“All pottery is a kind of ceramics, but not all ceramics are a kind of pottery” is a very good way to sum up the difference between the two. According to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), pottery is “all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical structural, and refractory products”. However, while their technical definition draws such a fine line between the two, many pottery tools, techniques, and equipment are also used in the construction of ceramic wares and vice versa. The pottery and ceramics supplies necessary to make these beautiful and useful pieces of artwork range from ceramic and pottery glazes to various kinds of clay to pottery wheels to kilns of varying sizes. In some cases, clay is not the only material used in the manufacture of these items, as additives can be mixed with the clay to produce a certain texture or color upon firing. Pottery and ceramics are normally fired at temperatures between 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. Talk about hot!
Two of the most essential pottery tools are the potters’ wheel and the kiln. While the potters’ wheel was invented in Mesopotamia between 6,000 and 4,000 BCE and the kiln in the same period of time, both apparatuses have come very far from their humble beginnings. Kilns can now be powered by any number of energy sources, including wood, coal, peat, electricity, and more, while pottery wheels can be purchased in a number of different sizes for children and adults or for anyone from beginners to experts. Pottery tools also include detailing tools and other special items for creating engraved designs, flattening and working the clay, and a number of other processes that people who make pottery and ceramics must do.