Hi Peachy and All,
Like Weeble, I'm the studio manager at a non-profit, community-based clay and print studio. We have 14 wheels, a large handbuilding area with a slab roller, an extruder and 3 PK Skutts which are rarely cool silmultaneously. We have a raku kiln and an off-site wood kiln. Our clay studio is roughly 2000 square feet. We mix 15 glazes from our own recipes (12 that we always have, 3 that rotate to keep things fresh). All clay fired by us must be purchased through us. Glaze chemistry and firing costs are built into the price of clay. People participate as either renting members or students. All participants can access the studio during open hours... I aim to have 30-35 during the academic calendar and 25 during the summer when we have summer camp programming all day every day. All open studio hours are scheduled in 4 hour blocks and are hosted by a studio assistant. Assistants trade 4 hours of work for a set of keys to the studio and waived studio rental dues. We offer wheel throwing and sculpting classes and have recently started doing more advanced workshops including woodfiring weekends and one-off lectures. We partner with the public school system for some afterschool classes and a local college for 3 undergrad and 1 grad level course per year. Every month we have about 100 renters and adult/college students accessing open studio hours, and another 40 or 50 coming in for youth programming and drop-in nights.
We have A LOT happening at our studio, and while accidents happen, most accidents can and should be prevented. In my studio, most are. Participation in a class at my studio is not just about learning how to throw, trim and glaze. As a teacher I put a lot of emphasis on learnign the studio as well. I build in bits of studio etiquette to the curriculum. I encourage other instructors to do the same. I rarely bring it up that explicitly, but I find that being able to navigate the studio in a manner respectful to the space and the other people here is as important as developing a skill set for throwing or sculpting. When someone walks through our door for the first time, they are often new to clay; it's a foreign thing; it's intimidating. I find overwhelmingly that students want very much to do the right thing, want to learn the bigger process. And they don't want to piss anyone off by wrecking someone else's work. Additionally I am selective when hiring studio assistants, and make sure to train them thoroughly on studio operations and etiquette before asking them to do anything. If a studio assistant sees a student or member doing something that would be detrimental to our equipment or someone else's work they use it as a teachable moment and help that person; nothing punitvie, just learning.
I bring all this up because if you haven't already, I'd strongly encourage you to give feedback to the studio where you took the class. As the studio manager here, I want to hear what's going on. Sure I love positive feedback, but hearing about areas for improvement is equally as important. My worst fear (as it relates to my job) is that someone leaves a class with a bad taste in their mouth and doesn't give us a chance to remedy the situation, or at least learn from the situation.
With all this in mind, I very much enjoy my small, incomplete home studio set up. I have a wheel and shelving, but transport everyhtign into work to fire. I've been based out of the community studio for 7 years, first as a student, then as a studio assistant, now as the studio manager and an instructor. There are times when I have my own work to attend to and don't necessarily want to stop to help someone with a throwing technique or process a credit card for their rental dues. That said, there are plenty of times when I relish in the fact that I don't always work in a silo and can work amongst a diverse group of clay people to with whom I can share conversation and bounce idas off of. For me, these times when I'm glad to be in the community atmosphere tend to be when I'm doing experimental work. I like to be alone for production. I have a three season porch on which my wheel lives. From May to October I can sit at the wheel with the company of my morning coffe or evening beer and Netflix playing on my laptop. But it's December and for better or worse I'm doing all my work at the community studio until spring. So I tend to snowboard more in these months than I do make production volumes of work.