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studio building plans

updated mon 28 feb 00


Peggy Brushaber on fri 25 feb 00

Help. I would like to build a studio on my property in Michigan. Does
anyone have building plans or any tips they would share. I am
considering about 700-800 sqare feet.

Marcia Selsor on sat 26 feb 00

You should analyze the way you work to produce your wares whatever they
may be.
Begin with the clay source, then work station of green ware, your
decorating techniques, firing requirements, glazing needs, shipping needs.
Build it for the way you work to make what you do.
Be very stingy with space and how you can use it twice or three times.
Can you use a wedging table for a decorating surface? How can you change
functions of furniture? Really design it. You don't have much room.
Marcia in Montana

Peggy Brushaber wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> Help. I would like to build a studio on my property in Michigan. Does
> anyone have building plans or any tips they would share. I am
> considering about 700-800 sqare feet.

Marcia Selsor

ferenc jakab on sat 26 feb 00

Peggy, Some thoughts.
The size is quite good, are you limited to this size? Things to consider,
the floor space taken up by kilns, shelving and storage space, (if you buy
your clay by the ton as I do then it takes up quite a bit of space. You
don't want to walk far for the next bag, a. because it takes time. b.
because it is heavy.) bench space (wedging slab making cutting etc.), work
space, drying racks, possibly lockable cupboards for chemicals, especially
if kids have access. Wet area and sinks (think of the space you need for
glaze mixing), water supply, drainage, power.
Floor: Design it to be easily cleaned. If concrete, have a drain for
gathering hosed off water and the floor sloped appropriately to the drain.
design the drain to be easily accessed for cleaning out of clay washed in
when hosing out. (silt trap)
Light. Consider the passage of the sun (Summer and Winter) and where windows
should go.avoid taking up good shelf space with windows. Possibly skylights
would be a good solution. On the other hand if you have a pleasant vista you
might want a window to view from your work space.
Heat: A kiln throws out a lot of heat! I'm not sure but I'm guessing
Michigan summers are quite warm and winters bitter. Where I live summers are
hot (around 100 deg F)and I've designed my roof to allow venting of hot
air. Winters are fairly cold but freezing temperatures are rare. I'm a hot
blooded type and wear T- shirts at 10 deg Celsius Approx 50 deg F. I don't
require heating. You probably will and if you vent off summer heat you will
need to restrict that ventilation in winter. You will need insulation.
If you fire with anything but electricity you will need appropriate venting
to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Even electric kilns can create noxious
fumes with certain glazes or lustres. Another point about kilns, if they're
going to share your work space and even if they don't there are always
regulations to be met and these might determine some of your design
requirements for you.
Building material: Timber is nicest of course but steel may be cheaper.
It would be good if internal walls were easy to keep dust free and reflect
light well. Plaster is good for this purpose. Consider what colour you like
to work in and what effect it has on the piece you are working with.

I wanted to build my own studio in timber but, due to a protracted illness,
I had it built by a shed building firm in steel for the price I would have
paid for the self built timber building. My dimensions are 12.5 yards by 6.5
and the height is 15' at the centre of the gable and 13' at the wall. As I
said I need to dissipate heat.

Hope these thoughts help. If you want any further ideas or to discuss your
ideas, please feel free to e-mail me at (remove the

Feri on sun 27 feb 00

Hi Peggy!

I'm one who is also building a new studio. One of the thoughts I have about
this, is check your local zoning laws. Some municipalities allow sheds or
storage facilities to be built, without a permit, while others are fairly
strict about what constitutes a "work space." The permit process out here in
the Mojave Desert (San Bernardino County, CA) is fairly straight-forward--as
long as the building isn't a "house" (ie, a building with a permanent stove,
sink, and toilet!), it can be considered a non-permitted building.

That taken care of, the fire dept. might also have to make an inspection, if
you use a gas or wood-fired kiln. In California, the kiln stacks have to be
AQMD (Air Quality Management District) approved.

Since I live in a desert, I decided to build outside/inside. I'm constructing
a covered patio behind the studio (east exposure--light in mornings, less
heat in the afternoons), where the kiln will be located, and so will the slop
sink and the old refrigerator I call my "wet room." The work area and glazing
will be done indoors. There's enough space outside, I could work either in
front of the studio, or in the patio, in the spring or fall, when the weather
isn't too hot. I plan to have 32" doorways, to easily move the worktables I
currently own, and any other equipment I might purchase.

To cool the space, I'm installing a swamp cooler. There are no windows on the
south side of the studio, since the mid-day sun in the summer can be quite
hot! Ventilation, by open windows and a rooftop circulating vent, will
probably be sufficient. The beauty of the site--and thr reason I chose it--is
Goat Mountain. The work area windows will be large enough to see G.M., and
the surrounding desert landscape. In the winter, I'll have plug-in electric
heaters to warm the space.

I plan to build lots and lots of shelves! That's the advice I read on a
previous posting about building new studios.

The slop sink will be connected to a "closed" drainage system--sort of like a
"closed" septic tank, so the chemicals of clay and glaze making won't pollute
the desert soil.

I estimate the cost of construction for this structure (about the same size
as the space you want to build), will be around $5,000, for lumber, supplies,
and local labor. I hope to begin construction in a month or so--the owners of
the property need to approve and "sign off" the design, which I'm assured
will be done next week.

My electric kiln sits out there on the concrete slab, awaiting the day that I
remove it from it's shipping box!

I'll continue to check further suggestions--I'm learning a lot about
building, designing, and maintaining a studio, from this list!

Best wishes!

Milton NakedClay@AOL.COM
Yucca Valley, CA
I can't wait for warmer weather! I've been wearing my favorite sweater for a
week now!

C. A. Sanger on sun 27 feb 00

Get some graph paper and cut out little paper shapes of all the
equipment to be placed in the studio. Put Post-It note-type glue on the
backs of the shapes. Then begin arranging the shapes on the paper.
Don't forget to mark doors, windows, etc. Plan for flow, that is, clay
comes in one end, goes out as finished product at the other. I worked
on my plan two weeks, but I had only 450 square feet to work with. Mine
is tight, but it works pretty well.
Other tips: Place quad outlets every 6 feet, and two feet up from
the floor. Consider some hanging outlets, too, so you can place
equipment in the room's center if needed. Put up as much wall shelving
as you can, then put vinyl coated hanging baskets (from the kitchen
section of Walmart) on the bottom ones to hold plastic bags, etc. The
hanging baskets are great over the sink--wet stuff drips into the sink!
My favorite tip: Use industrial velcro to attach clothespins to the
wall by wheels, sinks, etc. Then hang heavy plastic sheets. When they
're dirty, wipe down or take off to wash outside--no more dirty walls!
Buy cheap, large S hooks from the closet section of Walmart. Use to
hang towels off sink, or drills for mixing glazes, etc. Hang pegboard
near your wheel for tools. Buy an old wheeled vinyl- record rack for
bat storage, they're cheap at garage sales.
My last suggestion is a lot of work, but great if you're bothered
by clutter. Paint the walls, surfaces, any paintable equipment, etc.
all the same color. I painted everything a quiet light gray. Makes the
room seem bigger, and a lot less visually cluttered. Even people who
thought it was incredibly anal now comment it was a great idea. If
you'd like a drawing of my floor plan, let me know.

C. A. Sanger
ShardRock Clay Studio
Kansas, USA