Hi Everybody, Happy New Year and welcome to the first week of 2024…

Today, I’ll start a series about the pros and cons of setting up your own pottery studio, either at home or in some other venue. Most people, if they get hooked on pottery, like to do a bit when they have some free time. They may even have aspirations to set up their own commercial pottery business. The most common problem is having to work with the space you have, which may just be the kitchen table or, when I started out, it was my lap, sitting on a chair with a tray that contained my pottery gear. Whatever space you have, you need to get organised, as there is nothing worse than having an idea then spending an hour looking for all the bits and pieces you need to make it. Get yourself a toolbox for your pottery tools. If you are working on the kitchen table, you will need some wooden boards to put  your work on, so you can easily move it after you have finished and thick canvas sheets, as they are good to cover your table and the clay won’t stick to them. This will make it easier to keep everything tidy. You can even wash the canvas in the washing machine, but bear in mind that it will shrink, so start with a reasonably sized piece. In our studio, we have different sheets of canvas for different types of clay, such as stoneware buff, terracotta and porcelain, so that the clay doesn’t get stained by the colour of a previously used clay.

Next, the clay: this, you can keep outside, so long as it is well wrapped up. I’ve had clay on several occasions that has been kept outside and when the temperature dropped, it froze, but that doesn’t do it any harm; just bring it inside to defrost and it’s ready to use again. If you’re throwing on the wheel and have limited space, save up and buy yourself a table-top pottery wheel; good makes are Shimpo or Discus. These are both powerful wheels, but also compact and lightweight and easy to clean. They cost about £750, but are durable and pretty much maintenance free. I often tell my pottery students who are learning to throw, to get a wheel, otherwise the only time they can practice is when they come to one of my two hour classes. A comparison is like taking guitar lessons and not having a guitar, so save up and buy a wheel, if throwing is your thing.

Watch out for further blogs on setting up your studio over the next few weeks, as there is quite a lot to say. Next time, I’ll talk about buying kilns and setting them up. Looking forward to 2024 and remember to seize the clay!

Happy New Year!