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Clay Production Stages


When making pottery and clay sculptures the clay takes on different stages and goes through different processes. During each of the different stages the clay takes on different characteristics. In some of the early stages the clay is very likely to break if not handled with care. The first stage is usually called “Greenware”. This refers to the stage of clay where the clay is un-fired. The artwork has moisture content and is in a plastic like form that can be molded and formed. The clay is malleable.


This refers to the stage where the clay is dried. Depending on the humidity the length of drying time can vary greatly. The clay sculpture has dried partially but is not fully dried. The sculpture is firm and some work can still be done on the sculpture like attaching handles.


In this stage clay art work is in a state where it’s almost 100% dry. There is still a little moisture content in the clay but not very much. It’s now ready to be fired in the kiln.


The clay has now been fired for the first time. It’s been put into the kiln and has gone through what is called “bisque fired”. This changes the clay sculpture by making it hard and taking out all the remaining moisture content. The color of the clay changes.

Glaze Stage

A glaze or paint maybe applied to the sculpture and the artwork is decorated in many ways. The artwork is not hard and in a stage that is durable. The artist can no longer form the clay and it is in its permanent state with decorations applied and ready for a 2nd fire.

Glaze Fired

This is the final stage. The glaze material has melted and adhered to the clay artwork. Chemical changes occurs in the artwork making it harder. The artwork is now ready to hang on the wall.


Most all art goes through the stages mentioned above. During each of the stages different techniques are applied to mold, form and decorate the artwork. Considerable skill and experience is required to create sculptures that has a high artistic merit.