Pottery 101: Air-Dry Clay

    Turns out you don’t need a kiln or a potter’s wheel to get started with pottery. Here’s an easy way to get started at home.

    Introduction to pottery

    One of civilisation’s most ancient crafts, pottery is an art that holds a great deal of intrigue. Few people would reject the opportunity to throw down on a potter’s wheel à la Demi Moore in Ghost. But it’s worth understanding that that’s not the only way to start playing with clay.

    Air-dry clay is something you can mould with your hands, similar to the playdough we all knew and loved as kids (or perhaps you’re finding yourself loving it less now, as parents...) You don’t even need to bake it in an oven, let alone a kiln. After you’ve shaped your design, you simply leave it out to dry for a couple of days and your creation will be set in stone.

    This makes it perfect for crafting at home. Naturally, there are many ways to get creative. You’ll start with a block of clay, slice yourself off a chunk and roll it out about half a centimetre thick with a rolling pan. Then you have your canvas, so you can start experimenting with textures using fabrics, tools, stamps (adding ink, if you like), or even dried plants. If you prefer, keep it smooth and mould it into a shape like a bowl. From there, you can explore adding different colours with acrylic paints.

    There’s a collection of ideas for simple starter projects below but we want to give a special shout out to Emma, at Gathering Beauty, who has shared loads of great air-dry clay projects on her blog.

    What you need:

    • Air-dry clay
    • Ink or acrylic paints
    • Stamps, fabrics or plants for texture
    • Paintbrush
    • Rolling pin
    • Simple clay tools, like a knife
    • Bowl, to mould
    No more starter packs
    No more starter packs

    Tips from our favourite potters

    "I'm a big fan of air dry clay. There's no baking or kiln needed, all you need to do is roll, cut and stamp and leave to dry."

    Emma @ Gathering Beauty

    "It’s so inexpensive, very easy to work with and doesn’t even require baking time to harden. Beyond that, you can paint it any color you want."

    Amy @ Delineate Your Dwelling

    "I picked up the clay and got on the wheel and I had one of those memorable, life-changing moments of clarity. I felt like I'd been alive for a thousand years."

    Tallie @ Turning Earth

    Handpicked projects to get you started. Share your creations on Instagram with #theobbies for your chance to win £30 worth of pottery gear!

    Want to contribute?

    Our guides are put together by our community - get in touch and let us know your story.

    Get in touch