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So, after 7 years of making a full time pottery business out of my basement, and a shared studio an hour from home, I finally am going to be building my very own, and hopefully last studio Ill ever work from! Thankfully, in my nearly 20 years of making pots, Ive been able to work out of a number of styles of studios; everything from small high-school studios, to large community studios; heck I even was employed by a guy who had me throwing pots in his living room and kitchen (widower, otherwise his wife wouldn't have allowed this). All those numerous styles, sizes, designs of studios have allowed me to learn first hand what I do and don't want in a studio. Ive been dreaming of this studio for years too, so I feel like I've got all my ducks in a row, but with a project of this size, there are bound to be things that are easily over looked.

So, I wanted to ask all of you, what do you and don't like you like about the studio you either work from, own, built, etc? Ill provide a few details about my studio design to maybe jog your brains about what I should/nt do, however I wont go into all the nitty gritty details as I doubt anyone wants to read a novel right now.

Overall building size is 3400 sq feet which will contain; main working room, glazing room/materials storage, dedicated spray and sanding room, kiln room, finished pottery storage and packing/receiving area, small kitchen, 1.5 baths (including a shower for the time I coat myself in tenmoku), a small machine/woodshop, a covered porch (for the eventual soda kiln), a covered parking space (big enough for my Sprinter), a small office, and a mechanical room.

Even though I like how "compact" my tiny 300 sq foot basement studio (everything within an arms reach kind of mentality), Im very tired of stacking pots in every nook and cranny, never having enough room to work from. So this was key; I wanted space, and lots of it. Enough space that Id have room to grow into it in the future, maybe even having another potter share some space. I also want lots of light; basements, garages, etc with nothing more than one-two fluoro fixtures get tougher and tougher on my eyes the older I get. Not only will I have adequate artificial light, but as much natural light as I can afford; large windows will provide light and ventilation, and if we can afford skylight tubes we'll do those too. Similarly, garages and basement studios have for the majority been cold in the winter and sweaty in the summer; We are insulating this building to the max and providing plenty of heat for the winter, and AC for the summer too; all the rooms except the kiln and sanding/spray room will share central heat/ac (dont want to pass those fumes around the building). A wood stove will be my main source of heat, shared through the rooms with the furnace.

The layout of the rooms is designed to cut down on how many times clay gets touched; the work flow will essential be a circle; clay comes in as a raw product, and leaves as a finished product with UN-necessary moves eliminated. The main working room and glaze room will have waterproof walls and a 4" trench drain which will allow me to hose down these rooms to clean (no more mop and bucket!!!); these floor drains, and sinks will be tied into a holding tank so Im not flushing clay down my septic system.

The main working area will have air filtration for any dust kicked up in between cleanings, and to provide air flow. The sanding/spray room will be separated by walls and doors, and will have its own makeup air system which will allow the ventilation to properly work. Because I will be exhausting this air, there will also be infrared heaters  to offset the heat loss in the winter time. The exhaust system will also be used for a desk top venting system for my glaze mixing table in the next room.

The raw glaze materials will be stored in one of Bailey's big glaze mixing tables, and the remainder in lidded plastic containers of varying sizes; the plastic containers, and wire shelving they'll be stored on means I will also be able to hose down all the containers. All my glazes are in big buckets/trashcans which are already on castors too. Stainless steel tables are what I use for glazing work; those too also get hosed down. The glazing room sink will be an oversized, prep sink; the lower nature of the sink means I wont be lifting big heavy buckets of liquid as high, and I will be able to easily wash a 5 gallon bucket in the sink.

All the floors will be brushed concrete, so even when wet, they should have pretty good slip resistance. Not planning on sealing the concrete as Im not sure if that would make it more slick or not; anyone have experience with this?

The kiln room will have enough space for a 7'x7' footprint gas kiln (my current is a 4' footprint), and enough room for my oval and 1227 electric kilns. Plenty of storage/shelving for all my furniture and shelving, and glazed pots. There will be an 8'x8' roll up door, and 4'x6' window in the kiln room to provide ventilation, a large in wall exhaust fan, as well as through the soffits/ridge vent. The large door will also allow me to bring my current kiln in on a skid steer; no more tearing kilns down to move them around! Compressor will be housed in kiln room to keep equipment noise isolated.

The finished storage room/packing room will have large tables on which to pack/receive. Tall enough ceilings for a "packing peanut funnel". Lots of storage for all the different sized boxes, tapes, scales, etc. This room also opens right up to the covered parking which will allow me to repack in between shows much much easier. There will be LOTS of shelving for all the finished pots; hoping to have enough room to sort pots by styles/colors/sizes etc. Also plan on running some kind of air filtration in this room to keep the pots from getting as dusty; thought about some kind of drop cloth system to cover the pots when not in use (to keep dust down) but havent come up with anything brilliant yet.

The main room will have a roll up door which is large enough to bring full pallets of clay in at a time (no more dollying/carrying tons per year!), and double wide doors to the kiln room will allow me to get those 3-4' wide pots into the kiln (dont ask me how I found this out the hard way). Screens for all the doors (including rollup doors) will allow me to get great natural ventilation when the weather is right, and all the doors are back far under a roof line so the rain wont blow in either.

Installing as much electric service as I can afford; at least 300 amps of single phase, 400 if we can afford the extra service drops. This building will be built to local/state code, so I am thankful that every device that needs to have dedicated service will; no longer do I have to worry about running my hair dryer and kiln at the same time :-)! An abundance of 110V outlets; plan to outlaw extension cords! Ill also install 220V services for devices that I havent begun to use yet (ram press, slip mixers,pumps,etc) but will in the future.

The kitchen/bathrooms are pretty basic; enough for daily use, and any open houses I plan on having. I have been thinking of some kind of sleeping quarters/bed space. Dont want something that will be out all the time, collecting dust and looking unprofessional, but also would like something more than a cot. Maybe a plastic covered fold out couch/sleeper sofa will work. Thought about a murphy bed, but not sure where Id put it.

All the shelving in the studio will be stainless wire shelving (doesnt hold dust/waterproof) carts so I can wheel work from one are to the next (no more carrying ware boards all over). All the doors and walkways will be at least 36" wide to allow for easy migration throughout the studio too!

The only thing that ended up getting cut from the plan was a dedicated photo area with lights/box set up all the time. It would have been nice to pull a pot from the kiln and snap a few photos, but in the list of priority and budget...

That's the "basics" (I know....when will he stop talking) of what the building is, and how it will hopefully function (like a Swiss watch). Id appreciate any thoughts you all have! I'm building this studio once, and hopefully Ill get it right on the first go around. I'm sure I'll miss some stupid details, but hopefully Ive thought of most of them, or you can help me realize any silly one's that I haven't.

It will also not only hopefully be a very efficient studio, but a very enjoyable one. A small creek (babbles just beautifully) runs beside the studio location, has no neighbors, 6 acres of privacy, and beautiful woods/fields to look at. An old (1909) and run down schoolhouse will hopefully become a residence, or intern housing in a few years.

Lastly, I will be putting together a long (...how much longer can it be?!!) and comprehensive post on here detailing the design, and build of this studio after it gets done. Hopefully we should have it all buttoned up and operational by mid May!

Thanks in advance!

New Studio Floor plan.jpg

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4 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

I run 40 students out of a 1500sq/ft studio, so I think that just about anything would work in that big space!

I like unsealed concrete. If you spill water, it soaks in and doesn't form a slippery puddle.

Do you have classes of 40 students at a time? My shared studio is between myself and another full time potter (well, now officially retired) and is 1200 feet. He and I are basically tripping over each other all the time! I cant imagine even 10 students per class in a space that size! You must make very efficient use of your space!

 

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6 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

like unsealed concrete. If you spill water, it soaks in and doesn't form a slippery puddle.

Thats my thought too; Not sure if there was enough of a brushed texture to the surface, and the "right" (not sure what that is) sealer was used, if we could have best of both. Little spills and what not dont bother me, but hosing down my floors every week or few days is a lot of water. Not sure if that will be a big issue in 20 years, or if it will always be damp in the studio because of the moisture in the concrete. Ive asked around and no one can give me a definitive answer

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1 minute ago, hitchmss said:

Do you have classes of 40 students at a time? My shared studio is between myself and another full time potter (well, now officially retired) and is 1200 feet. He and I are basically tripping over each other all the time! I cant imagine even 10 students per class in a space that size! You must make very efficient use of your space!

 

Your studio is 20% bigger than my home, amazing!  Don't know what I'd do with that amount of room, my studio is about 50 sq ft, kilns outside, racks on the walls wherever they'll fit.  I'm not a full time potter though.

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1 minute ago, liambesaw said:

Your studio is 20% bigger than my home, amazing

A big portion of that 3400 ft is not "studio" per se; almost 700 feet of it is parking and a porch. It is a big studio for sure; sometimes I feel silly about that much space, but ive gone over the plans numerous times in my head, marking out walkways, tables, equipment, etc and it always comes out about the same.

Currently Im with you "....racks on the walls wherever they'll fit.."; Its so frustrating to not have enough room to work easily. Like for example, right now, I have 100 bacon cookers which are drying up enough so I can trim/handle them. With the other pots Ive made the past three weeks, my 4 carts (18"x48"72") are practically full, and my work table, and slab roller (only horizontal work surface) are covered with the bacon cookers. So instead of being able to make more pots, Im waiting around for these bacon cookers to stiffen so I can move on to the next item. There have been times in the past where Im using wooden blocks, and ware boards, building towers of pots on the floors because I have no room! NO MORE!

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12 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I meant your 1200 foot one 

The 1200 foot one is a decent size, if for one full time potter. We added on about 300 feet of storage space a few years back, but the working room (two wheels, work tables, numerous trashcans of glaze, spray booth, compressor, glaze mixing storage, bisque kiln, gas kiln, shelving, wood stove.......... are all in that space. When my associate and I were both working full time ( he retired last month), and were in the midst of the season, the studio was PACKED full of pots. Heres a link from this past April; practically all the pots you see in the video were made from Jan-April and constituted about 40% of my years necessary inventory. At that time I still had maybe another 300-400 bone dry pots at my home studio.

 

Edited by hitchmss

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Wow you make quite a bit of bigger stuff!  I saw some walls there with spare room, get to it! Haha.  This summer I plan on adding some racks to the back of my house on the outside.  I have room inside for about 100 mugs and that's it

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3 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I have room inside for about 100 mugs and that's i

Oh man, I make mugs in 100 count batches; normally at least 600 mugs a year. I do make some bigger pots; those two that were in the video were from another potter who didnt have a big enough kiln. The comment about needing bigger doorways in the studio to the kiln room; was making some BIG pots a couple years back; one was 36" x 48". Figured out too late that the doorways were only like 32"....that pot never got fired.

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1 hour ago, hitchmss said:

Do you have classes of 40 students at a time? My shared studio is between myself and another full time potter (well, now officially retired) and is 1200 feet. He and I are basically tripping over each other all the time! I cant imagine even 10 students per class in a space that size! You must make very efficient use of your space!

 

10 students at a time. Sometimes up to 18 for parties. It's cozy!

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Mind if I ask what your budget is for this Claystravaganza?

What happens to Ohio concrete floors in coldest weather? Wonder if it would be worthwhile to install heating into the floor? Would help with drying after hosing. ( I wouldn't seal it, either way)

Be sure to scrape off excess tenmoku before stepping into your shower (! :) ) I thought I was fancy by having a studio toilet - really does cut down on tracking clay into the house.

I like your circular workpath.

"to keep the pots from getting as dusty; thought about some kind of drop cloth system to cover the pots whenot iuse"  Tension curtain/shower curtain rods, draped with fabric, could be placed selectively on/over wooden shelves. Polyester curtains are large and inexpensive, sheer enough to see through and already sewn with rod pockets or loops. If the shelves are metal racks, curtains can be suspended by S-hooks or clothespins.

I ran all my studio electric at 4' above floor (with a couple extra outlets on ceiling in the center of the workspace). Outdoor covers are helpful when hosing.

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17 hours ago, hitchmss said:

Thats my thought too; Not sure if there was enough of a brushed texture to the surface, and the "right" (not sure what that is) sealer was used, if we could have best of both. Little spills and what not dont bother me, but hosing down my floors every week or few days is a lot of water. Not sure if that will be a big issue in 20 years, or if it will always be damp in the studio because of the moisture in the concrete. Ive asked around and no one can give me a definitive answer

Maybe using a quick squeegee to drain afterward to minimize what the concrete is soaking up every night. if it seems to be building up dampness maybe wait a day or even two to allow it to dry completely between hosing.

I guess I think trying to hose down nightly is going to do what you think and make it to moist and I would wonder if mold might even be an issue over time. I would consider still doing a light wet mop every day and do the hose routine once a week.  

Great studio plan!

Edited by Stephen

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If you run a dehumidifier the floor should dry out quickly. In my studio, which has an unfinished concrete floor, dampness will actually come up from below in a couple of spots if it rains for several days. If the moisture is a problem, you could always seal the floor with something that has grip to it so it's not slippery when wet. My wife's vet clinic has a grippy expoxy floor that would probably work well for a studio.

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My floor is concrete and when it's wet I get mold problems.  I live in the Pacific Northwest though so the world is always a little damp.  Not an issue in the summer but I try not to get the floor wet this time of year.

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heat in the floor would be wonderful.  so much progress in that area in the last 20 years.

when i built the studio and house in 1990, i put foam insulation under the concrete floor.   the workers had never seen that before and did not know how to keep it down.  i do now, a grid of wire farm fencing run and pinned just over the top of the foam sheets would be very inexpensive and would hold it down during the pouring and leveling.

what would it take to become the potter sharing the space??????;)

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A few thoughts

The work flow circle is a solid idea stick with it.

Sealing the concrete will make it slicker (do not do it)You can do it in the kitchen and baths its more sanitary .Sealing will not hold dust as well in those spaces.

The move all pots thru the spray booth area  to glaze room looks like a bad idea(I think that says spray booth)-the spray booth should not be a thruway.I may have this wrong but thats how it looks.

The 9x13 kitchen seems large-so I'm guessing your are really cooking in there?How about a bed in there as well?

As to heat as Rae said how about heated concrete floor.More upfront costs but cheaper in long run. I see no heater in any spaces or a mechanical room(heater water /heater etc?)I see your nots on wood stove/and gas heater and ac-but need more details on where they are going???

wood heat will not be good in the throwing  drying room -to uneven-up and down temps.

also you may have said this to me already but how old are you? as this space will work for a long time and thats what you need to make it payoff.

The floor/sink water collection tank needs to be able to shovel the sludge out so its either downhill or ?? whats that plan elevation wise?

I have. never wanted a shower in my studio but I'm guessing you plan on living a bit in this one???When I want a shower and thats every day I am done in studio and do not want to go back in there.The toilet is great-(you need two???)You must want to live in this place?

Overall the flow looks super-well thought out-its a dream for rolling carts.

 

 

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23 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

My floor is concrete and when it's wet I get mold problems.  I live in the Pacific Northwest though so the world is always a little damp.  Not an issue in the summer but I try not to get the floor wet this time of year.

My cousin lives in Portland. He once told that if you take a shower in March you won't dry off until October.

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In-floor heating is a dream. My father-in-law has it in his wood shop, and it's the coziest, most even heat ever. You don't feel cold even when it's not set very high because there are no cold spots or drafts.

Watch just how brushed you make the concrete. I've got areas in my studio that are smoother than others, and I prefer the smoother finish. It's not a garage floor polished finish, but it's not brushed. It's much easier to get clean than the rough areas, doesn't shred the mop, and is still pretty darn grippy.

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i do not see access to the porch from anywhere inside.  unless the note is too small to read.  an awning like projection on the side where the prevailing weather comes from can keep it dry, or almost dry in the rain.      i think an entrance from the kiln room might be a good thing on those spring or fall days you would just like to sit down but not shiver too much.

Edited by oldlady
correction

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me 2.5 cents

Insulation under slab well worth considering, depending on location (Ohio?) and floor's depth below grade...

ihmo, mopping/hosing concrete is easier when the concrete is sealed - check out the gas station islands; some of them may be slippery when wet, however, there are ways to correct that.

For hvac, given the building is well insulated, I love the mini-split heat pumps these days - target your spaces, an' no loss through ductwork.

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do you have an objection to using drywall sheets as wareboards?  i love mine, the ones in west va are about 18x25 inches and are 5/8 thick.  not too heavy but able to take a number of pots easily.  the ones here in florida are a little narrower, they fit on closet frames that usually hold wire basket drawers.    i certainly prefer the baker's racks that are in west va.  this studio is too small for rolling carts.

some people think they have to have duct tape all around the edges but i have never had a problem with that.  if i cut the line correctly and break it right, there are no loose bits to "contaminate my clay".   cannot imagine how anyone could contaminate wet clay which is not near the place finished work goes.

if you cannot break the drywall correctly, a rub against a concrete sidewalk or driveway smooths it just like sandpaper would.

Edited by oldlady
grammar

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@Mark C. Yeah two toilets; The one bathroom is off the kitchen area, and in the event of an open house situation, If I am cooking food, it wont be very pleasant if someone is going through there to take a #2. Trying to keep the digestive process as separated as possible. Likewise, If I am having an open house, and hopefully its busy, there will be less of a line if there's 2 instead of one. I will be living about 40 mins away from this studio (for the time being, may put a home on this property in the future...money..), so I wanted a full shower there for a number of reasons; I am highly allergic to poison ivy, which Im sure I will get into when doing outside work. The thought of having those oils all over me all day long is horrifying for me; having a place where I can decontaminate myself will be great. Same goes for the pooch whenever she gets super messy. Also, I know of a friend who fell into a full 55 gallon trash can of tenmoku glaze; god forbid I ever do that, but if need to, Ill have something other than the hose to clean up. Similarly, I dont regularly work with dangerous liquids (solvents, acids, etc) but I do sometimes; the shower will act as my eyewash/chemical clean up station should I ever need it.

I agree with you on moving the pots through the spray booth/sanding room; All my pots get sanded when they are bone dry, so it seemed logical the next room in the flow would be the sanding room, from the main working room. I will be putting in 40" or greater doors on this room so the process of going through it isnt difficult. The sanding table and spray booth will be out of the "walkway" so I wont have anything to navigate around, just a straight shot. Im trying to keep my walking/moving of pots to a minimum, and trying to keep with the circular flow of the studio, it would be ideal if the spray booth were more in the glazing room, but there is going to be some back tracking (main working room-sanding-bisque-back to glaze room- back to spray booth-back to kiln room). This has been the best layout that I have been able to come up with but if you have a good idea I'd love to hear it.

Yes, the payback on this studio will take some time; thankfully my young bones of 31 years will hopefully last long enough to see the studio paid off, and money back into my pocket!

Yea, I will actually be cooking in this kitchen, not just microwaving meals for the day. Im a big outdoorsman and my vegetarian wife would prefer if I did my "processing" somewhere else that at home. The kitchen will also have a small stackable washer/dryer in it too, along with a small table to eat meals at. Im also trying to think somewhat of the resale of this buidling; it will be built to residential code, and since all of the interior walls arent load bearing, someone could knock them all out and do the layout how they'd like. However, I figure, if someone ever wanted to make this building into a full time residence/shop/workspace it would be relatively easy if I had the layout already kind of done for them. Originally I tried to think of the layout and design in regards to how easiest to convert into an actual home from a studio; too difficult to try to plan out extra bathrooms, cabinets, etc.

Thats a great idea of sealing the floors in the "non slick" areas, and not in the wet rooms. See, stupid me was thinking it was all or nothing. Will be much easier to clean a sealed floor with a mop than a non sealed one.

Ive thought about radiant floor heating; It comes down to budget. You need to properly insulate a slab if you're going to do radiant floor, on grade concrete. Ive found sources for seconds rigid foam which is suitable for below grade use, but it still isnt cheap. If I have it in the budget I will use radiant floor heat in the main room, and glazing room, since that is where I will be spending most of my time. At this point though, the most we can do in regards to insulating the slab is to do a perimeter insulation, mostly to act as a thermal break. Plus, if we only insulate/heat concrete in a portion of the building, the pouring of the concrete gets to be very complicated. Thermal breaks between slabs, different grade elevations to allow for 4"+ of rigid foam insulation....Not to say it cant be done, but it does add to the cost....little here, little there..... We are planning on insulating the walls to a R40'ish and the ceiling to R50'ish.

I will have my wood stove in the main room; I have it in a "throwing" room at my second studio currently. It doesnt bother me at all in regards to hot/cold zones. I will be running air filtration units in this main room when Im working, so these units, in combination with the central furnace, should provide a relatively consistent temp to the room, making controlling the drying of wet pots more manageable rather than finding the "optimal areas". The furnace/mech room is located in the glazing room; as centrally located as possible to cut down on uneven suppy/return runs. I will also be zoning the system so I can keep the storage areas at 50'ish, but my working room somewhere closer to 70.

The floor/sink holding tank will be downhill, and below grade of the studio floor. By code this has to be a contained unit to prevent oil leakage into the soil/sewer system. It would be idea if the sediments could filter down to the bottom of the tank, and clear water could be run off to a daylighted pipe, but I will have to just use an electric water pump every so often to pump off the settled out clear water, and then once a year, either have a commercial operation with a big vacuum come clean it out, or I crawl down there and shovel it out. Not the end of the world either way.

I worked for a guy, whom I thought at the time was crazy because he wanted everything on castors. I now have become this crazy man! Heavy duty, locking castors will be going on just about everything in the studio, from slab rollers, work tables, etc. So much easier to clean and work when everything rolls. No need to make my life worse by carrying pots to and fro.

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1 hour ago, oldlady said:

what would it take to become the potter sharing the space??????;)

Want to submit an application? :P

I had a young guy who worked for me, almost full time, for about two years (19-21 years of age) who wanted to become a potter. It was my hope that someone like him would be my studio mate. When I graduated from college I tried desperately to find a potter who would employ me so I could work in the material daily, and not just at nights. I wasnt able to find a position doing this, and it has become a big goal of mine to be able to provide a place for young potters/clay artists to foster growth. A combination of an internship/employment/residency. Trading labor (sanding, mixing glazes, cleaning,etc) for "x" amount of space/materials/etc, but also getting paid 30-40 hours per week at a couple bucks more than minimum wage. I had always hoped to be able to offer housing as part of this deal, but that may be out of my budget. There is some hope that with the assistance of some grants, that MAYBE we could do housing, which would allow this to be a more incentive option for a potential intern/potter/etc.

For the mean time I would like to find someone who has a serious interest in making pots, that I can get along with on a personality level, that is willing to do a combination trade labor for access and partial rent. I like my solitude a lot, but on the same hand I do seek companionship (one of the reasons why I like this forum), and having someone who is in the studio regularly, but maybe not every day, all day, would be ideal. I dont think the space is big enough for two, big/full time potters to work from, plus I dont want to give up all my beloved space to someone else so willy nilly like, but it would definitely accomodate someone who makes a few hundred or more pots a year.

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1 hour ago, Stephen said:

I guess I think trying to hose down nightly is going to do what you think and make it to moist and I would wonder if mold might even be an issue over time. I would consider still doing a light wet mop every day and do the hose routine once a week.  

I plan on hosing down the space about once per week. Im pretty clean in my studio habits, and my messes are generally contained to smaller areas, so daily cleaning is relatively simple. I agree that hosing down every day would be a a huge waste of water, but also a very damp studio.

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