Forming clay into utilitarian pottery or other objects has been an endeavor of mankind for thousands of years. Historically, pottery supplies came from the everyday environment – sticks, stones, glazes from nature, clay used only from surrounding locations, man-powered kick wheels with bonfires and pit-kilns used to fire the clay into useable vessels. Today we have electric kilns, electric potter's wheels, special glazes, pottery making supplies and machinery to aid clay artisans.
While almost every technique artisans have used over the centuries is still in place, mankind has used modern manufacturing to create easier-to-use tools, pottery equipment supplies, the delivery of clays to any location, and electricity to power the pottery process.
Basic pottery supplies can easily be found in most cities and towns across the U.S. and Europe. Pottery wheels and kilns are the most expensive of these basic pottery supplies. Glazes and specialty clays are next in price, but are dependent on a per-project need. A variety of hand tools and basic needs like water bowls and sponges are equally as important, but of less cost.
Many advanced pottery tools usually require a larger space to work in. Machines that extrude clay into shapes, molds that create the same piece of pottery over and over, and equipment that rolls out long, uniform slabs of clay need room to operate. They are usually heavy and take up larger amounts of floor space. Advanced pottery making supplies often involve mass production and the ability to apply quality control.
Some artisans of advanced skills make their own tools. A potter's artistic process pushes a certain level of exploration. The desire to make something bigger, longer or wider will lead a potter to create their own process and their own tools in order to complete their vision.
Larger pottery supplies, like kilns and wheels, can be purchased used. Used pottery supplies are found by scouring the classified ads, searching online or looking through bulletin boards at local pottery supply stores. Students can often find bargains on used supplies that previous students want to unload.
Used pottery supplies such as kilns and wheels are best purchased in person where the condition can be assessed. Check the local bulletin boards at grocery stores and art stores for deals on pottery supplies. Look for a local pottery studio that provides the kilns and wheels in order to cut back on expenses.