How to find a pottery firing service near you

Image of an open Skutt pottery kiln loaded with fired pottery pieces

In this article for Ceramics Today, Mike McManus, founder of Kiln Share, shares his experience of searching for a kiln to fire his pottery pieces and the options available.

Whether you are a newbie potter or a professional ceramicist, it can be hard to find a local kiln to hire to fire your creations if you don’t have your own! Some potters don’t have space, whilst others don’t have the money for the significant investment required to buy a kiln. 

With pottery booming during lockdown, there are more ‘kiln-less’ potters than ever before looking to find a pottery firing service near them. From an exciting new directory platform to the good old fashioned word of mouth recommendations, this post details five useful ways to help you find a local kiln to hire. Good luck!

1. Find a kiln to hire on

Kiln Share is a new directory website that helps connect potters with local kiln owners. The platform is on a mission to make it easy for potters to find a local kiln to hire whilst helping kiln owners earn extra income by renting out their equipment! 

Using your postcode/ZIP, you can search the interactive worldwide map for free to find kilns listed in your area. Every kiln listing includes internal size dimensions and max firing temperatures so you can check that your work will fit in the kiln and can be fired to the correct temperature. You can get in touch with the kiln owner for more information and prices through an easy-to-use form that displays on each directory listing page. 

It is up to the kiln owner to decide if you can fire your creations in their kiln, how much it will cost and what firing rules you need to follow. To avoid accidents and damages when kiln sharing, please remember to prepare your pottery pieces correctly

2. Ask members in pottery Facebook groups

The online pottery community continues to grow rapidly, with Facebook being a natural hub for potters from all over the world sharing ideas and techniques, asking interesting questions and posting photos of their latest creations in groups such as The Great Pottery Throwdown, Pinch Potters & Clay Coilers and Pottery Studio

These groups provide the perfect opportunity to ask members about kiln hire recommendations in your local area. Some groups have as many as 50,000+ members, so you never know who might be near to you! 

Once you’ve been accepted into the group (a Facebook account is required), you can create a quick post about your location and what you are looking to fire and see who comments. Group members are always very friendly and will do their best to point you in helpful directions if they don’t have a kiln of their own. Other pottery Facebook groups worth exploring include Pottery Heads, Budding Potter and Clay Buddies

3. Search for a ceramic cafe near you

Pottery cafes are just about everywhere, and sometimes when searching for a kiln to hire, the most basic online search can produce some very useful local results! 

Although pottery cafes would rather have you come to a session to paint some pottery, they might be open to firing a few pieces of your work next time they turn their kiln on. If you don’t ask, you don’t get it, and that’s why this idea is on the list! Using clever search terms such as ‘ceramics cafe near me’ or phrases such as ‘pottery cafe in {YOUR TOWN or CITY}’ will help you find a local pottery cafe owner who’s willing to help (plus it earns them some extra income too!). 

It’s also worth searching for ‘pottery community studios near me’, as membership-based pottery clubs continue to grow in popularity. Paying a monthly or yearly fee usually gives you access to kilns, other pottery equipment, and sometimes expert tutoring and advice! These pottery community groups also offer a great way to meet and mingle with other crafty enthusiasts in your area. 

4. Join a pottery association

No matter where you are in the world, there’s most likely a regional pottery association near you that aims to support local potters whilst promoting and raising awareness of pottery in that area through events and markets. Most associations require a yearly membership fee to join. However, this allows you to build relationships with other local potters who may have a kiln to share or rent. 

Joining long-established associations such as Craft Potters Association in the UK or American Art Pottery Association in the USA has many benefits. From free access to events and conventions throughout the year to a directory listing on their website, you might even get a free or heavily discounted subscription to the association’s popular magazine. Even if you’re not looking for a local kiln to hire, pottery associations offer a great community to be a part of! If you’re in the UK, this list highlights every pottery association known in Great Britain.

5. Make your own kiln (but be safe!)

If you’ve exhausted all the options above to find a kiln to hire near you, you could always have a go at making your own kiln to fire your pottery pieces! Building your own kiln is relatively inexpensive, but it’s not for everyone. It can be a very fun activity and certainly offers you a chance to learn new skills. 

There are several DIY kiln building techniques, with the most popular being raku firing, which usually involves an old metal trash can or barrel and a large gas bottle. Pit firing (one of the oldest methods of firing pottery) is another common DIY kiln type and requires a large hole to be dug in your garden! 

Each type of firing produces very different results, so do your research before launching into building your first kiln. Remember that kilns can be dangerous (especially home-built ones!), so please follow all health and safety guidelines when choosing this option. 

We hope the advice in this post has been useful in helping you find a local kiln to hire – happy firing, and may the kiln gods and goddesses be with you!

Mike McManus – – Instagram @KilnShare

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