I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ceramics and I was finally inspired to make my own affordable mini ceramics studio at home.
How to Make a Pottery Studio at Home
Pottery has been part of culture for thousands of years and has become a useful modern day hobby as a result. Throwing clay on a wheel can be relaxing, therapeutic, and even a challenging learning experience. Now, imagine having your own pottery wheel at home so you can practice any time you want! I am going to show you how to set up your own beginner studio, which is perfect for smaller wheel projects and hand-building.
First, I will give you a quick list of everything you need to get started, and then I will suggest which items to buy and give you some tips to get the best possible at-home pottery experience! Here's what you will need:
- Space for a small wheel
- A pottery wheel
- Pottery tools
- A firing method
- Your creativity
Read on to see details for each thing on the list—and which ones I use for my own personal studio.
You are going to want this to be somewhere you don't mind getting dirty with clay mud. I usually store my wheel out of the way, then when I am ready to use it I put it in my kitchen or on my balcony since I live in a 600 sq. ft. apartment. If you have a garage or an outdoor space, this would be ideal for safety reasons.
A Note About Safety: When clay mud dries on the floor or other surfaces, it can create clay dust which contains silica. Clay dust can also be created by carving dried clay pieces. This creates a risk because the clay dust is breathed in, and breathing in silica is harmful to the lungs over time.
So, it is always best to work with clay outdoors. If you're working in a kitchen or small space like me, be sure to spend a good amount of time cleaning up after each project to avoid clay dust accumulation, and carve your dried pieces outdoors.
The Pottery Wheel
A professional pottery wheel can cost upwards of $2,000, which is not very affordable if you're just looking for a fun hobby in ceramics rather than a full blown career. Luckily, there are much more affordable options in the $200-$500 range.
The one I purchased was about $200, and is surprisingly well-built! I would highly recommend it for projects that are 15 pounds or less and it does not disappoint for quality, considering it is at such a low price range. You can purchase the one shown above by clicking here. I also love the features of this wheel; it has a touchscreen on the side that allows you to switch from pedal speed control to a set speed from the buttons, and it also has a button to reverse the wheel's spinning direction.
This wheel is low to the ground, so you will need either a low stool to sit on or a table to put the wheel on. I use a card table stool which is a bit high off the ground, but works for me. Do whatever is comfortable for you!
The Pottery Tools
When your projects are finished on the wheel and you're ready to make them look fancy, you're going to need some tools! A basic shaping and carving kit costs around $15-$30, which is about all you need to get started. If you do decide to buy the wheel above, the tools that come with it are nice but ultimately not enough for every project.
I have an old kit that I purchased back in college, and I found an inexpensive kit on Amazon that has even more tools and is very similar to what I use (a 30 piece set). Click here to see it and purchase!
So we've covered the space, the wheel, and the tools. But what about the clay? The type of clay you use will depend on what you want to make and how you will fire it (see below for firing methods), but generally I would recommend a low-fire stoneware clay. This clay is easy to work with, versatile, looks beautiful, and is inexpensive. Terra cotta is also a great option if you are planning to make planters!
I purchased this Cone 06 clay for its smooth texture and low temperature firing ability, however you may be able to find a better price in a local art store.
The Firing Method
You have your studio space, a wheel, some basic tools and clay, and now you just need somewhere to bake your projects! There are a few options here. If you have a backyard, you can create your own in-ground kiln (called a pit fire) by digging a deep hole and kindling a fire inside it where your pottery will bake. There are plenty of articles on how to do this method, and it is the best way to fire ceramics at home because it can reach the hottest temperatures.
Another more experimental method is to use a regular charcoal grill, and to put the ceramics directly on the coals for about an hour. This method is great for decorative pieces, but will not get the clay very hot. I opted for this method and found a small grill for sale locally for $10.
Both of these at-home options will only get hot enough to produce bisqueware, which is still porous pottery and cannot be used to hold liquids. They also won't get hot enough to use glazes, either. Alternatively, you can bring your pieces to a local pottery studio and see how much they charge to fire your creations in a kiln. Glazing is also an option if you decide to go this route, since a kiln will be able to melt the glazes onto the pottery.
So that's about it! Those are the basics of making your own at-home studio, and all for about $250. Firing pieces is of course the most difficult part of having your own studio, since a kiln needs special outlets and fire protection. However just being able to experiment on your own wheel whenever you want is well worth the setup, even if you have to bring your artwork to a studio to get it fired the way you want.
I hope you are now inspired to get out there and unleash the creative potter within! Feel free to post any comments or questions below, and best of luck on your artistic journey.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Rebecca Swafford
Liz Westwood from UK on November 09, 2020:
This looks like a great idea for a lockdown project that will give years of use and pleasure.