I’ve been doing pottery for many years bow and I absolutely love my studio. It’s a relatively small space, not quite the size of a single garage but over the years I’ve set it up exactly the way I want it. I know where everything is, the layout works great and I can lay my hand on whatever I’m looking for in no time even though it’s quite an organized mess in there most of the time!
Recently I’ve been thinking and I realize I take most of my pottery inspiration from nature. Sometimes from rocks I see, waves or lines on the horizon or the texture of trees. So, I decided to set up an alternative studio outside my house. i say alternative as I wasn’t quite prepared to give up my primary space indoors as our winters are pretty cold an wet. Here are a few lessons I learned from this project.
First, select a good spot – It’s pretty crucial that you think through where your studio will be before you start carrying out table and setting up shelves. It may not seem important at first but taking into consideration things like the common wind direction in your area, the amount of direct sun that will hit the studio – you may want more, you may want less depending on how hot it gets where you are – is pretty crucial.
Exposure to the elements may impact the actual amount of time of spend in your outdoor studio and how enjoyable the experience is in the end.
For me, another large factor in selecting a location was what I could see from the studio. Like I said, I’m inspired by nature and picked a spot under a large oak tree where I could hear the leaves, see the dappled sun and simple experience the wonder of this majestic old giant while running the clay through my fingers.
Secondly, you have to be able to actually be productive there, so find a spot that’s not so remote, removed from everything or simply impractical that while you may have fun going there, you don’t actually get much done. If you plan to use a turning wheel or move and oven then bear in mind you’ll need access to electricity. You’ll also need access to running water, and make sure there’s enough room for you to set up work areas to spread your art around. Also, make sure that the final structure – if you do set up – is sufficiently protected that you can leave some of your tools, clay, glazes and other stuff there so you don’t need to haul them back and forth every time you decide to spend an afternoon or morning in the garden studio.
Finally, bring some of the things you love, some of the things that inspire you with you. If like me, you’re a person who enjoys listening to music while working then set yourself up so you can listen to your playlist in the studio. I simply got myself some good headphones and play my music from my phone or tablet. I don’t function well without the company of Luciano Pavarotti! Bring some of your favorite pottery pieces from inside and place them around the studio. Bring a plant, painting, books or that old chair – whatever you love surrounding yourself with and whatever gets your creative juices flowing.
Setting up an outdoor studio has been an interesting but rewarding experience to me. I love my new space and I love the fact that I now have the option to work either in or outdoors, depending on the weather and my mood. If you’re so inclined, give it a go, it could live your creativity to new heights!