best clay for pottery

8 MOST POPULAR Types Of Pottery Clay | Pottery Clay Guide [2023]

Here are the most popular types of pottery clays used for this year.

Welcome to the world of pottery, where artistry and craftsmanship merge to create stunning works of clay!

If you're a seasoned ceramicist or a curious beginner, choosing the right pottery clay is essential for bringing your creative visions to life.

With an array of options available, we'll explore the most popular pottery clays that are cherished by artists worldwide.

best clay for pottery

Pottery clay is the fundamental building block of ceramics, providing both structure and malleability for your creations.

Each type of clay possesses unique properties, making it crucial to select the clay that aligns with your desired outcome.

From earthenware to stoneware and porcelain, these tried-and-true clays have captured the hearts of potters throughout history.

Best Pottery Clay For Ceramics

1. Earthenware Clay

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Earthenware clay is a type of pottery clay that has been used for centuries. It is characterized by its low firing temperature, typically between 1,000 and 1,150 degrees Celsius.

earthenware clay for pottery 

It has a high iron content, which gives it a reddish-brown color after firing. Earthenware clay is relatively porous and not very durable compared to other types of clay. However, it is often chosen for its workability and affordability.

It is commonly used for making everyday objects like flower pots, dishes, and tiles.

2. Stoneware Clay

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Stoneware clay is a popular type of clay used in pottery due to its durability and versatility. It is fired at higher temperatures, typically between 1,200 and 1,300 degrees Celsius, resulting in a dense, strong, and vitrified product.

stoneware clay for pottery 

Stoneware clay is typically gray or buff in its raw form and turns a light gray or brown color after firing. It has a lower porosity than earthenware clay, making it suitable for functional pottery like mugs, bowls, and vases.

3. Porcelain Clay

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Porcelain clay is highly regarded for its delicate and translucent appearance. It is made from a combination of fine white clay, such as kaolin, and other minerals.

Porcelain is fired at very high temperatures, around 1,300 to 1,450 degrees Celsius, resulting in a non-porous and glass-like finish.

Emily Murphy on Etsy has gorgeous handmade porcelain mugs that really makes the porcelain take center stage.

porcelain mugs made with clay

Its smooth texture allows for intricate detail and fine shaping. Porcelain is often used to create delicate and decorative items like fine china, figurines, and jewelry.

4. Raku Clay

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Raku clay is known for its unique firing process and distinctive aesthetic. This type of clay is fired at relatively low temperatures, typically around 900 to 1,000 degrees Celsius.

After the initial firing, the pottery is removed from the kiln while still glowing hot and placed in combustible materials, such as sawdust or leaves.

raku clay for pottery

This rapid cooling process creates unpredictable patterns and colors, giving each piece a one-of-a-kind appearance. Raku clay is commonly used to create decorative vessels and sculptures.

5. Terra Cotta Clay

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Terra cotta clay, derived from Italian words meaning "baked earth," has been used for centuries in pottery production. It is a low-fire clay with a rich, orange-brown color.

Terra cotta clay is relatively porous and has a rustic, earthy appearance. It is often used for making garden pots, tiles, and sculptures.

terra cotta clay for pottery 

While not as durable as stoneware or porcelain, terra cotta clay has a distinct charm and is popular for its warm and inviting aesthetic.

6. Paper Clay

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Paper clay is a unique type of clay that incorporates cellulose fibers, typically from paper or plant-based sources, into the clay body.

These fibers enhance the clay's plasticity, making it easier to work with and reducing shrinkage during drying and firing.

paper clay for pottery 

Paper clay can be fired at various temperatures, depending on the clay composition. It is commonly used by ceramic artists for sculptural work, as the fibers help to create lightweight and delicate structures.

YouTube has many tutorials on how to make your own paper clay.

7. Air Dry Clay

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Air dry clay is an excellent choice for beginners venturing into the world of pottery for several compelling reasons.

Its user-friendly nature and convenience make it a popular option for those starting their artistic journey.

air dry clay for beginners

No kiln or firing required. Unlike traditional clay types that need to be fired in a kiln, air dry clay simply needs exposure to air to harden and set.

This eliminates the need for expensive equipment and a dedicated firing process, making it a more accessible option for beginners who may not have access to a kiln or prefer to skip the firing step.

8. Polymer Clay

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Oven bake polymer clay clay is popular for making jewelry dishes and jewelry due to its versatility and durability. It's one of the most popular clays for beginners.

When properly cured in the oven, it transforms into a strong and resilient material that can withstand everyday wear and tear.

polymer clay for pottery

Its ability to retain intricate details and hold various finishes, such as metallic or translucent effects, makes it an excellent choice for creating unique and personalized jewelry pieces and elegant jewelry dishes.

One of the most popular brands for polymer clay is Arteza. Their clays can be used for crafts, jewelry and sculptures.

Buy Arteza Polymer Clay

arteza polymer clay

    Understanding Pottery Clay

    Pottery clay, also known as ceramic clay, is a natural material used in pottery and sculpture. It consists of minerals, water, and organic matter. When fired at high temperatures, clay undergoes a chemical transformation, known as vitrification, which results in a durable, solid form.

    Choosing the Right Pottery Clay

    Here are some key points to consider when choosing the pottery clay to work with.


    Plasticity refers to a clay's ability to be molded and shaped without cracking or breaking. For beginners, clay with good plasticity is essential, as it allows for easy manipulation and experimentation. Look for terms like "easy to work with" or "suitable for beginners" when choosing clay.

    Firing Temperature

    Consider the firing temperature required for your chosen clay. If you have access to a kiln, ensure that the clay's firing temperature matches the capabilities of your kiln. It's important to choose a clay that is compatible with your firing setup to avoid potential issues during the firing process.

    Moisture Content

    Clay comes in different moisture levels, ranging from dry to wet. For beginners, it is advisable to start with clay that has a medium moisture content. This allows for ease of manipulation without being overly dry or sticky.

    Supplier and Quality

    Choose a reputable supplier that offers high-quality pottery clay. Look for clay that is free from impurities, such as rocks or twigs, as these can cause defects in your finished pieces.

    Read reviews and seek recommendations from experienced potters to ensure you are purchasing clay from a trusted source.

    One of the most popular brands is Old Potters On Amazon.

    old potters clay for ceramics

    Closing Thoughts

    Selecting the right pottery clay is an important decision that can significantly impact your pottery journey. The type of clay you choose will determine the final appearance, durability, and firing requirements of your creations.

    Remember to consider factors such as clay body type, plasticity, firing temperature, moisture content, and supplier reputation when making your choice.

    As a beginner, opt for a clay that offers forgiveness, ease of use, and room for experimentation. Earthenware clay is often a popular choice due to its forgiving nature and vibrant colors. However, don't be afraid to explore other clay types as your skills progress.

    best clay for pottery

    Lastly, remember that choosing the right clay is just the beginning. As you embark on your pottery adventure, embrace the learning process, experiment with different techniques, and let your creativity guide you.

    With practice and dedication, you will develop your own unique style and create beautiful pottery pieces that reflect your artistic vision

    Each type of pottery clay has its own characteristics, firing temperature range, and intended uses.

    ceramic clay dishes

    By understanding these differences, potters can select the most appropriate clay for their specific needs and desired outcomes, whether it be functional pottery, decorative objects, or artistic sculptures.

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