Whether it’s the holiday season or if someone’s birthday is coming up, it’s not easy to find gifts for a potter if you have little experience in pottery yourself.
What do you actually need for pottery? And what would be an affordable yet useful present?
Here are our 10 best gifts for potters or anyone interested in learning pottery. We have numbered them based on their price, so you can quickly find the options that fit in your budget.
Trimming & carving tools ($5~50)
You might think that pottery is made by using your hands. And that is definitely a big part of how to make pots.
However, at several stages in the pottery making process, a potter can use a variety of different tools to remove excess clay, create interesting patterns, engrave their name, etc.
Normally, these trimming and carving tools are sold in sets or kits. The smallest kits normally include around 5 different tools, whereas the bigger sets can have over 40 different pieces. Which explains the big difference in price.
Moreover, many of the cheap tools are made out of plastic. But if you are looking for something of higher quality and that will actually last, try to look for tools made out of metal instead.
Here are some of our favorite pottery tool kits:
- Nozomy’s 12 piece pottery tool set
- Meuxan’s 30 piece clay sculpting tool set
- Isseve’s 40 piece clay sculpting and carving tool set
Hand cream ($5~15)
Hand cream might sound completely random and unrelated to pottery. But hear me out!
Anyone working with clay on a regular basis knows that the clay just sucks the moisture out of your hands. After handling the clay for a few hours, your hands start to feel like old parchment paper.
So any potter can appreciate some nice hand cream that can help to rehydrate their hands. Kudos if it smells good too.
Here are some of our favorite hand creams:
Textured rolling pins or stamps ($10~50)
Some potters use their trimming and carving tools to decorate their pottery and create patterns.
However, unless you are making an extremely simple pattern, using textured rolling pins or stamps is much easier and faster. Not only will it safe a ton of time, you’ll make sure that the repeating pattern is 100% identical.
The only tricky thing is that you have to make sure that you go with a pattern that your friend will like. Or else they will never use it.
If you are not quite sure, you could also gift several rollers and hope your friend will like at least a few of them.
Here are some of our favorite patterns:
Books on pottery ($10-20)
You can learn the basics of pottery in just a few hours. But mastering pottery and everything involved in the process will take years, since there is almost always some new pottery technique or style to learn.
Although throwing clay on a wheel might come to mind first when thinking of pottery, you also have other forms of pottery such as handbuilding pottery, coil pottery, slab pottery, etc.
So if your friend has only learned how to use a wheel so far, you can surprise him with a book on one of these other types of pottery.
Moreover, there are books written on every step of the pottery making process, and not just the part where you shape the clay. For example, books on how to fire your pottery or on applying a glaze.
A book is a great gift for anyone just getting into pottery or someone that has started pottery recently.
Here are some of our favorite pottery books:
- Pottery for beginners by Kara Ford
- Complete pottery techniques by DK
- Mastering the potter’s wheel by Ben Carter
- Mastering hand building by Sunshine Cobb
- Amazing glace by Gabriel Kline
Aprons aren’t just useful for cooking in the kitchen. Many potters wear an apron while working with clay, because the clay has a tendency to go everywhere it shouldn’t go.
And it’s not just for beginners either, even most advanced potters will still wear an apron to protect their clothing.
Best of all, a potter can never have too many aprons! Clay can often leave ugly stains in an apron, so you don’t to be wearing your old one for too long before buying a new one.
Here are some of our favorite pottery aprons:
This might sound like an obvious suggestion, and you might be worried that your friend already has plenty of clay.
But can a potter ever have too much clay? Especially if your friend is a hobby potter, they probably don’t buy clay in bulk and frequently need to buy extra.
Moreover, there are many different types of clay to choose from. For example, working with porcelain clay or stoneware clay is completely different. And there is even something called air dry class, that doesn’t need to be fired.
And clay doesn’t need to be expensive either. Normally, clay for beginners is sold in packages of 10 lb, which costs around $25. But you can buy more or less clay, depending on your budget.
Here are some of our favorite clays:
As a potter you never run out of cups, plates, or bowl. You make them yourself on a regular basis after all.
But that doesn’t mean that a good potter doesn’t appreciate the work of others. And following a variety of ceramic artists on social media is a great way to get ideas for new projects.
So you could check which artists your friend is following on social media and buy one of their pieces as a present.
If you can’t find anything you like, you can also give etsy.com a try. Many small artist sell pottery on Etsy, and just by browsing the site you’ll find some nice pieces.
Keep in mind that handmade pottery is a lot more expensive than the cookie cutter pieces you find in the store. A beautifully handmade mug will cost around $20 while a large vase easily cost over $100.
(Online) pottery workshop/class ($50~100)
Learning from an experienced teacher is the fastest way to get started with pottery. When you are practicing by yourself, you might not realize what you are doing wrong or how to correct it. An experienced teacher can quickly point out the mistake and save you a ton of frustration.
Following an in person pottery class would be ideal, but if you can’t find any pottery studios in your area you can opt for online classes as well.
For anyone relatively new to pottery just a single workshop could be a good way to get your feet wet. These normally cost between $50 and $100 for an afternoon class.
If your friend is more serious about pottery, you can also gift him a 4~8 week class. These are normally taught at a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. So even a relatively experienced potter would be able to learn a few new tricks.
If you do go for a multi-week program, the price per class is normally a lot less compared to individual workshops.
Custom signature stamp ($20~50)
Any piece of artwork deserves a proud signature by it creator. That’s not only try for painting, but for pottery as well! You can often find the potter’s name or the company name engraved at the bottom of your ceramics.
Of course, you can’t sign your clay with a pencil or paintbrush. Most beginners will use one of their carving tools. But writing in clay is always more difficult than it looks.
That’s why most professional potters use a signature stamp. That makes it easy to “sign” all your works in exactly the same way in no time.
There are lot of places were you can get a custom stamp made. Check for example these sellers on Etsy.
Pottery wheel ($250~2000)
If your friend has taken a few pottery classes and is excited to do pottery at home as well, he or she will probably be looking to buy a pottery wheel soon.
Most people prefer to work with a pottery wheel, so it’s one of the first things to buy if you want to do pottery at home. A good pottery wheel that you normally find in pottery studios will cost you around $1000 to $2000. So you might want to discuss with your friend before buying one.
There are also plenty of cheaper pottery wheels, but these normally don’t last very long and are very small. They might be a good gift for a beginner, but don’t be disappointed if your friend will upgrade to a better model soon.
If the price is a little steep, then buying a used pottery can also be a good alternative. Make sure to check our used potter’s wheel checklist beforehand so you know what to look for.
Here are some of our favorite pottery wheels:
Pottery kiln ($1000~4000)
The biggest expense that you will ever face as a home potter is the purchase of a kiln. And even many experienced potters don’t have a kiln for that very reason.
Most potters use a firing service by a local pottery studio for their pieces. However, if you are a prolific potter the firing cost can add up quickly and you might want to invest in a kiln.
Unfortunately, I can’t change the fact that pottery kilns are so expensive. However, if there is a big celebration coming up, you might be able to pool some money among friends and family to buy a one.
Of course, you don’t want to show up at your friend or loved one’s house with a new kiln out of the blue. Kilns require lots of space and need to be placed in a well ventilated room. So make sure to check if they are fine with you buying a kiln for them.