When you begin to work with clay, it is important that you have a workspace in which you feel comfortable. Clay can be messy so you need to create a practical and safe area. The work space need not be large but it must be organized.
You will need a good light source, whether it be natural or artificial. If you have an electric pottery wheel or kiln you will, of course, need access to a power supply.
Access to running water is a great asset for both water to work with and for cleaning up when you have finished for the day. The purchase of several buckets will prove a good investment.
Ideally the floor of the area should be one that can be swept and mopped easily. This allows for the clean up of not only clay but any liquids or powders that you may spill. The other important reason for having an easily maintained floor is for the control of dust. The main work area should be in the centre of the room. This allows for mobility and easy access to all storage areas.
Your workbench needs to be very stable and at a height that, when you are standing in position to work, has your hands resting comfortably on the bench top. The bench top itself needs to be made from an absorbent surface such as wood or cement sheeting as clay will stick to a non-porous surface. It should be at least 60 cm deep and as long as you can make it.
It is also recommended that you have bins for storing your clay. One for new clay and one for scrap that is suitable for recycling. If you are using several different clay bodies you should have separate bins for each one to avoid contamination.
Any spare wall space should be taken up with shelving; the more shelves you can have the better. Newly constructed pieces will need to dry, they are very fragile and placing them on a slatted shelf is ideal as they are less likely to be damaged. Shelves are great for storing batts, tools, brushes, raw materials, glazes and colours.
A corkboard is also good for pinning sketches, reference notes, orders, etc.
Organize your workspace so that everything has a place and when needed you can locate it with ease.
The kiln should be vented to the outside atmosphere to remove waste gases. A fire extinguisher and fire blanket are also recommended when using a kiln.
When working with clay it is essential that you protect yourself not only from the wet clay but also the products that you will use in conjunction with your clay. Over comfortable clothing you should wear an apron, preferably made from a waterproof material. You should wear good, strong yet comfortable footwear.
When working with powders or spraying liquids, it is recommended that you wear an approved dust mask, preferably one for toxic substances as it has a very fine filtering material. When sanding and finishing dry or fired clay a dust mask is essential. Rubber gloves are useful to protect your skin from powders and raw materials when making glazes and colours. Safety glasses or goggles are also a good item to have in your studio. They will protect your eyes from damage when handling powders or sanding dry clay surfaces.
A good sturdy dust pan and broom and mop should be on hand to clean up any spills.
If you are operating a kiln, a pair of heat resistant gloves and protective eye wear are vital. Gloves should protect not only your hands but your forearms also. Full face welding mask, or at the least, welding glasses are recommended.
To view the protective apparel we sell visit our online shop.