As one of the most flexible and versatile natural materials, clay is ideal for making pots, bowls and jewelry to display in your home or give as gifts to your loved ones. 

Historians estimate humans have been making objects from different types of clay since around 14,000 BCE, using the natural elements around them to create tools and everyday objects. But even if you’ve never attempted this kind of craft before, you’ll find plenty of easy things to make with clay to impress your friends and help develop your sculpting skills.

Stoneware Clay

If you’re looking to make something sturdy, you can’t go wrong with stoneware clay. This is one of the densest materials you can find and, when fired in a kiln at high temperatures, it becomes non-porous. This means it’s resistant to liquids, making stoneware an excellent choice for cookware or serving dishes.

Coffee Cups or Mugs

A blue mug made from stoneware clay.
Mugs are simple projects for beginners looking for things to make with clay. Still from Skillshare class Make a Clay Mug: Handbuilding Pottery for Beginners by Mia Mueller.

Once you’re comfortable making a round or cylinder shape, try making a clay mug for your next stoneware clay project. Your mug can be any shape you like, but the key part is making sure your handle isn’t too thin. You don’t want it breaking off as soon as you pick up the finished piece!

Porcelain Clay

A white porcelain clay mug painted with a black line art tree and multicolored dots for leaves.
Porcelain clay dries white, which leaves you room to paint unique designs. Still from Skillshare class Simple DIY: Paint on a porcelain cup by Merilis Rinne.

Much like stoneware, porcelain clay is also non-porous after it sets. The glossy white finish and durable nature of the material makes it the perfect choice for finer dishes or drinkware.


A simple cylindrical vase is a perfect porcelain clay project for a beginner crafter. Once your vase is dry, you can paint intricate designs onto the white porcelain for a truly unique finish.


Since porcelain is so durable, heavily-used objects like plates are typically made from this type of material. Keep your finished product elegant and neutral with the clay’s natural white appearance, or paint your plate before adding the finishing glaze.

Work With Natural Clay

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Earthenware Clay

Throughout the history of ceramics, earthenware clay has traditionally been used to make bricks and homeware pieces. As it can be baked at a relatively low heat, first-time clay users can often finish projects in their own home ovens, rather than using a specialized kiln.

Plant Pots

Terracotta pots are a staple of gardens all over the world and are made from earthenware clay. Like other types of clay, you can use a potter’s wheel to start your basic round shape, or use your hands to carefully mold the pot into a cylinder or bowl shape.

Ceramic Dishes

Two earthenware triangle dishes on a table, while a third is being made in a ceramic mold.
Earthenware clay has a distinctive color, making it eye-catching for dinnerware or pottery. Still from Skillshare class Ceramics at Home: Building Dishes by Hand by Emily Reinhardt.

Earthenware dishes can look beautiful on a dinner table, drawing attention with their bold red-orange color. If you’re trying to make a more distinctive shape than a round dish, learning how to use a ceramic mold can save you time and let you make multiple dishes of the same shape and size.

Air Dry Clay

For a beginner crafter, especially if you’re working on projects with children, air dry clay is one of the easiest materials to get started with. You won’t need a kiln or oven to finish your project and you’ll find hundreds of objects you can make using this lightweight, self-hardening clay.

Caterpillar Sculptures

Seven clay caterpillars on a wooden table, painted in a variety of bright colors.
Small clay caterpillars are a fun project that takes no time at all using air dry clay. Still from Skillshare class Air-Dry Clay Basics: How to Sculpt Colorful Caterpillars by Stephanie Kilgast.

There’s not much cuter than a miniature bird, plant or insect made by your own two hands. Clay caterpillars, thanks to their cylindrical shape, are one of the easiest things to make with air dry clay.

Once the initial tube shape is made, you can use everyday tools like a butter knife to score lines into the clay before it dries, giving your caterpillars a distinctive appearance. Then once the clay is dry, paint your creatures in any fun colors you’d like!

Silver Clay Jewelry

A silver pendant made from clay, laying in a wooden jewelry box on a table with notes and daffodils.
Silver clay can be air dried and used to make delicate pieces of jewelry. Still from Skillshare class Making a Textured Silver Pendant using Silver Clay by Theodora G.

A specific type of air dry clay, silver clay can be used to make jewelry pieces that don’t need an oven for finishing. Silver clay is made of a blend of silver and clay pieces, and is flexible like potter’s clay. The soft finish makes it easy for delicate designs to be pressed into the material as you sculpt a clay pendant, ring or bracelet.

Polymer Clay

For any hobbyist, sculpting with polymer clay, also referred to as modeling clay, allows you pliability to craft any type of sculpture you’d like.

Sculpted Earrings

Off-white round clay earrings, with small flecks of pink and blue within the clay itself.
Polymer clay is simple to work with for crafting distinctive statement earrings. Still from Skillshare class Easy Clay Earrings: Learn 3 Styles using Oven-Bake Clay by Kiley Bennett.

Clay earrings have seen a resurgence in popularity, giving home based crafters an affordable and fun way to make their own jewelry. Polymer clay earrings can be made with oven-baked clay and stay soft until you want to bake them. Adding fun designs and colors is easy when you’re making clay earrings, whether you’re using different colored polymer or painting directly onto the dried material itself.

Figurines and Sculptures

A chocolate chip cookie sculpted from clay and finished with acrylic paint.
Small figurines like plants or food are simple to make using polymer clay. Still from Skillshare class Polymer Clay Cookie Jar Sculpting by Stephanie Kilgast.

Besides jewelry, making clay figurines and sculptures are other beginner-friendly things you can do with this type of material. Using glass jars with metal lids, you can make cookie clay sculptures to replace your jar lids and liven up your pantry in only a couple of hours.

Upcycled Pots

A white vase on a table with a black and cream vase, with white clay semi-circle handles being glued onto it.
Use polymer clay to reinvent the look and feel of your existing homeware pieces. Still from Skillshare class The Art of Faux Ceramics: Effortlessly Transform Pots & Vases by Bronwyn Tarboton.

You don’t need to start every clay project from scratch. If you already have a vase or pot that you want to upcycle into a new design, it’s very easy to add clay designs to your existing object to create something entirely different. Sculpt handles or three-dimensional designs from your clay, before adding these to your vase or pot with a little glue.

Flex Your Creative Muscles With Simple Clay Crafts

Whatever your creative vision is, you can explore plenty of crafty ideas for what you can make with different types of clay. As you become more confident, experiment with new designs, alternative materials and more complex skills needed to finish your projects. 

And if one doesn’t work out exactly as you hoped, stick it up on the shelf anyway as a reminder of what you can make with only some clay and your own hands. Happy sculpting!

Learn Cool Things to Make With Clay

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Written by:

Holly Landis