Let’s be clear, this is not a guide to the “ideal pottery studio”. This is, however, a guide to the very basics. The down and dirty, bare bones basics that will get your hands covered in mud and making.
Carve Out a Space
First, you need space. You really can’t skip this part. However, you need less space than you might think.
The minimum space needed would include:
- Just enough room to move around safely
- A work-space for hand building and/or room for a wheel
- A small shelving unit for tools and drying wares
- A place for a kiln
Typically, a kiln needs a 12-18″ clearance between it and any nearby flammable objects, like walls, which is important to keep in mind when choosing a space. And, you need to make sure the area is well ventilated so that any toxic fumes can make their way outside.
Keeping dust to minimum will save your lungs, and this means wet mopping often. The ease in which you can clean and maintain the space should be a factor to consider.
Get a Kiln
You can make all the pots you want, but at some point, you will need a kiln to fire your work. But, it doesn’t have to be fancy.
Check your local classified ads – Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are great places to start. Check out my guide to Buying a Used Kiln!
PRO TIP: Watch out for ceramic molds. Many times, used kilns will come with a caveat that you must take EVERYTHING. Beware! Unless you have a passion for slip-casting, steer clear! They take up space, are excellent spider nests, and are heavy AF.
Okay, so you have your old janky kiln…now what?
Well, you need to be able to power that baby. On the side of every kiln there is a metal plate that states the requirements it needs. This is important. You need to have the proper amperage and outlet in order to have it function properly. This is a place you can’t skimp . Hire an electrician to make sure your kiln is installed properly.
Shelving & Storage Space
Next, you need a place to put things. Like everything else on a budget, this doesn’t have to be pretty. You can go to your local discount box store and get a plastic shelving unit for $15 bucks. It will work, for now. You need enough space to put anything you are drying, plus, enough room to store things like:
- A Few Kiln Shelves and Kiln Posts
- Bags of Clay (A large storage tote works great!)
- A Water bucket (Reuse a laundry soap container by cutting off the top!)
- Basic Clay Tool Kit (Most include: a sponge, a needle tool, wood potter’s rib, a loop tool, a ribbon tool, a wood modeling tool, a wire clay cutter and a steel scraper.)
- Bottles of Commercially Made Glaze
- Wax (for waxing your bottoms)
- Brushes (for applying glaze and wax)
- A Towel
A Wheel (optional)
To be honest, if you are just starting out, this is not essential for a pottery studio! (Or, if throwing just isn’t your thing!)
Again, head over to the classifieds – if there isn’t anything now, keep looking, they come up often and for dirt cheap!
THAT IS IT.
Certainly, there are better ways to do this. Again, this is not the ideal setup. This is the bare bones, making due with what you have, solution to a pottery studio at home. From here, you can slowly upgrade and expand your little makeshift pottery studio into a sanctuary.