Monday, April 15, 2013

A New Home: Plans for the New Pottery Studio

Location for the new pottery studio

I have finally staked out the position for my new pottery studio. At least, I have staked out its theoretical position. There are still so many hoops to jump through...finding a contractor, finalizing the design, getting permits and - oh yes - figuring out how to pay for the thing!
The field in this picture is right next to my house on Front Ridge Road in Penobscot, Maine. It's not as big as it may seem. In fact, those four stakes encompass pretty much the entire area available to me under zoning and setback rules for my town - at least for commercial buildings like this. The front stake is 55 feet from the edge of the road and the area measures 24 by 48 feet. Really, that's not a terribly large building - particularly for a pottery - but I've seen a lot of pots emerging from smaller spaces. And since I reconsidered and put the gambrel roof back in, I'll have more overflow storage.
Designing a pottery studio turned out to be something of a fraught process. Deciding where to locate equipment and supplies meant designing for an efficient work flow. It's interesting how ideas and resources will suddenly pop up when you need them. An article in Ceramics Monthly magazine had a lot of good advice.

 Work Flow in a Pottery

This is the latest - and probably final - version of the pottery studio. If you have read previous posts on this, you will see that things have changed a great deal. There is more square footage and equipment has been shifted about.
The most important change is the attention to work flow. Ideally, pottery should go from wet clay to a finished pot in a single circular path around the studio. The more "back and forth" motion, the more expensive your production process. My earliest plans called for a full basement, the idea being that I would make pots in the cellar and sell them on the first floor.
Nice idea, but even at 54 years of age, I have determined that the less time I spend lugging clay around, the better. Somehow, carrying a ton of clay one 50-pound box at a time down the cellar stairs at least once each year didn't sit well. So, a concrete slab it is. With this design, clay is stored right by the door and only backs up once in the greenware area. From there, it makes a single clockwise circuit around the studio and comes to rest in the show area. The pattern looks something like this:
Pottery Arrow
Note that the kilns are in the center of all this activity. I fire twice in my process, to that seemed to make sense. Besides, I have engineered this building for energy efficiency, and it seemed logical to put what may amount to a secondary heating system in the center of things. It also does away with the clumsy issue of having to install them at least 2 feet away from flammable surfaces.
Is this a good place to mention that the lumber company added in a second door on the back wall for safety purposes when they estimated the materials cost?
Ah, yes. Materials cost. Well, that was a bit of a surprise. It came in at just about $35,000, which was a good deal less than I thought it would be. Given that I want this place to be as energy efficient as possible, the insulation alone was a large chunk of that total, so there is a little wiggle room. But not a lot.
Of course, that price does not include the concrete pad, heating, plumbing or electricity. Nor does it include labor. So I expect that cost to do some multiplying, which brings me to the final issue:

When Worlds Collide: The Dream Meets Reality

I will be meeting with a prospective contractor in a few days to go over this. It doesn't take much to run up a big bill, and I expect all those items not included in the materials estimate will at least triple the cost - if not quadruple it. I won't know until I ask, though. I want in-floor radiant heat and I need three-phase power unless I want to replace most of my current equipment, which I suspect would cost even more.
Here's the plan: figure out how much this will actually cost, then mount a KickStarter campaign to raise as much of it as I have to. The rest will be a matter of personal finance. It's a big, ambitious idea and nothing is certain - except my determination to keep this wonderful heritage alive whatever it takes.
So please, do sign up for my newsletter if you haven't already. And check back frequently to see how things are progressing! And buying pottery is a good thing as well! And while you are doing all of this, have a great Spring!

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