The word ceramics is derived from “keramos”, which is Greek for Clay. Many famous artists, like Pablo Picasso and Lucio Fontana, got their artistic start working with clay and making pottery. Today, some of those works are valued in the millions of dollars.
Studies have shown that pottery-making can help both mental and social health. There’s a meditative effect involved in the pottery-making process. It can promote calm and relaxation, which eases anxiety and depression and even lowers blood pressure. Hand movement has been shown to reduce inflammation due to arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.
Aside from that, you’re using creativity and imagination to make beautiful objects. They are not only helpful but can be given as gifts and even sold. The art of pottery can make mugs, vases, plant pots, ornaments, and more. When thinking of starting your own pottery studio, there’s probably a lot of artistic vision dancing around in your head.
Maybe you’re thinking of a spot where like-minded folks can come and create as well as socialize and have some coffee. A studio is a place where local artists can give classes or hold private events for both businesses and schools. Maybe it will be your personal space where you create wares to sell on Etsy and at farmer’s markets.
These are all fantastic goals, but you’ll need to start realistically. While a pottery studio is one of the easiest businesses to start, it takes precise planning. In this blog, we’ll discuss eight essential tips for creating your pottery studio.
1. Find the Right Location
When searching for the right location, first, you must decide the goal of your studio. If it’s going to be just for you and a private student or two to work from, then the perfect space may literally be in your own backyard. Consider transforming your garage into a studio where you can create and start with a few private clients. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and see if having a pottery studio is for you.
As long as you can manage a sink and a vented roof, your garage can be the perfect space to start your studio. If you’re looking for a larger area closer to the center of town, check your local social media groups for interest. Put out feelers and see the interest level in your city or nearby areas.
Some towns are even known for their pottery and ceramics scenes. Cities like Minneapolis and Austin are huge on the craft. So, if there’s no limit to your travels, you can open wherever there’s an interest in ceramics in a specific community. Finally, when thinking about a suitable space, remember your vision. Whether you choose a storefront in town or an old warehouse on the outskirts, ensure it represents what you want.
2. Ensure Your Lighting is Right
One vital part of having a pottery studio is to get the lighting right. Nobody wants to go along thinking they are creating a masterpiece when, in reality, they are making a monstrosity. All art studios should have several modes of light. One of the most important is natural lighting.
It’s critical to have a studio with a lot of windows, doors, even skylights to let the sun shine in. You can always call a shade company to install blinds or shades for those late-night artistic spurts when privacy is needed. If your space is perfect but lacks light, consider calling a window install professional. Windows not only allow light but can also attract customers.
Next, you’ll want plenty of good overhead lighting. Track lighting is excellent for creating and displaying your treasures. You may want to consider installing dimmer switches to control the light. You never know when you may want to show a film or throw a cocktail party in your space.
Dimmer switches are an easy way to add ambiance. Finally, any good art studio needs studio lamps, floor lamps, and table lamps. These lighting fixtures make it easy to see the subtle details, colors, and possible errors in your pottery.
3. Upgrade Electrics
Knowing you’ll need all that lighting is enough to consider calling the electricians. But there’s more. Even a modest studio requires a few pottery wheels and a kiln. A small kiln draws about 2 kilowatts per hour.
While that in itself is not too bad, when coupled with everything else, it could strain the studio’s electrical system. It’s best to call in a professional to make sure your wiring, outlets, and circuit board are all up to date and able to handle all the equipment. The last thing your business needs is to be blowing fuses in the middle of a class or while customers are looking at goods you intend to sell.
If you’re familiar with pottery making, you know a pivotal point in creating it is constant motion. Another electrical consideration is fans and vents. The kiln will need to be vented to the outside to keep fumes from building up.
Fans are also helpful, not only for comfort but also to draw the clay dust and glaze away from work areas. They’ll keep the air circulating, so the fumes do not become overwhelming. While the electricians are checking your system, they can help you with choosing the proper lighting for the space.
4. Install New Flooring
You’ll probably be spending a lot of time in your studio, so you want it to be comfortable. If you have clients, it will need to be inviting as well. This all needs to be done with practicality and functionality in mind.
As with any art space, a pottery studio can get messy and this includes the floor. There’s dust, splatter, spills, and other things that can be collected at the bottom of the space. Your flooring should be something that’s easy to clean and won’t be prone to warping from water.
Most art studios use tile, vinyl, or concrete for their flooring. A tile floor installer can likely out down vinyl as well if you want a combination of both. This professional can help guide you as to the best route for your specific space. Concrete is another option to consider. It’s smooth, and you can quickly sweep up dust or clay.
Concrete can also be painted or decorated to add some pizzazz to the studio. Whatever flooring type you decide upon, put down some good-quality rubber mats by your tile floor installer. These will add to the comfort of everyone, especially in areas where they’ll be standing for long periods.
5. Cover Yourself Legally
All businesses need general liability insurance to protect themselves from possible damages and injury. Pottery studios are no exception. In fact, pottery studios can get a specific type of insurance called crafting insurance. Because there are many sharp tools, chemicals, and machinery involved, crafters’ insurance outlines certain incidents that would protect you.
For example, if someone were to be splashed with glaze or the kiln burned them, craft insurance would cover it. You’d also need this insurance to sell your creations at craft fairs and art shows. Most of these events require this type of coverage to protect themselves from liability.
The amount of insurance you’ll need depends on the size of your studio, how much equipment you have, the type of ceramics that are being made, and the number of people who will be there at any given time. Consider researching workplace accident attorneys before opening your studio; this way, you’ll be prepared just in case an accident does occur. Be sure to put up signs that indicate possible dangers in areas where extra care should be taken. It’s also a good idea to have a camera system if someone makes an accusation.
6. Find a Supplier for Your Materials
Shopping for the supplies for your studio can be lots of fun. However, finding the right supplier can be confusing and frustrating. There are so many suppliers offering a range of items and different deals. There are so many things you’ll need to make your space a success including, a kiln, pottery wheels, clay, glaze, ceramic coating, and tools.
Let’s not forget work tables, chairs, and anything else you may want to spruce up the place and make it more personal. Before opening your studio, you’ll need all your equipment and supplies. It can be overwhelming when you’re just starting. The best way to start is to make a list of everything you’ll need.
Decide what type of materials you’re going to want. Please start with the clay, as it will make or break your success as a potter. Different creations call for certain types of clays. For instance, if you’re planning on making bowls, mugs, and plates, stoneware clay is needed.
Next, move onto the glazes. These are special paints that are used to give a clay color and a smooth finish. Then, you can work on getting your tools and machines. Research some well known online pottery suppliers life me Clay King and The Ceramic Shop. These are well-known suppliers that have good reputations.
You may also want to visit local pottery stores and community studios and talk to fellow Potters to see who they use to supply their goods. There’s no better place to find the best place to get supplies than people who are experienced in the craft. Talk with several suppliers and lay out what you need. Most companies are happy to work out deals with you.
A few suggestions for saving money are to consider buying used equipment and tools. Look for sales and buy in bulk. Go to arts and craft chain stores and look for clearance items. Most of all, don’t forget to save coupons and discount codes for when those sales are up and running.
7. Ensure You Have Storage
The one thing a pottery studio needs a lot of, other than clay, is storage. Studios use a lot of supplies. In addition to clay, tools, and glaze, you’ll need towels, cleaning supplies, and, if it’s a business, office supplies. If you’re selling your pieces, they must be displayed and stored.
Ensure your studio has plenty of cabinets, shelves, and display cases. If the space doesn’t come with enough storage, you can hire a cabinetmaker to customize the studio. Depending on your budget, custom cabinets may not be an option. You can also visit flea markets, garage sales, or local online giveaway sites.
You can also go to discount stores and get inexpensive storage and customize to your needs. The most important thing about storage is that it protects your supplies and pottery. Keeping everything safe from damp conditions, dust, and possible breakage will save you money in the long run.
8. Upgrade the Heating and Cooling Facilities
Proper ventilation of your pottery studio is vital for several reasons. First, for health reasons, you want to make sure that everyone is getting enough fresh air and not breathing in fumes or dust. Aside from the vented roof for the kiln, you’ll want to ensure that the heating and cooling systems are up-to-date and working.
It’s a good idea to call a heating and AC repair company or HVAC specialist to check everything out before you open. Pottery studios can get hot and stuffy between the kiln and lighting. Things can get uncomfortable fast, so you want to be able to pump up the air conditioning when needed.
It’s also important to have a controlled temperature for the sake of the clay you’ve stored and pottery that needs to dry. If it’s too humid or too cold, the art may not be appropriately set. Since there is a lot of dust from the clay, you may want your service professional to check the ducts and air filters as well.
Opening a pottery studio can be financially and creatively fulfilling. You can help bring out the artistic side in others, giving them a safe space to express themselves and unwind. Meanwhile, you can hone your craft and use the same space to sell the things you make. It does take some work and determination, but if pottery is a passion, then go for it!