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Brian Reed

Questions About Sharing Studio Space

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So I have posted a few times about my journey so I will not bore you.  I am not new to Pottery, but new to having my own studio, it is about 2 years old.  I totally miss the community that came with the local pottery teaching studio in my area.  Sure I have a few friends that stop by from time to time, but not enough for me.  I think back to the early English potteries and they seem like a community or factory.  Full of people making pots together and each had a mission.  I do not want that sort of thing, I do not want to work on collaborative pots, but rather the multiple people working together in the same studio.


My studio is plenty large enough to share the space, but that seems like a huge leap allowing others to work in my studio. 


How many of you have done this with multiple people in the same studio working on separate work?  What were some of the issues, what did you like and not like about it.  What are your general thoughts about sharing?  I know there are logistical things like how to share clay, and glazes, and even how to organize firing and such.  Then of course the cost and how that should work, but those I think I can work out it is more the general rule about sharing a studio.


Your opinions will be greatly appreciated. 

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I have shared a studio in several cooperative situations...there are lots of benefits.  The

scheduling for mixing glazes, sharing equipment such as kilns, is important.  It

worked best for us to cost out chemicals or to figure the cost of mixed glazes to

keep that fair. I enjoyed sharing clay mixing and firing chores with other people.


I you enjoy the people you are sharing space with, this can be a good

situation.  Just keep working on the details and you'll avoid problems.

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Just went through this issue. I was in a co-operative studio for 27 years. Everyone had their own space, did their own work etc. Two sales a year. Couple board meetings. I managed to avoid being the president. They made me the vice-president once, but then I went to Australia. Phew.

I then built my dream studio. One of the artists, a sculptor who made low fire cats said that he would love to come in with me. I gave him a corner space with a table. He bought his own clay. He paid $100.00 rent. I charged him $25.00 per firing in my used electric kiln. He blew his work up twice. He forgot that he was firing a kiln, and showed up 2 days later after I had fired it for him and emailed him asking where he was. He was painting someone's house. "Sorry,man. I must have had a brain freeze." It was summer at the time.

He didn't pay me rent for six months, then I see a box of clay sitting on his table. He is thinking that he will whip off a few cats for Christmas gifts.I told him to take the clay back to the supplier and pay me my rent.

Luckily, he made good on the rent and moved his stuff out. Never again.

This was the end of November.


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My studio is small and I once shared it and it was a nightmare.

There are pottery teaching centers around and as you said you really liked that-maybe you need the social contact

and a solo path is not for you.

Sharing space can work well or go the other way just as easy.

For me working alone is my path- my 5 years in colllage ceramics was the social learning time-thats long gone

There are so many pitfalls to this I am not even going to speak of them-just reacall a few from your teaching center on firing loading handling others work-what could go wrong?

I do not know if this may mean anything to you



hey dude I mixed up that glaze last week I have no idea why it ran off all the pots and ruined the shelves and floor of your kiln-must have mixed up the wrong stuff?


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At present, my relationship with clay exists in both public and private studios. I work at a studio along with about 45 hobbyist clayers and a team of 15 studio assistants, a few of whom are working on a semi-production level. At home I have an incomplete studio set up on a three-season porch: wheel, wedging table, clay storage, drying rack, storage for finished pots - no kiln or glazing setup. April to October I do almost all my wheel work at home and transport my greenware to the community studio to fire. In the cold months I rely on the community studio for the entire process.


I spent the summer after my first clay class working in a small shared studio. A sculptor working in wood and a ceramicist had a studio and took pity on my clay withdrawls until I moved back to school. I pitched in for rent, produced a lot and kept very little. It was rare any of us were in the studio at the same time. It wasn't the most equipped studio, but it kept my hands muddy and I picked up a few tricks from my much more experienced studio partner. Reflecting on this experience continues to give me perspective on what works best for me in terms of size of studio, the need (or lack of need) for the social community component of a workspace.


I've done it all three ways, and I look forward to the day I have a fully-equipped, entirely private studio. It's not that I don't play nice with others, I just know I work better, and enjoy the process more when I'm solo. I enjoy the community space for teaching and taking classes, but to get any real quantities of work produced I do much better on my own. That said, I imagine that a step along the way to my dream studio in the woods (with a mini ramp, of course) will be a return to the semi-private setup like what what you're considering.


Some important factors for me would be:

- Not partnering with a friend. If a friendship develops with a studio partner, that's great. But what's on the table is business. Mixing friendship and business can work, but can just as easily ruin one or both. I'd post an ad and treat it like hiring a co-worker.

- Set clear expectations about your standards for cleanliness, studio etiquette and the size footprint a studio subletter is buying into. For all the positives about the small shared studio, the guys whose names were on the lease had little concern clay dust. It irritated me to no end and scared me, frankly, but all I could do was encourage better practices. The validity of my requests was acknowledged, but no changes were made, nor did I have any power to demand changes.

- Get it all in writing.

- Start with a short-term trial period. 2 or 3 months should be enough time to figure out if it works or doesn't.

- Don't be afraid to break up. Hopefully you won't have to, but go into it knowing you might.


Good luck!



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Thanks for all the information and opinions.  I think that at this point I am going to concentrate on a new kiln and not worry about sharing.  I need to get back to work I need to make 144 logo mugs and they are not going to make them selves!  Mugs are my least favorite item to make right now.

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