Production potters process and form clay, by hand or by using the wheel, into end-products pottery, stoneware products, earthenware products and porcelain. They introduce the already shaped clay into kilns, heating them at a high temperature in order to remove all the water from the clay.
The following job titles also refer to production potter:
abrasive wheel moulder
pottery and porcelain modeller
Production potters often work indoor, in spaces not heated or air conditioned. They rarely work outdoors, although some kilns or studios may be in the open air. They are often exposed to contaminants from glazes or clay.
Production potters may travel to other cities or states to show their wares at art festivals or craft shows. They may work part time or full time. Potters who work in factories usually work full time.
No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a production potter.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Production potter is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Production potter career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to production potter.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of production potter. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of production potter with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of production potter.
- Materials in porcelain manufacturing: Characteristics and properties of the different raw materials such as china clay, ball clay, alumina, flint and feldspar used for the production of household ware and decorative items.
- Materials used in stoneware manufacturing: Characteristics and properties of the different materials used in the production of the vitreous ceramic made of stoneware clay, or in some cases of non-refractory fire-clay.
- Quality standards: The national and international requirements, specifications and guidelines to ensure that products, services and processes are of good quality and fit for purpose.
- Ceramics glazes: The characteristics, compounds and application of different glaze type such as raw or frit glazes.
- Types of pottery material: Types of clays and mud and their appearance, properties, reaction to fire, etc.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of production potter.
- Manage different pottery materials: Manage different recipes of clay and mud according to the genre (such as china) or the expected strength, look, colour, tradition or innovation in the creative process.
- Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
- Ensure equipment availability: Ensure that the necessary equipment is provided, ready and available for use before start of procedures.
- Paint decorative designs: Apply designs in paint, using paint sprayers, paintbrushes or spray cans.
- Apply glaze coating: Dip the products into a specific glaze coating that will make them waterproof and fix the decorative patterns and colours after the firing process.
- Polish clay products: Use abrasives to smoothen the surface of clay products such as sculptures, dolls and models working with sanding papers, manual or power tools.
- Operate a ceramics kiln: Manage the temperature of a kiln to achieve the expected results according to the type of clay such as biscuit stoneware or porcelain. Manage sintering and enamels colours.
- Prepare balls of clay: Prepare the balls of clay so that they are according to specifications of each end-product and position the balls in the center of the wheel.
- Manage different ceramic firing techniques: Manage different ceramic firing or baking techniques according to selected clay, the expect strength of the object, and enamel colours.
- Shape clay: Shape clay by pressing thumbs into the center of revolving clay while revolving wheels in order to obtain as end-products ware such as vases and pitchers.
- Use abrasive wheel: Use the specific abrasive wheel or the step in the finishing process according to the type of stone or workpiece.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of production potter. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Alumina ceramic: Aluminium oxide, also called alumina, is a ceramic material made of oxygen and aluminium which has many properties suitable for insulation purposes such as hardness, low electrical conductivity and insolubility in water.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of production potter. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
- Assess conservation needs: Assess and list the needs for conservation/restoration, in relation to current use and planned future use.
- Record production data for quality control: Keep records of the machine’s faults, interventions and irregularities for quality control.
- Manage delivery of raw materials: Manage reception of raw materials. Receive raw materials from the suppliers. Check for quality and accuracy and move into the warehouse. Make sure that raw materials are adequately stored until they are required by the production department.
- Monitor stock level: Evaluate how much stock is used and determine what should be ordered.
- Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
- Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
- Study craft trends: Research and study trends in crafting, in order to keep up with current designs and marketing strategies.
- Consult technical resources: Read and interpret such technical resources such as digital or paper drawings and adjustment data in order to properly set up a machine or working tool, or to assemble mechanical equipment.
- Form moulding mixture: Form the moulding mixture adding specified amounts of materials, such as sand, clay, silica mud or plastic pellets, according to a fixed recipe, set up the controller of the melting tanks and monitor the melting process.
- Report defective manufacturing materials: Maintain required company records and forms in order to report any defective materials or questionable conditions of manufacturing machinery and equipment.
- Design objects to be crafted: Sketch, draw or design sketches and drawings from memory, live models, manufactured products or reference materials in the process of crafting and sculpting.
- Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
- Pack fragile items for transportation: Pack fragile items such as glass panes or glass objects using the appropriate boxes and cushioning materials such as air-encapsulated plastic or customised foam enclosures to make sure the content will not move during transportation.
- Prepare production prototypes: Prepare early models or prototypes in order to test concepts and replicability possibilities. Create prototypes to assess for pre-production tests.
ISCO group and title
7314 – Potters and related workers
- Production potter – ESCO
- Potters – Working Conditions – Illinois WorkNet
- Featured image: Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash