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Qotw: How much do you think you spent setting up your own studio?

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Min recently posted in the QotW pool the following: My question would be how much do you think you spent setting up your own studio?

Seeing as a lot of folks think it is cheap to set up a Ceramics studio, let me lay it out as I saw it. . . Started with a used Amaco motorized kick wheel ($125), and a new  kiln. . . $2200 as I remember. No wedging table, no banding wheels, some tools that I had used. . .$100 bucks. Add in some garbage bags and an old useless refrigerator for ware storage(wet cabinet) Free. First load of clay $450 for one ton. Drove to Pittsburgh to pick up in two batches. Since then. . . . New wheel 25 years ago Brent CXC $1250, built shelving and wedging table(better on my back than wedging on my knees on the concrete floor)$75. Workench with storage drawers $850, Banding wheel $85 large head, heavy base and bearings. Add in kiln repairs. . .new elements, switches, blocks, shelves, bottoms, tops, brick replacements element channel replacements. Heaters, fans, air compressor, spray gun and a homemade shelf cart. Of late, power caulk gun for power extruder, after the commercial hand held, I had purchased,  proved to be innadequate $100. Glaze materials, and storage containers, along with commercial stains and underglazes. Wood stamps and rollers, other texture finds, and tool adaptions. Then this Christmas I got a scroll saw so that cutting out dies for the extruder would be easier.  I would say there is easily over 7K sitting out there frozen right now!

 

best,

Pres 

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I'm still young in my venture, but I started with a used rk2 wheel from the 1960s, 250 dollars.  Built a fiber kiln ala Ian gregory that cost me 200 to build.  Maybe 100 in tools (im cheap).  The big killer for me is glaze supplies, I've got probably 600 in just glaze supplies.  Bought a used 18x23 electric kiln recently for 75 dollars, and am currently in the middle of installing power for it at my home which is costing me 400 if I include the new drill I bought.  Clay I get for the ton price, which is cheap but seems to be the main thing I end up spending money on now.  I just got 500lbs a couple weeks ago and I'm already down to 150.  I don't know where the heck it all goes, I certainly have nothing to show for it, but that's where my money has been going recently.  I'm going to try to get a half ton next time, we will have to see how my Tahoe handles it haha.  So overall on equipment it's been around 600, and for materials about twice that.

Gonna have to get a business license so I can stop paying sales tax on all my purchases!

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I set myself up in my basement where I had a lot of things already that did not need to be purchased, like tables and shelves from an old canning room, air cleaner, and heater, and utility sinks.

I bought my wheel new for about $1200 including a stand so I can throw standing. My stool is my daughter's old harp stool.

I bought a basic work table for $25 at Goodwill.

I don't have a kiln, which means I incur a cost for every firing I do elsewhere.

I probably have $150 in tools of various kinds. I am not counting reference books, but that could be $200. Maybe that is a slight over-estimate.

I don't think of the disposables like clay and glaze as studio set up costs, as they are variable costs depending on volume rather than fixed costs.

 

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At the very beginning, someone gave me a small kiln for free. I spent another $5000 furnishing the rest, inckuding a wheel, kiln vent, kiln furniture, slab roller, lots of tables and shelving, various tools, and the electrician who installed the kiln circuit and punched a hole in my wall for the vent duct. I did all of this in my unfinished basement, which was not being used for anything else, so my space was essentially free. 

SInce then, I have bought 2 new kilns, a second wheel (used), and renovated my dingy basement into a clean and bright workspace. Maybe another $25k spent, mostly on the renovation. 

These days, I spend $1500 on clay per year, $300 on glaze materials, and $450 everytime one of the kilns needs new elements and TCs which is once or twice a year. 

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Good question (mebbe some tips on $aving and choosing will get recorded)!

Set of tools for local JC class, class fees, ~$265.

Used (barely, and over three years transferable warrantee remaining) Hill wheel was ~$900, included fifty lbs clay, two bats, an' some tools.

Fifty pounds clay, another bat, ~$50; shipping clay not cheap! ...resolve to make next clay purchase in Hulk bulk.

Used kiln from nice lady, $500, included new shelf kit, the old warped scabby shelves, some oxides, cones, and furniture (hi Ann!).

Side trip to Aardvark* whilst in LA, ~1200 lbs of clay, glaze materials, other stuff ...pyrometer, plaster, a few tools, ~$780.

Another class at the local JC, ~$255; while carting self and tools back and forth isn't ideal, having pieces fired every week is nice - shortens the loop, eh? Mainly, I like(d) meeting people, getting to know them, and seeing everyone's work each week.

 

Call it 3000 bucks then, as there were a few tools, bag o' clay, gas an' such for pick up trips, some screws an' whatnot for shelves in the studio.

Oops, forgot materials for vents, and (#%_ electrician and materials for kiln electric, add six hunn'd bucks, call it $3700 then.

Egad, what have me done?

 

Getting organized in progress right now (in a minute...) - mostly scraps and shelves from previous homes**. I like the metal tracks; they hold a lot and can be moved up an' down; bought a few more at Home Debit yesterday.

Caught the clay bug in local JC class, almost a year ago; at that time, was still working, and planned to keep working for a few more years. Well, circumstances changed, gave notice late May, bye-bye. Ahem, had been mulling over "next" for quite a few years now - several activities had made the list, including woodworking, furniture refinishing, handyman business... Turns out I like the clay. I'm not in a hurry to  get commercial - likely won't ever make it a full time roar - however, am looking to branch out into sales, to defray ongoing expenses an' get rid o' the piles o' pieces! My biz plan includes fixed percentage o' proceeds to local children's, women's, and homeless services.

Well, enough about me!

*Looks like Aardvark isn't back to mixing clay; wishing them all the best.

**Learned the hard way that anything attached to the house (e.g. light fixtures, shelving) is included in the sale, hence, take down any bits that you want to keep before showing y'house for sale!

Edited by Hulk
forgot a few things

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It is hard to put a number on it since I have been buying equipment and chemicals for 45 years.  My first work area had a few tools, desk, and a used kiln that I paid $100 for.  You have to remember that our house payment was $100 in 1974.   Three years later I bought a used kick wheel for  $80.   I have replace that equipment and added more over the years.   I started buy glaze chemicals around 1980 so I had to buy more shelving and work tables.  I also bought a Bailey slab roller.  I have spent $4,000 just in equipment,  I haven't the slightest idea how to figure the rest.  My husbands restores old muscle cars,  the tools he needs and expenses he has make my budget look like a pittance.    Denice

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"...make my budget look like a pittance."

:lol:

Aye that! Looking over what I have into bikes (the pedal kind) - I only have five, two of which get ridden regularly - waay more $ than clay! Add in clothing, tools, accessories, ongoing repair and replacements.

Friends an' fam into motorcycles, music, sewing, off-roading, attending pro sports, participating in sanctioned sport (add th' travelling)... whooha, they spend lots o'cash. Beats bein' bored, carry on.

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Sounds like my son's bicycle obsession,  he has 20 bicycles,  he had to leave them behind when they moved to Korror,  Palau three years ago.  He was told not to bring any bicycles because they don't have any traffic laws and most cyclist were killed with in a year.   They have recently returned but it has been cold and miserable here so I don't think he has done any riding.   Denice

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Interesting topic.  Over the past few years I have spent at least $7000.  The majority of the cost is the big slab roller, new kiln and the electrician for the kiln...about $5000.  The rest is clay, glaze materials, some tools...I am a fan of the finding old stuff that can be used as tools.  Got some funky storage cabinets for the glaze materials from Habitat as well as a flat file to store rolled slabs waiting to be worked.   Wow!!!  It rather sobering to see what I have spent on what has been mostly a hobby to this point.  Guess I better get working!!!

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I’ve really just accumulated things slowly over time. The first space I had that wasn’t rented or in school was a large laundry room in a rented house that had my brand new Brent C that was $1600 CAD (knock 30% of that price if you want the US equivalent), and a heavy wooden 2 1/2’ square display plinth that I dumpster dived for from behind a coffee house that I painted and covered in canvas. I still use as my wedging table, although now there’s a patio paver on top of it instead of canvas. I think I bought $200 CAD worth of clay and glaze supplies, and it was cheap because I was firing cone 10 and the materials for that are stupid cheap. At the time, I was transporting work to get it fired. 

I had plywood bats that I’d made in the wood shop in school for the cost of the plywood, and a kit full of the usual small tools.

In my current studio, the purchases have included $50 for paint and some lighting, $300 for my current wire shelving and maybe another $150 for the wall mounted brackets and boards. My work table was free. I’ve picked up a lot of other pieces and dry chemicals from other potters selling stuff because they were moving that it’s hard to keep track. The kiln was $500 and the install, including building the patio slab it’s on and the electrician was about $2300. The patio slab was most of that. 

My studio has grown over time, usually in increments of $100-200. It’s been a matter of make some stuff with the things you have, and then upgrade with the proceeds of your sales. The biggest 2 purchases were the wheel and the patio slab, and they were purchased 15 years apart. 

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Original setup was:

First wheel, used Estrin, was $100

First kiln including shelves $400

Glaze chemicals, probably around $500. (I think of glaze chemicals and clay as consumables not setup items)

Small tools and incidentals approx another $300. Wood batts I got free, plaster batts I made so not much cost there.

Wiring etc was inexpensive as we did the work. Used tables and shelving etc. One thing I still have from this original setup is a long horizontal filing cabinet. I’m vertically challenged (short) and the top of the filing cabinet is the perfect height for wedging, it’s heavy so it doesn’t move and there is storage for underglazes etc.It was free at a garage sale. This was enough to get me started.

Since then I have added a new wheel, that is now getting replaced, so 2 new wheels. Approx $2200 for those. Talisman sieve was about $140.

I’ve gone through another 2 kilns, one was a front loader (that was a disaster because it wasn’t built properly) cost $5000, other kiln was a beater I bought used for $500. Spent another $800 on kiln shelves for the 2 kilns. Those kilns have been replaced, now have 1 I bought new, just over $5k plus a used one for $800. A new controller for the used kiln, $400. shelves came with the new kiln but bought 5 more at $65 each. I also have a 1 cubic foot used test kiln, that was $100 and we reused the controller off the front loader for it.

Mixer/pugger was just under $5K. This is one thing I wish I had saved for and bought much earlier on. 

Saved money on slabroller, extruder and banding wheel. We built those, mostly using scrap materials.

I do have  angst over buying new equipment but used equipment in decent shape doesn’t come along very often where I live. I just keep telling myself the Henry Ford quote 

"If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and don’t have it."

Thanks for posting my question Pres.

 

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This is a difficult question to answer; some folks have a piece of land, where they live, and can have a studio in their homes. For me, this is not the case! I am actually in the process of buying land, and building a new studio, which is currently being discussed under another thread. I will also be writing an all inclusive post detailing what its cost me to do this project.

As well, some expenses are not necessarily "studio" related, but more over support the studio; my Sprinter van is integral to my pottery business, but not integral to making pots.

The materials we use in our process is relatively cheap, but our studios and equipment are not. We are likely only trumped by glass artists when it comes to studio requirements and costs.

Playing in the mud has cost me nearly 6 figures thus far (new van, pug mill, kilns, wheels, slab roller, extruder, misc small tools, big collection of bats, compressors, spray booth, sanding table, air filtration.........................................) Folks who ask often about need a new change of pants when I tell them what it costs for me to make their $20 mug.

Philosophically too, my education was a huge expense.

I generally dont like to "share numbers" (either income or expenses) as I fear being judged one way or the other, or creating tensions etc, but in the sense of an educational resource, I think its important to know. I know I had no clue what it cost to become a full time potter, back when I was wanting to become a full time potter.

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3 hours ago, Pres said:

I never did include my library, which is at least 100 volumes if not more, add in the magazine subscriptions, and the use of stinky kerosene heat in the early years. Lot to consider.

best,

Pres

Good point!  That and a myriad of tools that I have acquired over the years.

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Since I started so long ago about all I can say is it cost less than my diving/underwater photography/tuna fishing addictions.

I dug up my 1st bricks at industrial dump-kiln costs where mostly pipe.Homemade just about everything-scale was wood balanced in nails with known counterweights-The power wheel in 69?or 1970 was 270$ big $ back then.

studio sink was salvage yard. Wood floor was also salvage.Over time I insulated studio-bought used windows used old tin for roof-pretty low budget. 

Built a catenary arch for peanuts(cost a fortune to fire)split it 3-4 ways.

Since I bought my place at age 19 that was my biggest cost 23k for close to an acre.Rented a room for a decade to help with the huge house payment $150.00 a month .

My beginnings where slow and meager.

Of course all the things now for sale in this field where not yet mainstream back then. You had to be resourceful and that was my 1st big lesson in ceramics.

Now I have 5 power wheels cases of spare bricks and more materials then one man should own.Even a spare electric kiln(I should sell it)

The books came slowly but now its a library .

Now I'm on the slow down phase.No longer growing business but one that is slow shrinking.

Although today I introduced a new form  for sale at two local outlets (a tumbler)

 

Edited by Mark C.

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I bought most of my equipment one piece at a time like many others. (while I was still working)   Wheel was first $1100, then kiln $3000,  Then clay, then started adding chemicals for glazes.  Spray booth and work tables were free (scrounged).  Slab roller was 4 years ago, small one, books since the beginning.  And then there is the shop.  We built a shop that we share, so there is the cost of that, electric upgrade, display equipment (tables, shelving, canopy, etc) Like most everyone else, I have found free or low cost things in order to do what I need to do, but I have it all insured for $10,000 for insurance purposes.  

 

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I hope we hear from someone who is a hand-builder.  Had I stuck only with hand-building, and as I have no commercial interest, studio set up could have been very little.

Yappy? Lee?

 

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Well, being predominately into hand/slab work does not exempt one from hemorrhaging spendoolies. And I do have a wheel, a new Brent w/reverse that makes my life a joy even tho I am coming to terms with the true end of my throwing days (physical issues). 

I "invested" in myself more than "spent" money.  (That's sly wordsmithing designed to ease the sticker shock of what my home studio cost-probably not fooling anyone, including me.) 

OK---it tallied roughly 12K for the full set-up, including all equipment, tables/shelving, slab roller, new EZ-fire L&L, electrical work, web site, wheel, plumbing, winterizing a large screen porch & converting a bedroom to a fully functional studio. Bought everything new--that was extremely important to me, for personal reasons, but I would strongly advise anyone else to utilize sites like Potters Attic etc, the thrift stores, local online garage sales etc. to amass most of the items on the cheap--it can be done, without sacrificing quality if you know what you're looking for & getting. I made my studio from new things, but 90% of the rest of my stuff for my daily life is highly frugal/thrift/stolen (found---I meant found).  

I am just breaking even on the annual materials/supplies/production supports/insurance/maintenance/overhead/fees etc., by the end of last year. Running about $2k a year for total operations. 

Edited by LeeU

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4 hours ago, Gabby said:

I hope we hear from someone who is a hand-builder.  Had I stuck only with hand-building, and as I have no commercial interest, studio set up could have been very little.

Yappy? Lee?

 

It is more than possible to make clay things on a shoestring. A box of clay and some simple tools might not even add up to $100. I have a friend who handbuilt in her kitchen for years, and earned some very good money as a side gig. She managed a kiln for $500 and her dad did the install. She spent more money on booth fees than studio setup, I think. She did get a slab roller last year though, and bought some of those fancy pastry rolling pins for pattern making, and finally moved into her basement.

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Handbuilder here....

Kiln £25

New Elements ???£50?? £100???  No idea

New Controller £350

Socket on outside wall of house £150

Arctic cable £50

Slab Roller (Home-made) £40

Slab Roller (Old-fashioned mangle) £5 for paint

Hand tools £70

Large Harp £20

Extruders £35 + £15 + £5

Scales £10 + £7

Banding Wheel £30

Clay  £ongoing

Plaster £ongoing

Commercial glazes £100s

 

 

Yikes, not sure I like this question, the more I visual my way round my own studio (greenhouse) and shelf at the centre the more things I remember.

 

 

 

Edited by Chilly

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6 hours ago, Chilly said:

Yikes, not sure I like this question, the more I visual my way round my own studio (greenhouse) and shelf at the centre the more things I remember.

Agreed it could be a daunting question to answer. In another thread it was brought up that this isn't a cheap hobby or job to get setup in to the point of being self sufficient so I thought it would be interesting to see where people have spent money. Hopefully this thread will give new potters a realistic idea of the costs involved.  I too forgot to add things to my list, spraybooth (built from mostly scrounged materials) and a compressor (bought used), spray guns. 

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On 1/16/2019 at 8:16 AM, Denice said:

Sounds like my son's bicycle obsession,  he has 20 bicycles,  he had to leave them behind when they moved to Korror,  Palau three years ago.  He was told not to bring any bicycles because they don't have any traffic laws and most cyclist were killed with in a year.   They have recently returned but it has been cold and miserable here so I don't think he has done any riding.   Denice

Korror to Kansas now thats a brutal thing .I feel for him and his wife.

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Mark they are having a hard time with the cold, at Christmas they wanted the heat on high and with my MS I have to stay as cool as I can.  We haven't spent much time together.  Denice

Edited by Denice
spelling

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