Pottery Studios
On Any Budget, in Any Space

Space for pottery studios can be anywhere, whether you have a two car garage, an unfinished basement room, or a spare corner in your bedroom. Whether you're in NYC, NJ, Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Jacksonville, or Utah, you can find or create a studio space.

The only equipment you really need to make your own pottery on the wheel is a wheel, a chair, and a kiln (we'll talk more about kilns later). As far as where to put them, that just takes a little creativity... and creativity is what pottery is all about!

Small Apartments

Let's say you're living in a rented studio apartment with no garage. In this case the kitchen is going to be your best bet for a studio. You already have washable floors and a convenient water source.

If the kitchen is small, save space by storing the wheel under the kitchen table covered with a table cloth. When you're ready to throw pots slide the table to the side and you have a great work surface for tools, clay and finished pots.

You can even buy a portable wheel such as the Alex Deluxe Shimpo Pottery Wheel.

Unfinished Rooms

Unfinished rooms, like basements, are ideal. Concrete floors are great because they're easy to clean and hard to ruin. Carpet and curtains should be avoided. I've pulled up several carpets to reveal easy-to-clean wood floors. If all you have is carpeted floors then just use a thick tarp and be careful to keep you space clean.

The Outdoor Studio

Pottery studios can be located outside on a patio, or in a garage, shed, or carport. In good weather throwing outside can be very enjoyable. It connects you to the air and the earth, which, after all, is the source of your clay.

Outdoor pottery can, however, be limiting if you live in a colder climate like I do. It's great during the right seasons, though. Heaters and warm clothes go a long way during the cooler seasons. Plus, the physical activity of working with clay creates quite a bit of body heat.

I used to have a studio in my garage in Idaho. It was cold out there, so I would turn on a space heater about 20 minutes before I went out. I stored my clay inside so it wouldn't freeze. I brought outside only as much as I could throw in one sitting. I also kept a thermos of hot water to periodically add to the throwing water to keep my hand nice and warm. It worked well.

Studio Alternatives

If you're absolutely stumped to find a space that will work try looking outside your own space. Look for a school with a craft shop, space for rent, or better still a friend who will share their extra space.

I set up my very first studio in a friend's wood shop. He salvaged an old kiln and together we built a pottery kick wheel out of scrap wood using plans he found on the internet. In exchange for using the space I taught his kids how to make pottery. Little did I know, they would be my first of many students.

There was constant traffic through that shop. The kids were always in there telling me about there day, about this cute boy, or how cool someone's bike was. My friend was a hunter, and he provided distractions of his own. I was surprised several times when I turned on the studio light to find an antelope or elk hanging right above my work space.

On many visits to the studio I didn't make one pot. It was frustrating at times. But, in many ways it was more fun and fulfilling than working diligently in a quiet studio. Besides, I learned different things from each of them. My friend, the dad, taught me a lot of great woodworking tips that translate well to pottery.

The point I'm getting at is, be flexible, be creative, and work with what you have. If you don't have it, find someone who does. Ceramic culture is as much about people, community, and sharing as it is about the pots. Look for ways to borrow from, share with, and contribute to that culture, and you'll find that you always have the perfect pottery studio.

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