Working with clay can be a wonderfully creative art form that provides the opportunity to use your sense of touch to its fullest extent. Here are some suggestions to help you realize your creative potential in pottery and ceramics.

Use Your Sense of Touch

this is an image of Sculpey Necklace
Sculpey Necklace

Begin by tactually exploring many different styles of pottery by as many different artists as possible. Touch and explore hand-built pots and take the time to examine the variations in wall thickness of a coiled pot versus a thrown pot versus a pinched pot. Weight, texture, and shape become more important and will likely begin to influence your own creations.

Use Your Visual Memory

Tactually exploring different types of pottery provides an excellent opportunity for practicing the use of your visual memory. If you’ve had vision prior to your loss of sight, learning to use your visual memory can help you learn to form accurate mental pictures of people, places, and everyday objects.

You can learn to do this by using and recalling the vast storehouse of visual memories and information you’ve accumulated throughout your lifetime. Think of an object and try to recreate its image in your mind by using your visual memory. You can then use this mental image to create pottery, ceramics, or other types of art.

Explore Texture

Sometimes the texture of the glaze can be more important than the actual glaze color. Experiment with the full range of glazing textures, from glossy to matte, and explore the use of special glaze effects, such as cratered or crawling glazes.

a self-hardening clay bowl

Try using clay in smaller amounts so that it is easier to mold and control. Colored clay and natural resource clay may be easier to use and may provide better color contrast than traditional grey clay.

Use clay to create textures and shapes that are pleasing to touch. You can also include tactual “accents,” such as seeds, beads, shells, or other natural products in your work.

Experiment with Glazing

Many glazes are not visible until they have been fired. Some potters consider the glazing process to be a unique blend of skill, science, and trust. Labeling glazes with large print labels can assist with color identification.

To help with more precise glazing formulas, try using measuring devices, such as spoons and cups in contrasting colors or marked in large print. For additional hints about labeling your pottery supplies and glazes, see Labeling and Marking for People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision.

You can also use self-hardening or “low temperature” clay, called “Sculpey” or “Fimo” modeling clay, which can be baked and dried in a traditional oven or toaster oven. This can be a good alternative if you are uncomfortable using a kiln with high temperatures. The bowl shown at left was made from self-hardening clay.

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