So You Want To Be A Potter!

Well, it's finally happened. You took a creative class, one that you weren't sure you'd even like, and BAM! You're hooked! 
I get it! That's kind of how it started for me. If you have followed my inconsistent journey for some time, you know I used to own a brick & mortar before the pandemic hit. I've been a furniture artist, turned DIYer for several years. In 2018, I decided to open a little 250 ft. shop, coupled next to an art studio. The studio's main focus was (cue the drum roll) you've got it, Pottery!


I worked daily with the ceramics instructor, watching him mold young students into future creators while bustling away on his own pieces at the wheel. After months of watching this addictive form of art, I realized it didn't have to be as complicated or intimidating as that one experience I had in high school. I just needed a good instructor. Before you know it I was practicing daily and scouring the internet for my very own pottery wheel.

So here we are! A couple of saps that were sucked into the mud life. Isn't it great! It's so great that you are wondering how much this new pottery relationship is going to cost? If you are ready to invest in a ceramic romance, my first piece of advice would be, please don't quit your day job just yet. I hate to sound like a Debbie Downer, but you will need that income to pay the bills while you grow. That is, after all, the hard part. I was honestly surprised at how inexpensive the pottery gig is and how easy it was to find what I needed. If you start out shopping in the used department, you will be shocked too. If you decide to go with hand-building exclusively, you just saved yourself cash by opting out on the pottery wheel.

I'm going to go over just a few of the large upfront investments. Understand that there are several factors to consider. Ask yourself these questions: What are my long term goals for pottery? Am I following this path for business or pleasure? Am I going to run a studio out of my home? Will I be leasing a location with more space? Do I want to become a production potter? If you have a plan in place and are fully committed, you'll want to take a peek at Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and even School Auctions. You would be surprised at how many schools get rid of great equipment, just because a peddle needs to be fixed.

My First Purchase

I know that she's not very pretty and has some serious vintage vibes going on, but I'll tell you what she is; She's consistent and has helped me get the job done, time after time!
I found my wheel on Craigslist for about $350. In my opinion, that was a great deal! Now, she came with a rats nest in her motor (no extra charge) but that was an easy fix. If you or anyone you know has basic maintenance skills, believe me when I say it's very easy to swap and clean parts for these machines. There are so many videos on YouTube with "How To" instructions. Also, current manufacturers who have bought out these older models, are very helpful as well. That, compared to a brand-new wheel (at least one worth investing in) will put you back around $1200 to start. Repurposed is the way to go if you are on a budget.


My Second Purchase


Ironically I bought my kiln from the same person I bought my wheel from. At this point, several months had gone by, and this potter was offloading her entire studio. After talking her down on the price a bit, we purchased this 30-year-old kiln for $300. Ryan and I had spent several evenings surfing the web for what to look for when shopping for a used kiln. These were our biggest takeaways:
  • Always test the kiln before buying. Fire it up!
  • Make sure all of the heating elements work and are glowing. Ryan used a temperature gun (not exactly necessary, but it made him feel better) 
  • Make sure it has a cord that is in good shape, or it will need to be replaced. (Learned this the hard way)
  • Check all of the bricks that surround the heating elements. Avoid if any bricks are missing or have severe damage. A chip here and there is fine (something that happens when emptying and loading pots) 
My kiln did come with furniture and shelves, so keep that in mind when looking at the asking price. Shelves can run anywhere from $20-$200 brand-new, depending on the size you need. 
Three years into pottery and I am still learning every day. The beauty of this art form is that the possibilities are endless and you never stop growing in your development. This has been the best investment I have ever made. Though this path has not been easy. Pottery has made life as a working mom from home, possible and sustainable. This past fall I took the plunge and upgrade my old Sitter kiln for a brand-new Skutt 1027. It has been a game-changer for my business and well worth the wait.  

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