What about firing?
Here’s the major rub. Since I live in a rented apartment, I don’t have an appropriate electrical services to connect a kiln. I also do not have the right to change it, so firing has to happen somewhere else. I am a member in community a clay studio where I am able to pay a fee to fire kiln loads. More recently, I have been unbelievably lucky find a friend who has been generously willing to share their kiln with me. Setting up a kiln is not an easy task unless you have the correct electrical service, and a ventilated space. Modifying one’s space can sometimes cost more than the kiln itself. So, I think making sure you have some access to a kiln before going all-in on a home studio is the smart thing to do.
*nb – I could probably rig something in my kitchen which would use my stove’s outlet. While technically possible, it’s a working stove and kitchen is a lifestyle choice I’m not ready to compromise.
Pegboard: the unsung hero of my home studio.
When working in a small space, every square inch is precious, so we have to find a way to make it all work for us. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it has been for me to have a pegboard right beside my wheel. I am a bit of an organizing freak, just a little bit. I can't stand my tools to be without designated spots and pegboard is an amazing tool to serve my needs. I didn’t always have a pegboard full of tools, electing instead to use jars and a few hooks to store tools. Once I installed the tool wall, I realized that I could organize and store far more tools than I had previously imagined (naturally, I bought more tools in order to fill the wall). Now, every tool has its own place. Ribs, trimmers, and wire tools have their own hooks. For the tools don’t have loops, I use a small neodymium magnet on the hook to put hold those tools in place. I also made some containers to hold brushes and some other delicate tools.
Other spaces in our home
Sometimes, my little studio space is not enough to accommodate all my ceramics activities. Wedging and glazing are activities which require a bit more space and a sturdier location. I use my kitchen counter as the platform for a large wedging board. Our dining table is where I do all my glazing work. I apply most of my glazes by brush, so it takes way longer than the dipping method: I often do it for 8 to 10 hours on one glazing day. So, having a comfortable place to sit is important. Because glaze is made of clay and other chemicals, it is a good idea to have a tabletop which cleans easily.
Is it worth it to have a home studio, especially one so small?
For me, the answer is certainly YES! The flexibility that it allows me vastly outweighs the efficiency which I might gain by using a larger, communal facility. I have to remain tidy, organized and diligent about cleanup, but the ability to work independently is something which has been very valuable. It would be difficult to make a much smaller studio, and while it would be nice to have more space, my little studio with a view is proof that there is almost no space too small to make pottery.