Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
bbaker2050

Should I Start Pottery Or Not? Advice Please.....

Recommended Posts

So I've recently developed an interest in pottery. I want to learn wheelthrowing and have even signed up for classes later this month. I've been watching Simon Leach videos (love him). Anyways, you're probably thinking my mind is made up, but it's not. My concern is partially related to finances and not having enough time. I work six days a week and have a 6 yr old and a 4 yr old. Life is busy right now. The classes are $200 and that's fine. But then if I like it I'm going to want a wheel.....and an electric kiln etc. I guess I'm afraid I'm gonna like it and it's going to turn into a really expensive hobby that I won't have much time for. But I can't get it off my mind...I'm trying to talk myself out of it. Anyways, I just need somebody to tell me to quit worrying about it and go for it. Thanks :D

 

Brad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like piano playing, it looks like fun and looks easy. It takes a long time to get proficient at it.

Don't go out and buy a pug mill[$2000.00] just yet. Take a few evening classes. Don't even buy a wheel just yet. I have bought many a used wheel from people with good intentions.

Start small.Read lots, and as Simon Leach says;"keep practicing"

TJR.

Pres likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the suggestions. I would also find out, after you take your class and decide you do want to pursue, a community or group that offers memberships to a group studio. Many local art centers, art shops, community centers offer this type of thing. They provide the equipment and you pay a monthy or yearly fee to join. Some require you to buy their clay, and such but it would be a way of exploring your passion without having to come up with a large sum of money. It would also give you a place to go for some ME time away from other distractions.

 

At worst you could just buy yourself some clay and hand build and find a local pottery that rents shelves in their kiln, it wouldn't be wheel work but you could still have your hands in clay while you decide how much further you want to go.

 

Terry

D.M.Ernst likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum.

 

As has been said...... start out easy and slowly.  Don't put the cart ahead of the horse.  The view from "inside" might be different than the view from "outside".  After you've take a FEW classes...... then you'll know if the investment of a wheel and kiln makes any sense for your situation.

 

And by the way.......... asking for "objective" advice here from this group is like walking into a bar full of alcoholics and asking if they thought you should start drinking.  ;)

 

best,

 

....................john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking along the same lines, John Baymore.  Gee, Brad, you're coming to a bunch of addicted people looking for encouragement.  Well, yeah, GO FOR IT.

Seriously, though, I am of the very firm belief that hobbies and interests CAN be kept to a manageable level if that's what you want to do.  You do not need to invest in a bunch of expensive equipment to make pottery.  In fact, it's better if you don't buy a bunch of stuff right away.  Take classes as you have time and money and give yourself plenty of time to decide which path you want to take.  It's not a quick trip, it's a long journey.

Amy Eberhardt likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John, you totally crack me up!

 

Brad, I'm a beginning potter myself. I took one eight week course at my local guild last year and that was all she wrote! Two months later, I had my own wheel. I was spared the expense of a kiln, having inherited one years ago.

 

As for expenses, and keeping them to a reasonable figure [assuming of course you become addicted just from your first classes] you can buy used equipment and I recommend doing this, rather than forking over big money for new. But, wait until you've gotten through your first course before you start looking. You might find that, either you don't like it, or the hobby is just not a good suit to you. You wouldn't be the first. Better to find out that way than to dive in head first. As TJR said, there are a lot of second hand wheels out there that were purchased brand new by people with grand aspirations, only to find out that wallowing in the mud just wasn't for them. ;)

 

If you do find yourself hooked, there are plenty of great folks here that can give you further encouragement and who would be more than happy to guide you in what to look for, and what to steer clear of, in the search for your own wheel. Yes, we are a pack of enablers! :lol:

bbaker2050 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ditto on all the above advice. I think you should start pottery.

Take a class and start making pottery connections. Get the basics

out of the way, and google "Empty bowls" in your area to volunteer

helping making bowls. They furnish the clay and wheels so you can

get practice, and make more pottery connections. You'll know within a

year or two if pottery is in your future. Practice as much as you can.

Then you can worry about wheels, kilns, glazes, and studios later.

See ya,

Alabama

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Brad dear,

 If you have a 6 year old and a four year old, maybe you should spend some time with them and your wife and enjoy being a dad for a while.

 You can be a potter later but your kids will never be who they are again. They grow up very quickly. When they leave for college it will break your heart.

 That is the point where you can immerse yourself in pottery. Keep taking classes but don't get too carried away...

Been there,

 Done that,

 Have the Tshirt.

 CR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taking classes is a good, first step.  You are not committing a lot, other than time and a bit of money.  If you don't like it, you move on.

 

There are sadly a lot of people, who think they've found a life long love, buy all the equipment, only to then discover, it's not for them.

 

Best of luck in your journey.

 

Also, I have a five year old.  When she was younger, I worked in the studio in the evenings, when my wife could watch her, and/ or during her naps.  Now that she's older, and doesn't nap, she usually comes to the studio with me.  I have an easel for her, and she draws, paints, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 4 year old son who pots with me all the time. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3efJRbdPDgndTRnTlotcnFCUjQ/view?usp=sharing

 

My son Solomon loves it. A lot of the time I am potting and he wants to add to my pots. I usually let him. I wouldn't worry about taking time away from your family, if anything your children might enjoy it with you. I know my son enjoys the things I make him, little figurines and stuff out of the clay that I fire in the kiln with my pots. 

 

As for starting to pot, I would take some classes. Call up a pottery studio and just tell them you want to try it out. Most try to get you to do a 8 week session or something first. Just tell them you want to come in for one night and try it out, if you like it after that one night, sign up for 8 weeks, if you still like it after 4-8 weeks, join the studio or buy a wheel. You will know pretty quickly if your willing to put in the time to learn it. It is a lot more than just throwing on the wheel. I have been potting for about a year and a half now and I still haven't sold a single pot, and I pot 3-4 hours a day. After you get throwing down there is a whole world involving shapes, glazes, trimming, firing schedules, glaze stability, studio setup, tools, etc. The list of things you have to learn goes on forever. So it isn't something you can just pick up and make beautiful things quickly. It really is a solid investment in time to become good at it. 

 

So if you enjoy it and you really love making things with your hands with clay, then its worth trying it out. If your expecting to be making dinner ware in 3 months then it's going to be a letdown. Your aspirations should be along the lines of learning to throw for a first year and firing a few pots a long the way. I didn't even buy a kiln for 6 months after I bought my wheel. And then after I got my kiln, I felt silly cause I didn't want to fire any of the terrible pots I made.

 

Pottery is my love though. I love it, very much. There is nothing as wonderful as creating a vessel that you or someone you know can use each day and appreciate the time you took to learn to make it. The care you took in making it, and the thought process behind it. It is a beautiful thing, but like any other great craftsperson skill it takes time, effort, trail, and testing.

 

So go at it slow, take some classes, set aside time with your wife where you can go to the studio once a week. If you find yourself obsessing about practicing on the wheel, then find a used wheel and buy one and set it up in your garage. You can buy a wheel and 200# of clay and literally throw for months by collapsing the stuff you make after you make it, leaving it out to dry then wedging and throwing it again the next day. If you make a beautiful piece you can always go to your studio and have them bisque it for you and you can glaze it in the studio and fire it. 

 

When I was in my studio, I signed up for 8 weeks of classes. After 4 classes I stopped going, bought my own wheel and never looked back. The studio environment wasn't enough for me, I felt like I was better off teaching myself with youtube videos. However when I was mentioning this to my teacher and the other students in the class, they told me that about every year they have 10-15 people who say what I said, buy a wheel, kiln, pugmill and drop 10K on a studio then sell it all 3 months later. 

 

So give it a shot, you will know pretty quick if its for you are not. It takes patience that's all I will say. I haven't fired a piece of pottery that isn't a test in 6 months, in fact I have a kiln cooling right now full of test glazes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You've come to the wrong place to be talked out of pottery ... I started taking handbuilding classes in January and I'm as hooked as the rest of these guys.  Hobbies are like anything else ... you have to balance them along with the rest of your commitments.  And while your hobby shouldn't be indulged to the point of ignoring your family, having a hobby can make you a more relaxed father and employee!  My classes are Wednesday night and they are sacrosanct.  I leave work an hour early (been there 18 yrs so have a little flexability) ...so I can get to the classes which are in another town.  As to equipment, I have yet to buy a kiln, even a test size one.  For the work that makes it through the process it's just fired at the studio.  Glaze and firing is included in the price of our clay.  And right now I have no desire to mix my own glazes, just using what they have at the studio.  Now we're not going to talk about my thrift shop habit looking for suitable slump/hump forms ... 

D.M.Ernst likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thats a good idea John, we could bring our spare wheel to the bar and make better use of our time!  :P

Brad you have a chance to give it a shot, then give it a shot, The'll probably start you out handbuilding and that is something you can continue at home when you can't make it to class. Have some fun! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 4 year old son who pots with me all the time. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3efJRbdPDgndTRnTlotcnFCUjQ/view?usp=sharing

 

My son Solomon loves it. A lot of the time I am potting and he wants to add to my pots. I usually let him. I wouldn't worry about taking time away from your family, if anything your children might enjoy it with you. I know my son enjoys the things I make him, little figurines and stuff out of the clay that I fire in the kiln with my pots. 

 

 

Joseph: My little boy loves to play on the wheel so your video brought a huge smile to my face. I never thought of sitting him in front of me to throw WITH him, but I'm going to try that tomorrow! I usually center it, start a little hollow and then let him go crazy. :) Here is my own muddy buddy: https://www.facebook.com/GiselleNo5/videos/671807769612911/?permPage=1

 

Brad: I definitely recommend spending some time at it before you spend much money on equipment. You'll know soon enough if this is what you really want. There's nothing like clay. If you fall in love with it, you'll figure out a way to get it to work and chances are you'll get all or some of your family hooked on it too. ;) 

 

I have a five year old son and it doesn't keep me from having lots of fun doing this. I've been interested in pottery since he was two and it is something that we actually enjoy together. I make things for him, and he lays claim to other things that he decides he wants to keep as well. Obviously I'm his mom before anything else. I plan my clay projects and wheel throwing days very carefully to allow for finishing, and I have learned ways to keep them soft and workable for up to two weeks in case it's a few days between clay sessions in my studio. I do a lot of late nights and I carry a sketchbook so I don't lose ideas that I can't work on right away. As he's gotten older I've gotten more ambitious and I finally started learning to wheel throw just in October of last year.

 

This is how I got started: I visited my friend's pottery studio in 2012 and I was HOOKED, instantly. I was super broke but I started to earn clay and firing by cleaning her studio, mixing glazes, scraping kiln shelves, etc. etc. It ended up being like an informal two year apprenticeship. I did a ton of grunt work but it was awesome because I learned so much and not just about the fun parts but the hard stuff too. Now, three years in I know I really want to do this. I have actually tried to talk myself out of it because it is so expensive to get set up. But this is IT for me, so I'm making it happen. I gave up fighting it last July when a woman gave me her used kiln. I instantly started chucking things I've saved for years out of the garage so I could keep that. I just gave in and now I have a pretty functional studio out there with relatively little investment so far.

bbaker2050 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, so much good advice here! You all are awesome! I will go ahead with the 9 week course starting later this month and just take it from there-one step at a time. If I like it, I'll find a way to make it work while keeping my family first and not breaking the bank.I've been showing my wife some Simon Leach videos and she thinks it's pretty cool too. I like the idea of involving the kids. Again, thanks for all of the replies!

 

Brad

clay lover likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This forum is amazing, very supportive of all levels and so many kind and helpful people. Every single time I've posted some question or struggle, I get a wonderful variety of answers and different things to try. I love it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum.

 

As has been said...... start out easy and slowly.  Don't put the cart ahead of the horse.  The view from "inside" might be different than the view from "outside".  After you've take a FEW classes...... then you'll know if the investment of a wheel and kiln makes any sense for your situation.

 

And by the way.......... asking for "objective" advice here from this group is like walking into a bar full of alcoholics and asking if they thought you should start drinking.  ;)

 

best,

 

....................john

Pass the gin.

T.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having done a couple of years of ceramics 30 years ago, I knew it appealed as a retirement activity. My route 2 years before I was due to retire, so still v busy work wise, was ......

1) Community Ed classes - I used to take pieces home and work on them between classes.

2) Bought a small 2nd hand kiln which meant I could also hand build at home and fire my work in my own time.

1 year later...

3) Bought an electric wheel.

 

Although throwing will always be my preferred construction technique, I have dabbled with handbuilding - pinching and slabs, hump and slump moulds etc. while getting used to working with clay, trying out glazes and decorating techniques. There is a lot of scope without buying a wheel in the first instance, if you didn't want to shell out for everything immediately. At one point I did think I needn't have bought the wheel so soon, but I was right to get the kiln first. If your class has a number of different wheels, you'll have the opportunity to decide which suits you best, before you commit to buying your own.

 

One piece of advice, given that you'll definitely be dipping in and out when you have a few spare minutes, is to make yourself some Magic Box damp boxes for storing your work. There is a video available on YouTube - I'll try to find the link. Basically - large cuboid lidded storage boxes with a słab of plaster about 1" thick in the base. With pottery, so much depends on the clay being at the right stage of wetness/dryness, an easy way to keep things damp until the next time you have a few spare minutes is a godsend! You don't have to wrap things up, spray them, keep an eye on them all the time. When one of the little ones demands your time & attention, just put your piece in a damp box and it will still be in a good condition to continue with, later! I spent years in school, with pottery club only taking place once a week, wrapping, spraying etc.etc. things drying out between classes....because I'd never come across the Magic Box idea!

Chilly likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brad even if you don't stick with pottery involving your children in some kind of art creates well rounded young adults.  I started my son in my studio when he was 3 years old rolling clay snakes.   He is now 33 and his current passion is creating things on a 3D printer that he found in the trash and rebuilt.    Denice

Pres likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

and the expensive part is only if you have the means to make it so.  Clay and glaze are so cheap they are not even worth considering really.

 

A new kiln cost in the 1500-3 grand range and you get a shiny programmable kiln, used kiln, maybe a hundred or two and you learn to work with witness cones and a kiln sitter to turn off (that can be fun too but ya have to hang with the kiln instead of the bar with John, actually you are supposed to sit and watch the shiny new one do its thing as well).

 

New wheel 8,9 hundred bucks, used you can probably score for a couple of hundred or less. New slab roller, a grand or so but a rolling pin from goodwill might set you back a couple of bucks.

 

My point is that you can take a garage and deck it out with 10-15 grand worth of really nice new studio equipment or you can get the same functionality with a carefully assembled assortment of used stuff and work arounds such as a rolling pin and it really does not have to affect the quality of your pottery much or the fun you will have. Actually the cheap equipment might add a more romantic feel about the whole thing.   

 

by and large potters are a pretty cheap bunch so no one's going to make fun of your 25 year kiln you scored from a school auction for $50 B)

bbaker2050 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stephen:yes, yes, yes!!

 

I've been "into" clay for 3 1/2 years and I managed without buying any expensive things till 2 1/2 years in. Even then, I don't waste money, I do a lot of DIY and salvage things from the side of the road. So far I haven't spent a penny on storage shelves and my 15x20 garage is now fully lined on both sides, floor to ceiling. All side-of-the road finds and repurposed castoffs. :) Plus I have that potter friend who sometimes gives me her old equipment when she upgrades. I'm waiting for her to upgrade her pug mill. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×