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One of the joys of pottery is that it’s a chance to get your hands dirty. But you don’t want to look like you’ve been bobbing around in a mud bath after a class. So, what should you wear to a pottery class?
Ideally, you want to wear clothes that are older, so you won’t be upset if they get a bit messy. They also need to be comfortable so that you can lean over a potter’s wheel easily. Loose-fitting pants, a top with short sleeves, and an old pair of flat-heeled shoes are good things to wear to a pottery class.
That being said there are a few other wardrobe considerations to bear in mind for your first pottery class. Here are some top tips about what to wear to a pottery class to avoid an epic wardrobe fail.
11 Tips on What to Wear to Pottery Class
When you are deciding what to wear you don’t need to overcomplicate things. Just follow a few basic suggestions and you will be fine.
Tip 1) Wear Comfortable Pants, Leggings, or Joggers
It’s best to wear comfortable pants or leggings when you make pottery. There are a few reasons for this…
Firstly: If you are using a pottery wheel, you will have to sit with your knees astride the wheel. You will need to nestle your elbows into your hips or legs to get some leverage.
Often you will find yourself leaning right over the wheel to get the clay to cooperate. This is hard to do if you are wearing a skirt.
Secondly: Loose-fitting trousers and soft stretchy leggings or joggers allow you to be flexible. When you are at a wheel you will be leaning and stretching. You need to be wearing pants that allow you to move. I wouldn’t recommend tight jeans as you might find they pinch as you lean.
Thirdly: Skirts can be awkward in a pottery studio. Fitted skirts can make it hard to sit properly at a pottery wheel. Whilst loose floaty skirts can snag on equipment and get dirty easily.
If you know that you are going to be hand-building pottery rather than wheel-throwing, a skirt may be ok. Just don’t wear your favorite dress skirt, as it may get damaged or dirty.
Shorts are fine if the weather is hot, but I’d recommend comfortable shorts for the reasons mentioned above.
Tip 2) Short-Sleeved Tops or Sleeves You Can Roll Up
Whether you are hand building or wheel throwing, short sleeves, or sleeves that you can roll up are preferable.
When throwing on the wheel your hands will get covered in clay slip. This is the creamy liquid clay that is formed as the clay spins under your hands.
If you are wearing long sleeves, it’s likely that your sleeves will get covered in clay slip too. So, a short-sleeved T-shirt is a good idea. If the weather is cold, you can wear a sweater too. Just make sure that you can push the sleeves up to over your elbow.
It’s important that if you push or fold your sleeves up they stay up over your elbow. If your sleeves are loose they can slowly start slipping down over your elbows. This can happen when your hands are covered in clay and you will have no option but to push your sleeves up again with dirty hands.
Clay does wash out of clothes, so it’s not the end of the world if you get clay on your sleeves. Nevertheless, you can look like a hot mess at the end of a pottery class if you wear sleeves that need to be pushed up the whole time.
Tip 3) Wear Flat Heels and Old Shoes
Shoes are the biggest casualty of dirt in the pottery studio. They tend to get splattered with wet clay as you work. So, it’s best to wear an old pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit grimy.
Also, flat heels are better than high heels. It’s not impossible to use a pottery wheel wearing high heels. However, if you are wearing heels, you have two things to consider.
Firstly, you are leaning forward, and this is harder if you have heels on. Also, you will be operating the pottery wheel with a foot pedal. It’s harder to adjust the speed of the wheel when you are wearing heels.
Much like driving a car, it’s not impossible to throw pottery wearing heeled shoes or boots. But it’s harder to learn and will put more strain on your legs and body.
Also, it’s best to wear shoes that have a closed toe. It may be tempting to wear sandals if the weather is hot. But pottery studios are full of equipment and heavy objects. It’s best not to wander around them with bare toes.
The take-home message here is that it’s best to wear flat-heeled shoes and to avoid wearing your favorite designer trainers. Doctor Martens are my go-to boot for my pottery studio.
Tip 4) Tie Your Hair Up
As you lean over the wheel, your long hair will dangle into your face and onto your pottery. This will mean that your hair will get covered in clay. Plus hair dangling onto your pottery can leave marks and unwanted texture in the clay.
Even a ponytail can be awkward, as it can fall forward and drop into your clay. So, it’s best to tie long hair up into a bun.
Wearing your hair up is less critical if you are focussing on hand building. But, it’s worth remembering that your hands will get dirty when you hand build too.
Pushing your hair off your face with dirty hands can be an annoying distraction. So, do yourself a favor and wear your hair up.
Tip 5) A Tip for Potters Who Wear Glasses
If like me you wear glasses for close work like reading and throwing pottery, don’t wear your favorite designer glasses.
As you are making your pottery, you will most likely want to take your glasses on and off. It’s hard to keep glasses clean in a pottery studio. My glasses often end up with splodges of clay on the hinge from when I’ve had to remove them as I work.
I have a pair of ‘pottery glasses’ which I don’t mind getting a bit grungy. I’d suggest that you wear a cheaper pair of glasses to your pottery class. Or take some wipes to your class so you can clean your glasses if they get splattered with clay.
Tip 6) Wear an Apron
It’s always a good idea to wear an apron when you are going to a pottery class. Usually, the pottery studio that you are attending will lend you an apron to wear for the duration of the class.
However, these aprons have usually been used many times by other students. Often they can be encrusted with clay, full of holes, or have torn straps and ties.
It’s worth taking your own apron along to wear during the pottery class. This can be an old kitchen apron that you don’t mind getting dirty with clay. But ideally, you should wear a split-leg pottery apron.
Split-leg aprons are designed so that you can sit comfortably at the pottery wheel. They are split so that they fall easily on your legs and cover your thighs as you work at the wheel. If you are going to invest in any clothing to wear during your pottery class, I’d recommend a split-leg apron like this…
Tip 7) Don’t Get a Manicure Before Your Class
There is no reason why you can’t have nice nails and make pottery too. However, making things out of clay is harder if you have long nails. It’s easy to gouge your pots with longer nails.
A lot of potters simply choose to keep their nails short. I’m generally quite a clumsy person, and once my nails get even a little bit longer, I can nick my pottery very easily. So, I keep them short.
If you love your long nails, you will be able to adapt and make pottery with your nails. But you may find you have to adjust your technique a little. You can read more about how to throw pottery with longer nails here.
However, I would suggest not getting an expensive manicure before a pottery class. There is a good chance that your nail polish will chip or flake whilst you are making things with the clay. Better to wait until after the class and get your mani done after your session in the studio.
Tip 8) Keep Jewellery to a Minimum
Dangly bracelets and multiple rings on your fingers are best avoided. It’s easy enough to gouge and dent your pottery with bare hands and fingers.
Part of the skill of making pottery is developing your hand dexterity and fine motor control. This can be harder to do if you have jewelry slipping around on your hands or wrists as you move your hands.
Some potters make pottery wearing rings on their fingers. But remember that whatever is on your hands and wrists is going to get caked in clay. Expensive detailed jewelry will be hard to clean after making pottery.
In addition to this, over time working with clay can have an abrasive effect on jewelry. Some clay contains gritty materials such as sand or grog. This is designed to make the clay easier to shape and work with. But has a rough texture and over time can wear away softer materials like gold.
I’d also think twice about wearing long dangly earrings and necklaces. Most likely you will be leaning over the wheel as you are throwing. You don’t want to get your dangly jewelry covered in clay. And you certainly don’t want them to get caught in the clay as it spins on the wheel.
Tip 9) Wear Easy Wash Clothing
My last tip would be to wear clothes that wash well for your pottery class. Delicate or costly fabrics are not a good idea. When I come back from the studio, the first thing I do is peel my clay clothes off and stick them in the washing machine.
Unless you have a walk-in wardrobe with so many outfits it doesn’t matter, I’d recommend not wearing your favorite silk top or designer trousers. Instead, wear something that you can pop in the washing machine without too much thought at the end of the day.
Some potters advise that it’s better not to wash pottery clothes in the washing machine. The worry is that if you get too much clay in your water outlet, it will cause a blockage. I’ve never had an issue with this. I just put my pottery clothes into the washer and it’s fine.
But if your clothes are really covered in clay, it may be best to soak them in a bucket first. Then use that water to give the plants in your backyard a drink!
Tip 10) Take an Old Towel Along with You
Old bathroom towels are very handy when you are making pottery. You can drape them over your legs while throwing on the wheel. This can stop your legs and trousers from getting splattered with clay.
But they are also handy to have to dry your hands on. Often the hand towels in pottery studios used by multiple people are old, tattered, and just a little bit gross. Having your own towel to wipe your hands is a good idea.
Tip 11) Wear a Smile!
If you are new to working with clay it can feel quite intimidating going along to a pottery class. You will be making things in front of other people and it can feel a bit exposing.
Just remember that everyone else is probably feeling similar. Once you have gotten over your initial nerves you’ll find that more than anything else, making pottery can be hugely satisfying and fun. So, maybe one of the most important things you will find yourself wearing at your first pottery class is a smile.
If you are wondering what to wear to your pottery class, think about what you’d wear to decorate a house.
Like painting a house, you will have to stretch, lean and bend whilst making pottery. So, wear something comfy and practical. And just like when you are decorating, it’s likely that you will make a bit of a mess. So, wear something to your pottery class that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty and which will wash easily.