin (China Clay)||A pure, white clay that's the main ingredient in porcelain. Has a non-plastic texture, meaning it's less malleable, but when combined with other materials, it becomes more workable.||Depends on the blend used||Main ingredient in porcelain, papermaking, paint, rubber|
|Raku Clay||Formulated specifically for the Raku firing process. It's coarser and more porous, designed to withstand the thermal shocks of the Raku process. Remains porous after firing.||Depends on the specific Raku process used||Pieces with unique, crackled appearance; more decorative|
Glazes are a vitreous coating applied to pottery to give it color, texture, and a waterproof finish. Made from a mixture of silica, fluxes, and alumina, glazes are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. When the glazed pottery is fired in a kiln, the glaze melts and forms a smooth, glass-like surface. The choice of glaze can dramatically alter the appearance of a pottery piece, turning it glossy, matte, speckled, or even crystalline.
Underglazes are colored decorations applied to pottery before it’s glazed. They’re similar to regular glazes but without the glossy finish. Underglazes are typically used for detailed designs and patterns since they won’t bleed or blend during the firing process. Once the underglaze has been applied, a transparent glaze is usually applied over the top to seal the pottery and give it a shiny finish.
Slip is a liquid mixture of clay and water. Potters use it for various purposes, including joining clay pieces together, creating raised decorative patterns, or coating an entire pottery piece to change its color. It can be colored with pigments and applied using various techniques, such as trailing or feathering, to create different decorative effects.
Oxides and Stains
Oxides and stains are pigments used to color both clay and glazes. Commonly used oxides include cobalt (blue), copper (green or turquoise), and iron (brown or red). Stains are manufactured colors that offer a broader palette than natural oxides. They can be added to glazes, slips, or clay bodies to achieve the desired color.
Engobes are similar to slips but have a formula that’s tailored to have a closer match to the clay body’s shrinkage and texture. They’re often used to coat pottery, providing a different color or texture. Engobes can be applied to either greenware (unfired pottery) or bisque-fired pieces.
Wax resist is a method used in pottery decoration where liquid wax is applied to specific areas of a pottery piece to prevent glazes or slips from adhering to those areas during subsequent firings. It’s a technique often used to create intricate designs or patterns, as the areas covered with wax will retain their original appearance, contrasting with the glazed sections.
|Supply||Description||Main Components or Ingredients||Common Uses|
|Glazes||Vitreous coatings applied to pottery. When fired, they melt to form a smooth, glass-like surface. Available in various colors and finishes. Can drastically change a pottery piece's appearance.||Silica, fluxes, alumina||Coloring, texturing, and waterproofing pottery|
|Underglazes||Colored decorations applied before the main glaze. They don't have a glossy finish and are used for detailed designs since they won't blend or bleed during firing. Typically sealed with a transparent glaze for shine.||Similar components to glazes but without glossiness||Detailed designs and patterns beneath the main glaze|
|Slip||Liquid mixture of clay and water. Versatile in its use, allowing for the joining of clay pieces, creating decorative patterns, or changing a piece's color. Can be colored with pigments and applied in various ways.||Clay, water, and sometimes pigments||Joining clay pieces, decoration, and color alteration|
|Oxides and Stains||Pigments used to color clay, glazes, or slips. Oxides are naturally occurring minerals, while stains are manufactured colors. They provide a wide range of color options.||Common oxides: cobalt, copper, iron. Stains are manufactured||Coloring clay, glazes, and slips|
|Engobes||Similar to slips but formulated to match the clay body's shrinkage and texture more closely. Used to coat pottery, they can provide a different color or texture. They can be applied to greenware or bisque-fired pieces.||Tailored clay mixture||Coating pottery for color or texture alteration|
|Wax Resist||Liquid wax applied to pottery to prevent adhesion of glazes or slips to the wax-covered areas. Allows for intricate designs, as the wax-covered sections retain their original appearance after firing, contrasting with the glazed sections.||Liquid wax||Creating designs or patterns by preventing adhesion of glazes|
Tools for Pottery Businesses
In addition to pottery supplies, you’ll also need some tools like a kiln, hand tools, and more. Let’s check out our list of the most important equipment and tools a pottery business might need…
A potter’s wheel is a machine used in the shaping of round ceramic wares. There are two primary types: the manual (or kick wheel) and the electric wheel. The wheel rotates while the potter manipulates a mass of clay in the center, shaping it with their hands or tools. This process is called “throwing.” The potter’s wheel is essential for creating symmetrical forms like bowls, vases, and mugs. The continuous and even rotation allows for consistent shaping and thickness of the pottery.
A kiln is a furnace or oven used for firing pottery. It heats the pottery to high temperatures, causing chemical changes in the clay and glazes, making them hard and durable. There are various types of kilns, including electric, gas, and wood-fired. The type of kiln, its firing temperature, and the duration can all impact the final appearance and strength of the pottery.
A slab roller is a device used to produce flat, uniform slabs of clay. Potters feed a lump of clay through two rolling pins, which flatten the clay to the desired thickness. These slabs can then be used to create flatware, like plates or tiles, or they can be molded into other shapes. A slab roller ensures even thickness, which is crucial for consistent drying and firing.
A pug mill is a machine that mixes and compresses clay. Potters often use it to reclaim scraps of clay or to thoroughly mix different clays. The machine de-airs the clay, making it more workable and consistent. Some pug mills can also extrude the clay into specific shapes, which can be useful for certain forms or techniques.
An extruder is a device that pushes clay through a die to produce specific shapes, much like a cookie press. Potters use extruders to make consistent handles, decorative strips, or unique forms. By changing the die on the extruder, various profiles can be achieved, making it a versatile tool for production and decorative work.
A spray booth is an enclosed area equipped with a spray system for the application of glazes or slips. Spraying can produce an even coating on pottery and is especially useful for large pieces or intricate shapes that might be challenging to glaze using brushes or dipping methods. The booth contains the overspray and removes the fine particulates from the air, ensuring a safe and clean environment.
A ball mill is a grinding device used to pulverize raw materials, mix glazes, or grind ceramic stains. It consists of a rotating container filled with heavy balls that crush and grind the material into a fine powder as the container rotates. This ensures that glazes and slips are uniform and free of lumps.
Jigger and Jolley Machines
These are specialized forming machines used in the production of round pottery items like plates, bowls, and cups. The jigger is a machine that shapes the outside of the ware, while the jolley forms the inside. They allow for rapid and consistent production of specific shapes.
Specifically designed for the Raku firing technique, a Raku kiln is typically smaller and more portable than other kilns. It heats up quickly, and pottery pieces are removed while still red-hot for the post-firing reduction process, giving Raku pottery its unique appearance.
A banding wheel is a rotating platform that allows for easy access to all sides of a piece. It’s a vital tool for hand-building or decorating, making tasks like painting, carving, or sculpting easier and more consistent.
|Equipment||Description||Key Features or Types||Primary Use|
|Potter's Wheel||Machine used in the shaping of round ceramic wares. Allows potters to create symmetrical forms.||Manual (kick wheel), Electric wheel||Shaping round ceramic wares such as bowls, vases, and mugs|
|Kiln||Furnace or oven used for firing pottery. Transforms clay into hard and durable ceramics.||Electric, Gas, Wood-fired||Firing pottery to achieve hardness and set glazes|
|Slab Roller||Device that produces flat, uniform slabs of clay. Ensures even thickness for consistent drying and firing.||Rolling pins to flatten clay||Producing flat slabs of clay for plates, tiles, or other shapes|
|Pug Mill||Machine that mixes and compresses clay. Produces workable and consistent clay, sometimes in specific shapes.||Can mix, de-air, and extrude clay||Reclaiming scraps, mixing clays, and producing workable clay|
|Extruder||Pushes clay through a die to produce specific shapes. Allows for consistency and versatility in pottery forms.||Dies to produce different profiles||Making handles, decorative strips, and unique pottery forms|
|Spray Booth||Enclosed area with a spray system for glazes or slips application. Ensures even coating and provides a safe working environment.||Contains overspray and filters particulates||Spraying glazes or slips on pottery, especially for large or intricate pieces|
|Ball Mill||Grinding device that pulverizes raw materials for glazes, slips, or stains. Ensures uniform and lump-free mixtures.||Rotating container with heavy balls||Grinding and mixing materials for glazes, slips, or stains|
|Jigger and Jolley Machines||Specialized machines for producing round pottery items consistently. Jigger shapes the outside while jolley forms the inside.||Machines to shape the inside and outside of pottery||Rapid and consistent production of round pottery items like plates and bowls|
|Raku Kiln||Kiln designed for the Raku firing technique. Heats up quickly and allows for red-hot removal of pottery.||Typically smaller and portable||Raku firing technique, which gives unique appearance to pottery|
|Banding Wheel||Rotating platform for easy access to all sides of a pottery piece. Aids in consistent decoration or hand-building.||Rotating platform||Hand-building, painting, carving, or sculpting pottery|
Ribs are flat tools made from various materials like wood, metal, or rubber. They’re used to smooth, shape, or add texture to a pottery piece. When throwing on the wheel, a rib can help compress the clay, ensuring an even thickness and smooth surface.
A needle tool is a pointed instrument used for various tasks in pottery, from trimming the top of a thrown piece to creating fine lines or details. It’s an essential tool for scoring (making small marks) in the clay, which helps when attaching two pieces together.
Loop Trimming Tools
These tools have looped metal ends and are primarily used for trimming and hollowing out pottery. They come in various shapes and sizes, making them suitable for different tasks, from leveling the bottom of a thrown piece to scooping out the inside of a sculpture.
A fettling knife is a thin, flexible knife used for various tasks, from cutting and shaping soft clay to trimming and cleaning edges. It’s handy for slicing clay slabs or removing excess clay from molded pieces.
Wooden Modeling Tools
These are wooden instruments with shaped ends used for refining and detailing clay forms. Wooden modeling tools are especially useful for sculptural work, allowing potters to add details, shape features, or create texture.
Calipers are measuring tools used to transfer measurements from one object to another. In pottery, they’re often employed to ensure lids fit their pots or to duplicate specific dimensions when creating sets of items.
Wire Clay Cutters
Wire clay cutters consist of a piece of wire held between two handles and are used to cut large blocks of clay or to remove thrown pieces from the potter’s wheel. Pulling the wire under a wheel-thrown piece helps to release it from the bat (the wheel’s flat surface).
Sponges come in various shapes and sizes and are used for multiple tasks in pottery. They can moisten clay, smooth surfaces, clean up slip, or help in shaping and refining a piece when throwing on the wheel.
Brushes of various sizes and shapes are essential for applying glazes, underglazes, slips, and other decorative materials. Different brushes offer various effects, from broad strokes to fine detail. In addition to brushes, sponges, rollers, and even spray equipment can be used for glaze and slip application.
Molds, often made of plaster, are used to produce consistent shapes and forms in pottery. They can be one-part (like a plate mold) or multi-part (for more complex shapes). While molds are typically associated with slip-casting techniques, they can also be used for press-molding or draping slabs of clay.
Sgraffito is a decorative technique where a surface layer (often slip) is scratched away to reveal the clay body beneath. Special tools, such as loop tools, are used for this method. The contrast between the slip and the exposed clay body creates the design.
A slip trailer is like a small squeeze bottle or syringe filled with slip (liquid clay). It’s used to apply decorative slip in a controlled manner, allowing potters to create intricate designs, patterns, or raised details on their pottery.
Stamps and Texture Mats
Stamps and texture mats are tools or surfaces with raised designs that can be pressed into clay to leave an impression. They offer a quick way to add decorative elements, textures, or patterns to a pottery piece. These can be commercially purchased or hand-made for unique designs.
Pottery Throwing Gloves
Pottery-throwing gloves are used to protect your hands from the heat of the kiln. They are also useful for keeping the clay from sticking to your hands.
Respirator Mask for Pottery
A respirator mask is a type of mask that covers your nose and mouth to protect you from breathing in clay dust.
|Rib Tools||Flat tools made from wood, metal, or rubber.||Smooth, shape, or add texture to pottery, especially on the wheel.|
|Needle Tool||Pointed instrument for various tasks.||Trimming, creating fine details, and scoring clay.|
|Loop Trimming Tools||Tools with looped metal ends of various shapes and sizes.||Trimming, hollowing out pottery, and sculpting.|
|Fettling Knife||Thin, flexible knife.||Cutting, shaping soft clay, trimming, and cleaning edges.|
|Wooden Modeling Tools||Wooden instruments with shaped ends.||Refining, detailing, and sculpting clay forms.|
|Calipers||Measuring tools that transfer dimensions.||Ensuring fit (like lids on pots) or duplicating measurements for sets.|
|Wire Clay Cutters||Wire held between two handles.||Cutting clay blocks or removing wheel-thrown pieces from the bat.|
|Sponges||Various shapes and sizes for multiple tasks.||Moistening clay, smoothing surfaces, cleaning, and refining wheel-thrown pieces.|
|Brushes||Various sizes and shapes for applying materials.||Applying glazes, underglazes, slips, and other decorative materials.|
|Molds||Typically made of plaster, they produce consistent shapes.||Creating consistent pottery shapes; associated with slip-casting, press-molding, or draping clay slabs.|
|Sgraffito Tools||Tools used for the sgraffito decorative technique.||Scratching away a surface layer to reveal the clay body beneath.|
|Slip Trailer||Like a squeeze bottle or syringe filled with slip.||Applying decorative slip in patterns or raised details.|
|Stamps and Texture Mats||Tools/surfaces with raised designs.||Pressing into clay to add decorative elements or textures.|
|Pottery Throwing Gloves||Gloves that protect hands from kiln heat.||Protecting hands during kiln use and preventing clay from sticking.|
|Respirator Mask for Pottery||Mask covering nose and mouth.||Protecting from breathing in clay dust.|
What Are the Most Used Ceramic Supplies?
The most commonly used ceramic supplies include clay, glazes, kilns, and shaping tools such as rolling pins. Other commonly used ceramic supplies include brushes for applying glaze, underglaze, slips, and stains; sponges for smoothing surfaces; and protective gear such as gloves and face masks. Additionally, many ceramic artists use sgraffito tools or carving knives for creating surface texture and decoration.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the most commonly used ceramic supplies:
1. Primary Materials:
- Clay: The foundation of ceramics. Different types include earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain, each with distinct properties and firing temperatures.
- Glazes: Vitrified coatings that melt in the kiln to form a glassy surface on pottery. They provide color, texture, and waterproofing.
- Kilns: Furnaces designed to fire ceramics at high temperatures, solidifying the clay and setting the glaze.
- Rolling Pins: Used to flatten clay into sheets. Especially useful for slab-building techniques.
3. Application Tools:
- Brushes: Essential for applying glazes, underglazes, slips, and stains. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes for different effects and detailing.
- Sponges: Used for smoothing clay surfaces, blending seams, and controlling moisture when shaping.
- Underglaze: A colored decoration applied before the main glaze, allowing for detailed designs beneath a glossy finish.
- Slips: Liquid clay mixtures that can be colored and used to create surface designs or to change the color of the clay body.
- Stains: Pigmented powders that can be mixed into clay bodies or glazes to impart color.
4. Protective Gear:
- Gloves: Protect hands from wet clay, which can sap the skin’s moisture, and from potentially harmful chemicals in glazes and slips.
- Face Masks: Essential when working with dry materials, such as when mixing clay or glazes, to prevent inhalation of dust particles.
5. Decorative Tools:
- Sgraffito Tools: Used in a technique where a surface layer, often slip, is scratched away to reveal the clay body beneath, creating contrasting designs.
- Carving Knives: Allow artists to incise, carve, and create intricate textures and patterns on the clay surface.
6. Miscellaneous Supplies:
- Protective Aprons: Shield clothes from clay and glaze splatters.
- Bats: Flat platforms that fit on top of the potter’s wheel, making it easier to remove and transport freshly thrown pieces.
- Wire Tools: Useful for cutting clay and removing wheel-thrown pieces from the wheel.
- Calipers: For measuring the diameter of pots, especially useful when making lids to ensure a perfect fit.
The vast array of ceramic supplies available enables artists to experiment and express their creativity in countless ways. From the initial shaping of the clay to the final glazing and firing, each tool and material plays a crucial role in the ceramic-making process.
What Is a Pottery Rib?
A pottery rib is a tool used by ceramic artists for shaping and smoothing clay. It can have various shapes and sizes but is typically made of metal or wood with a handle on one end. The rib can also be used for adding texture to the clay surface.
What Are the Most Basic Pottery Tools?
The most basic pottery tools include a rolling pin or slab roller for flattening clay, a knife or rib for shaping and trimming the clay, and a sponge for smoothing the surface. Other essential tools include a needle tool for adding texture and detail and extruders or templates for creating uniform shapes. Finally, potters also often use brushes, stamps, and carving tools for decoration.
Image: Envato Elements
More in: Small Business Essentials