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Requirements For Good, Basic Studio

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If you've been reading many of the posts on here you know that I am just getting into ceramics. I got a solid wheel and kiln, and am ready to set up my studio. I plan, at this point, to make my own glazes (I have a chemistry background) and do mostly throwing--of bowls, mugs, vases, and perhaps plates. As far as I can tell, I need:


Space to mix & store glazes, place to store raw materials for glazes

Place to handbuild (for handles and things)

A place to glaze

Space for my wheel, stool, and endtable

Space for my kiln, with length of cord a consideration,

Storage for pottery in various stages of finishing

Storage of clay, tools, books, etc.


Am I missing anything? I know that the hand building table should be canvas covered, and the spaces for mixing glazes and glazing should be smooth topped and easy to clean, yes?


I've included a pic of my plan. It's in the basement, so to some extent I can expand the area. Currently, the grey box in the background is about 7' by 14'.


I've labeled the tables, starting at the upper left, as follows:


CS: Ceramic Storage

K: Kiln

Dry: The clothes dryer. This has nothing to do with the studio, but alas, must remain where it is.

Wash: The washer. See above.

S: Sink

HB: Handbuilding

G: Area for glazing

GM: Area of glaze mixing. This is on a rolly cart. I could possibly use this cart for another task if you think it would be better to have the wheels for one of the other tables.  With the way my basement is set up, I thought it would be nice to be able to roll the glaze mixing materials out of the way, since I don't think I'll be mixing glazes as often as I do other tasks.

ET: End table

S: Stool

W: Wheel


What do you guys think? I'm on a limited budget, so I'm trying to repurpose tables and items I have around the house already. With this current plan, I won't have to buy anything except a stool--if that. I am looking for a comfortable solution for sitting at the wheel. Any ideas?


Thanks SO much!





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No matter how big your space is it won't be big enough!  :)


Storage, for me that is what takes the most space. Big bins for what I buy in 50lb bags (most stuff), 1 gallon bins for materials I don't use too much of and then smaller containers for cobalt etc. Depending on how much clay you order at a time you need space to store that also.


I don't like canvas for table tops, dusty stuff. There was a thread on the forums about alternative table tops a few months ago. 


Where you have the kiln drawn in, are you able to make a hole in the wall there for the vent? I would also think about hard wiring in the kiln (no receptacle / plug).


I would use your rolling cart for mixed buckets of glaze.


You will also need a set of shelves for drying.


I throw standing up but Marcia started a thread on stools here:


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- Buckets for reclaim

- Plaster block for reclaim

- Music

- Trap for sink

- Ventilation


If you are mixing anything, any raw materials at all, you are going to need a good ventilator mask to protect your lungs, as well as proper exhaust vent to pull the dust out of the room. Silicosis, COPD, Emphysema, and lung cancer are nothing you want to brave it through - take it from an X-ray tech - they are all serious reasons to wear a mask properly.


Sink trap can be made with cheap supplies from local meijer or walmart type store. You have to collect the clay that you wash down the sink or you will have clay filling your sewer pipes and causing the whole house to back up - your house mates/family will surely not like that.


5 gal buckets work great to collect dry or wet scraps, most wheel scraps can be allowed to dry a bit and re-wedge to use again same day or bagged for later. Buckets are for the trimmings and slop in your throwing bucket when there becomes less water than clay - don't pour it down sink or into the yard. Other bone dry scraps and unwanted bone dry pieces can then be slaked in same bucket.


When a bucket becomes fully saturated with clay, you can learn how to use plaster and the slop to reclaim your clay!

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I would consider what you need to have IN your studio and what could be stored elsewhere. I have an office with a wall of books. I keep very few in my studio- one 2 ft. shelf and includes sketch book, three ancient glaze notebooks, and whatever books for whatever I am involved with at the time.. My 5 gallon glaze buckets are on dollies I made with casters I got off ebay.

I try to have as much on wheels as possible. Table/carts are great.Large bags of clay are stored outside and covered from the weather. No need to waste heat or AC on that.I have smaller containers of the chemicals I use and refill as needed. You could use a plywood board covered with oil cloth on top of washer and dryer for your glazing. ..even just use oil cloth for that matter. It could also be used for hand building.

You'll just have to start working and work things out as you go. See what your needs are, how you can balance timing with space usage. You're off to a good start! Is there anyway you kiln and furniture could be outside? If not, you need to vent.


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Not sure what your space constraints are, but I'd be a bit concerned about having wheel/clay in close proximity to clothes washer and dryer and clay dust, glaze materials, etc. Hard to tell scale, but you don't seem to have much room between kiln and dryer.

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Needless to say, your kiln needs to be vented outdoors.

I would be mixing my glazes somewhere else and storing the ingredients tightly somewhere else. No need to have them using real estate in your studio.

I might be missing it, but I don't see an area suitable for storing your work as it dries ... the area marked CS looks small??

Also, you will find a lot of discussion about the safety of covering work tables with canvas ... some say it just holds the dust. I think there is an old thread about it here somewhere.

If you hit the Ceramic Arts Daily Link at the top of this page, scroll down to the bottom ... on the right you will see a link to Open Studios ... there are a lot of links where you will be able to see other peoples studios and get ideas.

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I have my wheel facing the wall with a mirror mounted on the wall, so I can see the shape of the piece being thrown. Consider moving the slab building table to the middle of the room so you can access it from multiple sides.



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I would suggest that wall mounted storage is very valuable for small spaces. (L brackets and plywood are my friends). Anything that can do double duty is awesome. I have one of those big plastic tubs that holds my reclaim. It is topped off with a 20" bat, so it doubles as a table in close proximity to my wheel. The bat is actually a bit narrower than the bucket, so it doesn't tip over. I also favour 5 gallon buckets for glaze, so they're light enough to stack on top of each other for a smaller footprint. My 3 slabs for plaster are 1' square and 3" thick. When not in use, they can be stored on their sides.

Hope this helps!


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Congrats on your studio! In my opinion, the most important requirement for any studio is something that can't be bought. It's also something that can be very challenging to keep up with. It's a diligent committment to cleanliness and heath/safety practices. Especially in a private studio, where your decisions and actions only really impact yourself, it can be easy to get lazy about this stuff.


Scrub and sand outside.

Lift with your legs.

Good posture at the wheel

Replace your respirator cartridges when they're due.

Vacuum often.

No brooms.


It's easy to say you'll follow the rules. It's harder to follow through and hold yourself accountable. It's something I struggle with and I can't imagine I'm alone. You're investing in your studio, take care of that investment by taking care of yourself.



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i did not see any dimensions listed.  what size is your studio (not square feet).  is access by an indoor stairway?  check out our member good elephant, GEP.  she did over her basement last year and the result is wonderful.  maybe some ideas will fit your space.


i have lots of posts about how to find and use free things for setting up a studio.  if they are still here, maybe they could help.

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