The official definition of pottery reads as all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products. In simpler terms, pottery is any ceramic material that makes up potterywares, the three major types being earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. Wares the produced result of pottery making and can be constructed from coils of clay, combining flat slabs of clay, pinching solid balls of clay or some combination of these techniques. Pottery is almost as old as human history itself. It is a long standing practice that has changed little over the course of many centuries. Because pottery is so durable remnants and artifacts of potterywares are often the leading evidence into the lives of ancient civilizations.
Early pottery production was revolutionized when the potters wheel was invented in Mesopotamia sometime between 6000 and 4000 B.C.E. Potters wheels allowed clay to be rotated as it is sculpted, negating the need for hand building that resulted in slower production and inferior quality wares. It is only after firing in a kiln that clay materials become pottery. The earliest forms of pottery were made from clay fired at low temperatures in pit fires or open bonfires. Structures that acted as giant ovens were soon built to hold more clay materials and allow for better control of firing. Many of the pottery tools and supplies and techniques first developed in these ancient times are still employed in pottery making today.
The biggest difference between pottery in ancient times and today is the ease of getting pottery tools and supplies. While the material is still sculpted, glazed and fired almost exactly like it was thousands of years ago, we now have the benefit of the internet to make life easier. Pottery tools and supplies, such as wheels, kilns and ceramic supplies, are frequently purchased online by potters. Many companies that specialize in pottery sell their products across the country through online ordering and shipping. It is likely there are not a large number of potters in any given region, meaning a physical pottery tools and ceramic supply store may not have the customers to remain in business. By making supplies available to all customers across the country, both the pottery making and supplying industries can continue to operate and maintain the age old tradition of pottery.