Keeping a Ceramic Journal

Create a rich history of your pottery work by keeping a ceramic journal. It will also provide a reference tool to help you duplicate past experiments.

The primary purpose of a journal is to document the many hard-to-remember details in the complex process of firing pottery glazes. In addition, making notes about your personal responses to the whole process creates a story about your journey as a potter.


Here is a list of details worth documenting:

1) Kiln Settings: including firing speed, time, and soaking time
2) Changes to normal firing program
3) Contents and fullness of your ceramic kiln
4) Detailed description of glaze types used
5) Methods of application of pottery glazes to specific pots
6) Types of pottery clay used

You will find other factors to document as to progress, depending on your own needs.


The next thing to document is your firing results. Describe in detail how the firing progressed and how your pots turned out.

Was there anything unusual about the firing? Did it over fire? How do the pots look? Describe the glazes. Are they what you expected? Are they thin, thick or drippy? Do they have any defects such as cracking or air bubbles? Are the results consistent throughout the kiln?

The answers to these questions will help you determine what you need to change or how you will replicate good results in your next firing.

Personal Response

You can enrich your ceramic journal by commenting on your personal response to the experience. You don't have to be a professional writer to leave a powerful memory, which you will appreciate when you reflect on it later.

One easy way to leave a quick impression without having to write a novel, is to jot down short thought phrases, rather than full sentences. Here are two examples:

"First ever teapot, ruined with ugly yellow glaze, want to smash it in the garbage, but can't, neighbor liked it though, rained all day, found four leaf clover stuck to muddy shoe, Hmmm."

"Discovered Castille Blue glaze; it's perfection in Blue. Want to cover everything in it. Hiking at Kelly Canyon, dry creek, yellow leaves, speckled river rocks, beautiful blue sky."

Don't think too much about it. Just write what comes to mind. Keep it short and to the point. You'll appreciate it when you look back on it months or years later. Best of luck with glazing and documenting. Happy Journal Writing and Happy Potting.

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