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Atlanta's Pottery Center
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How Does it Work For Beginners?

At MudFire we have a uniquely personalized approach based on studio membership. Instead of a classroom approach, studio members receive one-on-one instruction.Our staff is always on hand for an in-depth lesson, last minute rescue, or help with a new form or project. It's like a gym where you can come any time and there are "personal trainers" on hand and ready to help you any time with personalized instruction.

You don't need to decide if you want to learn to throw on the wheel, handbuilding or sculpture. Try everything and see what interests you most.

Pottery Lessons!

Roughly half of our studio members haven't touched clay since 6th grade! We are very beginner friendly, and will spend the time with you to get you up and on your feet. Our personalized approach combined with the opportunity to come in several times a week makes it easy to learn quickly.

If you would like to sign up, please visit our Membership Options page. Or call us in advance at 404-377-8033 to discuss availability. If the studio membership is "full", we may need to schedule your start in the future.

If you'd like to stop by for a tour, we'd love to meet you. Come by the studio today!

Pottery Wheel Lessons

Learning to use the potters wheel takes patience, focus, and practice. It is also super-relaxing and rewarding.

If you are a total beginner, we will sit with you for an hour or two of lessons for each of your first several visits. After that people typically find their legs a bit and want to work on their own with occasional advice, troubleshooting, demonstrations of new forms, or rescue missions. There is always someone here who can help you as much as you need or want. You'll make a few wobbly small bowls your first couple of visits, and as you get better control you will begin to build out the portfolio of forms you are comfortable producing.

For intermediate and advanced potters, we're here when you need us for technical advice, aesthetic opinions, refresher courses, or learning new forms. We also aren't shy with challenging you to explore new directions like altering forms, advanced surface treatments, construction of more complex works, etc..

Handbuilding Lessons

Handbuilding, or sculpture, is the other way of working with clay. The basic techniques are easier to learn and the range of forms you can produce is much broader. If you are interested in clay, but aren't sure the wheel is for you, think about handbuilding. For the beginner, you will be surprised how easy it is to begin making nice functional ware or artworks on your very first day.

We have tons of sample projects around to draw inspiration from, and a good library of books and ceramics magazines to browse and learn new techniques or find new challenges to pursue. We love to discuss the pros and cons of different approaches and help you figure out the right approach and techniques.

So come visit and let's get started!

Visit #1

Get to know your instructor, discuss personal goals and set expectations. Tour the studio, learn about the different techniques and all the corresponding tools available to you at MudFire. Select your clay (there are many different kinds to choose from) and learn to wedge it!
Watch a demonstration by your instructor; we'll not just show you how, but explain "why" every step of the way.

Get into the clay. If you're throwing on the wheel, you'll first learn to center and open. Then you'll be pulling up the walls… and then shaping your first bowl. Your teacher will be with you the whole time, focusing on establishing good techniques and explaining why certain things are happening so that you can understand the wheel and your hands' effect on the clay. You'll probably make two or three ice cream bowls on your first day.

For handbuilders, we'll select several projects to try out the different techniques you've just learned: coiling, pinching and slab work. If you have ideas of what you'd like to make, we'll focus on the best techniques for the specific item. Expect to make several pieces today and wrap them in plastic so that you can clean, trim or finish up during your next visit.

Visit #2

Many people come back the very next day, others come by once or twice per week. Regardless of your schedule, there will be plenty to do when you show up: If you're throwing on the wheel, you'll learn to trim the pieces you made last time - add feet, a handle or decorations. We'll talk about the next steps and discuss firing and glazing options. If you want, you'll get back on the wheel and practice throwing and experimenting with different shapes. For handbuilders, this is the day to continue building up any tall coil forms you started last time, adding feet or decorations to your pieces, or learning how to scraffitto. We'll also delve into combining basic handbuilding techniques to create more complex forms and start to develop your vocabulary of decorative elements.

Visit #3

Your pieces are probably ready for their first firing - the bisque. It hardens the clay and prepares it for glazing. The studio is yours to continue practicing what you've learned so far. MudFire teachers are always around to help out. Start new pieces, finish some other ones. You're well on your way.

Visit #4

Your pieces may be ready for the glaze firing and we'll spend about an hour learning about glazing: what's in a glaze, the different methods of applying it, how your choice of firing will affect the finished look, color combinations, and alternatives to glaze like oxide washes, terra sigillata, underglazes and stains. There are many methods of decorating your work - we'll start with some basic ones and get more elaborate each week.

You're Becoming a Potter

By the end of the first two weeks you have a good overall sense of the pottery cycle and have a good handle on your basic pottery skills. You know where everything is and the studio is starting to feel like home. Your first pieces are probably ready to take home and you probably have others at different stages of dryness and completion. Sometime in the past week, you might have decided to make candleholders for everyone in your office, or mugs for all your friends, or dessert bowls for the house. You're also noticing your new friends at the studio making sculptures, menorahs, giant turkey platters, intricately carved napkin rings, goblets and dinner place settings. You talk to them about their glaze choices and set up a time to do a raku firing the following week.

And you suddenly realize hey, I think I might be becoming a potter.

We'd love to have you join our community. Visit our Membership Options page to get started.

Learn to throw pots at MudFire!

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