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What You Need to Start Your Own Ceramics Studio

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Getting started

First thing: Space

The good thing about ceramics studios is that if you share a few things, like kilns and sinks, you don't need a lot of space. The cheapest thing (what I do) is to find a space with other potters there already and rent from them. This allows us to share kilns, electricity, water, and other needs.

In the city, converted factory buildings and warehouses make great pottery studios. In run-down areas, the rent is very affordable. If you're planning to teach classes, especially to children, you'll probably need to invest in a nicer building in a safer area. The building where I work now would not meet those criteria.

Second thing: The basics

What kind of electrical hookup does your kiln require? If you haven't bought a kiln yet, make sure you match up your electrical needs to the hookups in your building.

What about accessibility? Is there an elevator? A ramp? Will you be able to get 500 lbs. of clay up or down those stairs? Is there a good place to dump your dirty water? Enough electrical outlets for your shopvac, lights, kiln, wheel? Is there a good sink in a convenient location?

How about the floor? Will it be able to withstand the wear and tear of being mopped?

Things you'll need to buy, make or find:

  • Your clay, glazes, and tools
  • plastic for covering pots
  • enough shelving to put away tools and materials, as well as to place the pots
  • plaster board for reclaiming clay
  • plenty of table space
  • pottery wheel or wheels
  • wareboards or bats
  • buckets of all sizes (get these for free by asking restaurants for their extras - they may smell like pickles but it beats paying out the nose at the Home Depot)
  • mop, squeegee or shopvac for cleanup
  • kiln and kiln accessories (heat-resistant gloves, kiln shelves and furniture, pyrometric cones, kiln wash, kiln wadding)
  • a good strong sink

Other Cheap Pottery Tips:

  • A good way to save on wareboards is to make them yourself by cutting up masonite boards.
  • Plaster boards can be made the DIY way out of USG #1 Pottery Plaster (DO NOT use Plaster of Paris.) and window screening.
  • Milk crates are great for a lot of things, including shelving, storage and transport.
  • Cut-up credit cards make great pottery tools. Just be sure to obscure the name and number on the card!

How much does it cost to start a pottery studio?

It depends on the area, as well as what's available. Tools and materials are always expensive to begin with. Starting a studio where every tool and piece of equipment is bought directly from the supply store would run you in the tens of thousands.

The more you take care of the things you have, as well as the more items you can find for free or make yourself, your costs will go down. My initial investment in my studio was under a thousand dollars.

Here I am wedging clay at my Cleveland, OH studio.

Here I am wedging clay at my Cleveland, OH studio.

Comments

Whitney on July 28, 2020:

Veronica77, have you had any luck selling your friends equipment?

Veronica77 on April 06, 2020:

I’m trying to help a friend sell her ceramics business she was running out of her 2,500 sq ft basement. She’s been in the business for over 50 years and probably has over 50,000 molds as well as glazes, paints, 2 kilns, etc. There’s too much to list but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Does anyone have any suggestions how to go about selling it? Ideally we’d like to sell it as a whole. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Deb on July 27, 2019:

I’ve had a studio for 10+ years and here’s what I didn’t know 10 yrs ago:1. I am not mass producing so I don’t need an extruder with an expansion box, don’t need a slab roller on a table, and definitely don’t need a pugmill. Those are the biggies. 2. I took a Simon Leach pottery workshop. He’s a third generation potter, he is brilliant yet unassuming and kind. I developed by leaps and bounds after that. 3. Though I am retired, my calendar is more crammed than when I worked so I dedicate two days to pottery. The most sacred days besides Sunday for me! 3. Clay dries fast when you don’t want it too. Drying too slowly is subjective; it just takes patience. 4. Don’t try to rush anything! 5. Sell on local e-markets. That’s it in a nut shell. Now I am more satisfied and fulfilled and much less frustrated.

Nancy Corlis on May 10, 2018:

I set up a studio in my basement. The only item missing is a sink, so I have to use buckets.

Joan Gibson/The Closet Potter Shop on December 07, 2016:

I work out of a closet that is 4' x 11 1/2'. That houses my wheel, a great work table with a shelf underneath for pots to dry and a sink. I do have to glaze in another room where the kiln is. Granted I am not a production potter but it is my passion and folks do purchase my items. I'm 66 yrs old and I am truly blessed that I don't have to rely on it as my only income.

Jen on September 02, 2016:

What main Items did you have when you started your studio?

DREAM ON on February 25, 2011:

My neighbor worked out of their basement for years.The ladys loved it so much.She earned a name for herself and did it for years.What a great idea have you done it yourself?