Agateware is pottery decorated with a combination of contrasting colored clays.

The name agateware is derived from the agate stone, which when sliced shows multicolored layers. This pottery technique allows for both precise and thoughtout patterns, and free random effects.


In order to avoid cracking and breaking which come along with mixing a variety of different kinds of clay, potters generally use one white or very light clay as a base. They then add colors in the form of stains or oxides. Colorant is added to the clay when it is in powder form in order to avoid blistering. 1-10% of colorant is generally applied, however it is up to the individual taste of the potter. The drying process is the most crucial part of this technique.


One way materials: this process requires the use of two or more differently colored clays. Body stains can be used to obtain almost any color desired.

  1. combine two or more different colored clays by kneading and wedging.
  2. slice through to determine the amount of blending desired (generally agate patterning consists of a smaller amount of the stronger color).
  3. throwing/shape forming (you will not be able to see the agate effect)
  4. leather-hard stage (you will start to clearly see the agate effect at this point)

Further reading

  • Cosentino, Peter. The Encyclopedia Of Pottery Techniques. Philadelphia: Running P, 1990. 11-13.

External links

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