Studio: Where is the pottery nook?

At Muskeg Tower I had HAC crews (hella-attack crews: helitack crews.. reminds me of “Hella” a great band actually, their all instrumental stuff is superb) this season and while hosting the boys to some tea in my cabin one piped up and asked: “Where is your pottery nook going to be this year?”

Last year’s “pottery nook” in my old cabin.

I didn’t have a wheel this year so there was no nook, at the start when he asked, but by the end I had a glaze studio in the shed and a table in my kitchen dedicated to hand building. But do we really need a studio to be a potter?

The answer is, I am convinced, yes and no. I have had many a sketchy studio. All I ultimately need is a wheel in some room, shelving and a place for clay. I have even resorted to wedging on the wheel when space dictates so. Back when I was doing “It Ain’t Easy” a radio show about craft in Canada I did an interview with Cathy Teripocki (who has a decent blog and website), we talked briefly about whether you need a “dream” studio. Her cut to the chase, make it work attitude shone through as she explained all the times she made do with what ever room she has had.

One of my teachers at Kootenay School of the Arts, David Lawson, told us many tell-tale stories of having a kiln working on the same outlet as the oven (make sure you keep the window open…) and  placing plastic down to protect carpet in the living room for a wheel space. Artists have forever just done with what their ingenuity will provide. With each studio I set up I learn even more what is needed and what isn’t. It hadn’t really occurred to me that I have set up and taken down 10 studios since in the last three years! (I move around more than a bit and mainly for ceramic related reasons). I only wish I had documented them all better. Here are some of them:

Left to right: KSA, KSA, Blandford living room, NSCAD, MMAQ, ANU

Anyways, I’m at it again setting up a new studio. Today I cleared it all out and cleaned it all up. I can hardly wait to get my hands in clay, but first things first. I need to get actually things in the room: wheel, table, material storage. It is a very small space and so the problem solving has begun! A studio needs proper flow and ease of movement, even in the smallest of spaces. Here is Mr. Bernard Leach’s version of a “small studio” from “A Potter’s Book”. Bernard sure did have basement easements 20×20 feet in mind when he drew it up…

Wish me luck with settling in! Have you had studio’s anywhere ridiculous? Have any tips? Please comment!

In the studio: Updates on studio work pictures and anecdotes posted up all about the secret life of potters, this one in particular. Please note that links are in light grey font.


Lingo: The field of ceramics has many unique words and notions. It certainly helps when trying to talk about ceramics to know the basics so throughout my posts (as of now!!!!) you can find words in orange text and at the bottom of the page dictionaryesk definitions of those words with a bit of personal commentary. So see the orange text in this post explained below!
You can also refer to the Lingo page for more.

P.S. Sorry this didn’t get out on Friday, when the “Studio” posts are supposed to be posted. Routines die hard and are hard to start.. busy busy busy….

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