I often find myself saying that I produce my pots in "my pottery at the end of the garden".
Perhaps I am romaticising it a bit, trying to perhaps make it sound better than what it really is!
Don't get me wrong, I love my pottery. It just sometimes staggers me just how I manage to work in such a tight space.
However, when the time came for me to set-up my own place, I had some very specific limitations in deciding where I could have a pottery. Namely funding of course. Ideally, I wanted to be free of monthly rent; keep the set-up costs to a minimum; and have a space I could retreat to any time of day, any day of the week. I also had to recognise my building and diy prowess didn't go far beyond patch plastering and making interior spaces look pretty. This coupled with the fact I had no family (okay, dad) around to help construct a space from stratch.
A flat pack shed was the answer to all my prayers...instant erected space right in my back garden accessable any time I wanted. The major constraints to this choice besides price was the specific space I had between my fence line and the edge of existing pavement in which to squeeze the shed into.
In the end, I settled on a 10 x 5 foot shed which just fit into the spare garden space.
In the beginning, pre-kiln, it seemed very spacious. I knew all along that this wasn't going to be permanent. That once I proved to myself that I could make a "go" of this whole pottery business and actually bring in some dosh, I could "graduate" into a bigger premises at a later date, ideally on the dream property Joe and I would move to outside London with our 2.1 kids...I digress...
What I didn't appreciate was how quickly the kiln swallowed up the space ( I knew it would be a sizeable chunk, but nothing like putting it in situ to make that a big reality!). AND, trying to store experimental pieces, work in progress, clay, raw materials, reclaim batts, glaze making equipment, files and the essential mini radio (to name a few) really packed this baby up tight!
More surprising to me is just how much this lack of space really impacts of what I am able to make and how much of it I can realistically produce. I don't think it is such a big deal at the moment considering I am starting out and not selling much at all, but I already have ruled out production ware as an option simply because I wouldn't be able to manage it in the space I have.
Another notable impact of my "intimate" space is the sense of isolation it can bring to the whole potting experience. On any given day, I am actually very content out there working on my own listening to the radio and doodling along. I think the idea of isolation comes to the fore when I am actually at events suddenly realising that opening up to and meeting others is harder for me than it ever was before. I can predominantly attribute this to this solitary existance for a bulk of my day; a life experience that is very different to the bustling social schedule I used to manage easily in younger years.
I try to counter-balance this alone time with nights out with other potters/friends, being really good about keeping in touch with others and attending training events and shows. It is only now that I have had plenty of time to reflect on my set-up that my once fervent belief that it is okay to be one with your art is now being challenged. In fact, I now consider that shared spaces, whether rented or owned can be very inspirational and helpful to the creative process, networking and building relationships.