National Clay Week is celebrated from June 13 to 19 every year in the U.S. During this week, the pottery and ceramics communities celebrate the multipurpose use of clay. People attend lectures, watch demos, talk to vendors, and sign up for pottery classes. The annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (N.C.E.C.A.) conference is also held this week. National Clay Week also raises awareness of educational and professional opportunities related to pottery and ceramics. The week also celebrates the beautiful artifacts made with clay — objects that have monetary, cultural, and artistic value. There’s also a focus on how material possessions are important to us and the values they convey.
History of National Clay Week
National Clay Week has been observed every year since 1950 but the art of pottery is much older than that. Pottery might be the oldest human invention — it’s been around since before the Neolithic period. But why did humans choose clay to make all pottery? That is because clay has two important properties that make it an ideal material — clay can be molded into any shape we desire and, when it is baked, it becomes virtually indestructible and cannot be destroyed by any organic substances. Pots made of clay were used by early humans to store water and grains.
The first earthenware pottery was made more than 9,000 years ago and is in use even today. The color of the artifact depends on the type of clay used but they are often decorated by adding embellishments, embossments, or adding layers of paints. Earthenware pottery has also become a medium of art — artists have painted on them for centuries and they have become important relics of art, history, and culture.
Another form of creation made from clay is ceramics. Some ceramics are made with kaolin or white china clay. As compared to earthenware pottery, ceramics is a fairly new invention. In medieval times, ceramics from China made their way to Europe. They became prized possessions and were displayed at the house of the very rich for their intricate designs. Another form of ceramics, bone china, is easier to manufacture. It is strong, does not chip easily, and is very popular as dinnerware material in Europe.
National Clay Week timeline
Fine white stoneware is made in China.
Porcelain is invented in China.
Tea imported from China to Europe is accompanied by a teapot made of stone.
Pottery factories with automatic dryers and conveyor belts manufacture pottery in masses.
National Clay Week FAQs
What is clay made from?
Clay comes from the ground, usually in areas where streams or rivers once flowed. It is made from minerals, plant life, and animals.
What are the four types of clay?
The four types of clays are earthenware, porcelain, stoneware, and ball clay.
What is potter's clay?
A plastic clay suitable for making pottery, also known as potter’s earth, is called potter’s clay.
National Clay Week Activities
Celebrate National Clay Week by buying and gifting your loved ones pottery. Pottery is wonderful to look at and you can use them to decorate your homes. They make for useful containers too!
Sign up for pottery class
Have you always been curious about the art of pottery? National Clay Week is your chance to finally turn your dreams into reality. Sign up for pottery classes and try your hand at this art form.
Learn more about local pottery
Most places around the world have their forms and styles of pottery. Celebrate National Clay Week by learning about the pottery from your region. Find out about the type of clay and colors used.
5 Interesting Facts About Clay
Clay was the first writing medium
Clay tablets were inscribed using a blunt stylus.
Used in many industrial processes
Clay is used in many industrial processes, such as paper making, cement production, and chemical filtering.
Clay has medical uses too
Iron-rich clay was used to kill bacteria and prevent infection.
It is useless for plants
Clay is not the best type of soil for plants to grow in.
They are used as sealants
Since clay isn’t porous, clay is used as a sealant in dams.
Why We Love National Clay Week
Humankind’s oldest invention
Pottery is humankind’s oldest invention. Can you imagine the innumerable inventions there have been since then and the roles they have played in our advancement? National Clay Week pays homage to the first invention that set the ball rolling.
It’s a form of art
Pottery is a form of art. Both the creation of the artifact and its decoration has been regarded as forms of high art. National Clay Week celebrates this wonderful and ancient artistic expression.
We reconnect with our roots
When we work with clay, we are reconnecting with our roots, lands, and ancient culture. Since pottery exists in every culture, it is also a wonderful way to get to know your culture more intimately.
National Clay Week dates