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JBaymore

What was your first workspace with clay? | QOW 10/16/2012

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JBaymore    1,432

We all had to get started with serious claywork somewhere. Outside of a school setting, what was your first real "studio space"? A deep, dark, damp basement with no windows? Maybe a converted (or not that converted) two car garage? Maybe a rented area in a ceramics cooperative? A spare bedroom? Your kitchen? A custom designed specialized studio constructed for just clay? A converted barn? Outside under a tent?

 

Please describe it.

What was your first workspace with clay?

 

 

 

 

 

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Denice    243

My first designated ceramic studio was in a small building 10x15 that had been used as an apartment during World War II. The guy who owned the building had used it to rewire electrical motors in so it was greasy and dirty and the ceiling had fallen in from years of leaking roof and had a smelly gas heater. It had a bathroom in it that looked like it came out of a horror movie, but it was a source of water. We put in a sink and cleaned it up the best we could. It worked well at the time, my son was a newborn and I could work out there for hours listening to baby monitor while he slept inside the house 50 feet away. It was quite enjoyable listening to him breathing, giggling and eventually crying while I worked. Denice

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I was in an airplane accident (don't worry, just me) and in pretty bad shape. I had been away from clay for about 15 years. My husband bought me a wheel and set me up a small working space in our basement. This was a great form of rehab. for me both physically as well as mentally. That was 22 years ago and I am still going strong. One year ago I switched my focus from wheel throwing to hand building - sculpture.:rolleyes:

Sandra

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clay lover    133

The feed room in the barn.;) Several $$,$$$ s worth of renovations later, I'm still there. I love the feel of being outside, I keep all the doors thrown open, the animals come through, I hear the birds, and I have all the amenities and equipment I could want, and really enjoy the workspace. I have spent 5 years doing gradual improvements to the studio , never finished, but still have a picture of my 2nd hand wheel sitting next to several western saddles and a roto tiller. Worked well for me.

Remember where you came from!

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SShirley    9

I started out in a small garden shed, about 8' x 12' or so, with a kick wheel I built myself. We put a window at one end and my wheel was right in front of the window. It was really nice in the spring and fall, but murder in the winter and summer. Soon, I outgrew the shed and moved into my half of the garage. We had it wired for a kiln and added hot and cold running water - something I never had in the shed. Then I outgrew my half of the garage and took over my husband's half too, as well as a metal storage shed that we built in the back yard to house my growing collection of electric kilns. That's when we decided to buy a small old rundown building downtown that had in the past been a set of tiny apartments, a motorcycle repair shop, a beauty shop, and accountant's office and a neon sign shop, in that order. It has a small area that I use for a gallery and the rest is studio. My space is about 1300 sq ft and has a 700 sq ft rental space at the end facing the street. I am currently renting that space to a small ethnic grocery store, but just got notice that they are moving out. Darn. I sure liked that money coming in to pay for my studio, but hopefully another tenant will step up soon. I keep telling my husband that I have just about outgrown my space here too. He just rolls his eyes.

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

Began with a cabin with Dutch doors and a wood stove while I was a caretaker for a religious estate in upstate NY.

Built a kiln with hard brick from an old Boiler in the woods. I used the flower pots from the green house for drying my clay from slurry.

It was a very beautiful location.

Marcia

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JBaymore    1,432

Technically, my first "personal studio space" was at my parent's home in NJ when I was still an undergrad college ceramics student at UMass Amherst. It was in a (lightly) converted single car garage that my parents really did not use for anything more than occasional storage of stuff like rakes, shovels, paint cans, and such. I had a home-made wooden frame kickwheel my dad and I built, a small table, some shelving, and that was about it. No running water...... used buckets for that carried from the house.

 

My kiln was in the relatlvely large backyard (slightly rural location)..... a wood kiln, in fact... the first kiln I ever built myself. Scrounged hardbrick lining, mainly dirt for backup insulation. Great learning experience early on in my studies and career. And it served to hook me on woodfiring for my whole life!

 

(Thanks mom and dad!)

 

After college, my first "real" studio was in a rented piece of property out in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Business named "Otis Earthworks". The studio was in a small outbuilding about 50 feet from the house (where I was renting a room). It was heated solely with a wood stove. It was probably about 20' x 20' in inside size, but I don't remember for sure (senior moment). Single floor, two or three windows. The owner paid for the materials for me to "improve" the interior a bit...... I did the labor. Put in rough cut pine boards for the inside siding, beefed up the insulation. Had a small showroom area with display shelving just as you walked into the space. Also some shelves outdoors displaying my work. At that time I bought the Brent CXC wheel that I still am using, and also had the older wooden kickwheel. Much improved space for storage of work. A few tables and such. Still no running water so the bucket system was in use.

 

The property owner allowed me to build a small pad with a shed roof for a gas fired kiln. That kiln was a catenary arch kiln made of IFB backed wioth ceramic fiber and covered with stainless steel sheet metal. Fired from the front on either side of the door with two venturi burners running high pressure propane. As I remember it was about 25-30 cubic feet. I also built a small raku kiln and did a lot of traku work then. I used one of the same propane burners from the high fire kiln for that raku kiln, becasue I had it mounted on a flexible hose so that it could be moved.

 

Wow...... going all the way back to the 60's here. It's been a long and satisfying road.

 

best,

 

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

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Cass    5

mine was my garage when i was a kid, my mom was an art teacher. she picked up a kiln and wheel at a yard sale for $50. she started doing clay classes in the garage, it was called Studio 36 because our house number was 36....this would have been about '73...i was 3

 

i know that wheel still today because i rebuilt it a few years back, i use it every day....and that same kiln is in my moms garage, still working after a rebuild in 95 or so

 

outside that, when we went Pro ( lol ) was in Driggs Idaho, i took over the living room, lined it in plastic and got to work

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Kohaku    22

I'm still in my first work space- a slat-board shack that I'm renting from a Church friend. Holds my wheel, kiln, shelves, glazes, and a boatload of other geejaws.

 

Unfortunately, it's neither heated nor insulated... so once the winter kicks in, I'm down to working by a space heater and making tiles. We live in Idaho's banana belt... but there's a limit to how much I'm willing to truck my wares back and forth to my house.

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Cass    5

kohaku,

 

i suggest some of that blueish, 2' thick construction foamboard insulation in your shack, and a bunch of ducttape, i'm not kidding, you can really conserve your heat...even 3 mil plastic stapled tightly and sealed in there will help

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Kohaku    22

kohaku,

 

i suggest some of that blueish, 2' thick construction foamboard insulation in your shack, and a bunch of ducttape, i'm not kidding, you can really conserve your heat...even 3 mil plastic stapled tightly and sealed in there will help

 

 

I've been mulling over that idea ^^^

 

It's getting to the point where I'm serious enough that I can't write off 2-3 months of the year.

 

John... it's all relative, isn't it? As an original Minneapolis boy, everything seems like bananas to me out here...

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Cass    5

yep, if it keeps you making work/money its an investment, cost of doing biz (and a tax writeoff! keep those receipts, lol )

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TJR    359

I moved into a brick warehouse that was built in 1917. Unfortunately, it was on the second floor. Lots of windows and light, hardwood floors, hot and cold running water. I taught pottery night classes on Mon. and Wed. and another potter named Tim taught on Tues and Thurs. So it was Tim and Tom the potters. He had a beard and I didn't, so that's how people could tell who their teacher was. We were paid plus got free studio space. We had a gas kiln in the basement and had to carry all the pots down to bisque, back up to glaze, back down to glaze fire.Did that for two years.

I went away to Scotland and England to apprentice, and then got my M.F.A. at Alfred. Came back to Winnipeg, and now the space was a co-operative studio. I rented space there from 1982 until 2011. That would be 29 years.

Last year,I built the cadillac studio, with heat in the floor, and just hooked up my used bisque kiln. Still don't have running water, but I dug a trench for a water line.

It is so nice to not have to climb those stairs!

John, I bought my Brent CXC used in 1975.Still runs great!

TJR.

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What great stories. Mine is pretty boring. I lived in a converted warehouse co-op in NYC, and began my life with clay in a studio several blocks away. When open studio time was not enough (very early on!) I sold my dining table and chairs, rearranged my space and worked in a corner by the window. Only hand building there. At that time I ran a design business out of the opposite corner of my living space, so when I was working and needed inspiration, I jumped over to the "studio" space and played with clay for a while.

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Idaho Potter    62

I live in the "banana belt", too. What it is relative to is other parts of the northwest. We don't get as much rain as the coastal areas nor do we get as cold at Billings, Montana. At least that's what I was told before moving to Idaho 36 years ago--by a Montana resident. When I mentioned I was moving to Idaho, he asked where. When I replied, Boise, he said, "Oh, in the banana belt". I think it has more to do wiith topography than crops.

 

As to first "studio"--Mine was a covered front porch on a log cabin in McCall, Idaho (elev. 5,120). Pretty much an activity that spanned only the summer months (July & August). Did handbuilding and sculpture until two years later when I added on a 16 x 30 studio. Minus some of the space, because I also wanted laundry facilities which ended up back-to-back with the studio sink area, so I had running water (hot water!). I had acquired a Brent slab roller (bargain!) and purchased a kiln and wheel. By the time I had my work table installed, everything was a tight squeeze. It seemed that everthing I wanted to do was on something that was being used as a storage area so I was forever shifting stuff. Managed to still get plenty of work done there for 20 years.

 

Moving to Boise--and finding a house with detached workshop--I'm now working in almost 1000 sq.ft. area. The remodel of this outbuilding allowed me to make a separate kiln room; a glaze area that can be closed off, and a large comfortable work area for wheel work, handbuilding and sculpture. I still have running hot water.

 

 

Shirley

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Mark C.    1,806

A spare bedroom in my rental-coated the room in plastic-then after 1 month built a porch and covered it with tin roof and plastic sidewalls-this was during collage JC. then bought a house on an acre about a mile away while still in collage HSU (19yrs old) and am still here making pottery 41 years later.They ran a gas main a 1000 feet when i moved here for free back in 71.That was a story on its own merits

Shop is an old single car garage that I added on to-had no windows or floor or water or power-I salvaged most of that in the old days then about 15 years ago added a throwing green room on-Insulated the whole place and its all wired for whatever comes up. 100 amps for shop-comes off my 200 amps for house. 2 inch gas lines to 3 kilns-2 electrics and a natural gas generator when power goes out(so we can always work now)-I plan on never leaving this pottery heaven of a place-its all grandfathered in and in todays world this would never get passed.I have been very luck to have made this dream a reality on this land. Slay kiln is away off in a side field so vapors do not get any metal work. The stack is stainless steel.

Mark

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