craft of making objects from clay

Pottery is the ceramic material which makes up potteryware.[1] Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery (plural "potteries"). Pottery also refers to the art or craft of a potter or the making of pottery.[2][3] A dictionary definition is simply clay fired in a kiln.[4]

Ancient Egypt Painted Pottery at a museum in Paris, France
Relatively plain earthenware for everyday use: pottery found at Çatal Höyük - sixth millennium BC
Obviously an artistic work as well as practical: Greek red-figure vase in the krater shape, between 470 and 460 BC, by the Altamura Painter

Pottery objects are made from damp clay mixed with other materials. They are then fired in a special oven called a kiln at high temperatures. Firing makes the clay hard. The potter may then apply a glaze to the surface before firing the object again. The fired glaze makes the surface of the pottery shiny, decorative and water-tight.

Some potters make objects which are not useful and are really artistic objects or sculpture. Bare pottery objects without a glaze are called bisque or just earthenware. The finest pottery objects, made of porcelain or bone china are quite strong, yet are translucent.

History of pottery


Pottery originated before the Neolithic period. The earliest example we have is from eastern Europe, dating to 25,000 years ago or earlier. It is a female figurine known as the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, from a palaeolithic site in Moravia, Czech Republic. It may have been made as part of a fertility ritual. There are some similar figures from other nearby sites.[5]

Since the invention of agriculture, and the building of cities, containers for food and drink have been found at almost all archaeological sites.

The Potteries


This means the area of Stoke-on-Trent in England, sometimes called the Staffordshire potteries. There were six towns, Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke-upon-Trent, Fenton and Longton,[6] which now make up Stoke-on-Trent.

The area was the centre of the English pottery industry. The area had local supplies of clay, salt, lead and coal. Canals were used to transport the product inland. It was a large exporter of pottery for about 200 years: roughly from 1760 to about 1960.[7] Plastic crockery after World War II and cheap ceramic production in China largely destroyed the Stoke pottery industry.


  1. Dinsdale, Allen 1986. Pottery science: materials, process and products. Ellis Horwood Ltd.
  2. "Merriam-Webster.com". Merriam-Webster.com. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  3. Rado, Paul 1988. An introduction to the technology of pottery. 2nd ed, Institute of Ceramics & Pergamon Press.
  4. Pottery, meaning 3, mass noun, Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2015.
  5. Vandiver, Pamela B. et al 1989. The origins of ceramic technology at Dolni Věstonice, Czechoslovakia. Science 246, #4933, 1002-1008.
  6. The Six Townsthepotteries.org, January 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  7. Dawson, Aileen 1997. The growth of the Staffordshire ceramic industry, in Freestone, Ian & Gaimster, David R.M. eds Pottery in the making: world ceramic traditions. British Museum Publications. ISBN 071411782X