How To Set Up Your Home Studio
Blog post description.
Let's discuss a topic that most people ask,‘How to set up your very own pottery home studio!'
I know that lost of you have taken a course or workshop, have fallen involve with clay and wants to set up a home studio. The thought of setting up a home pottery studio is sometimes a daunting task to consider.
One of the main reasons this being a difficult task is due to space constraints especially if you are renting a house or a room or you own your home but is having difficulty of allotting an entire room to pottery. You have to consider the space where your wheel or kiln is. In New Zealand, most of our home pottery studios are located at the garage. My husband built me a 20sqm area when I was starting and it was a good size.
But to take up pottery as a craft or a serious hobby or a profession to be honest is expensive to start with, than most craft forms that I've come across. A wheel alone starts at $2075. There are other cheaper Chinese versions from Aliexpress and they are as good as the expensive counterparts. You can also find a second hand wheel on Facebook market place or Trademe if you don't want to invest in an expensive wheel incase you change your mind later down the line.
But before your consider setting up your home studio try to think of the following area; Your Throwing Station, Wedging Area Tool Collection, Clay Storage and recycling of used clay.
Lets start with the type of clay you should be using;
For beginners, I would recommend buying of terracotta clay or stoneware clay to start with.I started with Botpots Red clay which is about 10kgs for $28.
Terracotta clay or earthenware is easier to work with, less fussy, does not need glazing and generally cheaper. Plus it also fires to cone 6. The only thing to consider is that it can stain your walls, floors, other surfaces and it's harder to clean.Its red due to high iron content.
Stoneware Clay is also pretty good for beginners. I use Potclays Special Stoneware that comes in 12.5kgs for $44. Its cream white in color and is slightly more expensive than terracotta, fires to 1200-1250 degrees. It’s as good to work with on the wheel and does not stain your space like terracotta does.
Note that you will need a few buckets if you want to experiment with different types and colors of clay and that clay should not be mixed together. Separate white, black, etc in a different bucket.
We sell different types of clay at the studio - Botpots Christchurch.
2. The Pottery Wheel
This is your main equipment and the biggest investment to start with (that is if you are not buying a kiln and have a place to fire your pieces). Pottery wheels come in manual which is the kick wheel or electric wheel.
The Electric Wheel is way easier to work with, lightweight, works on normal household switches, doesn’t consume too much electricity.
I recommend the Shimpo RK-55 Wheel, a good model to start with, which also continues to an intermediate and advanced level. So you wouldn’t need to invest in a bigger one until you start throwing with more than 7-10 kgs clay ball at a time. My favourite is the Shimpo Whisper T.
Where can you buy? We sell them at the studio and all Shimpo wheels and kilns ships out from our warehouse in Auckland. You are welcome to come and try the Shimpo RK55, Whisper T and RK3E prior to purchasing one.
3. Adjustable Stool
When we work on the wheel for long hours, sometimes we get back pains just by sitting at an incorrect height. I'd recommend finding the right stool that works for your height.
I am currently using the shower stool. I like the shape and comfort of this stool.
4. Basic Pottery Tool Kit for Throwing
There’s a basic toolkit that’s available all over the world on. We sell the basic kit that comes with 8 tools in it which will last you for years, can be used by beginners to advanced potters and is super cheap.
It includes the wire tool, sponge, two wooden ribs, aluminium rib, needle tool, two trimming tools.
Bats are commonly made in wood or MDF material. My husband cut and made rectangular small size. You will need them after throwing your piece and removing your piece from the wheel head.
The main purpose of bats is lifting your pieces when you’re done, without disturbing the pot.
6. A Drying Shelve
You can buy this at Bunnings. It cost about $45 for 4 tier and price varies depending on the height. It’s main function is that you can place and put your freshly thrown pots on. You can put your tools clay etc on it too.
7. Water Bowl
You need a water bowl to do any kind of pottery. Plastic water bowls are the most convenient as they are light and as you don’t need to buy this over and over again. I got mine at the $2 shop.
8. Apron & Hand Towel
This is so you keep your clothes clean and have a washcloth to wipe your hands when they get too mucky in between different tasks.I got the hand towels from Bunnings.
I had my apron for about 5 years.
THE WEDGING AREA
1. The Wedging Table
Wedging is the process of preparing clay, removing air bubbles. During the preparation, sometimes we also need a spot for drying out very moist clay or adding in water to hard clay, mixing different ingredients to clay etc. My husband made a table from plywood.
I recommend a custom wedging table made by a carpenter, made of marine ply/rubber wood or any other water resistant wood you know off. In a custom make, you also get to determine the height which suits you, so you aren’t bending too low or feeling too short for the table. You can also use an old table.
As we work with 5-10kgs at a time, the right height is very important to avoid any pains during this process.
2. Weigh Scale
This is use to weigh out your clay to make pots. Ideal practice is to always to weigh your clay before making anything.I got mine from a home and baking supply.
1. Banding Wheel
A Banding wheel is basically a disc that rotates on a stem or base in varying sizes and material.
This is the same kind of tool that’s used for baking as well. In pottery, you can use them for handbuilding, decoration techniques, trimming etc. We sell them in different height and sizes.
2. Slab Roller & Guides
This is used to roll out slabs of clay which is popularly used in handbuilding projects and sometimes in combination with wheel thrown pots. It’s good to have a set in the studio.
The slab roller is a solid wooden pin which rolls out the clay, The guides are what the roller rolls on so the thickness of the clay stays consistent. Which is why potters usually have different thicknesses of guides for different projects.
We sell Shimpo slab rollers for $1,250.
3. Plastic Bags & Newspapers
Plastic Bags are used to keep clay in so they don’t dry out, also used to cover pots that you’ve made. You can keep a few thick plastic bags to keep clay balls and some thin garbage plastic bags to cover pots. They can be washed regularly and used over a long period of time.
Newspapers are handy and useful for different tasks. Keep a small lot in the studio.
4. Other tools
While you explore different techniques, glaze application, bigger pots, you will invariably buy lots of tools. The kinds are endless. At the same time, instead of hoarding lots and not using them well, buy tools as and when you come across its usage. Even better, do try using tools around you, in your kitchen, at a toy store, nature like pebbles, leaves, sticks, branches, seeds, flowers, cookie cutters etc
CLAY SEGREGATION & STORAGE
In order to be a potter, have a small studio and maybe even have a full blown studio one day, you have to be very proper about clay segregation and storage to avoid impurities getting mixed up. It’s important to reuse the clay as a lot of it becomes slurry or clay water and you don’t want to waste precious clay.
How do you go about doing this?
We usually find clay in three forms in most basic studios.
Ready Clay - This is the clay ready to be used.
Dry Clay - Dry clay could come from pots that you didn’t want to keep, so you break them into small pieces once they’ve dried out, or trim shavings, clay that you accidentally didn’t store in your packet which is now dry or any other reason.
Slurry - Slurry is basically all the clay that comes off while we throw on the wheel, and goes into the water bowl. Its liquid clay or clay water. We don’t throw it out in the drain, its stored separately and recycled back into clay.
Once you’ve segregated your clay and stored it properly, according to your daily usage and quantity stored, you might want to schedule a recycling day.
Note - As your clay quantities increase, this process becomes physically demanding, and you might want to ask for help, if you have any issues/injuries.
Recycling is done in a lot of different ways especially when people have ample space for their studio/farms/backyards. This kind of recycling that we have mentioned here suits most people who have space constraints.
A flat plastic tub. A tub with a large surface area at the bottom and is not too deep or heavy.
Plaster of Paris - minimum 5 kgs
By using the above materials, we’ll be making a spot for the clay to be dried out. The plaster of Paris absorbs the water from the clay, making the recycling process quicker.We sell slabs for $50 medium size.
So there you go guys! Enjoy the journey!