My ceramic clay studio – Makerspace Leipzig

November 28, 2016 , In: Ceramic Clay, Clay, Studio
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There is something magical in fired clay, the way how the surface is covered in glass and how surreal the colours sometimes look. I love to work with different materials and each one has its special magic for me. 

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You may see a slight colour preference in my work…

I wanted to show you where I create my ceramic work. Metal work, polymer clay, creating jewelery, painting… I do them all at home (nope, no way I show that messiness). But my ceramic work I do, you could say, in my external studio. 

 

I mention quite often that I am part of the Makerspace Leipzig. A makerspace is a so called community workshop. They have a kiln for my ceramic work (and actually I am responsible for the ceramic “area” there). That is also why you can see me tagging a lot of my Instagram images with #makerspaceleipzig. But I thought some pictures (and even videos! 😉 ) may give a better impression. 

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This picture is done in a big dark inner hall, sorry for the bad light.

I love the idea of “makerspaces” or community workshops. Ours is not really old. We just celebrated the first anniversary earlier this year. I was not one of the founding members but one of the “pioneer” members, that means I already paid a monthly fee (for my husband and me) without the workshop even existing.

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You can see our plate above the left truck – it is an industrial area but still quite close to the city center

This was to set-up the foundation to make the community workshop a possibility. From the members fees the monthly rent, energy, water, repairs and investments are paid. In the beginning, of course, also the renovation (new walls, bigger machines and so on..). It is still a balance and thankfully we are part of an older and established social-cultural center (VILLA Leipzig) here, therefor a lot of the legislative and administration stuff is covered. 

sdr

The extra room for wood working. On the to-do list of my husband are several projects to be done here 😉

The idea behind the makerspace is to work together and share ideas, project and of course knowledge. It is not a commercial service and every one is working voluntary there without payment. This includes our official opening hours, the heading of the different areas (woodworking, electronics, textile…), the introduction into the machines and so on – all covered by our organisation team.

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A lot of handmade furniture, the whole makerspace is still growing and adapting.

I took several videos (I uploaded them at youtube and put the links at the end of this post) to give you a little tour. The Makerspace Leipzig is set in an industrial area of the city since we need high-voltage current, have very heavy equipment and… especially the wood working… produce a lot of noise! Still, it is really close to the center. With the tram (I am living in germany, we have a very good public transportation system… or we take the bike ;)) it takes just three stations, not even 5 minutes from the main station. 

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Isn’t this a beauty? About 100 years old and just so gorgeous! Sadly, also very high maintenance and only a few people are able to operate it.

We have several craft trades represented: Wood working and metall working areas, a fablab for electronics (and roboters and 3D printer and a laaaaaser cutter – guess what I want to learn next!), a textile area with some specials like industrial sewing machines (and vintage ones as well), a knitting machine and beautiful old weaving frames, a photo area where you can develop your own pictures, up-cycling is also included, screen printing is in the process to be set-up and we also have some craft beer brewers (germany, remember?). We also have some people giving workshops for tiffany glass or to create home accessory with cement. 

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Look at the wood structure and colour! This one is way easier to use and over 200 years old! I am still afraid sitting on the bench, the wooden board moves a lot.

Last but not least: Ceramics! Where I spend most of my time if I am not too curious to look at the other projects!

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Colour sample tiles! They have this shape so we can see how the glaze moves with one, two or three layers (last one is done in a kind of triangle so it will only flow on one side), how the glaze behaves in our kiln and how transparent or opaque it really is. Also some underglaze samples with clear glaze in top on the right lower side. We still need a shelf for them.

Our kiln was broken for several months and just recently got repaired! Finally, I can start playing with clay again. My to-do list what I want to try, to learn and to establish is way too long. Starting from making my own glazes to get better at throwing over at playing with metal oxides finally up to make my own version of egyptian fayence.

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My finished and quite eperimental octopus tile – I tried out several surface treatments and glazing methods, oh well, should have made a mold with it…

I forgot to add: Give more workshops. This is rather difficult for me since my day job is in research and easily transforms into an evening and night job without any warning in advance. So to set up several dates for a workshop and this at least 6 weeks in advance is quite difficult for me to realize. Sadly, because I enjoy giving workshops and we had several participants that became members of the makerspace afterwards. 

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Another experimental tile – I use ready made bisque fired tiles and layer in different combinations several glazes on top. This one was pure magic! (and hopefully I keep all my notes which glaze went where…)

The makerspace is more than just a workshop. Since we all spend our free time there not only for our own projects but for the whole idea of a makerspace, we also meet for a big joined brunch there, for barbecue or just some coffee.  

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One of my stylized bird skull pendants. I tried several glazes / underglazes now and think I may prefer just a black underglaze above anything else even if it is not so smooth to touch.

I also meet a lot of really diverse people from different backgrounds, jobs and stories. Of course not everyone is everyones else best friend, but what I appreciate is that there is no real drama and the handling of the -inevitable- conflicts is done in a pragmatic and relaxed manner. My biggest worry in the beginning was that there would be some of the usual “club dramas and intrigues” that happen so often. But no, I enjoy being there even just for some small talk and coffee!

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Beads…. of course beads! Yellow and pink glazes with a transparent cognac glaze on top.

The surrounding area is a little bit strange. Not all of the industrial spaces are used anymore  (or again) and most of the companies also situated in the area are closed in the evening or at the weekends. It feels a little bit surreal if one goes late in the evening to the tram station and you seem to be the only human in the whole city… and not even five minutes later you are at the loud and thriving city center!

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A view out of the back window, a lot of unused and old buildings.

So… and now I will leave you with some more pictures….

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Sorted sewing pattern… (there are a lot more in the shelfs but this are the good ones from our design people)

Yes, a lot of images but I already edited a lot of them and I liked all of the left ones too much to get rid if them.

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Actually some rain-umbrellas (yes they work) for the exam work of Schrüppe Mcintosh who gives also workshops at the makerspace.

Oh, I also want to create some tiles to decorate my area a little bit more. To maybe get away from the pure industrial feeling to a little bit more whimsical and colourful. We can see at the same time next year how far I will have come.

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Here we come into the vintage sewing area 😉

One of my favorite projects are actually the roboters! 

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We also have a small bar/kitchen area with a big fridge for drinks and food.

Or the books (real paper ones) with electronic closures that will open only if you repeat a certain type of knocking. 

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A lot of small tools in the fablab / electronic area that I use for jewelerly rather.

We also had someone creating a shelf with gorgeous wood and the holes were filled with glow-in-the-dark resin. Needless to say, I put this on my husbands to-do list!

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My kiln is working again! And in case you are wondering, nope, I didn’t load it. Although this was done by someone trying not to waste any space at all!

And here are the two youtube videos. I only used my mobile, so don’t expect the best quality. 

Until next time,

Claire

PS: If there is something special you would like to see, just write it down in the comments!

 

Claire Fabian

Claire Fabian loves to experiment with materials and ideas. She needs to create to “keep her sane” and the process of creation itself is the most important in her work. She is drawn to weird things, to organic and natural textures and loves a tribal and ancient vibe. She makes beads as well as jewellery, but also loves mixed media pieces and little sculptures. Amongst her favourite materials is polymer clay, ceramic clay, all kind of metals, glass beads as well as everything found in nature. She is also working in research which may explain her desire to experiment.
    • artelem2016
    • November 28, 2016
    Reply

    What a fabulous studio! Very much enjoyed the tour.

  1. Reply

    How lucky you are to have such an incredible working space! A great post, thank you.

    • Lisa
    • December 8, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Claire, Thank you for the tour of your Maker Space, its beautiful and well thought out. I am a member/board member of our local Maker Space. We just celebrated 3 years. I love the Maker Space movement! Love following your blog, thank you!!

    • Cathy
    • December 10, 2016
    Reply

    I am finally catching up with all the posts I have missed. I love seeing your studio space. It looks like a great place to create and how wonderful to be surrounded by so many talented artists.

    • Tess
    • April 22, 2017
    Reply

    Hello, I love the typos/letters on the beads. I am wondering if there is a ceramics studio space that ceramic artists such as myself can apply to, to join? Are there ceramic artists in Leipzig..? do they work from home, mainly (meaning, they work from their own house)? Or is there a space that potters, sculptors can join? Many many thanks.

    • Reply

      Hi Tess,
      thank you 🙂

      Are you looking for space in Leipzig? There are a lot of ceramic artists in Leipzig, especially also really full-time professional ones.

      This is due to several factors I guess, one is that rents (if you don’t need to be in the central city areas) are still quite affordable and the other is that Leipzig has attracted a lot of artists not only due to the affordable rents but due to projects like the Spinnerei (http://www.spinnerei.de/home-95.html).

      But you can also find several ceramic studios where everyone can use the facilities for some fees. This is not really a joint workspace but rather like a service you pay for. There are often also local non-profit organisations that offer creative workshops including ceramics.
      As I said since the rents are affordable there are also a lot of people who are not fulltime artists but still want studio space. They often team up and rent some space together.

      But of course, if you are in Leipzig, you could also become a member at our makerspace 😉 Depends on what you are looking for.

      If you are not in Leipzig, I would always look for some makerspace community first. Even if they don’t have ceramics, most often they know where this would be offered and are mostly really nice and helpful.

      Claire

        • Tess
        • April 23, 2017
        Reply

        Many thanks for your reply, Claire! So, of I understand correctly, full time ceramic artists often rent a studio flat or shop privately ? While others work from a joint facilities space..? As I am a bit allergic to dust, it would be preferrable if renting an individual space (shop, flat, anything) as rents are still affordable (this way I can make the whole studio very clean, always) . Many thanks again.

        • Reply

          Yes, since you also need a lot of space if you do it full-time. Even at our makerspace we need more and more space for the ceramic area now that more people work there (work in progress, drying, fired, glazed, finished…). Also with every new mold, stamp,glaze or clay type 😉

          If you don’t want to fire your work by yourself, you can work in nearly any space. But the firing service can also get quite expensive depending on how much you make. If you want to have your own kiln, you need to check what kind of kiln and how much energy it needs. In germany we have the normal “household” energy and the industrial ones. The industrial ones are only available at certain areas not in normal apartments. I don’t know how it is in other countries. Also if you want to set-up your own studio keep in mind that you need some special drainage system for the water to avoid getting any clay in the system (it may block it… and sorry if you already know this 🙂 ).

            • Tess
            • April 23, 2017

            Many thanks again. I will need to explore the Leipzig ceramics community a bit more, to see how others have done it.

        • Reply

          By the way: Next weekend is the spring gallery tour at the Spinnerei! A very good opportunity to have a look at the different artist studios there (also the clay / porcellain ones). 🙂

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