The journey to completion is longer than you think.
It begins with an idea (brainstorm); next you plan (artists say design); you might sketch instead of talk, give form to your ideas; next you make (you have to choose the best method for you.); you may have to revise (despite best laid plans you can’t always predict the turn of things, especially if you are a novice; next you have to complete the surface decoration (it can be done while unfired or after bisque.), and finally, the last firing.
Successful work integrates the proper surface decoration
and firing with the idea and form of the project.
You have many decisions to make regarding how to finish your work. After making your work, you have to complete the surface design. You should choose the most appropriate finish that complements your intentions. Difficult if you don't have a clue what you want to do. The most successful work is planned backwards, how do I want to glaze fire it, what glaze do I want to use (what effect, how will this complement the work?).
Surface treatment is part of the form. Form follows function. If the work is utilitarian, you don't want a scratchy surface, that is hard to clean. If your work is sculptural, then you want a surface that will complement the mood of the work. All of this should be integrated as seamlessly as possible. Beginners struggle with this and should focus on mastering the basic techniques.
Here are some basic surface decoration techniques: slip (stain, oxide), carve, stamp, sgraffito, mishima (inlaid), wax resist, glaze, bas-relief, appliqué, sponge, spray.