What to Wear to a Pottery Class: 8 Secrets

When heading to a pottery class, comfort is key. Opt for old, loose-fitting clothing you don’t mind getting messy, as clay splatters are inevitable. Closed-toed shoes are a must for safety, and short sleeves or rolled-up sleeves are practical. Avoid dangly jewelry, as it can get caught. Lastly, tie back long hair to keep it out of the way and clay-free. Happy potting!

Pottery Class Attire: Quick Reference

T-shirtYesEasy to move in, can get dirtyOpt for old shirts, preferably cotton
Jeans/Loose PantsYesProtects legs from splattersAvoid tight or restricting pants
ApronHighly RecommendedShields clothes, pockets for toolsCotton aprons are ideal, avoid overly thick materials
Closed-toe ShoesYesProtects feet, non-slipAvoid sandals or open shoes
Tight-fitting JewelryNoCan get caught or stainedRemove rings, long necklaces, or dangly earrings
Short NailsPreferredEasier to work with clay, avoids imprintsLong nails can interfere with molding the clay
Hair TieFor Long HairKeeps hair out of clay and faceAvoid any distractions or obstructions
My handy dandy table above offers a visual snapshot of the key points discussed, helping you to quickly prepare for a pottery class.

Dressing for a pottery class, now that’s an art in itself! Over the years, I’ve seen both seasoned potters and first-timers and there’s a clear difference in their attire. Let me break it down for you, here are my 8 secrets:

  1. Clothing. You’ll want to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Clay, especially when wet, can splatter and stain. Loose, old clothing that allows you to move freely is ideal. Remember, you’ll be sitting at a wheel, bending, and stretching, so comfort is paramount.
  2. Shoes. Closed-toed shoes are a must. They offer protection against any dropped tools or clay. Plus, when you’re at the wheel, you’ll use your foot to control the pedal, so you’ll want a shoe that gives you good control. Avoid sandals or anything with open toes unless you like having clay feet, ha!
  3. Sleeves. If you’re working on the wheel, shorter sleeves or sleeves that can be easily rolled up are preferred. Long sleeves can get caught in the clay or drag across your work.
  4. Jewelry. Best to leave your precious jewelry at home. Rings can get caught in the clay, and necklaces might dangle into your work. Plus, the clay can be abrasive and might scratch softer metals.
  5. Hair. If you have long hair, tie it back or put it up. Trust me, you don’t want to lean over and find your hair imprinted in your almost-finished masterpiece!
  6. Apron. Some potters swear by aprons, and they can be quite handy. They protect your clothes and often have pockets to hold tools. However, if you don’t have one, don’t fret. Many studios provide communal aprons, or you might find you’re okay without.
  7. Glasses. If you wear them, just ensure they fit securely. They can get foggy or splattered, so maybe bring a little cleaning cloth.
  8. Nails. If you have long nails, you might find them a hindrance when shaping and molding the clay. Some potters keep their nails short for this reason.

While it’s about what you wear, don’t forget to bring along a towel. It’s handy for wiping your hands, mopping up spills, or even sitting on if the studio stools are hard or cold.

So, there you have it my 8 secrets for dressing for pottery. It isn’t about fashion, it’s about function. Once you’re dressed right, you can focus all your attention on the clay and your creativity!

What Not to Wear to a Pottery Class

So, back in the ’90s, I observed this young man, Alex, in a beginner class. Alex was a flamboyant fellow, always dressed to the nines. You will have to use your imagination. One evening, he strutted into the studio wearing pristine white pants, thinking he was about to attend a laid-back painting class, I guess. He must have confused pottery with another art workshop he’d signed up for.

Well, I took one look and thought, “This will be interesting!” I did offer him a spare apron, but he declined with confidence, believing he could manage without making a mess.

Not ten minutes in, as he started centering the clay on the wheel, it splashed all over. His pristine white pants had turned into a canvas of abstract clay art! And his designer shoes? Well, let’s just say they looked like they’d been through a muddy festival.

While the situation was comical, what I truly admired was Alex’s spirit. Instead of storming out embarrassed, he laughed along with the rest of us, making jokes about his new “designer” attire. He said, “Well, I guess I’ve got a one-of-a-kind pants and shoes now!” He continued the class and returned for the next, this time in old jeans and a t-shirt.

Does Pottery Clay Stain Clothes?

Oh, the number of times I’ve been asked this in my years of pottery! Pottery clay, my dear friend, can indeed leave its mark, both on the potter and their attire. Let’s delve a bit deeper into this age-old conundrum.

The primary component of most pottery clays is finely ground minerals, predominantly kaolin in many types. When this meets water (as it often does during the pottery process), you get that nice, sludgy consistency that can find its way onto clothes, shoes, hair and you name it!

Now, onto the staining part. Wet clay, especially if it’s darker or has added pigments, can leave smudges or marks on fabric. The good news? Most clay, when it’s still fresh, is relatively easy to wash out, especially from durable fabrics like cotton. However, if the clay is left to dry on the clothing, it can be a bit more stubborn. The dry clay itself brushes off easily, but sometimes, especially with finer or more porous fabrics, a faint residue might linger.

As for glazes or underglazes, watch out as those are a whole different story! They contain colorants and, once set (especially if accidentally fired or baked in the sun), can leave permanent marks.

Advice from an old hand:

  1. Wear clothes you won’t lament getting dirty. Think of them as your “pottery uniform”!
  2. If you do get clay on your clothes, try to rinse it out while it’s still wet. It’s much easier to deal with then.
  3. For those extra stubborn clay marks on clothes, soaking the garment in water can help. A gentle scrub with a brush can work wonders too.
  4. And remember, pottery is a beautifully messy art. Embrace the splatters and smudges as badges of honor in your creative journey!

Can You Wash Off Clay Splatters?

Ah yes, clay splatters. The bane of every potter’s existence, yet a mark of a day well spent in the studio! Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of them, and trust me, they can be both a pain and a humorous reminder of your artistic endeavors. Let me share my wisdom on tackling those pesky clay remnants.

Fresh Clay Splatters

Fresh, wet clay splatters are your best friend because they’re the easiest to deal with. If you’ve gotten a fresh dollop on your clothes, shoes, or even your skin, a quick rinse with water will usually do the trick. You’ll want to get to it sooner rather than later to prevent it from drying.

Dried Clay Splatters

Now, dried clay is a bit trickier. If it’s on a hard surface like a tabletop or a tool, a simple scrape or brush-off usually gets most of it off. For clothes, here’s my tried and true method:

  1. First, brush off as much of the dried clay as you can.
  2. Then, soak the garment in cold water for a bit. The clay will start to soften.
  3. Gently scrub the spot with a soft brush or even your fingers. Most of the time, this will get the clay out.
  4. If there’s still a faint stain, consider using a gentle detergent or stain remover before tossing it in the wash.

Clay Splatter Considerations

  1. Different clay bodies have different staining capacities. Porcelain, for instance, is less likely to stain than a heavily grogged or iron-rich stoneware.
  2. Sometimes, especially if the clay has been mixed with pigments or if you’re using a heavily colored clay, there might be a slight tint left even after washing. In such cases, a fabric stain remover can be helpful.

Finally, a little tidbit from my years of experience: Embrace the splatters, especially if you’re just starting out or trying new techniques. They’re a testament to your hard work and commitment to the craft. And over the years, you’ll find that with each splatter, you’ll have a story or a memory associated with it.

Do You Get Dirty Making Pottery?

I can tell you, pottery is a beautiful, expressive, and yes, often messy art form. Even the most skilled potters will find themselves splattered with clay, especially when working on the wheel. Here’s a rundown:

1. The Wheel. When you’re throwing on the wheel, water and clay mix, creating slip, which can easily splash onto your clothes, hands, and face. If you’re working with a particularly soft or watery mix, or if you’re centering a larger lump of clay, expect to get more splatter. It’s part of the charm!

2. Hand Building. While hand building might not produce the same kind of splashy mess as wheel throwing, it still has its moments. Slipping and scoring to join pieces can get your hands and workspace quite messy. And, if you’re like me, you might find clay in unexpected places, like behind your ear or on your elbow.

3. Glazing. This is another step where things can get a tad chaotic, especially if you’re dipping or pouring glazes. Even brushing on glazes can lead to drips and drops on your workspace and yourself.

4. General Studio Work. Beyond the actual making of pottery, the studio itself can be a source of dirt and dust, especially when you’re reclaiming clay, mixing glazes, or even just moving things around.

However, while you’ll certainly get your hands dirty, there’s a therapeutic quality to it. Feeling the clay between your fingers, shaping it, and even the process of cleaning up afterward can be incredibly grounding. Many of us find the tactile nature of clay to be one of the most appealing aspects of pottery.

So, yes, making pottery can be a messy affair, but it’s all part of the joy. It’s a sign of a day well-spent in the studio. And trust me, the results of holding a finished piece you’ve crafted makes all the mess more than worth it. Just remember to wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and embrace the process!

What is the Best Type of T-shirt to Wear for a Pottery Class Outfit?

When it comes to choosing the best T-shirt for a pottery class, comfort and practicality are key.

1. Material
Cotton or a cotton blend is your best bet. It’s breathable, comfortable, and easy to clean. Plus, cotton can absorb some of the water and slip without becoming too heavy or uncomfortable. If you’re in a hotter climate or a studio without great ventilation, you might also consider moisture-wicking materials to keep you cool.

2. Fit
Opt for a looser fit. A T-shirt that’s too tight might restrict your movements, especially when you’re reaching across the wheel or sculpting. However, avoid overly baggy shirts; sleeves or excess fabric can accidentally dip into clay or get caught.

3. Color
Darker colors or earth tones are ideal. They tend to hide clay splatters better than light colors. While clay generally washes out, some stains, especially from colored or iron-rich clays, can be stubborn.

4. Neckline
A standard round neck is usually the most practical. Avoid deep V-necks or wide boat necks; you don’t want clay getting inside your shirt.

5. Durability
Consider having a set of T-shirts dedicated just for pottery. These shirts will likely see a lot of wear and tear, so they don’t need to be your most stylish ones. But they should be durable.

6. Sentimental Value
Don’t wear a shirt with high sentimental value to the pottery studio. Even though most clay washes out, there’s always a chance of permanent staining, especially once glazes come into play.

I say the best T-shirt for pottery is one that allows you to move freely, keeps you comfortable, and one you won’t mind getting a little messy. After all, pottery is all about getting hands-on and enjoying the process, so dress in a way that lets you fully engage without any worries.

Are Cotton Aprons Suitable for Wearing in a Pottery Class?

Cotton aprons in my opinion are a classic choice for many artists and craftsmen, including potters like me.

Cotton Aprons Pros in a Pottery Studio

  1. Absorbency. One of the primary benefits of a cotton apron is its absorbency. When you’re working at the wheel or hand-building, you’ll inevitably have wet hands, and it’s handy to have an apron that can quickly absorb the moisture or slip when you wipe your hands on it.
  2. Breathability. Pottery can be surprisingly physical, especially when throwing on the wheel. Cotton is breathable, preventing you from overheating too much.
  3. Washability. After a few sessions, your apron is bound to get dirty. Cotton aprons can typically be tossed in the washing machine, making them easy to clean. Just be sure to remove any large chunks of clay before washing.
  4. Durability. Good-quality cotton aprons can be quite durable, standing up to many sessions at the pottery wheel. Over time, they might even bear the lovely patina of clay splashes, a testament to your work and dedication.
  5. Customization. Many potters, myself included, enjoy personalizing their aprons, whether by dyeing, embroidering, or even stamping patterns using different clay slips. Cotton is a versatile fabric that lends itself well to these creative pursuits.

However, a couple of things to note, Cotton Apron Cons:

  • Weight. When a cotton apron gets wet, it can become quite heavy. So, if you’re someone who uses a lot of water or slip when working, this might become cumbersome over time.
  • Drying. It’s essential to let the apron dry thoroughly between uses. Hanging it up in an airy space is ideal. If left folded or bunched up while wet, it can develop a musty smell.

In my experience, while cotton aprons are suitable for pottery and favored by many, some potters prefer aprons made of lighter materials or those that have pockets, split-leg designs, or other features. Ultimately, the best apron is the one that feels most comfortable and meets your personal needs in the studio. But yes, a cotton apron is a tried and true choice for many a potter.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Pottery Class

attending a pottery class is such a wonderful and enriching experience! Over the years, I’ve observed many beginners navigating their initial forays into the pottery world, and there are some pointers that can really make a difference. Here’s what I’d suggest:

  1. Come with an Open Mind. Pottery is as much about the process as it is about the end product. Don’t get too hung up on making the “perfect” piece right away. Embrace mistakes – they’re part of the learning journey.
  2. Dress Appropriately. As we’ve discussed, wear comfortable, older clothing. Clay can get everywhere, especially when you’re just starting. And, of course, a good apron can be your best friend!
  3. Listen Actively. When your instructor demonstrates a technique, watch closely and ask questions if something isn’t clear. Taking brief notes can also be a handy reference for later.
  4. Hands-On Practice. While watching and listening are essential, there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty. The more you handle the clay, the better you’ll understand its properties and potential.
  5. Stay Patient. Centering clay on the wheel, for instance, is notoriously tricky for beginners. If you feel frustrated, take a deep breath, and remember: every potter has been where you are now.
  6. Ask for Feedback. Don’t hesitate to ask your instructor or more experienced classmates for tips or critiques. They might offer a new perspective or technique you hadn’t considered.
  7. Learn About the Kiln. Firing is a crucial part of pottery. Understand the different firing stages – bisque and glaze firings. Ask about the temperatures and types of kilns. The more you know about the firing process, the better your end results will be.
  8. Experiment with Glazes. Glazing can dramatically change the appearance of a piece. Test different glazes on small clay samples to see how they come out after firing. This will give you a better sense of how to glaze your main pieces.
  9. Clean Up Thoroughly. Respect shared spaces. Always clean your tools and workstation. Clay residue can harden and become difficult to remove if left unchecked.
  10. Connect with Classmates. Pottery is a wonderful community activity. Share experiences, learn from one another, and even collaborate on projects. You might make lifelong friends!
  11. Practice at Home. If you’re really keen, consider buying some clay to practice at home. Even without a wheel, you can practice hand-building techniques and refine your skills.
  12. Stay Inspired. Visit pottery studios, exhibitions, or watch videos online. The more you expose yourself to different styles and techniques, the more ideas you’ll have for your own creations.
  13. Save Artabys. Save this website in your favorites and visit frequently to lean more about being a ceramic artist! It’s always a good idea to keep resources close by, and this website should be no exception. Regularly visiting the site can provide you with valuable insights, tutorials, and a wonderful community of like-minded artists. It’s an essential tool for anyone passionate about diving deeper into the world of ceramics. Make sure to save it to your favorites and visit often. Share some tips for choosing the right pottery class for you, including considering the instructor’s experience and the type of pottery that is being taught. Thank you for your support.

Tips for Choosing the Right Pottery Class

My top tips for choosing the right pottery class. It can make a world of difference in your learning journey. Here are my top key pointers to consider:

  1. Define Your Objective. Before enrolling, ask yourself what you hope to achieve. Are you looking for a basic introduction, or do you wish to master a specific technique? Having clarity will guide your choice.
  2. Instructor’s Experience. Research the instructor’s background. With my 40+ years in the field, I can’t stress enough the importance of learning from someone who not only knows their craft but can teach it effectively. Check for any formal qualifications, the number of years they’ve been teaching, and if possible, their own pottery creations.
  3. Teaching Style. Everyone learns differently. Some might prefer hands-on, while others might thrive with demonstrations. If possible, observe a class or ask for a trial session. This helps you understand the teaching methodology.
  4. Type of Pottery Taught. Different classes might focus on different techniques, from wheel-throwing to hand-building, or specific types of pottery like sculpture, tiles, or functional ware. Choose one that aligns with your interest.
  5. Class Size. Smaller class sizes often mean more personalized attention. If you’re looking for a more intimate setting where you can get ample one-on-one time, look for classes with fewer participants.
  6. Facilities and Equipment. Check if the studio is well-equipped. Does it have multiple wheels, a variety of tools, and a good kiln? Adequate resources can greatly enhance your learning experience.
  7. Student Reviews. Look for testimonials or reviews from previous students. They can offer genuine insights into the learning experience and the quality of instruction.
  8. Duration and Schedule. Ensure that the class timings align with your availability. Some courses might be intensive short-term workshops, while others might span several weeks.
  9. Cost. While it’s tempting to opt for cheaper classes, it’s essential to ensure you’re getting value for your money. Sometimes, it’s worth paying a bit more for a class with a highly experienced instructor and better facilities.
  10. Location. Choose a location that’s convenient for you. If you’re truly passionate, a longer commute might be worth it, but for many, proximity can encourage consistent attendance.
  11. Safety Protocols. Especially if you’re taking classes in current times, ensure the studio adheres to safety and hygiene protocols.
  12. Community and Networking. Often, the best classes are not just about learning the craft but also about building a network of fellow pottery enthusiasts. This can be incredibly beneficial for motivation, collaboration, and continued learning.

Conclusion and Summary

Heading into your first pottery class can be both exhilarating and a tad nerve-wracking! Trust me, over the years, I’ve seen a range of wardrobe choices, from the classic outfit to the quirky ones. The key is to dress for comfort and the creative process. A T-shirt or cotton shirt is a must. It’s the backbone of pottery clothes, ideal for those hours at the potter’s wheel. You might get carried away with pottery throwing and find clay dust everywhere. For that, old clothes are your best friends. Darker clays might leave a mark, so don’t wear anything you’d wear for professional purposes or fancy businesses meetups!

Thinking of crafting a simple bowl or exploring the potter’s wheel? Wheel throwing classes are messy but oh-so-rewarding. An apron with pockets? Absolutely! They’re handy for those pottery tools you’ll be using. And speaking of tools, long necklaces and excess jewelry can get in the way. Stick to the basics, and perhaps use a hair tie if you have long tresses. A damp rag for wiping off excess clay, comfortable clothes, maybe an extra layer in case it gets chilly, and you’re all set!

If you forget something, don’t worry. Many ceramic businesses associated with classes often have some basics for purchases. Just remember, the goal is to maximize class time and immerse in the creative process. So, before that first class, dust off any apprehensions, keep that dust mask handy, and dive in with your bare hands. Welcome to the world of pottery my friend.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Can I start pottery at home without attending a class? Absolutely! While classes provide structured learning and hands-on guidance, many potters begin their journey at home. Start with basic hand-building techniques using air-dry clay. As you gain confidence, you can invest in more professional tools and materials. However, for techniques like wheel throwing and firing, a studio setup or classes can be beneficial.

Q2: Is pottery an expensive hobby to pick up? Pottery can have varying costs based on how you approach it. Starting with basic tools and air-dry clay can be quite affordable. As you delve deeper, expenses might include a pottery wheel, kiln, high-quality clay, and glazes. Many community centers offer shared studio spaces, which can be a cost-effective way to access pricier equipment.

Q3: How long does it take for a pottery piece to dry before it can be fired? Drying times can vary based on the size and thickness of your piece, as well as the humidity in your environment. Typically, smaller pieces can take a few days, while larger items might require a week or more. It’s crucial to ensure the piece is bone dry before firing to avoid cracks or explosions in the kiln.

Q4: Are there any health precautions I should consider when working with clay? Pottery is generally safe, but it’s essential to be mindful. Some precautions include wearing a mask when working with powders to avoid inhalation, cleaning hands thoroughly after handling clay (especially if it contains grog or other coarse materials), and ensuring your workspace is well-ventilated if using chemicals or glazes.


How to make pottery White, Mary. How to make pottery. Doubleday, Page, 1904.

The Potter’s Bible: An Essential Illustrated Reference for Both Beginner and Advanced Potters Scott, Marylin. The Potter’s Bible: An Essential Illustrated Reference for Both Beginner and Advanced Potters. Quarto Publishing Group USA, 2006.