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  • Writer's picturechris

How to set up a ceramic studio in your one bedroom rental apartment?

Setting up a ceramics studio is difficult as is, but even more so when you are trying to set one up within your living space. As you are setting up your studio, remember to keep your safety and wellbeing above all else. Keep your space clean, avoid the spread of small clay particles through your home, and have fun! It is an exciting endeavor, creating your own ceramic space. It may be challenging at times due to budgets, physical restraints, and time, but it is not an impossible feat. I believe in you, you can do anything you put your mind to.

Anyway, here are some suggestions that you may be able to use and input in your own space.






​Wedging & Building

​Clay Storage

​Clean Up



If you have hardwood flooring in the room that you are creating, you already have a head start. Floors that are easy to clean are paramount to maintain your health and safety. Dried clay can produce silica dust, so you should do your best to maintain a clean studio space. This becomes even more important when your studio is in your home and around areas where you eat and sleep. You can easily mop hardwood floors and/or scrub everything down with a large sponge. If you have carpeting In your home pottery studio (like I do), you can install hardwood flooring over the carpeting. I accomplished this by first placing a tarp over my carpeting to protect it from any potential leaks of water or slip and taping the edges of the tarp to the walls for further protection. I then purchased the cheapest and easiest to install hardwood flooring home depot carries and hammered the pieces together. I also duct taped the seams between the wood panels together for even further protection from leaks, however, this is not totally necessary and I only did it out of an abundance of caution.


If your studio is in a separate room that is away from your general living space, again you have a head start! However, keep in mind that keeping the door closed and your feet clean when exiting the studio will prevent dried ceramic dust from spreading around your home.

If your studio is in an open space or in a general living space, it is a little tricker to keep silica dust from contaminating everything in the vicinity (however, it is possible!). You can create a separate pseudo-room by hanging up shower curtains around your studio space. I got clear shower curtains that were about a foot longer than the height from the floor to the can use command hooks (or something similar) to hang the shower curtain from the ceilings and create a barrier. I then sealed the bottom of the curtains to the floor by again using duct tape. When throwing, the clay can splash and get into places you would not think possible, but instead those places being in your living room, it gets stopped by the curtains.


When wet, clay does not pose any health risks, but as it dries, it creates silica dust which can be harmful and with years of constant exposure can lead to silicosis, a lung disease that is not curable. Silica dust is something all potters need to avoid, but luckily it is not very difficult to do. Also, do not dry mix clays, sand your pieces or glazes in your small studio space. If you would like to complete these activities, I would recommend doing them outside with a respirator mask on for added safety. Cleaning your studio space often (I clean mine after every throwing session) and not allowing the clay to dry out (I always have a spray bottle on hand to wet any areas of dry clay, but it is unclear if this is a proper technique or not) are the most basic things you can do. It is also recommended to go further and purchase an air purifier with a HEPA filter. This will keep the air in your studio space rid of any rogue silica particles. A cheaper solution would be to simply open any windows in the area with a fan blowing outward to ensure a constant flow of clean air. I went even further by purchasing an air particle meter just for extra safety.


Unless you are just using your at home ceramic studio for practice, you will need a place for your pieces to dry. You can buy metal, plastic, or wood shelving online or at home depot. As with everything else, the easier the shelves are to clean, the better. I have one shelf right next to the wheel and building area, where I cover the recently created pieces with thin plastic so they dry out slowly and evenly. I have another shelf, where I put the bone dry pieces to finish drying all the way out before they are bisque fired. (I usually let them sit for 1-2 weeks before firing them to make sure they are fully dried) We have another shelf where I store my glazes. But because of limited space and worries of chemical exposures, I only used and bought premade glazes (I figured the small space I was working with was not conducive to mixing my own glazes). You can add or subtract as many shelving units as you see fit.

Wedging & Building:

In order to wedge the clay, you will need a hard surface that the clay does not stick to (again, anything easy to clean will be best). A heavy duty table with canvas or a nonstick surface on it would be optimal. My studio was on the third floor and did not have room for a heavy table (nor did I want to carry it up the stairs), so we would often wedge on a wooden board or on the floor. However, this is far from ideal as wedging is made much easier by being able to stand and use your body weight to move the clay.

Clay Storage:

To store the clay, you can leave it in its original plastic packaging or wrap it in a plastic bag. We used pre-mixed clay, so we did not have to obtain raw materials which can be dangerous to mix without proper ventilation and a respirator. Some premixed clays do not have air bubbles in them if cut correctly, but be wary of this as sometimes the bubbles can be hidden.

I like to store already wedged clay in plastic storage bins near my wheel for easy access during a long throwing session. If you are storing your clay in storage bins, I would recommend poking holes in it and spraying it with water frequently so the clay does not dry out and it remains the perfect consistency.

For clay that becomes too wet or too hard, I recommend using a bucket(s). You can fill a 5 gallon bucket at least half full with water and create a reclaim bucket with the clay that is not throwable or wedgable. When the buckets become full, you can scoop the reclaim out onto a plasterboard in a thin, even layer so it can dry. Once the clay has dried to the correct consistency, it can be peeled off the plasterboard and wedged. This clay should now be perfectly usable again! Make sure to always keep a close eye on reclaim that is drying, as forgetting about it and leaving it a little too long can result in clay that is too hard, and the process will need to be started over from the beginning.


Buckets can also be very useful for cleanup. Originally, I cleaned the clay and trimming tools in a bucket that I left in the bathroom as the clay would sink into the bottom of the bucket and the majority of it would not go down the drain. Ceramics can create sentiment in your pipes and decrease drainage capabilities or lead to very hard to fix clogs. But this is inefficient if you are using your ceramic studio almost daily.

You can easily clean your tools in a water bucket with a sponge. Having water near your crafting area allows for faster clean up times and less stress in the long run. You can also use the clean water to mop or sponge down the floor. If there is a significant amount of clay that has dried up within your throwing time, you should use a respirator while cleaning or wet everything down first and use a wet vac. Any dry means of cleaning your studio will disperse the dust into the air and be ineffective.

Clean often and frequently.


If you are able to fire at a local ceramic studio, it can be easier and be less of a cost investment in the short term. It can also help build a sense of community along with providing a host of other benefits. But oftentimes you do not have total creative freedom over the firing process as you may need to use pre-approved clays and glazes. They are also oddly difficult to find as studios are often totally booked up, but maybe you will have better luck in your search than I did.

Alternatively, you can purchase your own kiln. Occasionally you can find one on facebook marketplace or you can purchase one directly from a kiln supplier. I did the latter and purchased mine from On Kiln Frog or any other alternative, you can choose between a premade kiln, or customize one to your liking.

After purchasing a kiln online, I hauled it half way across the country to Michigan. I asked my landlords to install a 240 volt and 30 amp plug outside. Check the specification of your kiln to make sure you install the right plug. Try to get your plug installed as close to the kiln placement as you can or else you may have to use an extension cord. Extension cords are not often recommended when firing a kiln as they can overheat and even lead to fires if not used properly. If an extension cord is necessary, make sure it is rated to handle the current your kiln requires. You also may need to watch the kiln more closely and make sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand.

When you are placing your kiln outside, you must protect it from the elements. For me, that meant installing a metal shed, where the walls were about one foot away from the walls of the kiln. I put down sand first to level the ground and scraped it over with a large piece of wood. Then, I placed down heat resistant pavers on top to provide a solid surface to place the kiln. In some places, there are certain restrictions over where you can build a shed. Living in a historical district and within city limits, I had to place the kiln at least 6 feet away from each house in the surrounding area. If we had gotten a larger shed, I would have needed a permit from the city. Check with your local city ordinance for rules and restrictions regarding shed placement if this is the route you choose. You can also ensure safety with a check in from the fire department.

When firing for the first couple times, I sat outside with the kiln at a safe distance to ensure I would be there if anything went wrong. It is better to be safe than sorry.

The main thing to recall is to maintain your health and safety; it is of the utmost importance. Ask your doctor about other safety precautions you should take when setting up your ceramic studio in your home.

I was able to create and execute this plan because of the advice and support from friends and family, my experiences at Purdue’s ceramic studio, and online ceramics creators such as Flordian and Audrey C. Ceramics. Thank you.

If you have made it this far into the blog post, please leave a comment down below. I would love to know what you did and your opinion.