Tag Archives: pottery studio

a pottery studio tour: my sunny basement studio

My studio is really clean at the moment. So before I started making a mess again with throwing, trimming and glaze mixing, I thought I would snap some photos and share with you. I absolutely love looking at other potter’s work spaces, and I know I am not the only one! I’ve been sharing some studio photos here and there on Facebook, but I realized it would be nice to have them all together.

And so our tour begins…

My studio is in our basement. But it really doesn’t feel like it, it has lots of light and plenty of space. We bought our house 3 and a half years ago. It was a condemned duplex that was a foreclosure that had been empty for years – but the reason why we fell in love with it was the space… and also that it is a brick house. How could I resist a house made of clay. Even though we saw the house in the middle of a bitter Minnesota winter without any heat or lights, we somehow we saw the potential in it. And long story (very) short: we renovated the whole house and built my dream studio. Every pipe is new and 51 of the 54 windows (yes, you read that right!) were replaced. There was no surface untouched. The studio was the last space that was built out. And I’m still making changes here and there. After renting studio space for so many years, I had been planning my dream space in my head. And it is such a joy to be able to work in this space that is actually mine.

That was a slight side-track. Back to the tour. You have to walk past the laundry room and our pantry and then you’ll find my studio door. Right inside of it is a wide hallway that I turned into a display area. As you might have seen in a recent post, my display just got a make-over. I still have some more to do on it, but you can get the idea. This hallway leads into what I call my “clean room.”


The clean room has my display, my kiln, my desk, my photography set-up and packing/ shipping area as well as a sink.


The kiln (an L&L which you can read more about here) came with 1 more ring on it, but when I was pregnant I couldn’t load it so I took off a ring to make it a little shorter. It’s still quite large. And now that I am working fewer hours than before (life with a 1 year old!), the slightly smaller kiln is great.


This weekend my husband helped me put up some new shelves in a couple of places in my studio, including above my desk. It’s awesome to have this additional space. I recently got a laser printer to start printing some decals that will go on my pots (more on that in a future post!) and I finally got it out of the box this weekend so I can start printing!


I usually refer to these shelves as “mug shelves.” My glaze test tiles/ samples are on the top shelves. The rest are filled up with pots fresh out of this weekend’s kiln!

And this area is my photography area, packing and shipping area and, of course, the sink. The photography set-up folds flat against the wall and then opens up when I use it. The next photo shows it opened up. I’ll write a more detailed post on the set-up soon. It’s pretty great being able take photos so easily. When I was building the space the 2 things that I knew were easy to overlook or cut for lack of space was photography and packing and shipping. I tried really hard to incorporate good set-ups for this. I wish I had even more space for boxes and packing materials- but there were limits. I’m still trying to figure out ways to stash extra bags of peanuts and bubble wrap.


This is the photo set-up opened up. There are lots of adjustments that can be made depending on what’s being photographed.

The next room (just past my desk) is the glaze room. It’s where I store dry materials, mixed glazes and my homemade spray booth.

The countertop is nice and easy to clean when I make a mess when glazing or mixing up glazes. It was just stock countertop from Home Depot. I got it during a 20% off sale. All the shelves were built to fit my buckets. The buckets on the right usually are under the counter, but I’m in the middle of replenishing my glaze inventory after the last 2 firings.

This is my homemade spray booth. There is usually a filter over that opening, but I threw out the last one that was clogged up with glaze. I’m hoping that I can remember the details of things like the exhaust fan enough to share with you a bit of a tutorial on a DIY spray booth – it’s been 2 years since it was built! It’s not fancy – but I like it so much better than the commercial booth that I used to use (which had such a weak exhaust fan). And it was way cheaper to build than to buy!



There used to be a wall that split this space into two separate rooms, but it’s so much better opened up. Lots of light and great cross-ventilation. The other room is where I make pots. Throw, trim, decorate, hand-build…


If you look up on the left, that’s the top ring for my kiln! It has a nice place to, literally, hang out until I decide that I want to go back to the bigger kiln. Below it is a ware cart. The canvas covered countertop is 14 feet long, if I remember correctly.


And this last space also got some sweet new shelves this weekend! On the left is my throwing wheel and on the right is my trimming wheel. It’s great having separate spaces so I don’t have to clean up when switching back and forth between throwing and trimming. I ended up being offered to buy a used Brent C from another potter for next to nothing. At the time I didn’t even have space to use it, but I knew it was a deal that I couldn’t pass up. So I bought it and stored it until I had space to have 2 wheels.

You can see the bat storage under the wedging table- I love how organized and accessible they are. And I just put up some hooks on the wall to store my foam trimming bats.
If you want to see how to make a foam bat, I have a tutorial on how-to make a foam bat here. And here I wrote about making the splash pan for my trimming wheel.

And that’s my studio. Thanks for joining me on the tour! I feel so lucky to have this space. It’s really a joy to work in. Having a studio at home has made it possible for me to work while I have a little one at home.

My new pottery studio, so far.

Thanks for the warm ‘welcome back’ and all the congratulations and well wishes! All the comments and messages make me feel like I’m at a reunion of good friends that I haven’t seen for a while! I’m full of warm fuzzies.

As promised, this post is all about my studio build out. A few months ago we finished the walls, ceilings, lighting and flooring in my studio, but more recently, we’ve been building out the space: customizing tables, shelves and storage to suit my needs. The project is still a work in progress, but you’ll get a sense of the space from the tour below. Enjoy!

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The tour starts off in the hallway that leads into my studio. The studio consists of 3 rooms: the first one is a “clean studio,” the next is the glazing/ chemical room and the last one is throwing and decorating room. The studio will be closed off by a pocket door (which is in process of being installed). The left side of the hall is a display area/ storage for finished pots.  I have some fun ideas for display that I’d like to do at some point, but it’s lowest on my list of priorities. For now, I’m using Ikea shelves from my show display. Straight ahead is where my electric kiln will go.

studio-entry

My “clean studio” is home my studio office. I’ll be using it mainly for doing photos and updating etsy, etc… Right ahead is my electric kiln area (around where the tool bucket is now). The walls have cement board on them (with an air space behind them) and the ceiling has 5/8th inch drywall.  The shelves you see to the right will be for work waiting to be fired, kiln shelves and furnitures, etc…  This room used to be a kitchen, and the tile floor are left over from it’s previous incarnation.

electric-kiln

Another view of my desk. I’m trying to set up an area that is well set up for photographing pots, listing them online and packing for shipping. I’ve never had a good space to do this before, so it always made it much more of a chore than it needed to be.  Across the room is a table for photographing work, as well as packing up boxes. I had conversations with a ton of potters as I was designing my space and I asked “what is the one thing that you wish you had in your studio” and everyone’s answer was to have a better space for photographing and packing up pots.

studio-office

This next photo will get more of an explanation in a future post. This is the start of my photography set-up, but since it’s not done yet, I’m not going to explain the contraption just yet! The table is on casters has space under it for box storage. There is also a leaf that opens up to make the table larger, but stays out of my way when I’m not using it. This table will be for both photographing work, and also for packing up work.

photo-and-wrapping-table

This next area is just to the right of the photo table, and directly behind my desk. The utility sink is getting a trap installed under it (another post coming up about that). Suspended from the ceiling is a big roll of packing foam (which I forgot neaten up before the photo, oops!). The counter will be more area for staging work for photos and wrapping/shipping. Below the counter is space for both boxes and wrapping paper. There is also a spigot below the counter, where I can fill up bigger buckets without having to lift them in and out of the sink.

sink-and-wrapping-area

The next room: this is my glazing area, as well as clay storage. The shelf building is still in progress, but I’m pretty excited about this space. The counter top in here (and by the utility sink) is just “in stock” laminate counter top from Home Depot, which were also 20% off when I bought them which made them a great deal.  For the floor in the glazing room and the throwing room, I did an epoxy coating over the cement floors. I’m really impressed with their durability.  To the right of this will be where I eventually hope to have a spray booth just past the window. The clay storage is a pull out dolly so I don’t have to awkwardly reach to get clay out and put clay away.  The wheelie things the 5 gallon glaze buckets are on are actually plant holders from Ikea. Much cheaper than ones from hardware stores, and definitely durable enough. I’ve been using them for years.

glazing-area

The next set of shelves are across from the glazing area. These shelves will be for dry material storage, and the bottom part can be more clay storage (also pulls out). The glazing room & throwing room are separated from the clean room by a door to help keep the dust from migrating too much.

dry-material-storage

Our tour continues into the next room, which is where I’ll do my throwing, trimming, altering and decorating. The 2 rooms used to have a wall dividing them, but I opened them up to get more light, cross ventilation, and generally more space. There will be another table built that will roll between glazing and throwing rooms whenever I need more horizontal surface, but that won’t happen for another week or so. These shelves will hold greenware and work in progress. The shelves on the right is a full cart that I inherited from a previous studio that I altered to fit my needs.  There is another rolling dolly for more heavy duty storage at the bottom of the shelves to the left.

work-in-prgress-shelves-and-cart

This next part is my favorite part of my studio! It’s a canvas covered counter that is 14 feet long and 2 and a half feet deep. There is a space for me to sit at right in front of the window. All the tools and slips are right at my reach. I can’t wait to spend hours sitting here, decorating pots! The throwing area is to the right of this photo, directly across from the shelves/cart.

slip-and-altering-work-area

There is still some building to do in this next area, but you can get the basic idea of the space. I use one wheel for throwing (on left) and one for trimming (on right). The wedging table has some pretty slick bat storage built in. I’m going to build a big catch-all splash pan for the trimming wheel and room storage above each wheel.

throwing-area

So that completes the tour of my studio, so far.  I’ll be revisiting some of these spaces on my blog as I finish them and start to use them. I’ve been having fun building out the space that is customized for my needs. I’m not planning on moving anytime soon, so I can really settle in. I’ve had 4 studios over the past 10 years so I’ve always been hesitant to build too much that was not movable and was too customized. But now that I’m more or less permanently settled, I can customize away! It’s taking a little longer to get set up, but it’s definitely worth it. With that said, I’m so glad that the end is in sight!

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When I finished writing this post, I was talking to Ian and telling him how I had just written an overly detailed (and very long) post about my studio build out, but I knew if I didn’t write all the details, I’d get a lot of questions about the parts I skipped over, so I just went for it. I know how much people love details about studio design! I soak up every blog post, book chapter and magazine article that is about setting studio set up- no matter the size or location. Ian pointed out that it was like HGTV for potters. I think he put it perfectly!

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