Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Studio Renovation Builds Biceps

Right now in the basement, a  man is installing French doors. They are going between my studio and my gallery space. Someone standing in the gallery will be able to look through the glass panes and see the workshop area. When I work in the studio, I can close the doors to keep the dust from entering the gallery, while retaining light from the gallery area.

If I do not have bulging biceps, it is not from lack of trying. Pottery materials and tools are heavy! It's been a big job pulling this together the last two days, but I am at least 75% there.

Yesterday, I moved my wheel from its old spot to a new one, My trusty Lockerbie wheel, which I've had since 1985,  has a 90 lb. flywheel at the bottom, and its frame is made of cast iron. I found it helped to use old bits of vinyl floor tile below the 3 feet of the frame, to get it started moving. I had washed the floor (needed it- sloppy buckets of glaze used to live here) and I managed to slide it into place along the damp floor. Oof.
First thing in place is my kickwheel!
The big blue pail is half full of stoneware, about 250 lbs worth, from  my student days in the 80s. It slid across the studio floor pretty well. It is very well aged clay, nice and soft. It matures at a higher temperature (over 3200 degrees F) than I fire my kiln to now (about 2800 degrees F), so I am going to make a lot of unglazed garden pots out of it. It's OK if they are a bit porous, which happens when a clay is underfired- it's better for freezing and thawing, in fact. The plastic container with light blue lid is full of my clay tools. I want to hang a couple of shelves on the wall to the right, and put them there. The mirror standing against the wall, reflecting the shelves across the way, will get hung on the wall angled near my wheel (not visible in the photo). It will help me see the profile of whatever pot I am making on the wheel, without having to crane my neck around. You'd be amazed how that constant craning takes a toll on the  nerves and disks in a potter's neck over time.

Clay boxes were everywhere. My husband helped me move the slab roller to its new spot this morning, and then stowed 500 lbs of clay under it. There is room for 900 lbs of clay:
2nd thing in place is clay and slab roller!

This is my craft cabinet, full of beads and epoxy resin supplies and more. It stood (up until now) sort of nowhere, in the midst of the basement, with other junk:
Son of a gun was full of supplies and way heavy, but I stuck a couple of putty knife blades under the front edge as slides, and pushed it bit by bit out of what will be my gallery space, and into its new place. The crafts cabinet now lives between the glaze-colorants cabinet (white), and the wall of buckets and bags containing my more basic glaze ingredients.

Supply cabinets make friends

Oxides and colorants:
Cobalt carbonate, Red iron oxide, Mason stains and much more
Non-pottery craft supplies:
Beads, wire, findings, glues, epoxy resin supplies, tools and more

Too bad I didn't take a photo of the glaze bucket mess before I moved it. It lived under a table  made of an old door, which sat on two filing cabinets and stood where the slab roller now lives. I first had to shlep out the wet glazes, get rid of those that don't work for me any more, and wash out still-useful buckets. It was a sloppy job, but done now. Here is the mid-stage of cleanup:
And here are the glaze buckets and glazing tools where they belong, now stored under a 7' long table placed in that same area:

On the side wall you can see more buckets. They are dry ingredients, powders used to make pottery glazes from recipes. They used to live on a pallet, three rows deep, making them hard to get at. They contain 25 lbs. of powder each, so it was heavy lifting to get to the ones at the back and at the bottom when needed. Now they are in a single row. No need to move the buckets in front to get the the ones I need. This makes me surprisingly happy:
Ball clay, flint, kaolin, tin oxide, nepheline syenite, and more.
 This is the before-the-door-is-installed view, from the doorway space:
The new LED lighting is super
The studio that used to be two smaller rooms is now one long room that you can see from one end to the other when you enter. I love how light it is now. You enter the clay area first- those are buckets of re-hydrating clay under the table, which I will recycle and re-use. Further in, where I have a shop sink in the far right corner, is the glazing area. Way up against the far wall I have an old farmhouse table my mother got secondhand for me thirty years ago. It will have to find a new purpose. Right now it is just a catchall for mess.

I am banishing mess and creating an orderly workspace. There is still plenty to do, but the end is coming into focus.


  1. I would recommend that folks bring in or cover the garden pots in winter. Being porous, they will hold water. It will expand when the water becomes ice, and the pottery will suffer from it. True whether glazed or not, in my experience, and whether the pots are fired to a mature clay temperature or not. My gardens are full of shards from commercial earthenware pottery left out all winter as well as pots I made fired to ^9-10 left out of doors.

  2. Anon, thanks for advice based on your experience. I will still make garden pots with that clay. (I will let whimsy be my guide.) Then I will put a few in my garden and see what freezing and thawing will do over the winter. I won't sell any before that unless they come with "winter indoors" instructions.

  3. I can't wait to see the finished studio.