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Building A Home Studio Or Kiln Room.


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#1 LeeU


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Posted 04 May 2014 - 08:57 PM

Here's the thing: limited money, limited space, rental trailer environment. I need to end up with a place for my electric wheel and a medium sized kiln, preferably, but not necessarily, in the same space. I have several possibilities: pay to winterize a 12 x 14 screened in porch (that I don't really want to give up to a working space); build a winterized "room" out of the open 12 x 10 back deck, or; buy a small wood or metal shed and simply put it on the back deck. My landlord has approved putting in the electric and water and some sort of heat source, but money is an issue. Winter temps run to below zero and snow up to 3' (New Hampshire) but the porch/deck are well elevated.  I need to get estimates, of course, but would like some feedback from ceramists before I even approach the landlord with my ideas. Thanks in advance for any comments.

Lee Ustinich






#2 Tom


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Posted 05 May 2014 - 02:06 AM

  • good for you.  having your own studio is great.  you don't need to start too big.  if you don't have a kiln you can often find a studio that contract fires.  you will find after a short while you really want a kiln but its a way to start.  my first studio was a 10 x 12 plastic shed double walled.  it had electrical but I used 5 gal buckets for water.  had a small electric heater that kept it warm in winter.  I am in southern California.  our snow depth is very low.  I made a rule about equipment.  everything must have at least 2 functions. paper weight is not considered a function.  much of my "non ceramic" equipment came from the 99 cent store or harbor freight.  a splatter screen works as a stand in glaze sieve. my first small kiln was on wheels so I could move it out side to fire, not good to fire in a plastic shed.  when not using the wheel and needing space it went up on end under a shelf, only kicked a leg a few times.  I installed a work bench across one end and used a concrete paver for a wedging table, still use it.  think simple for your work space so you can make your art as complex as you want.


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#3 Isculpt


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Posted 05 May 2014 - 11:50 AM

LeeU, I don't have a lot of experience with rough carpentry (my experience is in trim carpentry), but I would advise against putting a wood or metal shed on a deck.  Weight distribution matters; that's why even small buildings are built with extra support under the walls/corners, which carry the weight of the entire structure.  The same issue will come into play in building a structure on the deck.  If cost is an issue, you can't come out any cheaper than winterizing the screened porch.  And as for getting estimates, first get references.  There are so many ethically challenged (read: crooks) in the building business that it is truly buyer beware territory.  I've been in that business and there are a lot of decent, knowledgeable people but they are outnumbered by the charlatans.  And do not, under any circumstances, pay all of even half of the cost up front.  A potter friend hired a man to build a 20-x20 studio after he drove her around and pointed out buildings that he'd built.  He even gave her a phone number of one of his "satisfied customers" to call for a detailed reference.  Within a few weeks after she hired him, he told her that he'd "stumbled onto a great deal on the materials but had to buy them all up front".  She gave him the money, he claimed he'd bought them and put them in storage, and then she spent the next year practically having a nervous breakdown trying to get the studio built.  He finally went to jail on her testimony and others', but it didn't get the studio finished.  And double-check any information given to you by a "qualified" builder.  I don't know if it's a male thing or a builder thing, but they are much more comfortable giving a false answer than saying "I don't know".  (apologies to males everywhere...)  No matter how authoritatively they tell you that something is within code or acceptable building practice, check it out with someone who doesn't have a vested interest in telling you what you want to hear.  Oh, and get it all in writing, including material/labor costs, exact description of what will be done, start and end dates.  Sorry about the soapbox.....!


#4 synj00


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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:29 PM

Is it possible instead of spending a bunch of money to renovate and build something, that you might be able to rent a space somewhere or even double up with another potter in the area and give a few bucks to use his / her kiln? I recently went through the hassle of having a plug installed for my kiln, being overcharged for it and then moving a few months later only having to do it again. (charged just right this time though :-) It sometimes is an even better alternative to be able to get out of your environment and focus purely on the task at hand rather than answering phone calls, television, neighbors, whatever distractions you might have. Just an idea!

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