The Best Pottery Clay to Use at Home

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Pottery is an ancient art form that has a never-ending appeal. More than a hobby, it has now become a profession for many. However, you need to be organized and planned to ensure that it becomes a success. Before you set up a studio or shop, you need to practice enough and select the best tools, clay, and tricks in order to create the best designs.


The most important among them is the clay you choose, especially if you are starting out. You need something that is flexible enough and easy to work with. You don’t need something that is perfect for a beginner artist.


Before you check out the best pottery clay, you need to narrow down your needs by comparing it with these verticals.


Factors to consider when choosing pottery clay for home use


1. Workability:

Pottery clay comes in varying degrees of moldability or plasticity. This can affect the way you work with the clay. The best pottery clay for home use should be beginner-friendly. It should be remarkably flexible while staying strong enough to retain shape. Simply put, the clay must be malleable and soft. The clay mustn’t deform due to the weight.


2. Texture:

If you plan on hand-molding, you should avoid bringing onboard a clay variant that is too textured or toothy. Seek something that is inviting and smooth. If your clay is much textured, it might hurt your palm during the hand-molding or wheel-molding process.


The texture of the clay would depend on the amount of grog it has. Grog is actually a pre-fired ground made of clay which is added to the clay mold to provide it a bit of grit while minimizing the potential for cracking.


3. Rate of Water Absorption:

When seeking the best clay for use at home, if yours is water-thirsty clay, it might not be perfect for starters. It could be challenging for new artists to add the right amount of water without the mold collapsing or flattening.


Make sure you select a clay variant with a moderate or low absorption rate of water. This won’t dry the clay out quickly, and you wouldn’t need too much water for the softening process.


4. Versatility:

There are several clay variants that work on the either-or format. If it is ideal for wheel throwing, it might not be perfect for the hand-building process. As a beginner artist, you need to select versatile clay that works with both.


5. Firing Temperature:

Firing is an important part of the pottery-making process. Only air-dry clay is the one that doesn’t require any form of firing or baking to harden and become permanent. If you don’t own a kiln, the perfect choice of clay would be air-dry clay.


However, if you do have a kiln at home, you need to start with clay that is easy to fire with minimum scope for mistakes. Make sure you choose low-firing clay that ranges between Cone 06 to Cone 3.


Which is the best clay for home use?

Now that you know the factors to consider when selecting the right clay for home use, let us narrow down the best choice you have.


The best choice you can try is Stoneware Clay. It should be paired with some fine grog to ensure its moldability. This clay variant is cooperative in nature and adheres to the basics of pottery needs. It can easily hold its shape once the design has been formed. Stoneware clay is also ideal for modeling, hand-building, and wheel throwing, making it a versatile choice for home use.


The fine grog present in the clay is soft on a potter’s palms.


Stoneware Clay: Why is it perfect for home use?

Stoneware clay can be defined as a highly plastic and malleable option for pottery artists. The added grog strengthens its form without being too hard on your hands. Stoneware clay can easily become non-porous and tough post-firing, which makes it perfect for dinnerware. A great option you can try is the AMACO 45047J Moist and High-Fire Stoneware Clay. The clay doesn’t have any talc or toxic ingredients and makes molding very easy.




Let us learn a bit about stoneware clay.

Color Range
Starting with gray ranging to a dark brown color
It depends on the amount of grog added (it tends to be smooth in texture)
Slightly porous (becomes non-porous post-firing)
Relatively stronger than earthenware clay
Denser than earthenware
Firing Temperature
2010oF to 2370oF


Apart from this, you can also try out earthenware clay which is just as easy to use. Earthenware clay is highly plastic & easily retains its shape. Similar to stoneware, when you mix grog into the clay, it becomes highly workable.


However, you need to keep in mind that earthenware clay still remains porous post-firing. To make it non-porous, it has to be sealed with a glaze. Even after sealing and glazing, earthenware clay can chip with ease. So, it might not surpass the rank held by stoneware clay.


Make sure you add some grog to the clay you are using. This makes your clay stronger and more workable. Further, it helps reduce the clay shrinkage percentage & prevents cracking that happens during the firing and drying stage.


Grog is ideal when used with earthenware and stoneware for home use. However, when using the clay for wheel throwing purposes, make sure you use a grog that is fine and isn’t too coarse on your hands.


Why isn’t porcelain clay ideal?

The reason porcelain clay doesn’t work well for home use is the fact that it can be tricky for wheel throwing. The clay becomes soft fairly quickly & collapses due to weight. Even if you add grog, the clay’s temperament can be hard to control.


Even though certain potters love to learn the way porcelain works, it might not be ideal for home use. Moreover, porcelain is way more expensive as compared to stoneware or earthenware clay. So, it isn’t just the challenges but also the cost factor that could deter you from using porcelain.



So, for someone in need of the easiest clay to work with, stoneware is no doubt the best option. However, if you are up for some experimentation, you can surely work with earthenware, but it is better not to use it for dinnerware. Porcelain can be the toughest to work with, so stick to the previous two options.

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