The Studio Potter and Water

For the studio potter, having a convenient water source is almost as important as the clay itself. You can outfit your studio with adequate water with or without plumbing.


If you have plumbing, that's great. You'll just need a good utility sink with a clay trap. A clay trap is a handy little spout that raises your drain about 8-10 inches above the bottom of the sink. This allows the sink to fill about half way up with water.

When you pour muddy water into the sink the heavier clay falls to the bottom while the cleaner water flows off the top. This prevents the clay from going down the drain and clogging your pipes. When your sink starts to fill up with clay you siphon the clear water off the top and scoop out all the thick mud.

No Sink

studio potter and water

If you don't have a ready water source you can do what I do in my studio. I have a 1 gallon bucket for my immediate throwing needs which I fill up in the kitchen.

When the water becomes muddy I pour it into a bigger 5 gallon bucket to settle. Then I refill my 1 gallon bucket again in the kitchen.

After a day or two the 5 gallon bucket will have settled so I pour off the clear liquid and discard the thick clay. I try to rinse most of the clay from my hands and tools in the bucket before washing them thoroughly in the kitchen sink. That's really all there is to it.

Tip: To be honest, I don't wash my tools very often unless I'm switching from one clay to another, like from red to white. I just keep them clean enough that I don't get chunks of dry clay in my pots.

I'd rather spend those extra few minutes throwing pottery. Besides, the tools are gonna get messy the minute you grab them with a clay covered hand.

On the other hand, keeping a clean work surface is very important when wedging clay or finishing pots. This prevents dry chunks of clay from getting into your fresh clay, which can cause you major problems in throwing.

When throwing you just need to fill up about a 1 gallon bucket for immediate use at the wheel. When this water gets muddy you just pour it into the utility sink or your 5 gallon bucket where it will settle out.

If you're ambitious you can refresh the clay from the buckets and reuse it. If not, just discard it and keep throwing. As always, thanks for reading and Happy Potting.

Return From Studio Potter and Water
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