Pottery can be a great tool when working with children, seniors or special needs groups. It is an art that most anyone can easily get the hang of and the calming and disciplined nature of making pottery can be therapeutic to many individuals. If you want to establish pottery programs for your school, church, community or senior center, or any similar group there is a simple list of supplies you will need to get your group fully equipped. After getting the logistics of the program in place you can stock your studio space with minimal investment and effort depending on what type of pottery you intend to focus on. Although not comprehensive, these are a few of the basics that will get you up and running and can accommodate most any budget.
First and foremost you are going to need the clay. Seems simple enough. But there are many varieties available and depending on the group you are working with and the types of projects you will be doing, you want to make sure you have the right clay and plenty of it. If your program intends to be a little more advanced you might chose ceramic clay bodies to stock your clay supply. This would allow your students to create vases, bowls, urns and much more. For a beginning group modeling clays or polymer clays would be more appropriate. These are forgiving and versatile clays that even someone with physical challenges or no clay experience can easily work with and create jewelry, knick knacks, simple pottery and more.
Once you have decided on your clay you will want to make sure you have the tools your students will need to create their works of art. Potter's wheels are not always necessary and can be omitted depending on your budget and what you intend to have your students produce. More basic tools such as rolling pins, molds, and a myriad of kitchen utensils will get the job done for both polymer and modeling clays.
Depending on which clay your selected you may need a kiln. If you are focusing on ceramic clays some sort of kiln, whether a small table top model or a full blown professional one will be necessary. Polymer clays however do not require a kiln. A conventional oven or counter top toaster oven will bake these clays fine. The least expensive option is self-hardening clays which, as the name implies, do not require any equipment to finish the clay as it hardens on its own.
The exact tools you will need to establish a pottery program is dependent on what you wish to accomplish and the types of students. These guidelines should help you set up the basics for any program by focusing your shopping and thereby staying within budget.
For further information on instituting your own pottery programs an excellent resource is http://www.amaco.com - the website of The American Art Clay Company. They not only sell everything you will need including clay bodies in ceramic to self-hardening clays and kilns, they also have page after page of ideas and information to help you at every stage of your program. Bookmark their site and refer to it often and you are sure to have a successful pottery program.