It can take a bit of investigation to find a local pottery firing service. However, it’s likely that someone somewhere has a kiln you can use. Here are 10 suggestions that you may not have considered that will help you find a potter firing service near by.
1) Check Your Local Ceramics Store
A pottery and ceramics shop will sometimes have a pottery firing service. My experience is that this has become the exception rather than the rule.
Before the internet took off, pottery suppliers would do good trade from their shops. It was possible to wander round an actual store and pick up the produce before you bought.
But nowadays, most pottery suppliers are online only and don’t have physical shops. So, finding a ceramic shop with a kiln is less likely. Though, it is still possible so it is worth asking.
Also, if they don’t have a pottery firing service, they may know of someone local who does.
2) A Local Artists Studio May Have a Firing Service Near By
When you look at their website and they may not seem to offer this service. However, it’s always worth giving them a call or dropping them an email to check.
It is possible that no one else has approached them hoping to hire their kiln services. You may set a precedent, or they may make an exception for you if you make a good case.
3) A Local Independent Potter
It may be worth contacting a local potter to see if they have any capacity to help you out. Ideally you could develop a friendly relationship with a local potter.
Some kindly benevolent sort might let you take up a little space in their kiln without charging you. My experience has been that many established potters are very supportive of new potters.
But, equally, it might be of mutual benefit for them if they can make a little extra income from hiring out their kiln to you too.
It can take a little courage to approach people for help, but I’d recommend reaching out. What’s the worst that could happen? This is the route I went down to find a pottery firing service near me.
4) A Local School or Technical College
Try to find out who the head of the art department is and contact them. Better still find out if they have a ceramics department and who runs it, then contact them. Ask them if they have or know of a pottery firing service near by.
You may find that a local school or college is keen to earn a little income from their kiln. Or they may be happy to help you out for nothing.
Either way, find a way of approaching them that will encourage them to want to help you.
I’d suggest a friendly email with a bit of information about yourself. Alternatively, if you are feeling brave, you could call them.
This can feel a bit like cold calling! However, take a breath, call them, and explain that you are a local potter just starting out. You might be surprised how helpful people are willing to be.
5) You May Find a Pottery Firing Service Through Social Media
Join a local facebook pottery group. There are a few great pottery facebook groups, many of which have members from all over the world. A great example of this is Pottery Heads. However, find out if there is a pottery group that is specific to your town or area.
If you can link up with local potters through social media, they may be able to help. Find out where they fire their work. Do they know how to find a pottery firing service near by?
You could just post a message on their page. But if might be fruitful to take time to network and get to know people in the group. If you build relationships with other potters they are more likely to help you out.
6) A Local Pottery Society
You might find a local membership-based pottery organisation. Often these organisations are reasonably priced to join. And they will offer a forum for members to exchange ideas, information and network.
7) Join a Pottery Meetup Group to Find a Pottery Firing Service
By definition, most if not all of the people who are members of a meetup group are local. By joining a pottery meetup group you will make contact with other potters.
Some of these potters will have kilns. Other people will not have kilns but may tell you where they get their pottery fired. This is an ideal way to find a pottery firing service near by.
8) Approach a Local Pottery School / Teaching Center
In some towns and cities you may find that there is a pottery centers. Pottery centers often run courses, and have facilities for students and visitors. They will usually have potter’s wheels and kilns.
Some of them will reserve the use of the kiln for students and members. But others will be open to offering one off pottery firing services to non-members.
These organisations are different from schools and technical colleges. One way they differ, is that the people running them can be easier to get in touch with. In colleges, heads of department can be harder to identify or reach. In a local pottery center, this is not normally the case.
9) Buy a Kiln as a Group
Kilns take up space and are relatively expensive to buy. Perhaps you have space for a kiln, either a studio or a garage space. But you don’t want to fork out all that money up front. Consider clubbing together with a group of potters and spreading the cost.
You could then share usage of the kiln. If 6 of you buy a kiln for $600, then you are only spending $100 each. The risk and expense is then reduced considerably.
Better still, you can easily pick up a second hand kiln in on Craigslist or eBay. These can sometimes be a bit rusty and the elements might not be working well.
If the elements are not functioning, you may not get the results you were looking for. None the less, you can pick up good second hand bargains.
As a kiln share arrangement, you would need to work out some practicalities. For example, a firing schedule and the costs of running the kiln. However, if you are starting out and your pottery output is not high, then this is a great option.
By doing this, you don’t have to find a pottery firing service near by because there is one on your doorstep.
10) Build Your Own Kiln
If you are feeling adventurous and you have a DIY streak, this option might be for you. There are a number of different ways that you can build your own make shift kiln.
Check out my video below on how to make a raku kiln!
Final Thoughts on Finding a Pottery Firing Service
If you are trying to find a pottery firing service nearby, it may take a bit of creative thought. Be prepared to do a bit of research. It helps if you can build up a few contacts and build relationships with potters.
People love to help out others whom they like and trust. If you make links with other potters, you will undoubtedly find a pottery service near by that is ideal for you.
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