How to Set up a Home Pottery Studio
If this is the first time you’re setting up a home pottery studio, you may not know where to start. The key is to think about how you’ll need to use the space as you work through your projects. Build a workflow that makes logical sense and keep all the tools you’ll need close at hand.
If you’re a beginner, here’s the best way to set up your home pottery studio to maximize space and efficiency. As you gain more experience, you might want to rearrange things to suit your unique styles, but this is a great jumping-off point to get you started.
Find Your Space
Obviously, the first step to setting up a home studio is to find a good spot in your house. Ideally, your space will meet three criteria:
- Hard floors – think concrete or tile.
- Smooth walls – painted drywall or hardboard
- Enough space – what classifies as “enough” depends on the project you want to do, but make sure you have enough space to fit your equipment and a few tables while still being able to move around.
- Running water – Pottery needs water. Having a steady supply never hurts.
Aside from having enough space, you want to make sure the area is easy to clean. Pottery is messy business. If you have carpeted floors or porous walls like brick or unfinished drywall, it’s going to be a pain to clean!
If the only space you have is carpeted with brick walls and no sink, there are ways to make cleanup a bit easier—so don’t count it out just yet!
Set Up Your Corners
Considering most rooms are square, it’s a good idea to dedicate each corner of your studio space to a specific part of the pottery process. That way, you can move around the room in a logical way as you go through each step of the pottery process.
Here’s a diagram of what a beginner home pottery studio might look like:
You can alter the stations depending on what type of pottery you like to create. Let’s take a closer look at what should go into each corner.
Top Right – Wedging Station
The top right corner is your first destination when you start a new project. It’s your wedging station. Wedging is an important part of the pottery process. It’s similar to kneading dough for a pizza. It makes the clay more pliable and workable, creating a uniform consistency and removing air pockets.
For this station, you just need a nice sturdy table. Wedging takes some pressure, and your table needs to be able to handle the weight. It should also have either a plasterboard or canvas-covered plywood top. That’ll ensure the clay doesn’t stick to the surface but also won’t slide off.
Yes, you could do the wedging on your hand-building surface or your wheel head, but it’s not really a good idea. If you already have a project underway and need to wedge more clay, having a separate station is quite helpful. This is especially important if you want to work with different types or colors of clay. You don’t want to mix them on the same table before it’s time!
Top Left – Wheel or Hand-Building Station
Once you finish wedging, move to the top left corner to the wheel or hand-building station. This is where you’ll actually build your clay creations!
For hand-building, all you need in this station is a sturdy table. Again, stick with a plasterboard or canvas top to help the clay stay put as you’re working.
If you plan on throwing with a wheel, the top left corner can also be your dedicated wheel station. Wheels are no fun to move around, so giving it its own corner will help save you some effort—and a sore back.
For potters who use both wheels and hand-building, stick the wheel in the top left corner and move the hand-building station to the bottom left corner with the glazes and finishes. It’ll work out just fine; trust us! Alternatively, if you typically work on smaller projects, you can simply hand-build on your wheel. Whatever is most comfortable for your work style.
Bottom Left – Finishing, Glazing, and Hand-Building Station
Now it’s time to finish the project off! Make your way around the circle to the bottom left corner to the finishing and glazing station. This is where you’ll add all the final touches.
If you gave the top left corner to your wheel and still want a spot for hand-building, this is where you can double up. Finding a table with easy-to-reach shelving gives you a flat, sturdy surface to hand-build or glaze, and you can keep your glaze and finishing products on the shelves above. That way, you won’t have to wander around gathering supplies all the time.
Bottom Right – Shelving
Once your pieces are finished, they’ll need time to dry. Complete your journey to the bottom right corner of your home pottery studio to the shelving station. Make sure the shelves have enough space to hold your projects. If you make tall vases, don’t get short shelves.
Ideally, you’ll want different shelves to hold projects at each stage of the finishing process:
For greenware that’s still wet, it’s a good idea to cover it with a plastic bag while it’s drying. That way, you won’t have to worry about dust or debris ruining the clay. Enclosed shelving is also a great idea to keep your greenware safe.
Additional Home Pottery Studio Considerations
With your main stations complete, it’s time to add the finishing touches to your studio. There are plenty of smaller things that every home pottery studio needs that aren’t quite big enough for their own station.
The main thing you’ll need to consider besides your four main stations is water. First off, you’ll need a place to wash your hands. Clay is messy, and you won’t want to leave your studio without cleaning up a bit. Make sure there’s a sink or at least a five-gallon bucket, so you can wash your hands.
If you don’t have a sink handy, you can use buckets to bring water into the studio. It’s a good idea to have at least four buckets and wash from dirtiest to cleanest. That way, you won’t have to rinse them out as frequently:
Reclaiming bucket – The first bucket is the dirtiest. It’s the one you’ll use to wet dry pieces of clay to reclaim them.
Slurry and sludge bucket – This bucket is for the really wet clay you find in the splash pan on your wheel.
Wash bucket – If you have a wheel, bats, splash pan, or other super dirty equipment, this is the bucket you can wash them in between projects.
Material cleaning bucket – This is the cleanest water. It’s used for actually cleaning off materials and can be reused when throwing.
Ideally, if you don’t want to lug around big buckets of water, choose a space with running water nearby.
Depending on your pottery style, there might be tons of tools you’ll need to use. Instead of cramming them all in a drawer and digging through every time you need something, designate a small space around the wheel or hand-building station to store your tools.
Our suggestion is to get a pegboard and hang your tools. That way, they’re always out on display, so you can find and grab them easily.
Area for Dirty Clothes
You don’t want to throw your dirty, clay-covered work clothes and aprons into your normal laundry basket. Have a small space in your studio where you can throw your messy clothes before you leave the studio. No need to track it through the house!
It’s also a good idea to add some hooks, so you can hang your aprons when you’re not using them. That’ll keep them dry and off the ground.
A Place for Test Tiles
Nobody likes working hard on a project only to find it’s not what they envisioned. Most pottery experts create test tiles to make sure the clay and glaze work and look good together.
Create a little place in your studio to create and display test tiles. A good spot is usually somewhere near the tool pegboard.
Start Building Your Home Pottery Studio
As you start to create your home pottery studio, think about how you create your projects. Lay out your stations in a logical way, so you can flow from one to the next as you go through the process. It’ll help everything go much more smoothly.
If you’re ready to start building the home pottery studio of your dreams, Seattle Pottery Supply has all the equipment you need! Our friendly experts would love to help you pick out the right tools to complete your studio. We have supplies for potters of any experience level.