How to Start a Home Pottery Studio
Guest Post from Kristen Weeden of The Dirt Journal and Garden of Weeden Ceramics.
If you’ve been bitten by the pottery bug, you’ve probably dreamed of having a gorgeous studio where you can create in the comfort of your own home. However, if you want to start a home pottery studio, there are a few essentials to keep in mind before you get started.
- Safety Equipment
- Air Filtration in Your Home Studio
- Respirator Mask for Mixing Glazes
- Home Pottery Wheel
- Kiln and Ventilation
- Tool Storage
- Wedging Table
- Drying Cabinet
- Glaze Buckets
- Clay Recycling System
- Cleaning Supplies
Air Filtration in Your Home Pottery Studio
Air Filtration is on the top of the list because this is an aspect that impacts your safety and wellbeing in your pottery studio. If you are using a room in your home for your pottery studio, it is imperative to ensure your studio has adequate air filtration so toxic dust does not make its way into other rooms of your house. Also consider this if you have a garage or shed studio without any air filtration as dust can settle in these spaces, making it an unsafe work environment.
Aim to choose a space in your home with windows, if possible, to create some natural airflow through your space. Otherwise, there are several options for air filtration. You can purchase a portable air purifier, an industrial air filtration unit or use your existing air filtration system in your home. The main thing is you want to ensure the filters you are using are Hepa filters. These filters are the most efficient for collecting tiny particulates.
Respirator Mask for Mixing Glazes
It’s important to have a respirator mask in your home studio when you are mixing glazes or dealing with any kind of dry materials. Even if you are using a commercial pre-mix, it’s important to protect your lungs from any dust being kicked up in the air in your home studio.
Home Pottery Wheel
If you are a potter who loves to work on the wheel, a pottery wheel in your home studio is essential. When choosing a pottery wheel for your space, ensure you choose something that is an adequate size and weight. It’s best to choose a light-weight wheel if you plan on moving it around.
Another consideration for your home pottery studio is choosing a standing wheel or a sit-down wheel. Since you are not sharing your wheel with anyone, you can adjust your wheel height to be the most ergonomic for you.
Try adding bricks or stilts under the legs of your wheel to create a more ergonomic setup if your wheel feels too low to the ground.
A Wedging Table is another essential for your studio as you will need a clear, flat workspace to make your stunning pottery creations.
Wedging tables are most commonly built from scratch using a simple, solid table design made of lumber and plaster of Paris. Plaster of Paris is used as a non-tacky surface to wedge the clay on.
Once you have decided on and built your table structure, it is best to secure your table to the wall. This will give you the sturdiest surface so that your table doesn’t move during wedging.
Kiln and Ventilation
If you are able to have a kiln in your space, this has the potential to take your work to new heights as you can control your firing process, experiment with different glazes and do luster/decal firing to your heart’s content.
To accommodate a kiln in your space, you should consider ventilating your kiln to the outdoors. This means your kiln will need to be against an external facing wall. This is not essential but is strongly recommended as the kiln can let off potentially toxic fumes into your home or studio. Not all pottery materials emit these chemicals but if you are experimenting with Lustres, for example, these can omit toxic fumes.
Having a kiln in your home pottery studio also means that you will need to have adequate power supply and the correct power outlet to power your kiln. This may involve having an electrician come to your home to install the correct power source.
Some other considerations for the kiln in your home pottery studio that you should do research on include:
- Top Loading Kiln vs Front Loading Kiln
- Gas Kiln vs. Electric Kiln
- The size of kiln you can fit in your space
- How many pieces you plan to fire at a given time
- How much energy consumption will cost
If you are not able to accommodate a kiln in your space, speak with people in your local pottery community to see if you can get someone to fire your pieces for you, for a price. Some pottery studios also allow you to rent kiln space. Just be careful when transporting your pieces to the kiln!
As you may already know, potters can accumulate a lot of tools. Because of this, you will want to have a tidy storage area for your tools and pottery accessories.
Many people use a peg board in their home pottery studios. There are tons of different accessories you can purchase with a peg board in all shapes and sizes to accommodate all your different pottery tools.
If you’re not sure what tools to buy, check out this post on Best Pottery Tools for Beginners to start off your tool collection!
A drying cabinet is a great option for a home pottery studio. This can save some of the annoying steps involved in wrapping your pieces in plastic. We’ve all experienced having a piece warp because the plastic touched the wet clay.
Drying cabinets and shelves are available commercially at pottery supply stores. However, these are a very simple pottery studio addition that you can put together on your own.
Make Your Own Drying Cabinet for Your Home Pottery Studio:
To make your own Drying Cabinet for your home pottery studio, determine where you would like to place your drying rack and how large of a shelving unit you can fit. Once you’ve determined the size of the drying rack you would like, check around online for a plastic shelf enclosure. These are common commercial items so you should be able to find one that fits your shelf. If not, purchase one slightly larger than your shelf and use duct tape to form fit it to your shelf.
This plastic shelf cover from Uline is great for fitting a standard metal shelving unit.
Having your own home pottery studios means you can complete all stages of the making process in your new space. This can take up a lot of space as you also need to have glazes accessible.
You can purchase bucket rollers or DIY them so you can easily roll your glaze buckets underneath your shelving, wedging table or other storage space. This is a great space saver that will also save your back from having to lift buckets off the ground to move them.
Clay Recycling System
With all the making you’re going to be doing in your home pottery studio, you are going to want to have an efficient clay recycling system in your studio.
Some ideas for this are to have 2 buckets and a plaster board for clay recycling in your studio:
A Bucket for Dry Clay Trimmings
- Once clay trimming become bone dry, they are easy to rehydrate. It’s best to wait for your dry clay trimmings to fill up then add your throwing water to this bucket to rehydrate your clay.
A Bucket for Wet Clay Slop
- Clay slop that comes from throwing on the wheel and ends up in your splash pan can go into this bucket. Once the clay sinks down to the bottom and the water is sitting on top of the bucket, you can sponge off this water and add it to your dry trimmings, use it as throwing water or water your plants!
A Plaster Board for Drying Rehydrated Clay
- Once you have rehydrated your dry trimming or filled your wet clay slop bucket, you will need to dry the clay out to a malleable texture. Lay it on a plaster bat so moisture can be absorbed into the plaster and evaporate and then wedge for re-use.
Keeping your studio clean is essential for enjoying the making process but also for ensuring that your studio is a safe space to work. Clay dust will build up over time if your studio is not maintained, which is detrimental to your lungs.
Some cleaning supplies to keep in your studio include:
- A Mop and Bucket
- The best practice is to mop your studio space after every pottery session (throwing, trimming or glazing) to prevent dust buildup. No brooms allowed in the pottery studio!
- Large Cleaning Sponge
- Make sure you designate this sponge for cleaning and wiping down surfaces.
- Spray Bottle with Water
- This is great to have to moisten dried on clay when cleaning
- Spray Bottle with Water and Bleach
- Mold is a common occurrence wherever you’re storing wet clay. Wood bats and plastic buckets are common spaces for mold to appear. This shouldn’t be alarming but should be cleaned with a diluted bleach mixture to treat the area.
Hopefully this list has given you a good starting point for your home pottery studio setup. Of course, as you start working in your pottery studio, you will find different layouts and home pottery studio essentials that you can change and add as you go. Your specific needs will determine how your final studio layout ends up!
About the Author: Kristen Weeden
Kristen is an avid hobby potter, blogger at The Dirt Journal and the potter behind Garden of Weeden Ceramics. She has been playing and experimenting with clay since 2018 and loves to learn and share anything ceramics related. You can find some of her work on her Instagram @gardenofweedenceramics.