What the centre has to offer:
- Excellent, secure and readily accessible facilities with good parking
- 24 hour access
- Kilns (6 electric)
- Wheels (12 electric and kick wheels)
- Extensive library professionally maintained
- A collection of work by many internationally recognised potters
- Spacious work areas
Guide to using the facilities
Wellington Potters’ Association is a club run entirely by volunteers and all members are expected to cooperate to keep it running smoothly. If you have any queries please ask a committee member.
On arrival please sign the attendance diary near the phone upstairs.
Check the newsletter or WPA’s online calendar (http://wellingtonpotters.org.nz/) for events; Tuesdays from 10 to 12 there is an informal get-together, where experienced tutors are present to give you help if needed, and Friday evening is designated as “Club night”, which you are welcome to attend.
You are welcome to tea and coffee but please bring your own milk. Cups and dishes are available to all members but need to be washed, dried and put away after use. Please keep the kitchen clean and tidy. Recycling: food scraps and organic waste are placed in a small container in the kitchen that should be regularly emptied into the compost bin outside. There is a green bag for clean recycling of cardboard, cans and plastics, and a green bin for the recycling of glass.
Fridge: please ensure that food isn’t abandoned in the fridge; space is limited, and mouldy food is a health and safety issue for others.
Tea towels are washed by members; your assistance with occasionally washing, drying and returning tea towels to the rooms is greatly appreciated.
We have a great collection of books, magazines and DVDs, and unless marked as Reference, these may be borrowed for up to four weeks. We have a self-issue system; please write clearly the date, your name and contact phone number on the book card, and leave the card in the issues box. Reference Only books may not be borrowed, and the latest magazines (held in the ‘Reference Only’ box) are not to be borrowed until the next issue arrives.
Books should be returned before the due date to the Returns box; please locate the book or magazine card, cross your name off, and leave it in the Returns box for the Librarian to check and shelve. When browsing, please return the book or magazine to the place that you got it from; magazines are in date order, and books are shelved in subject order.
Food is not to be taken into the library. Hands should be washed clean of any clay before entering the Library, and the door should be kept closed to avoid clay dust.
WPA has an impressive pottery collection, built up over many years, of the work of potters from NZ and overseas; these collections are in the library and in various display cases around the upstairs rooms. This collection is a reference collection; please do not remove any pieces, because they are held down with quake wax, and lifting them might damage the pots. Catalogues for the pottery collection are held in the Library.
There are normally several classes a week at the rooms; these are run through the Wellington High School Community Education Centre (CEC). For more information, see Classes.
Clay Disposal and Recycling
Clay should always be recycled and please recycle your clay yourself if possible; take it home to do so. You may place unwanted trimmings, leather hard clay and dry clay in the clay-recycling bins provided. There’s one bin for stoneware and one for earthenware. Do not put soft clay in recycle bins or down the drains; soft clay and wheel slops should be placed in the plaster moulds outside the door to dry out. The clay sink traps in the sluice room have to be manually emptied by a WPA member at a later date, so the less clay that goes down the sink, the less work for the volunteers. Wet collapsed pots can always be dried a little on plaster batts and re-wedged. Wipe down the plaster batt after use (with minimal water).
Recycling Your Own Clay
Scraps of clay from trimming can be recycled: the ideal method is to dry the scraps thoroughly, and when dry, adding water to the dry scraps and let them slake. The slurry can be stirred with a paint mixer attachment on a drill, then this creamy mixture can be spread onto a plaster batt that will absorb the extra moisture.
The batts for this process are on the wooden batt storage area (at the end of the drying shelves) as opposed to the wedging plaster boards. After flipping it over to ensure even dryness, it can be used again after thorough wedging. Temporarily clay that is slightly dry but still plastic can be prevented from needing this process by being wrapped in Chux cloths or wet towels in a plastic bag, although not for too long since mould isn’t safe. Clay that has gone hard in the bag can be placed bag and all in a water container and it will rehydrate.
See information about buying clay.
Before you leave, sponge clean wheels, tools, batts, buckets, tables and plaster slabs you have used. Tables need a bucket of water and a very wet sponge, rinsed several times, to be properly cleaned; one wipe down will not remove the clay properly.
Mop up clay debris and splashes on the floor. Sponges, mops and buckets are next to the tubs in the sluice room. The sluice room should be kept clean as well – all clay should be cleaned from the sinks. Do not wash lumps of clay down the sink, as it collects in the clay sink traps, which then have to be manually emptied by a WPA volunteer at a later date.
Larger lumps of clay should be recycled (put outside the upstairs door in the plaster “recycling” bowls and trays. Brooms and dustpans are hanging by the door of the upstairs room (do not sweep up dry clay, this creates dust). Remember to leave the rooms clean for the next person. Bring (and take home again to be cleaned) your own apron and your own towels, to protect clothes and to limit clay dust.
Use only batts without holes for handbuilding. To be mindful of others and conserve space, members are expected to choose batts the size of the piece being made. Wash all batts after use, do not leave coated with clay.
These cupboards are kept as airless as possible so that work in progress can be stored without drying out. Pieces can be stored for up to 2 weeks. Ensure your work is labelled with your name and date and ensure the doors to the cupboards are closed. Do not place work in moulds in wet cupboards as this will damage the moulds.
Eating table and chairs
The chairs around the lunch table are only for use at that table and shouldn’t be moved. No clay is to be used on the table, or the chairs; they are not to be used as stepping stools! Personal belongings should not be left on the table or the chairs, see below for where to put your hats, coats and valuables.
Clean both before and after, using sponge on a rod.
There are 2 separate sets of Giffin Grips, and they are different sizes. Make sure to keep them separate, otherwise they won’t work!
Plaster moulds are fragile; please handle carefully, and never use metal utensils on them; wooden or rubber tools only, and be careful not to mark the moulds. As above, do not place moulds in the damp cupboards, and do not wash with a lot of water after use – wipe down only (the same for wedging slabs made of plaster). Your clay should remain in plaster moulds for as short a period as possible, to allow others to use them.
Follow the instructions on the roller. Briefly:
- Never put clay directly onto the canvas; bring your own cloths, or borrow from the donated cloths, then rinse and hang cloths in the sluice room.
- Use extra cloths if you are using red clays, which need extra thick cloth to prevent staining of subsequent white clays.
- Do not remove the canvas pieces away from the table (the two canvas pieces are there to protect the cloth and roller from jamming; cloth must NOT stick out from the top or sides of the canvas).
- Test your clay first; the maximum starting thickness is 3-4 cms.
- Read the instructions fully and carefully before use!
The pottery tools are for all to use, please clean and put back where they belong after use.
Plaster wedging slabs are available to wedge and recycle clay. No metallic tools should ever be used 6 on plaster, to avoid scraping the surface; this will permanently mark the slab, and also is likely to leave specks of plaster in the clay that can explode out when in the kiln. Do not leave clay for long periods, particularly not overnight, and clean after use; do not wash the slabs with lots of water – wipe down only (the same for plaster moulds).
Wheels need to be switched on before use, and off again after use; also switch off at the master switch on the floor. The wheels should be started gently, not foot on the pedal to full power without warming up. Wash wheels down thoroughly after use, until no clay remains.
Please do not cut, stab, hammer, draw, or use any sharp metal implements on the tables! The surface should stay unmarked, it is used for wedging and rolling clay. Marking the tables can ruin other people’s work and make the proper use of the tables impossible.
Cutting boards have been provided specifically for use when cutting clay, and these are hanging from the ends of the tables – please use them.
Glazes should be used only after having attending a glaze class or being accompanied by an experienced person. For safety purposes:
- No food and drinks are allowed in the glaze room
- Always wear a mask when handling dry glaze materials
- Masks and gloves are recommended when handling wet glazes
- Always wear a mask when using the spray booth (and follow the spray booth instructions)
- Clean all spills right away (glaze is safer while wet, dust is more hazardous)
After using glazes, hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and nails scrubbed The club provides a range of glazes for members to use. These are stored in the glaze room downstairs with small test tiles (one for white clay, one for buff) attached to each bucket so that you can see what the fired glaze may look like.
Glazes should be checked to see they are suitable for their intended purpose i.e. food safe or not and low fire vs mid fire. All club glazes can fire to mid-fire temperature, but most mid-fire glazes cannot be fired at earthenware temperature (except glossy white and clear). If unsure about which glaze to use, please ask.
There are test glaze combos in a shelf on the wall of the glaze room; small pots that have had a mix of glazes applied. These are combinations that we know work; be cautious with any experiments, as some glazes shouldn’t be layered with others because of contamination – please ask! To avoid contamination, stainy glazes such as tenmoku shouldn’t be layered with others such as a clear glaze. For the same reasons, some sieves are to be used only with stainy glazes while others are to be used with non-stainy glazes.
Glazes can’t typically be mixed together. Some glazes will perform well on their own but applied over others it can “fart” i.e. create gases that can spit off and make a nasty mess of the kiln shelves.
The thickness of a glaze is crucial for optimal results so water shouldn’t be added directly to a glaze bucket. It is important that glazes are correctly applied. Glazes can be toxic, are expensive and easily contaminated, and if incorrectly applied can ruin kiln shelves, and also the work of others.
Do not change or alter the glazes, or their consistency; do not add or remove any water sitting on the top! To avoid glazes running onto the kiln shelves during firings, your glaze must not be too thick. Remove all glaze from the bottom of pots (you may want to wax the bottoms). If you mix or use your own glazes, be aware that Barium, Lead and Cadmium are not to be used in the club. Please remove everything from the rooms as soon as you have finished glazing as there is insufficient room to hold members’ private glazes.
You may use scales, sieves and other equipment provided when mixing glazes.
To wash tools and jugs, the sink on the left hand side should be used. Wax should never be poured down the sink. Masks should always be worn when dealing with powders. No sanding should be done inside the rooms. Do not remove WPA glazes from the premises in any amounts for any reason whatsoever.
The spray booth has instructions on the front, and detailed instructions are on a card on the top of the booth. These instructions must be carefully read and followed! Glaze materials are to stay in the glaze room and not be used in the main studio.
Health & Safety
Health and safety in our rooms is a prime concern, as we work with materials that can be toxic, including dry clay if breathed in. No sanding of clay indoors! Please read the club’s Health and Safety policy and guidelines, below.
Rooms on all levels are smokefree. Familiarise yourself with the locations of exits and fire extinguishers. The booklet Potters Beware, which you will find in the library, contains detailed information on health and safety issues for potters.
Wellington Potters’ Association Health and Safety Policy
The Wellington Potters Association is committed to maintaining a safe workplace to protect the health and safety of all members, visitors, contractors, and any other users of its premises, known as The Wellington Potters’ Centre. We are committed to:
- Educating members about their responsibilities in maintaining a safe and healthy environment;
- Ensuring that all contractors, visitors, and any other users recognise the need to comply with the Association’s health and safety practices;
- Encouraging members and users to recommend practices which enhance our health and safety standards.
The goals of the Association’s health and safety policy are to:
- Protect all members, visitors, contractors, and other users from workplace hazards;
- Identify and eliminate, minimise, or isolate hazards;
- Minimise the risk of hazards, accidents, or injuries through education and training;
- Ensure compliance with all statutory health and safety requirements within the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, appropriate regulations, and codes of practice.
Achieving our goals depends on all Association members assuming a responsible and active involvement in work-related health and safety issues. No job is so important, nor any task so urgent, that it requires health and safety to be compromised.
The policies and procedures of the Association are for the protection of members and the Association and therefore are mandatory. Management will not tolerate breaches.
Personal Health and Safety Guidelines
- Some pottery materials can be hazardous to health if not handled carefully.
- Always wash hands after using clay and glazes, especially prior to handling food.
- Use gloves when mixing glaze solutions and a mask when handling dry materials.
- You may find it advantageous to apply a barrier cream to your hands before starting work. (Barrier cream cannot be used if you are about to handle bisqued ware; it leaves greasy marks that transfer onto the ware and blocks glaze).
- Do not use kitchen utensils for anything to do with clay or glaze – kitchen use only!
- Do not take food or drink into the glaze or kiln room.
Pottery making inevitably creates dust. Do whatever you can to minimize clay dust in the air.
- Never sweep – always use a wet mop on the floor. A bucket of water and a very wet sponge should be used to thoroughly clean down all work spaces.
- Sanding bisqued pots and greenware is dangerous for everyone’s health – fine clay dust can stay suspended in the air for up to 2 days. Any sanding should be done outside and away from where the silica dust could be inhaled by anyone else in the rooms or tracked back into the rooms.
- If you do sand, wear an appropriate mask (P-100 rated) to protect your lungs from silica dust.
- Do not blow the dust off the piece, use a soft brush (outside!), and a damp sponge to take off the rest.
- To remove clay from greenware, ideally use a damp sponge rather than sanding. Also use the brush and sponge to take dust off your clothes and wash your hands and arms with soap and water when you go back inside.
During firing, fumes emitted from the kilns can be an irritant and even harmful in some circumstances if breathed in. Keep your stay to a minimum. If the fumes are strong, leave the room.
- Kiln firers should make sure the extraction system is operating during a firing, that the window is open to create a through-draught, and that the door to the glaze room is closed. Do not touch a kiln (whether firing or cold) unless you are a qualified kiln operator.
- Gloves, eye protection and ear muffs must be worn when cleaning kiln shelves.
Do not touch the ceramic fibre used in kilns unless you are qualified to make repairs. Ceramic fibre must be handled very carefully as, like fibre glass batts, it produces fine particles that are invisible to the naked eye and are dangerous if inhaled. A mask and gloves must be used when handling it.
Please read the booklet “Potters Beware” for more detailed information on the hazards associated with pottery. A copy is in the library beside the return tray.
- Note the location of EXITS; they are clearly marked.
- In the event of an emergency during a class, follow the instructions of your tutor.
- Evacuation assembly area is on the footpath opposite the Wellington Potters’ Centre.
- Fire: There are fire extinguishers beside the main upstairs entry door and beside the large FE kiln.
- DO NOT use a hose if there is an electrical fire.
- If you are the only person present, CALL 111 and follow instructions.
- There is a first aid kit in the cupboard closest to the library – almost under the stairs.
Club firings are loaded with dry pots, on a weekly basis.
All pots must be bone dry before they go in a kiln. Water vapour from pots heated over 100 degrees corrodes the kiln’s frame and elements shortening their life, and damp bisque pots can crack and explode, damaging other people’s pots and the kilns.
For a glaze firing, they have to be glazed at least the day before the firing, especially when you double dip or use a thick glaze. For a bisque firing, they should be as dry as the air of the room around them.
If your work causes damage to the kiln and shelves you will be asked to contribute towards their maintenance. Leave work you want fired, marked with your sign, on the appropriate shelf by the kilns. Put work as close together as possible. Shelves are marked for bisque, mid-fire and earthenware glaze firing.
Ensure you put your work on the correct shelf. Work is charged for by weight. Prices are displayed on the wall beside the kilns; there is an electronic scale that will give you the precise amount owed. Weigh your work, complete a firing slip in full, pay by EFTPOS [now the only method of payment accepted] and staple the receipt to your firing slip. Leave these with your work. No slip + receipt; no firing. For glaze firings you must indicate the appropriate firing type (earthenware or Cone 6) and give the name of the clay you used.
Note that we can’t guarantee that your work will be fired in any given week. The kilns will only be fired when there is enough work to fill them. Most club glaze firings are to mid-fire temperatures, and earthenware firings will be done when there is enough work available. Large pots may sometimes wait for a place in the kiln.
- Any work considered too thick and that may explode in the kiln and will not be fired.
- Any work that is not completely dry will not be fired.
- Any pots with glaze on the bottom or if the kiln firers suspect that glazes may run will not be fired.
Please collect your work as soon as it has been fired (usually after 4pm Thursdays). It will be thrown out if not collected within 3 weeks or in the case of classes, at the end of each term. If you can’t locate your work on the fired shelves, check the “Rejects” shelf, as it may have been rejected (not dry enough; glaze too thick, etc.).
You may book a kiln to do your own firing but you must first attend a kiln firer’s class and pass the club’s 10 kiln test. Training sessions on using the electric kilns are run continually; you must book with the Kiln Team, and be aware that there is a waiting list. If you are new to kiln firing you must first qualify at one of these.
Hiring a kiln can be very cost effective, especially if you share the kiln with others; you also have more control over your firing.
Kiln room safety and procedures
Please do NOT enter the kiln room or disturb those loading, unloading or firing the kilns. It is a technical operation and interruptions can lead to mistakes.
- Consider the whole room a Hazardous Area.
- Approach all kilns, shelves and props as if they were hot.
- When the outside door is closed knock first before you enter in case the kiln inside the door is being loaded.
- Never interfere with a kiln unless authorised to do so. If you suspect a problem please contact the member whose kiln is involved (see the Kiln Booking Sheet for the ‘phone number).
- Never place any flammable material on or near a kiln even when it’s not in use.
- Treat other members’ work with respect when placing and removing pots.
- Use the ladders provided as necessary and use them safely.
- Access is limited throughout the room. Don’t leave anything on the floor or protruding from under shelves.
- Despite a quality extraction system, noxious gases are still present when kilns are firing. Keep your stay to a minimum. The kiln room is not a social area. If the kiln room is warmer than surrounding areas, it indicates that the extraction is not sufficient; remove yourself from the room.
Parking at the rooms’ space is at a premium, so please park tightly to allow for as many cars as possible. Note that our building is on land leased from the Council, and there are strict rules; access up the side of the building needs to be kept clear, and if there are any complaints from the public about access, we will no longer be allowed to park on WCC land. See the noticeboard upstairs for more details.
Paying your bills
There is an EFTPOS machine near the telephone downstairs for the payment of all purchases (e.g. firing fees, kiln hire, clay, etc.), cubby hire and for membership fees. We do not operate a credit system and are unable to give change or issue receipts; use the machine to obtain a customer receipt. Once you have paid, note the details down in the Payment folder next to the EFTPOS machine; this is a vital step, to assist the volunteers working to process the club’s finances; and remember to include your EFTPOS receipt number!
The rooms will be closed to members whilst selection for our annual exhibition takes place and on some weekends when special workshops are held. Details will be advertised in the newsletter, by email, and in the WPA Online Calendar at http://wellingtonpotters.org.nz/activities/calendar/.
Dispose of rubbish and general waste in the bins provided; food scraps can go into the compost container in the kitchen. Use the recycling bins for recyclable material (paper, glass, cans, plastics 1 & 2).
Sharing the rooms
You are welcome to use the wheels, tables, moulds, tools and other equipment that belongs to the club; remember that the space is a communal one, so please be considerate. Please do not touch work or tools belonging to other members. Don’t interrupt while people are working. No loud music should be played in the rooms and others should be checked with if you wish to use the radio; please remember that some prefer to work in silence.
When classes are being taught, members are allowed to use the rooms, however are expected to stay quiet, including turning off your wheel if not in use. If you are not in the class the wheels furthest from the door are to be used so that the class participants can be together and hear the teacher.
The mezzanine area upstairs is a private area; it has been hired by members for personal work.
Storage for your belongings
There are hooks in the sluice room for your clothes and bags, and small lockable cubbies for your valuables (these are to be used on the day only). There are also cubbies that can be rented, for storing your materials and tools; contact the Cubbies Coordinator (see list near the cubbies) if you would like one allocated. Membership does not guarantee a cubby-hole. Cost of cubbies: large, $30 for 6 months; small, $20 for 6 months. Anything that does not fit in your cubby must be taken home. Clay, tools, glazes and any other items left lying around may be disposed of during clean-ups. Place your name on everything.
Storage for your work
A minimal amount of work in progress, or work that is drying, can be left on the ware shelves upstairs for no longer than 2 weeks. If you cannot finish in this time you need to take it home. All such work needs to be identified with a slip with your name and the date. Unidentified work, and work that has been there for longer than 2 weeks, may be thrown out to keep the shelves clear for new work. Check the shelf labelling to make sure you are putting it on the correct shelf, as some shelves are allocated to class work. Before it is dry, stamp or inscribe your identifying mark on your work.
From time to time we hold working bees, normally on Saturday or Sundays. Members, especially those who use the rooms regularly, are asked to help. As with most things, the more help, the quicker things get done.
It is a privilege to enjoy the use of our outstanding facilities. Please show your appreciation by tidying and clearing up whenever necessary. We hope you enjoy using the Centre. If you’ve any queries, just ask a committee member (contact details on the upstairs notice boards and in the newsletter).