33 Most Fun and Unique Pottery Ideas for Beginners

Last Updated on Jan 10th 2024
pottery ideas

If you’d like to try your hand at the ancient craft of pottery, start with simple pottery ideas to have the best experience. According to CBC News, occupational therapist Donna McLeod says, “touching and smelling the clay and hearing the whir of the pottery wheel engages the senses and can lower cortisol, the stress hormone that can be physically and mentally harmful if at a high level too long.”

Do you want to make decorative homemade dinnerware pottery ideas like plates or mugs, or were you hoping to create something more complex like jewelry? The beauty of making pottery is that when you start with a lump of clay, the only limit to what you can create is your own imagination.  

Pottery is one of the oldest and most enduring forms of art known to man and has been around as long as there was clay and fire. That said, creating pieces you’ll be proud of takes patience and practice.

It’s best to begin with projects that you can successfully complete. Biting off more than you can chew might lead to frustration, so we’ve put together a list of fun and creative pottery ideas to help you out. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get started!

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Pottery Ideas for Beginners

1. Pottery Classes

If you’ve never had the opportunity to try making your own pottery, sign up for a pottery class taught by an experienced potter, like pottery classes in Boston, to get a feel for how the process works.

Learning some basic skills like the pinch pot method at pottery classes in Chicago or starting with simple pottery projects in pottery classes in Houston will give you the confidence to take on more complex projects down the road.

pottery class pottery idea for beginners
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2. Decorative Beads

What’s the easiest thing to make in pottery? The simplest pottery idea of all, and a great way to introduce kids to the hobby, is to just make beads.

Rolling small pieces of clay between two fingers quickly creates a sphere. Press it together slightly on each side to make a disc. Use a toothpick or pottery tool to poke a hole through the middle for stringing. Congratulations! You’ve just made your first piece of jewelry.

3. Necklace Pendant

A flat piece of air-dry clay can be cut into geometric shapes that just need a slit big enough for a necklace chain to fit through. Put your creative energies toward colorful glazes and finding interesting bails with this cute clay idea.

4. Christmas Ornaments

What objects can be made from pottery that don’t require a kiln to fire? Making Christmas ornaments from clay is an easy idea for beginners plus it’s a fun way to cross some things off your Christmas shopping list.

Think of it like making Christmas cookies. Roll out your air-dry clay and use cookie cutters to stamp out fun shapes. To make it an ornament, use a toothpick to put a small hole at the top and thread festive ribbon through for a hanger.

5. Jewelry Dish

Another simple pottery idea for beginners is to make a jewelry dish. Jewelry dishes can hold earrings, necklaces or finger rings. They can be any shape and can be made with air-dry clay, so you don’t even need to worry about firing.

Jewelry dishes are more interesting when they are not perfect, which is why they are a great ceramic project for those just feeling their way around.

heart shaped jewelry dish with blue bracelet
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6. Coasters

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gifted someone a set of pretty store-bought coasters. Yep, us too. That was before we knew how easy it was to make them. When you wrap your homemade pottery coasters up in pretty ribbon, they will become your go-to hostess or teacher gift.

7. Soap Dish

There are two kinds of soap dishes and both are easy ceramic projects for beginners. Make a soap dish worthy of your fanciest bath bar, or make a soap dish for your kitchen sink. There’s something pleasing about having a homemade dish for sponges and dish soap to sit on once the kitchen is tidied up.

8. Pot Holder

If you’re looking for pottery ideas without a wheel involved, here’s a classic. Pot holders are not only functional, but they’ll also be a staple part of the décor on your dinner table. 

9. Incense Burner

Incense burners are a unique pottery idea for beginners and the perfect gift for the bohemian in your life. The concept is easy. You just need a tray as long as your standard incense stick and a small angled hole that will allow the incense stick to balance over it. 

incense holder pottery idea
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Slab Pottery Ideas

Using the slab method is a good starting point once you’ve made a few pinch-pot projects. Rolling slabs of clay out flat like pie dough and then cutting it into geometric shapes is easy, and those shapes become the building blocks for many functional pottery pieces.

10. Dinner Plates

For food plates, you’ll want to use real pottery clay because you’ll need the plates to be water-safe. Pottery clay requires kiln firing, but you’ll be able to find a local place to help with that.

Plates can either be made perfectly round (try tracing the bottom of a cake pan onto parchment paper to use as a template) or you can go free form for something more organic.

11. Turkey Platter

Turkey platters are a special piece of dinnerware that gets pulled out only a few times a year and becomes the centerpiece of a holiday table. This piece of pottery will become a family keepsake that gets handed down for generations.

12. Pasta Bowls

Nothing feels better than piling hot pasta into a homemade pasta bowl and serving it to friends and family. Bowls are another easy pottery idea that starts with a simple slab.

Find a similar-sized bowl to use as a mold to get the initial shape. Once it dries a bit, you can have fun making fluted edges or using a tool to score patterns into the sides before having it fired.

13. Sake Cups and Sushi Plates

Sake cups and sushi plates are unique ceramic projects for beginners to make. Sake cups can be made using the pinch pot technique and sushi plates start with slabs. Both come together in no time at all and are fun to decorate with celadon glazes. 

pouring sake into small cup
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14. Cheese and Charcuterie Plates

Cheese and charcuterie plates are another fun idea for beginners and they make great pottery gifts. Thick squares or long rectangles work for this application. Pair your pottery project with some cheese knives to complete the package.

15. Bread Warming Plate

Serving a warm loaf of artisanal bread rounds out any nice meal. Fashion a piece of clay that will fit your favorite bread serving basket. You can heat it up in a warm oven just before serving and it will keep your bread toasty until the last crumb.

16. Birdhouse

Birdhouses are essentially boxes with a hole in the front (and maybe a perch). Building a birdhouse is not only a simple pottery idea, you’ll feel tremendous satisfaction when you see momma carrying nesting material in. 

17. Coffee Mugs

At first glance, coffee mugs don’t look like an easy pottery idea for beginners. But they are simpler than you’d think. A rectangular slab can be rolled into a cylinder and a circular piece gets attached to form the bottom of a simple mug. Now you can get funky with handle shapes!

pink and white coffee mugs with gold flakes
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Hand-Building Pottery Ideas

Hand-building pottery takes a little more time and patience because, as the name suggests, you’re going to make the building blocks first and then put everything together to make the final product. You’ll also need to invest in a few simple tools for hand-built pottery ideas.

Coiling is one method used for hand-building pottery like vases, bowls and planters. With coiling, you roll chunks of clay into long, straight cylindrical pieces. Then you can bend the pieces into circles and stack one on top of another to build the walls of your final project.

18. Keepsake Jar

If you’re asking yourself, “what should I make for pottery gifts?” Here's an idea. Keepsake jars are good small pottery ideas to start with when you’re ready to try the coiling method. Gift keepsake jars for family heirloom jewelry or for keeping a baby’s first teeth. 

19. Kitchen Tool Holder

You know that drawer in your kitchen that is overcrowded with spoons, whisks and ladles? Why not make a decorative kitchen tool holder that will keep your most frequently used tools out on the counter? Another useful kitchen pottery piece is a simple paper towel holder.  

20. Pen and Pencil Holder

Every home office can use a few staple desk organization pieces. Crafting a pen and pencil holder is a quick and easy pottery making idea that you’ll get to enjoy every day.

21. Candy Jar

Making a candy jar is a good pottery creation for the kids. Not only do they learn hand-eye coordination skills, but they also get to empty the jar when it’s done.

candy jar pottery idea
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22. Wine Bottle Chiller

Slow drinkers rejoice! A wine bottle chiller that fits some ice and a standard bottle is an easy idea that’s worth toasting to, and makes the perfect gift for wine lovers.

Wheel-Thrown Pottery Ideas

To get those really symmetrical bowls and vases, or to create bigger pieces, you’ll want to try your hand at a pottery wheel. Wheel throwing involves placing soft, wet clay on a platter similar to a lazy Susan and then using a foot pedal to make it spin.

The spinning effect allows the potter to pinch and lift the clay, and to shape it in ways that create a more even result throughout your project. It takes some practice, but the beauty of clay is that, if you mess up, you can just start over again. 

23. Cake Platter

This is a great idea to try when you’re ready to try wheel throwing. You’ll be able to create intricate and interesting shapes for the base with ease, and you’ll end up with something worth baking a cake for.

24. Garlic Jar

The best way to keep garlic fresh is to store it in a clay jar out of the heat and sunlight in your kitchen. Some garlic jars have vent holes for air circulation, which is more important in humid climates. Try wheel-throwing something that resembles the shape of a head of garlic itself!

25. Mortar and Pestle

On the list of great gifts for the cook in your life is a clay mortar and pestle. Used for grinding herbs and making homemade pestos, a mortar and pestle is a simple creation that can be done on the wheel to get the proper depth and shape.

herbs surrounding white mortar and pestle
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26. Home Décor

Who says you have to know what you’re making before you get started? Sometimes the best pottery idea takes shape on its own. Experiment with wheel throwing to see what kinds of shapes you can create. The result will be a unique piece of home décor that is perfect for that one spot you can never seem to fill.

Painted Pottery Ideas

27. Pie Dish

Every good cook has a favorite pie plate, and it’s usually made of stoneware or clay. If you’re still using aluminum or glass pie dishes, this is a pottery idea that makes sense for you. Painting it with vibrant colors and patterns also makes it a pretty display piece for a hutch.

28. Salt Bowl

We can thank Food Network for teaching us the value of having that little dish of kosher salt by the stove for easy seasoning while cooking. The cuter the better, so don’t be shy when you hit the glaze aisle at the craft store.

29. Candle Holders

Glazing pottery is as much fun as making it, and a good pottery idea that lets you play with paint is to make candle holders. Look for glazes that will fire with a metallic sheen or a marbled finish to make things more fun.

candle holder pottery idea
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Plant Pottery Ideas

30. Flower Vase

Vases are a classic pottery idea. They can be made using either the slab technique for an angular vase or the coiling method for something more cylindrical. Either way, they are a thoughtful piece of home décor you’ll use over and over.

31. Sundial

What are the trends in pottery today? To produce pieces that evoke a sense of peace and wellness. For an on-trend pottery idea, make a sundial. Every sunny garden needs one. This simple pottery idea starts with a circular template. The hardest part is positioning the dial itself. 

32. Planter

Pottery ideas for the garden are some of the best projects. Slab pottery can be used to make rectangular planter boxes, and coiling can be used for round pots. Don’t forget to cut some small drainage holes in the bottom. You can even make pot bases to match.

33. Bud Vase

If taking on a large planter seems daunting, use the pinch pot technique to make a simple bud vase that you can sit on a windowsill to hold a single fresh-cut flower.

set of colorful bud vases with small flowers
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Working with your hands to form something functional or beautiful from a simple lump of clay delivers a real sense of accomplishment. It’s a great hobby to do alone or with a group.

This list of pottery ideas will help you establish some basic skills for your new craft and also help you to get your creative juices flowing for more challenging pottery idea projects. 

For even more fun pottery ideas, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!