100 Pottery Quotes – Inspired Quotes about Clay & Ceramics

  • Written by: Lesley

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Pottery, clay, and ceramics lend themselves well to a fancy well-crafted turn of phrase.  I love a good quote, so I decided to collect together some of the best pottery quotes I had come across.  I hope you find some inspiration or at least amusement from the 100 pottery quotes that follow.

Pottery Quotes to Inspire and Amuse

Here are the top 100 pottery quotes starting off with a nice one from A.S.Byatt…

pottery quotes
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Quote 1

“…failure with clay was more complete and more spectacular than with other forms of art.  You are subject to the elements…Any one of the old four – earth, air, fire, water – can betray you and melt, or burst, or shatter – months of work into dust and ashes and spitting steam.  You need to be a precise scientist, and you need to know how to play with what chance will do to your lovingly constructed surfaces in the heat of the kiln”. A.S.Byatt, The Children’s Book (source)

Quote 2

“Pottery… is a practical and lasting form of art. Not everyone can afford original paintings, but most people can afford pottery”. Susie Cooper

Quote 3

“Turn, turn, my wheel!  Turn round and round Without a pause, without a sound: So spins the flying world away! This clay, well mixed with marl and sand, Follows the motion of my hand; For some must follow, and some command, Though all are made of clay!” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (source)

Quote 4

“I rarely end up in the place I think I’m going because the clay has its own ideas.  I like the feeling of being led by the materials”. Jami Porter Lara (source)

Quote 5

“She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands.  And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again”.  J.M.Storm (source

Quote 6

“She loved the smell of wet dirt the way others might love the smell of roses”. Dana Hewitt, New City.

Quote 7

“Ceramics is the oldest form of technology we have. After cooking meat, baking clay was the first thing that humans did to chemically alter our environment on purpose. You can’t make rice without cooking it in some kind of vessel, so clay pots go hand in hand with agriculture – our whole evolution is connected to it. There’s only a short period of history in which people haven’t been connected with pottery. There’s something incredibly grounding about an experience that connects you with the past like that”. Tallie Maughan

Quote 8

“And now indeed this substance with its precious humility becomes, through its indestructibility, the most faithful bearer of man’s message. As far back as one goes in time, the works of humanity from prehistoric times have reached us not through stone which crumbles and wears away, or through metal which oxidizes and becomes like powder, but through slabs of pottery, the writing on which is as clear today as it was under the stiletto of the scribe who traced it”.  Bernard Leach, A Potter’s Book.

Quote 9

“Good pots require the ardor of vocation and the devotion of a lifetime”. Bernard Leach (source)

pottery quotes

Quote 10

“I saw some designs on your vases done by someone who, I should say, had only five minutes to catch a train…the institution of pottery should not be a refuge for people who cannot draw nor asylum for the artistically afflicted”. Oscar Wilde (source)

Quote 11

“A vessel is formed from a lump of clay with care, however, it is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful”. Laozi

Quote 12

“Clay is molded to form a cup, But it is on its non-being that the utility of the cup depends. Doors and windows are cut out to make a room, But it is on its non-being that the utility of the room depends. Therefore turn being into advantage, and turn non-being into utility”. Laozi

Quote 13

“Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful. Cut doors and windows for a room; It is the holes which make it useful. Therefore benefit comes from what is there; Usefulness from what is not there”. Laozi

Quote 14

“Clay is molded to make a vessel, but the utility of the vessel lies in the space where there is nothing. Thus, taking advantage of what is, we recognize the utility of what is not”. Laozi

Quote 15

“As a maker, you are either a squidgy person or a straight-lines person, I am definitely a squidgy person; this is one of the reasons I work in clay”. Katie Spragg (source)

Quote 16

“Though we may feel we are like a broken vessel… we must remember that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter”. Jeffrey R Holland (source)

Quote 17

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the pottery formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him”.  Jeremiah 18:4. (source)

Quote 18

“When your soul and mine have left our bodies and we are buried alongside each other, a Potter may one day mold the dust of both of us into the same clay”. Omar Khayyam (source)

Quote 19

“Out of the fire comes firmness, through stress we pass to strength”.  Charles F. Binns (source)

pottery quotes
Photo by Roman Hinex on Unsplash

Quote 20

“If Bagel’s face was a lump of clay on a pottery wheel, it’d been rapidly thrown from an angry grey blob to a rather enthusiastic vase”.  Mandy Ashcraft, Small Orange Fruit. 

Quote 21

“My thoughts are whirled like a potter’s wheel, I know not where I am nor what I do”.  William Shakespeare, Talbot (Act 1, Scene 5 – Henry VI) (source)

Quote 22

“Unlike other artists, I get to play with fire.  Having a dragon breathe on my work has its pitfalls, but it affords me unending surprises”.  Gareth Mason (source)

Quote 23

“Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Let the impetus to create in clay inspire and guide you as you work”.  Susan Halls, Pinch Pottery

Quote 24

“In such a porcelain life, one likes to be sure that all is well lest one stumbles upon one’s hopes in a pile of broken pottery”.  Emily Dickinson (source)

Quote 25

“You have to be in tune with the clay and react to what state it’s in to work with it”. John Sheppard (source)

Quote 26

“I have always wished I could learn to be a potter.  I love collecting ceramics; it would be so fulfilling to create something lovely”.  Julie Andrews (source)

Quote 27

“Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently.  “I can’t make bricks without clay”.  Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beaches (source)

Quote 28

“For in the market-place, one Dusk of Day, I watch’d the potter thumping his wet Clay: And with it’s all obliterated Tongue It murmur’d – ‘Gently, brother, gently, pray!’” Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (source)

Quote 29

“GREATEST” ART POTTER ON EARTH, ‘YOU PROVE THE CONTRARY”.  George E. Ohr (source)

pottery quotes
Photo by Earl Wilcox on Unsplash

Quote 30

“You can’t rush it. Things will crack and break and fall off. This is the opposite of an instant gratification activity”. Amanda Moffat (source)

Quote 31

“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?”  Romans (source

Quote 32

“A field of clay touched by the genius of man becomes a castle”. Og Mandino (source)

Quote 33

“Having a little fun at my work does not make me any less of an artist and people who appreciate truly beautiful and original creations in pottery are not frightened by innocent tomfoolery!”  Clarice Cliff (source)

Quote 34

“Every pot that is crafted required hands to be spoilt”. Coral Jain

Quote 35

I do pottery. I love it. It’s very relaxing; it takes me to another planet”.  Eva Herzigova

Quote 36

“I saw some designs on your vases done by someone who, I should say, had only five minutes to catch a train… the institution of pottery should not be a refuge for people who cannot draw nor asylum for the artistically afflicted”. Oscar Wilde (source)

Quote 37

No one can be made “a prisoner forever with a chain of clay”. Rabindranath Tagore (source)

Quote 38

“African men don’t understand professional women; they’re not used to women in the arts… as long as the pottery’s done by hand, it remains a women’s craft. As soon as machinery takes over, so do the men. This happens to most crafts and technologies, including the making of china in the Potteries in England”. Magdelene Odundo (source)

Quote 39

“Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me man?  Did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me?”  John Milton, Paradise Lost 

pottery quotes
Photo by Earl Wilcox on Unsplash

Quote 40

“Turn, turn, my wheel! Turn round and round / Without a pause, without a sound: / So spins the flying world away! / This clay, well mixed with marl and sand, / Follows the motion of my hand; / For some must follow, and some command, / Though all are made of clay!” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (source)

Quote 41

“Lovely pottery / Just for cookery / She bought one / To try / She cooked / Something delicious / He commented / ‘Uncooked pot’ / She’s broken / Into shards”.  Indira Renganthan (source)

Quote 42

“It’s always been popular, it’s just become more so with the farm-to-table movement”. Helen Levi (source)

Quote 43

“If there be good in that I wrought Thy Hand compelled it, Master, Thine – Where I have failed to meet Thy Thought I know, through Thee, the blame was mine… The depth and dream of my desire, The bitter paths wherein I stray – Thou knowest who hast made the Fire, Thou knowest who hast made the Clay”.  Rudyard Kipling (source)

Quote 44

“With regard to all the things that appeal to the heart, are useful, or are loved, bear in mind to consider what their nature is, beginning with the most trivial things: if you like a clay pot, consider ‘I like a clay pot’. So if it is broken, you will not be disturbed. If you caress your child or wife, consider that you caress a human being. So if it dies, you will not be disturbed”.  Epictetus (source)

Quote 45

“Later, Maester Luwin built a little pottery boy and dressed him in Bran’s clothes and flung him off the wall into the yard below, to demonstrate what would happen to Bran if he fell. That had been fun, but afterward Bran just looked at the maester and said, I’m not made of clay. And anyhow, I never fall”.  George R.R. Martin (source)

Quote 46

“She lacks the indefinable charm of weakness. It is the feet of clay that make the gold of the image precious. Her feet are very pretty, but they are not feet of clay. White porcelain feet, if you like. They have been through fire, and what fire does not destroy, it hardens”. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Quote 47

“Llonio said life was a net for luck; to Hevydd the Smith life was a forge; and to Dwyvach the Weaver-Woman a loom. They spoke truly, for it is all of these. But you,’ Taran said, his eyes meeting the potter’s, ‘you have shown me life is one thing more. It is clay to be shaped, as raw clay on a potter’s wheel”. — Lloyd Alexander,  Taran Wanderer: The Chronicles of Prydain

Quote 48

“Love seeketh not Itself to please / Nor for itself hath any care / But for another gives its ease / And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair / So sung a little Clod of Clay / Trodden with the cattle’s feet”.  William Blake, The Clod and the Pebble (source)

Quote 49

“I am content to be a bric-a-braker and a Ceramiker”. Mark Twain (source)

pottery quotes
Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

Quote 50

“Expectations were like fine pottery.  The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack”.  Brandon Sanderson (source)

Quote 51

“A potter is one of the few people left who uses his natural faculties of heart, head and hand in balance – the whole man”. Bernard Leach (source)

Quote 52

“Thou spring’st a leak already in thy crown, A flaw is in thy ill-bak’d vessel found; ‘Tis hollow, and returns a jarring sound, Yet thy moist clay is pliant to command, Unwrought, and easy to the potter’s hand: Now take the mould; now bend thy mind to feel The first sharp motions of the forming wheel”.  John Dryden (source)

Quote 53

“Hours can pass without thinking or caring about anything else—that’s what is known as the ‘potter’s nod. It’s a feeling that’s very similar to being at the mercy of a wonderful drug, except in this case, it’s a holistic antidepressant”. Jennie Jieun Lee (source)

Quote 54

“I think in this moment where everything is kind of bombastic and plastic and prefabricated, that clay feels perverse because it’s lowly”. Theaster Gates (source)

Quote 55

“We were at an age of innocence when the soul is still soft clay and does not know that one day it will turn to stone or barren earth; we were at an age when the soul is clay that can easily be warmed by a kindred spirit, when it is possible for two to become one”.  Goce Smilevski, Freud’s Sister

Quote 56

“When I see a shard of pottery, I often think to myself, “Who ate off that?” Before I know it, I am transported to a wealthy Victorian family’s dining room, sharing dinner with them on the plate that I just found on the river foreshore. Another shard, and I am whisked away to the table of a Roman family living alongside the river, missing home”. Gary Phillips (source)

Quote 57

“I’m happiest when most away I can bear my soul from its home of clay / On a windy night when the moon is bright And the eye can wander through worlds of light”.  Emily Bronte (source

Quote 58

“Say a piece of pottery is broken, and it’s fixed, and they use gold in the adhesive and in the sealant. It becomes more precious than it was before it was broken in the first place”. Rose McIver (source)

Quote 59

“Pottery for me is not a pursuit of glory, but a daily discipline of pursuing accuracy.  In India it would be called my Dharma.  Life is dual.  There is matter and spirit and one cannot function completely without the other.  For creativity, the spirt side, to work, the matter side must be strong enough to hold the spirit side.  If the form has cracks, the spirit leaks”.  Beatrice Wood (source)

throwing a small pot
Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Quote 60

“In one and the same fire, clay grows hard and wax melts”.  Francis Bacon (source)

Quote 61

“I’ve spent years working on movies that fewer people pay attention to than a vase I spent 40 minutes on”. Seth Rogan (source)

Quote 62

“New York had pushed and bent and bullied, driving me underground to sort out the madness and sculpt my Being with my own hands in self-discovery on its cold pottery wheel and in the white heat of its kiln.  The City enabled me to learn who I really was, as a pixelated man and member of Humanity”. David B. Lentz (source)

Quote 63

“In Old Europe and Ancient Crete, women were respected for their roles in the discovery of agriculture and for inventing the arts of weaving and pottery making”. Carol P. Christ (source)

Quote 64

“The swath of fiery orange along the horizon was like a crack in a potter’s kiln”. Jack Nolte (source)

Quote 65

“Listen again. One Evening at the Close / Of Ramazan, ere the better Moon arose / In that old Potter’s Shop I stood alone / With the clay Population round in Rows /And strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot / Some could articulate, while others not / And suddenly one more impatient cried? / “Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?” The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (source)

Quote 66

“In my life I see no difference between making pots, cooking and growing vegetables.  They are all so related.  However, there is a need for me to work in clay.  It is so gratifying and I get so much joy from it, and it gives me many answers in my life”.  Toshiko Takaezu (source)

Quote 67

“Clay acts almost as an antidote to the overwhelm of the digital world.  It interrupts your compulsive email-checking.  Your mind has a single focus, so the practice can feel meditative or therapeutic.  There is no way to speed up clay-drying or firing, there is no ‘clay-microwave’ – ceramics take as much time to make today as they did 2000 years ago”.  Jennifer Waverek of Bklyn Clay (source)

Quote 68

(Pottery is) “a perfect medium to convey one’s imagination and encompasses sensual, textural and cognitive activities”. Keith Brymer Jones (source)

Quote 69

“There were about 100 people on the project I was working on. I had no idea what I was even supposed to be doing. But, with pottery, you are solely responsible for how it turns out. That’s so inviting when you’re disaffected by your job”. Elizabeth Macneal (source)

pot on the wheel

Quote 70

“If I hadn’t been a designer, I’d have been a painter.  I began as a painter and learned the craft of pottery in order to support myself”. Eva Zeisel (source)

Quote 71

“Careers that come with seeing the end result of your work are becoming increasingly rare.  Working with clay allows people to create something satisfyingly functional.  Within a year, you can even populate your kitchen with usable, self-made crockery”. Tallie Maughan (source)

Quote 72

“If you need warming, you should come down to the pottery. In a couple of the big ones I went into, the heat was unbearable!” Catherine Gale, The Avengers, Immortal Clay (source)

Quote 73

“My love for pottery started completely by chance when a good friend of mine recommended I take a class.  When I sat down at a pottery wheel, it was like love at first sight.  It was so deeply meditative, and I felt connected right away”.  Jeremiah Brent (source)

Quote 74

“No man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune”. Plutarch (source)

Quote 75

“What do young, budding artists do, but go to law school?  I had creative periods now and again, but it wasn’t until I was practicing law that I really needed a creative outlet.  I’d come home from long days at the office and draw, paint and sculpt from clay, wire – even candy”.  Nathan Sawaya (source)

Quote 76

“There is always shame in the creation of an expressive work, whether it’s a book or a clay pot. Every artist worries about how they will be seen by others through their work. When you create, you aspire to do justice to yourself, to remake yourself, and there is always the fear that you will expose the very thing that you hoped to transform”. Rachel Cusk (source)

Quote 77

“Clay is a very interesting and fundamental material – it’s earth, it’s water and — with fire – it takes on form and life”.  Rithy Panh (source)

Quote 78

“Being a potter takes diligence and hard work.  Failure is a stepping stone to success and the only way to truly fail is to quit.  Potters become really good at facing challenges.  Sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but always ‘getting back on that wheel'”.  Sue McLeod (source)

Quote 79

“I celebrated [my 50th birthday] by throwing a big bowl on the pottery wheel, then going for a water ski at the lake on our property in the Catskills, and that night, skinny-dipping under the stars. Just being free and joyful”.  Marcia Gay Harden (source

throwing a large pot
Photo by Earl Wilcox on Unsplash

Quote 80

“Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands”. Lupita Nyong’o (source)

Quote 81

“To me Art’s subject is the human clay, And landscape but a background to a torso”. W. H. Auden (quote

Quote 82

“Much more is learned from bits of broken pottery than from all the sensational finds”. Sir Joseph Scott, 1st Baronet (source)

Quote 83

“I have shadowed forth my intense longing to lose myself in the Eternal and become merely a lump of clay in the Potter’s divine hands so that my service may become more certain because uninterrupted by the baser self in me”.  Mahatma Gandhi (source)

Quote 84

“A vase of unbaked clay, when broken, may be remoulded, but not a baked one”.  Leonardo da Vinci (source)

Quote 85

“Fool!  All that is, at all / Lasts ever, past recall / Earth changes, but they soul and God stand sure / What entered into thee / That was, is, and shall be / Time’s wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure”. Robert Browning (source)

Quote 86

“It’s a bit naff, but there is something exciting about pulling a bit of pottery out of the ground that’s 2,000 years old”.  Mary Beard (source)

Quote 87

“Go home, and let all your relatives off the potter’s wheel.  You are not the potter!” Joyce Meyer (source)

Quote 88

I am not the potter, not the potter’s wheel, but the potter’s clay; is not the value of the shape attained as dependent upon the intrinsic worth of the clay as upon the wheel and the Master’s skill?  Stephen King, The Stand (source)

Quote 89

“That’s what siblings are: a reality check. Try to become someone you’re not – affect an accent, or start quoting the temperature in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit- and they’re the ones who smack you upside the head. Siblings are like potters; they try you by fire, glaze you with taunts, finish you with well-aimed jibes. If you emerge from that kiln without cracking, you can survive the world”. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Pastors’ Wives (source)

throwing pottery
Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Quote 90

“Pottery is something small and manageable that connects to that idea of home”. Tallie Maughan (source)

Quote 91

“All that can be cherished from this world, all that makes life worth living is that which is mined from its bowels through your own toil, fashioned from its clay by your own craft, fired in the kiln of your heart”.  Tzvi Freeman (source)

Quote 92

“Staring out onto the earthly, pottery of / Pottery of existence, climbing light / Climbing light vines to heaven / Clay ribbons descend / Swirl downward against / Downward against metallic swell”. Kerry Dylan McCoy and George Lesage Clarke (source)

Quote 93

“The dead clay makes no protest”. Sophocles, Antigone

Quote 94

“To get wealth and security by guile is like one who pours water into a pot of unbaked clay”.  Thiruvalluvar (source)

Quote 95

“All this of Pot and Potter – Tell me then, Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”  Omar Khayyam

Quote 96

“It’s very meditative. It turns off a higher level of thinking. You have to let go and give in to the unpredictability of it. You can go in with an idea of what you want to make, and the clay doesn’t want to do that”. John Sheppard (source)

Quote 97

“Ay, note that Potter’s wheel / That metaphor! and feel / Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay / Thou, to whom fools propound / When the wine makes its round / “Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!” Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning (source)

Quote 98

“Most people think that a sculptor or a painter is something more excellent to be than a potter.  Most people think of china or porcelain as merely for use, or for decoration – In either case, an inferior art.  For me, they are neither ‘use’ nor ‘decoration’ – That is, decoration as a background for living.  For me, they are life itself.  To be among such things”.  Sir Claude in The Confidential Clerk by T. S. Eliot (source)

Quote 99

“They say that every piece of clay is a piece of someone’s life. They even say it has its own small voice and sings in its own way”. Byrd Baylor, When Clay Sings

Quote 100

The pottery vessel “unlike a painting or statue, is not intended to be insulated and untouchable but is meant to fulfill a purpose – if only symbolically.  For it is held in the hand and drawn into the movement of practical life’. Georg Simmel (source)

Final Thoughts on Inspiring Pottery Quotes

This is by all means not a complete list of pottery quotes.  But it’s a good start! Perhaps you are already a potter looking for inspiration, or maybe you want to take up pottery as a hobby? Either way, I hope you enjoyed these words of wisdom from some great minds, and those simply letting their thoughts and feelings be known!