During the eighties I worked for the Canadian Training Awards Project (CTAP) as a ceramic consultant; traveling around the Eastern Caribbean researching clay deposits, sourcing ceramic supplies and training students in ceramic production.
The training was designed to start earning from day one; most of the students were women of all ages and from different backgrounds; but I always insisted on including a selection of school children in the classes.
The first stage of training on the wheel was designed towards earning also; but in this post I will use the Slab Roller only.
SPACE-a small workshop; 150 to 300 square feet is adequate or a small basement.
1 Slab roller; my preference is a Brent, the size depends on how much production you are contemplating.
1 Small Test Kiln-Electric for easy management, or natural gas if it is available; allows more creative and exciting finished pieces; but requires more ceramic knowledge and experience.
1 production Kiln; start with a 2 to 4 cubic feet.
Make sure your kiln comes with a set of kiln furniture
Orton Cones –
Earthenware– cones 04 and 05 cones,
Stone ware -04 for bisque firing and cones 5 or 6 depending on your clay supply.
Clay- My preference for beginners is white cone 04; especially if you live in a third world country where the cost of electricity is high.
Kilns & Firing temperatures.
Electric-If you live in an area where the cost of electricity is not so high, and you wish to offer finished pieces at stoneware temperature; you can find low stoneware Clay at cone 5 or 6; but you will need 04 also for bisque firings.
Gas-If you have access to natural gas and is prepared to learn as much as possible about using a gas kiln before commencing production.
Local clay supply-If you can dig your own clay, that is fine, but learn how to eliminate the impurities; frankly unless it is a great source and fairly clean, and is willing to spend the time in preparation; it might be more convenient to purchase a commercial supply.
Start with a small collection of glazes and stains.
Stains-black, brown, green, blue and yellow-06 to 04
Glazes-05 Ready mixed -transparent; opaque white, blue, leaf green, mid brown, turquoise and yellow.
1 Set of brushes and small plastic bottles for pouring from your ceramic supplier.
2 to 4 small sponges
I plastic bin for scrap clay
This training is geared towards creating a brand of commercial production that can be marketed from day one if you follow instructions carefully.
BOOKS AND EQUIPMENT
There are several ceramic suppliers in Europe, Canada and the USA; of course England is known for its ceramics; in the early seventies I bought all my supplies from England, but over the years it became more cost effective to purchase from Canada or the USA.
Suppliers I was happy with are Tuckers Pottery Supplies out of Canada, and Amaco or Brent out of the USA.
You can Google Ceramic suppliers and see who are your nearest and most affordable suppliers.
There are several books on hand building and ceramics for beginners.
You should purchase at least one of each. If you are going the route of a gas kiln, look up how to fire a gas kiln and acquire a publication.
Remember also everything is on the Internet these days, just Google your question and search for appropriate answers.
In my next post I will be offering instructions for your first commercial production.
If you would like to start production and create a hobby and earn some extra cash, start sourcing your supplies, anyone can be a ceramic artist. I have never met anyone I couldn’t train.