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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!

And don’t forget to become a fan of Emily Murphy Pottery on Facebook!

20 thoughts on “My new pottery studio, so far.

  1. hi emily, i’m so envious of several things, mostly just the size of the space. it seems you’ve thought of everything and of course, i lust after that which i do not have… the designated area for photography and packing up pots, dreamy. you seemed to have lucked out with the tile floors where you have them and the acrylic over your cement would be nice on my floors too. maybe ian is right and hgtv for potters would make a great show… maybe you’d be interested in hosting it?

  2. Fantastic! As someone who has their “studio” in a garage in Illinois, (Where it is 12F Right now) I am envious of your beautiful new INDOOR studio. I know it will be much colder in Minnesota, but at least you will be indoors, and your new kiln will help keep you toasty.
    Are you going to ventilate that kiln? I have smelled some bad stuff when our kiln is firing, but we have an Envirovent, and it lets us work in the studio while the kiln is on. You might need one of those hoods that removes fumes and heat, I don’t know how hot it will get right above yer kiln. Don’t burn down your beautiful new house!
    Best of luck to you and your new husband, in all your endeavors, potterywise and otherwise.

    1. I will definitely be venting it! And it will be installed by a rep for the kiln company to make sure it’s done right. We’ve also built in extra heat/ fire proofing with the cement board and 5/8″ drywall. We definitely want to take every precaution we can to make sure it’s safe!
      Keep warm!

  3. Emily – Congratulations and welcome back! This is a great post – really smart design and very inspirational. I particularly love the clay-storage-on-casters-underneath-the- shelves-thing. Looking forward to keeping up with you again! Glad you’ll be working soon. I must admit your blog inspired me to start my own…

    1. Thanks John! I am pretty happy with the clay storage. The wheels are non-rotating casters so they easily roll in and out. The bottom shelf isn’t a great place to store much of anything, so this seemed like a good solution. Congratulations on the blog! I just added it to my reader and blog roll! I look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!

  4. yeh!!! nicely done em, i thought you’d have the venting sorted you’re that kinda girl!! i love everything on wheels, have instigated that one myself…

  5. It looks great Emily, I also have just had a new studio built but have only one room, but it is so much better than the old shed I had. I like the idea of storing bats under the wedging table, I haven’t done that yet so that is a good idea.
    All the best in your new house and studio, Cheers for the new year.

  6. Ugh… I am battling an insane case of jealousy right now… but thankfully I can apply some of your ideas to my tiny 100 square foot space that I’m in right now. First studio = eensy weensy studio, right? Anywho… This was a lovely post, thank you so much for sharing. And congrats on your wonderfully customized new space!

  7. i’m impressed with your studio – organization and ingenuity! i am in the process of moving into a new basement space – and it hasn’t quite come into its own yet. but i am certainly inspired!


  8. Emily,

    I first came across your work at NCECA in Louisville. I really admire your forms and surfaces! Recently came across your website and blog.

    Wow, it is so NICE of you to take the time to post all these pictures and procedures, ideas, pointers, etc. etc!!! Holy cow, you must never sleep!!

    Tomorrow, a potter friend and I are loading the kiln to do our first soda firing. (gulp!!) I built a small salt kiln last summer and have done 2 salt firings, but not quite getting the results I’m looking for.

    So thanks to your wonderful posts, we will be using your recipe and method. (Also have several good books on hand…..Gail Nichols, Phil Rogers, Ruthanne Tudball.)

    Thanks again for sharing this helpful information. I hope you’re finding some time to pot in that awesome studio!!

  9. What a thoughtful layout (and blog post!), Emily. Looks like a great place to make pots. And I, too, and taking notes on the photo/packing station. Love the castors!

  10. Thank you so much for the inspiration. I am starting to throw pottery again. My “studio” is my kitchen at the moment. I am still looking to buy a kiln that will probably be in the garage for now. Your ideas and organization will be so useful when I get my studio someday. Thanks!

  11. Emily, thanks for the fantastic post. I’m going to be setting up a new studio soon and got some ideas from what you’ve done. I had a question about the “catch-all splash pan” you said you will build for your trimming wheel. How are you going to make that? I always am fighting the mess from trimmings and that idea sounds really useful. Thanks again, Claude in Vermont

  12. What diameter of casters are you using? 3″? I am trying to buy these from and need to know the size for the project? Did you mention they were all fixed / rigid on the clay storage?

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