Primitive Pottery Supply List

Primitive Pottery Supply List

Getting started in pottery can be expensive and daunting. Even primitive pottery, which does not require expensive equipment like pottery wheels or electric kilns, can be challenging for a newcomer. Where, for example, can a person buy a puki? Or what can I use for black paint?

This page offers a quick, easy list of primitive pottery supplies, both authentic and modern alternatives. To begin go to the section you are interested in using the menu below, then scroll to the specific pottery supply you are interested in to see options for acquiring natural or manufactured options.

Sections (click to jump to that section)

Materials

clay and temper

Clay

Wild Clay

Store Bought Clay

  • Any “low fire” commercial clay can work. However if you will be firing outdoors, without a kiln then you will probably want to add some extra temper to your clay. I recommend about 20% temper to withstand the thermal shock of an open fire. Raku clays are usually well tempered to withstand thermal shock.

Temper

  • Sand is often readily available from nature even within cities and makes a decent temper.
  • Diatomaceous earth makes a good temper and can be purchased at most hardware stores and can be ordered online at Amazon
  • Commercial grog materials are also available online, here is one source.

Slips

  • Low fire commercial clays can be used as slips.
  • Clays that are too course can be purified using the levigation process.

Paint

Red

Black

White

  • Naturally derived white paint is most often white clay.
  • White commercial clay can work if it is relatively low fire
  • White underglaze is also available and can be ordered from Amazon here

Mineral paints will need to be mixed with a little bit of clay so that it will harden in the fire properly.

Tools

Ribs

Puki

Polishing Stones

  • I sell polishing stones that I have hand selected to be of the correct size and shape for pottery making.
  • Various polished stones are available online but it is often hard to know if the shape or size is appropriate for polishing pottery until it arrives in the mail. Here is a link to a nice smooth stone on Amazon.
  • You can really use almost anything that is smooth, the back of a spoon and engine push rods are two common options.

I've been making primitive pottery since I was a teenager in the 80's. My work focuses on reproducing the polychrome pottery styles made in the American Southwest during thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. I have taught workshops and lectured at venues all over the Southwest. When I was learning to make pottery it was very hard to find the information I needed, so I created this website to make the technology of southwest pottery readily available to all.

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