What To Wear When Doing Pottery

a picture of a properly dressed potter

When you work with clay for the first time you will want to know what to wear. You want to be properly dressed, comfortable and you don’t want to ruin your clothes. Although many clays wash right out, the darker clays can stain.

It depends on what clay you choose or what clay your instructor gives you. I have found a lot of glazes don’t stain, but keep in mind some do so your clothes will get stained sooner or later especially, if the clay or glaze has iron oxide in it.

Comfortable Shirt/Pants

If your shirt is too tight, your arms could feel restricted when reaching over to play with your clay. If it’s too loose, it may get in the way. Make sure you’re not wearing a shirt that could hang down and get in your way. T-shirt or cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up seems to be the way to go.

It’s best to wear old loose-fitting pants. If your pants are too tight it may be hard for you to bend over the wheel or your pants can be too low and your underwear may start to show. You can even wear shorts. You may get clay on your legs, but that’s ok if you don’t mind.

Playing with clay is not about looking hot, it’s about getting dirty, enjoying yourself, and crafting a unique work of art. If you don’t have any comfortable old clothes, Goodwill or any second-hand store would be a great place to go.

Older Shoes

Your shoes should be ones you don’t care about if they get dirty. You may want to keep your feet protected from any tools, or other equipment that may slip out of your hands. You will get water and clay on them sooner or later, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to mess with trying to get the clay off. Having a pair of shoes just to wear for pottery is a good idea, that way the clay doesn’t transfer anywhere in your house or car if you go to a studio.

Potters Apron

I would suggest using an apron because you are also working with water and the apron provides an extra layer of protection if you don’t want your clothes to get too wet or dirty. Aprons also have pockets to keep some of your tools for easy access. Split Leg Aprons or Potter’s Aprons seem to work the best. Clay dries on cotton aprons, and dust particles will release into the air while you are working. If you don’t wash your apron often, you may want to get a Wipe-able Apron (waterproof or made of fiber-like Nylon.)

Here Are a few more Things to Consider before you get Ready to Play with your Clay.

Wearing Long Nails

You can have long nails, except they may get in the way and mess up your clay when throwing on the wheel. If you keep your nails long, you may be limited to slab building and miss out on the fun of throwing. It’s the same as playing the guitar or rock climbing, you must use the tips of your fingers. You can still have nice nails. However, they should be short.

If you can’t let go of your acrylic nails or long natural nails, you could try these alternatives first. Try using a sponge on the inside and your knuckle on the outside to pull up the clay. Or use only your knuckles when pulling up the clay.  Using a sponge on both sides may also work.

Keeping your Hair up and away from your Face

If your hair is shoulder length or longer, it’s best to keep it back in some way. It might get in your way or hang in your face. You could get a strand or two caught in your clay, then end up spending time trying to get it out. Or you could leave it and let the kiln burn it out and risk a hairline fracture. If a hair is visible on the pot, it could leave a pattern after firing. A shorter piece of hair may not matter as much, but as a rule, it’s best to keep your hair out of the way.

Wearing an old hat or a headscarf around your hair would work also. If you go with a headscarf that ties in the back, make sure the ends are not too long, they may hang down too far and get in your way. The fewer distractions, the better when you’re leaning over the wheel.

Keeping Rings On or Off?

When working with clay, having your rings on may not be such a good idea. There are no rules on wearing them, it is entirely up to you. But there are a few things you should consider.
How expensive your ring is? You could lose a stone in the clay.
If you end up throwing a lot of clay over time, the band will wear down. Unfortunately, rings can leave a pattern on your pottery. Therefore, it is best to remove your rings when playing with clay.

Sensitive Hands? Keeping your hands soft

Wearing rubber gloves while you are throwing, or handcrafting doesn’t work well at all. You can’t get the feel of the clay.
Here is a guaranteed way to keep your hands soft. Put Lotion or Vaseline on your hands and put Cotton or Spa Gloves on overnight. Your hands will feel great in the morning!

Contact Lenses

The worst thing for contact lens users is getting something caught between your eye and your lens. It is super irritating and in some cases can cause damage if not remedied. Is your class going to be dusty like the Sahara Desert? No. Use a little common sense, and bring your glasses with you just in case. Remember you want to be comfortable, so in the end, it is your choice.   

Dust Mask

Although you may never use a dust mask, it’s wise to have one handy if you are working in an area where clay dust is getting stirred up. If you are working on a project in an enclosed area where you are spraying on glazes or working with clay dust you should use a Dust Mask. If you are mixing dry glaze or dry clay s a must.

Rags and Sponges are Important

Having at least one damp rag is a must. You will need to wipe your hands from time to time. You will also be wiping clay off things you swear you never touched. Have a set of rags just for glaze and clay.
Sponges are great for cleaning up the sticking clay, and the clay rinses right off your sponge.

Tip from my Teacher

Wash all your rags and clothes separate from the rest of your wash. Make sure you get any extra clumps of clay off your clothes and rags before washing. Excess clay will clog your pipes over time.
 

POTTERY CRAFTERS THOUGHTS… 
Throwing Clay and Pottery Making is a lot of fun and very relaxing. Being prepared makes it even better. So, Let’s Get Dirty and play with some clay.

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