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luhps

Opening A New Public Studio?

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Anyone have any experience in this?

 

We have a local studio where I live, but its mission statement is for classes, birthdays, and sort of a community based gathering center.

They also do college classes, family drop ins, and pottery for those with mental disabilities. It's an all around great place, and I like what they do.

 

However, there is a major need in my area for a production level studio were more advanced potters can produce in volume, teach classes, and experiment with their techniques more freely.

 

I've started to do the research trying to price out how much a 10 wheel studio would cost.

 

Some area's i'm stuck.

 

1 - how much space do i need? I've got no clue! i've only ever worked in the above studio, so i'm not sure how it fares against other studios.

2 - This is a big one, but how would i work out pricing? i was thinking of two level membership, one for general use of whats in the studio / classes, and a second for more advanced potters. I'm thinking there would be some general public hours, and then private hours for the secondary membership allowing the advanced potters to essentially take over the studio, mix their own glazes, load kilns, throw mass amounts etc.

 

 

thoughts? i'm sort of new to the pottery world, been doing it for about 1.5 years, did not go to school for art, but i can clearly see, and hear from talking, the need for something that can produce in volume. I'd love to start my own studio, i'm just not sure what the reality is, would it be able to at least support itself and maybe me (i only need 20k to live pretty comfortable, 15 would be pushing it but doable)? otherwise its not even worth it.

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This sounds somewhat like the Mudfire studio in Atlanta. Take a look at their site.

 

This will be a large project both in cost and planning.

You need to price it up before you can know what you need to charge.

 

Are you planning on buying 10 wheels? You would need two kilns ...

Worktables, sinks with clay traps, mixing tools and insurance ...

Rent and overhead.

 

And we haven't even touched on the legal angles of zoning and approvals.

Or whether you want to run a business or make pots.

It'll be one or the other.

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luhps,

 

It sounds like what you are referring to as an "advanced potter who wants to produce in volume" is what most group pottery facilities call a "resident artist." It's pretty common at a lot of pottery teaching facilities. At the studio where I teach classes, the resident artists get their own private work space, 24/7 access to all the equipment. They pay a monthly rent, which is more than the students pay (naturally), but in return they get all the resources they need to operate professionally or semi-professionally.

 

Before you order those ten wheels, I think you should first look around your area for studios with resident artist programs. Or, if there aren't any in your area, approach the facility where you work now and pitch the idea to them.

 

Once you start looking more closely at these types of studios, you'll find that they took a very long time to establish into successful ventures. I don't want to dismiss your ambitious idea, but I do want you to frame it as a long-term project.

 

Here's another studio that sounds like your idea ... Kevin Lehman's Pottery in Lancaster, PA. http://www.klpottery.com/Home.html

 

Mea

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Thanks for all the good info everyone

 

I figure if this does happen it would be a fairly long term project, i'm estimating the starting price if everything is purchased new would be around 100K (this is from kilns to toilet paper)

if i went with used, i think i could keep it as low as 50. There are so many factors its hard to say for sure though. I figure 100k is a safe bet for now until i learn more.

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I thought of a few more examples

Northern Clay Studio

Clay Studio in Missoula, MT

Roswell Arts Center, NM

Clayworks, Baltimore

There are several in Austin, Tx area

Sometimes they also are supply houses

Annie's Mudshop in Cincinnati was 45,000 sq ft warehouse

 

When designing layout keep several things in mind

safety, flow of work green to kiln

separate studios for classes and advanced?

insurance and design with that in mind. Keep studio visitors and children away from dangerous areas. Have them able to secure.

Venting, airflows, traps for sinks, drains in workspace floors for hosing down.

All thses thought out ahead of time will save time and money in the future.

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Just to bring in this little "reality burger, hold he ketchup" kind of thought.......

 

Mudflat's budget for their new building for the studio / community center is 3.7 MILLION dollars.

 

http://mudflatpottery.wordpress.com/

 

best,

 

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

 

I helped design a kiln with them back in 1971. They HAVE grown!

Marcia

 

 

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Guest JBaymore

Just to bring in this little "reality burger, hold he ketchup" kind of thought.......

 

Mudflat's budget for their new building for the studio / community center is 3.7 MILLION dollars.

 

http://mudflatpottery.wordpress.com/

 

best,

 

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

 

I helped design a kiln with them back in 1971. They HAVE grown!

Marcia

 

 

 

Marcia,

 

Interesting..... I did consulting work with them on kilns and such "back in the day" also. Did you live in the Boston area then? I also did stuff with Clay Dragon Studios back then. And a number of other similar places that are no longer extant. That was when I was working at Massart in the early 70's.

 

Yeah... they have really built a nice program. And they have perservered a LONG time.

 

best,

 

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

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Just to bring in this little "reality burger, hold he ketchup" kind of thought.......

 

Mudflat's budget for their new building for the studio / community center is 3.7 MILLION dollars.

 

http://mudflatpottery.wordpress.com/

 

best,

 

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

 

I helped design a kiln with them back in 1971. They HAVE grown!

Marcia

 

 

 

Marcia,

 

Interesting..... I did consulting work with them on kilns and such "back in the day" also. Did you live in the Boston area then? I also did stuff with Clay Dragon Studios back then. And a number of other similar places that are no longer extant. That was when I was working at Massart in the early 70's.

 

Yeah... they have really built a nice program. And they have perservered a LONG time.

 

best,

 

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

 

I dropped out of Grad school for a while and worked in Cambridge. I went to New Hampshire on a Sat. with some people from Mudflats. We visited the Heinos, Gerry Williams, the Cohens, and a couple of others. It was a great day and that was a nice group to know. I was there about 6 months and then went to Upstate NY for another 9 months until I returned to school. I was a resident artist/caretaker in Cornwall-on-Hudson. I built a catenary arch kiln there and fired with propane. Built the burners too. It was a beautiful area with lots of religious estates.

 

Marcia Selsor

 

 

 

 

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Just to bring in this little "reality burger, hold he ketchup" kind of thought.......

 

Mudflat's budget for their new building for the studio / community center is 3.7 MILLION dollars.

 

http://mudflatpottery.wordpress.com/

 

best,

 

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

 

 

LOL, very nice space i'm sure, but i'm not going to be building anything that big, or building at all. I just want a space, hopefully warehouse, but we'll see how it goes.

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Where are you looking to build this ceramics complex?

Philadelphia Clay Studio started in a warehouse.

Annie's Mud Shop was in a big warehouse in Cinncinati.

I saw some nice warehouses along the Ohi River north side from Louisville. There are spaces out there.

Marcia

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Guest JBaymore

LOL, very nice space i'm sure, but i'm not going to be building anything that big, or building at all. I just want a space, hopefully warehouse, but we'll see how it goes.

 

 

My point is that you are likely very quickly going to run into a "massive education" in building and life safety codes, environmental laws, insurance regulations, liability considerations, and so on.

 

I put in fuel burning kilns professionally and consult on studio issues... and I am seeing the "big brother" aspect getting more and more complex all the time. Regulations just seem to be piling on top of each other..... and there are plenty of people who will want to "mind YOUR business".

 

So just be aware that you likely will be addressing a very complex subject going this route. And it likely will take more of a budget than you think. You can pretty much figure on not making any pots for at least a year or two....... it'll be a full time job.

 

best,

 

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

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LOL, very nice space i'm sure, but i'm not going to be building anything that big, or building at all. I just want a space, hopefully warehouse, but we'll see how it goes.

 

 

My point is that you are likely very quickly going to run into a "massive education" in building and life safety codes, environmental laws, insurance regulations, liability considerations, and so on.

 

I put in fuel burning kilns professionally and consult on studio issues... and I am seeing the "big brother" aspect getting more and more complex all the time. Regulations just seem to be piling on top of each other..... and there are plenty of people who will want to "mind YOUR business".

 

So just be aware that you likely will be addressing a very complex subject going this route. And it likely will take more of a budget than you think. You can pretty much figure on not making any pots for at least a year or two....... it'll be a full time job.

 

best,

 

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

 

 

 

I'm currently in vermont.

From what i've gathered currently, if i had a 10 wheel shop and some space, i'd need about 100k to start up, and that's if i bought everything brand new, which aint gonna happen. even with legal fees, I could probably start up for under 50.

There are allot of variables.

 

There's even a possibility that i just keep my job, buy a house, and morph half the place into a small studio and hire one of my potter friends to manage it until i'm more secure financially.

 

The hardest thing to find are small studio examples. Most sites out there are for personal studios, or the super large ones, but there aren't many 5 to 10 wheel studio web sites. not that they dont exist and flourish, we have a few around here, its just no one wants to build a web site for such a small operation.

 

In the end i think what'll happen is i just do it, or i dont, if i let legal and all that deter me, then its like what's the point of doing anything. Sometimes you just gotta jump in ya know what i mean?

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Guest JBaymore

...........and hire one of my potter friends to manage it until i'm more secure financially.

 

 

Employees.... hum. You might want to look into the costs and complexities of Workmans Comp insurance and standards for the State of Vermont. You also should look into the OSHA workplace standards for anyone using respirators (or who SHOULD be wearing a respirator) in a silica containing environment. The required fit testing, the required annual medical testing, and so on. And the OSHA standards for environmetal control of silica levels in the workplace. And the OSHA Right-To-Know training on all hazardous materials and equipment. And the potential costs of the appriopriate ventilation. When you get to employees... it all gets complicated fast.

 

Yes... you can ignore all this stuff and hope nothing ever happens. But that likely is not a good choice. If it is your business... you are liable. (Look into forming a LLC.) Just trying to share some experiential knowledge.

 

best,

 

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

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...........and hire one of my potter friends to manage it until i'm more secure financially.

 

 

Employees.... hum. You might want to look into the costs and complexities of Workmans Comp insurance and standards for the State of Vermont. You also should look into the OSHA workplace standards for anyone using respirators (or who SHOULD be wearing a respirator) in a silica containing environment. The required fit testing, the required annual medical testing, and so on. And the OSHA standards for environmetal control of silica levels in the workplace. And the OSHA Right-To-Know training on all hazardous materials and equipment. And the potential costs of the appriopriate ventilation. When you get to employees... it all gets complicated fast.

 

Yes... you can ignore all this stuff and hope nothing ever happens. But that likely is not a good choice. Just trying to share some experiential knowledge.

 

best,

 

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

 

 

You make it sound not worth it or not possible!

i figure at 30 and not married i can pretty much get away with chucking my life's savings into something like this.

that or marry a doctor. but its hard to find doctors, i dont know where they hang out other then hospitals.

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luhps,

 

I am in favor of big dreams, and you shouldn't let legal complexities stop you. But you should have a very serious attitude about the issues that John is bringing up.

 

You are using phrases like "until I'm more secure financially" and "chucking my life's savings" and "1.5 years of pottery experience" and these phrases indicate that you are not ready for this yet.

Find somebody to mentor you! Others have done this before you, learn from them. Until then, don't quit your job!

Mea

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luhps,

 

I am in favor of big dreams, and you shouldn't let legal complexities stop you. But you should have a very serious attitude about the issues that John is bringing up.

 

You are using phrases like "until I'm more secure financially" and "chucking my life's savings" and "1.5 years of pottery experience" and these phrases indicate that you are not ready for this yet.

Find somebody to mentor you! Others have done this before you, learn from them. Until then, don't quit your job!

Mea

 

 

I guess what i'm trying to say is that it seems the post is veering towards "be warned, this and this and this will make things go awry" hell, i could break my arms riding my motercycle and that would screw not only this, but my job, and pretty much my life, but i aint gonna stop riding. i want to hear what makes it work, not what doesn't. if i just focus on what makes it not work, then it'll never happen. it'll always be more expensive then i can realistically afford anyway. i mean, i dont have 1million bucks, thats why you just do it, and find the money some other way via loans, grants, not for profit or non profit status, or any of the other options. Sometimes, you just sorta gotta do it and say, oh well, if it fails, it fails, move on, wont kill me.

 

I want more "this is what you do to make it work" not "be afraid of this expense/legal/etc" but "here's how you positively deal with this expense/type of lawyer you need/etc"

Come on people, you're all potters, thing Potisively (see what i did there?)

 

This being said, if anyone knows any doctors looking for a husband. please send them my way. That will solve everything. It's sill my belief that the key to successful art is marrying rich.

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You have been provided with many examples of similar studios throughout this thread. Maybe they aren't exactly what you are planning, but you could start by contacting them. The answers you want are out there, it's up to you to track them down.

 

Mea

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You have been provided with many examples of similar studios throughout this thread. Maybe they aren't exactly what you are planning, but you could start by contacting them. The answers you want are out there, it's up to you to track them down.

 

Mea

 

 

I know, this is one of the reasons i started this thread on this forum. not the only place i'm using right now.

just trying to build up the list.

I think i've got about 15 or so places to contact right now. so i'm well on my way.

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Guest JBaymore

I want more "this is what you do to make it work" not "be afraid of this expense/legal/etc" but "here's how you positively deal with this expense/type of lawyer you need/etc"

 

I am sorry if I offended you.

 

How you positively deal with such stuff is being aware of the potential aspects that you will/might need to deal with as you begin to formulate the business plan. That is what anyone here is really trying to share with you. The running of a commercial operation like you are describing is a complex thing to plan and implement.

 

The people who have set up such programs that are still thriving after a number of years likely have a lot of stories to share. Get in the car and travel and take a camera and a notebook. Fly if you have to. (It should all be a part of the business plan expenses of starting this thing. Start-up costs.)

 

I was involved in the start-up (as a consultant) of some of these kinds of places a long time ago. Back in the day what it was far easier to do this kind of thing. Most I know started very small and grew to something like you are describing. As I deal with kiln installtions these days, I simply see more and more hurdles that are in place, with a lot more t's to cross and i's to dot. You should be aware of this stuff....... it is not to discourage you... it is to help you make realistic plans.

 

Personally, if I were planning on investing $50 to $100 K in a new business venture... I'd be wanting all of the feedback, both positive and negative, that I can find befopre committing a plan to paper. That would help assure success.

 

I have dealt with such places getting shut down. I have been put in the position of being "expert witness" in defending kiln installations. All of this kind of thing is reality of which you should be aware. It is not to try to stop you... it is to HELP you. So instead of losing your shirt in a short peiod of time....... you succeed.

 

If simply pointing out potential fields of inquiry that you should pursue before you "jump in" is getting you kind of "put off" here, you might want to consider how you will deal with some inspector suddenly telling you that you need to put in a $10,000 active cventilation system to handle the effluent from your commercial Bailey gas kiln unit that you aslready ordered.

 

Things that you can "get away with" in a one person studio are not the same when it is a commercial operation like you describe.

 

GEP hit the point a bit firmer than I was doing... that with your apparent inexperience in the field..... it is a really BOLD undertaking to even consider. Bold is great. There is a saying in aviation: "There are old pilots. There are bold pilots. There are no old bold pilots." That saying might be reasonably instructive.

 

I have been a professional studio artist for 41 years, have taught ceramics at the college level at a number of institutions, did technical consulting for Cutter?Eagle CEramics for a lot of years, and I'd be thinking about 100 times before attempting such a venture. I am at a level where I kinda' know what I don't know.

 

Your idea possible.... for sure. But to be sucessful.... it is likely going to take a HUGE amount of research on your part.

 

I wish you the best of luck. Again..... I am sorry if what I have said is offensive.

 

best,

 

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

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I have been a professional studio artist for 41 years, have taught ceramics at the college level at a number of institutions, did technical consulting for Cutter?Eagle CEramics for a lot of years, and I'd be thinking about 100 times before attempting such a venture. I am at a level where I kinda' know what I don't know.

 

 

 

lol, no offence taken!

 

41 years, you should be the one starting the studio!

I'm just sick or working in a place where they have birthday parties and summer camps. I want something a little more high end, its just nothing like that around here for hours.

so i figure i'll be the one to fill that needed gap. The studio even welcomes it, they don't like the production potter people who come to their studio. sort of a weird place, but they are there more like a community center then a pottery studio.

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Here are two studios that operate similar to what you are describing: Creative Clay Studio in Alexandria, VA (Ed Bull is owner) and Manassas Clay in Manassas, VA. Creative Clay operates from a warehouse (several bays) and the main wheel room is a 10 wheel set up. The studio offers classes to the public and also provides two levels of "membership" -- a residents membership for those who rent space for their own studio and an associates membership for those who rent a shelf or two for storage but get 24/7 access to the facility. Some residents also lease space for personal kilns. Creative Clay also offers a pottery store for supplies. Ed formerly had one employee but now runs the place pretty much by himself with help from his daughter.

 

I started out at the local county rec center and moved over to Creative Clay because the classes were smaller. I am an associate there and also teach handbuilding (a separate studio from the wheel studio). I believe Manassas Clay offers a similar associates membership.

 

You might also want to check with your local Small Business Administration office; they have programs of lining up mentors with experience in small business startups with prospective new business owners. He/she could be an invaluable resource for developing a business plan.

 

Rather than undertake all the risk yourself, you might want to think about a pottery cooperative.

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