Located along the southern coast of sunny California, San Diego is the second largest city in the state. Originally populated by the Kumeyaay Native American tribe, San Diego is also nicknamed “The Birthplace of California.”
The very first Europeans to visit the West Coast of what would later become the United States touched down in the San Diego area in 1542. For hundreds of years, the land was claimed by Spain before becoming part of Mexico in 1821. In 1848, the United States conquered the entire state of California in the Mexican-American War, and San Diego has been part of the US ever since.
Pottery has been part of San Diego’s history since the very beginning. The Kumeyaay people have a long tradition of crafting, including basket weaving, jewelry-making, and of course, pottery. In the 1930s, San Diego’s iconic landmark Balboa Park hosted the California-Pacific International Exposition, which included a California pottery exhibition.
Nowadays, there are plenty of amazing ceramics studios in San Diego that are continuing the city’s tradition of pottery-making. No matter whether you’re a complete pottery beginner looking to learn the ropes, or you’re a more seasoned pottery enthusiast looking to hone your skills, there’s a pottery studio in San Diego that has exactly what you’re looking for!
We’ve rounded up 9 of the best pottery classes in San Diego, sorted by neighborhood. The ceramics studios of San Diego have a wealth of knowledge and community to offer, and we’re here to help you find the best one for you!
2888 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116
Located in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, Mud Lily Clay Studio is a community-centered pottery studio dedicated to bringing together ceramics novices and experienced potters through some of the best pottery classes in San Diego. They offer a variety of classes and workshops geared towards a variety of skill levels, including one-time pottery workshops, private pottery events, and ongoing pottery classes. In order to take any ongoing pottery classes at Mud Lily Studio, you first need to sign up for their three-session Start Here series, which teaches the introductory basics of pottery, as well as Mud Lily Clay’s studio policies and safety practices. Once you’ve finished the Start Here series, you can purchase a 5-class pack, where you can mix and match Mud Lily Clay’s class offerings, which include “Basics: Improving Your Cylinders,” “Hand Building Basics: Technique Q&A,” “Pottery Wheel Basics: Bowls,” and “Next Steps: Surface Decoration - Sgraffito.” Alternatively, you can also purchase 3 hours worth of open studio time for $45.
If Mud Lily Clay Studio’s ongoing class packs are too much commitment for you or don’t work for your schedule, you can also participate in their one-time workshops. Their “Date Night at the Pottery Wheel” workshop is one of their most popular, allowing you and a date to share a Ghost experience and learn the basics of using a pottery wheel. They also offer themed one-time pottery workshops, which will teach you how to make clay items like Pinch Pot Pumpkins and handbuilt skulls for Día de los Muertos. Finally, if you’re looking for a fun activity to do for a birthday party, bachelorette party, or corporate teambuilding event, try one of Mud Lily Clay’s private pottery events, which will teach you and your group how to use a pottery wheel, make a pinch pot, or hand-build!
2690 Historic Decatur Rd., Unit 203, San Diego, CA 92106
Milk Oolong Studio, one of the best pottery studios in San Diego, is located just steps away from picturesque NTC Park and Liberty Station. It was opened by Leah Schaperow, a small-format pottery instructor who has taught students of every age since 2016. In addition to offering a variety of pottery classes and private lessons, Milk Oolong Studio also hosts its own pottery gallery and shop, where you can purchase gorgeous, handmade mugs, vases, teacups, and bowls made by Milk Oolong’s own teachers. Milk Oolong’s pottery classes include a five-week introductory wheel throwing class, which is perfect for complete beginners, as well as a five-week kids pottery wheel class which is a great after-school activity for kids ages eight and up.
If you have a little more experience and are looking to learn some new pottery skills, consider one of Milk Oolong’s pottery workshops, which teach techniques like miniature pottery and making your own pumpkin on the pottery wheel. Alternatively, if you’re an experienced potter looking for an opportunity to work on your own pieces in community with other pottery lovers, try their Open Studio Membership, which comes with studio access, your own shelf in the studio space, 25 pounds of clay, and bisque and glaze firings. Finally, one of Milk Oolong’s most unique offerings is their Clay at Home kit, which comes with a pound of clay, instructions on how to make a pinch pot, a list of useful notes, ideas, tips, and tricks, and a bisque and glaze firing. You can pick up one of these kits at the studio, take it home, make your own pottery creation on your own time, and then take it back to the studio to be glazed and fired.
937 E St., San Diego, CA 92101
Pinch Studio was founded by Wyeth Milne, who previously taught large-scale group pottery classes and ran her own ceramics line, Whimsy by Wyeth, out of her home studio. What makes Pinch Studio one of the best ceramics studios in San Diego is their innovative focus on providing a boutique pottery experience. They value the unique experience that you can only get by learning how to make pottery in a small group environment, which means that their lessons and workshops are specifically geared towards small group or even private settings. Their multi-week classes are all structured as private lessons for one or two people, which means that your instructor will be able to give you their undivided attention and tailor the course to suit your skill level, learning style, and overall vibe. Some of their most popular multi-week classes include their Private Wheel Throwing Lessons, Private Handbuilding Lessons, and Throwing + Trimming Private Lessons.
If you can’t commit to a multi-week class, try one of Pinch Studio’s one-day classes, which are also private, and include their Private Wheel Throwing Lesson, their Private Handbuilding Lesson, or their uninstructed Drop-In sessions, where more experienced potters can take advantage of Pinch Studio’s ample studio space and resources. Finally, if you’re interested in taking a one-day wheel throwing class, but aren’t interested in a private lesson, try signing up for their Communal Wheel Throwing Lesson, which still takes place in a small group environment, but is not strictly a private lesson. If larger, more social pottery class environments are too loud and intimidating for your tastes, and you’re interested in receiving a more personalized, intimate, and individualized instruction, Pinch Studio definitely offers some of the best pottery classes in San Diego!
4934 Voltaire St., Unit A, San Diego, CA 92107
Located in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood, The Artist Outpost is an adult and youth art studio offering classes and workshops in art media like fine arts, mixed media, and of course, pottery and ceramics. They dedicate themselves to providing a warm, community-oriented environment for people of all ages to get their hands dirty, learn some new skills, and enjoy making some beautiful art. Where ceramics are concerned, they offer a variety of 6 Class Serieses in a variety of pottery techniques and skill levels. Their Pottery Hand Building and Wheel class is geared towards beginners, and teaches the basics of wheel throwing, handbuilding, and glazing. Their Ceramic Sculpting class is specifically focused on handbuilding, where you’ll learn techniques like layers, cutouts, embossing, relief, closed pockets, and tubes.
If you’re a more experienced potter, try signing up for The Artist Outpost’s Open Studio program, which gives you the opportunity to work independently in their studio space. If you can’t commit to a full 6 Class Series, or are just looking for a fun solo, date night, or friend outing, try signing up for their Pottery Single Class Workshop, where you’ll learn basic and intermediary wheel throwing and handbuilding techniques. After attending a 6 Class Series and/or Single Class Workshop, consider trying out some of The Artist Outpost’s other art medium classes, like Oil Painting, Drawing with Pastel, Stained Glass, Resin Pouring, Life Drawing, and even Candle Making.
3667 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116
Clay Associates is one of the older and more historic pottery studios in San Diego, dating back to 1983, when it was founded by the Clay Associates themselves, Eric Wood and Jerry Thiebolt. Clay Associates’ homey, cozy interior and exterior reflect the love that Wood, Thiebolt, and their community of pottery lovers have poured into the space, from the greenery throughout the property to the custom-built deck and handmade brickwork decorating the courtyards. In addition to offering classes, Clay Associates is also a gallery and pottery store, offering gorgeous handmade ceramics by a variety of local artists for you to browse and even purchase.
Clay Associates offers two different kinds of pottery classes, each of which are open to students of all skill levels. The first is a nine-week wheel throwing class, which either meets once a week for six hours per class, or twice a week for three hours per class. Each class registration also comes with a free bag of clay, glazes, and firings. The second class is a nine-week handbuilding class, which meets once a week for three hours per class. Like the wheel throwing class, each handbuilding class also comes with a free bag of clay, glazes, and firings. Both of these classes are designed to teach students pottery skills from scratch or help them develop their existing skills, all while fostering self-expression and creative vision. This personalized attention makes Clay Associates notable for offering some of the best pottery classes in San Diego! Plus, students in both classes have the option to have their work featured in Clay Associates’ Spring or Winter gallery show!
Spanish Village Studio 29, 1770 Village Place, San Diego, CA 92101
Located smack dab in the middle of San Diego’s Balboa Park, San Diego Potters’ Guild is an association of more than 40 San Diego area potters. It was originally founded all the way back in 1958 by Kay Thomas and Dorothy Moore Scott, who rented Studio 29 in the Spanish Village from the City of San Diego for $15 a month! Over the years, the guild gained members, equipment, hosted events and outdoor sales, and even participated in a Chinese Ceramic Exchange Program, which brought 20 American potters to China and two renowned Chinese to San Diego. Twice a year in June and November, the Guild hosts a Semiannual Pottery Show & Sale, where you can browse and purchase the Guild members’ incredible work.
As part of their mission, Guild members also teach pottery classes in the Spanish Village for children and adults. These instructors had to submit their work for evaluation by a jury of San Diego potters in order to gain acceptance into the Guild, so you know they offer some of the best pottery classes in San Diego! Most of their classes are wheel-throwing classes geared toward students of all skill levels, which means they’re appropriate for both beginners and more experienced potters. The classes are available in a variety of durations, including four weeks, eight weeks, and ten weeks, which makes them pretty flexible no matter how much time you’re able or willing to commit. They also offer one dedicated Intermediate Level Handbuilding Class, which runs for six weeks.
4105 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
Teralta Art was founded in 2021 by Amanda Gardner and Maggie Shen on the premise that the opportunity of art-making should not be deprived for any reason. Because they’re located in the City Heights neighborhood, which has historically been home to immigrant, refugee, and economically disadvantaged people, they dedicate themselves to offering outreach programs and a set number of low-cost or free ceramics classes to contribute to the members of the community. Their Adult Ceramics Class Packages include eight classes and three lab hours, and are suitable for ceramics lovers of all skill levels. If you can’t commit to an eight week package, you can also try one of their One-Time Wheel Classes, which are no experience required, and will teach you the basics of wheel-throwing in just an hour. If you’ve finished an eight week class package or already have ample prior ceramics experience, you can also schedule a package of four slots of Open Studio Time, where you can work independently.
If you have kids, Teralta Art also offers a Children’s Ceramic Class on Wednesdays from 4:00 until 5:30 pm. Additionally, Teralta Art’s workshops are generally open to all ages, and teach you (and your kids) how to make really cool seasonal projects like ceramic Jack-o-Lanterns or ghosts, tiki cups, or Christmas ornaments. Finally, as part of their commitment to fostering community, Teralta Art offers a variety of scholarships for low-income families and children, as well as a weekly Open Clay session where anyone, including kids, can come and play with clay for free on Fridays from 10:00 am until noon.
1749 Garnet Ave., San Diego, CA 92109
Cool Creations Pottery & Art Studio is a creative art studio offering pottery wheel-throwing, pottery painting, handbuilding, workshops, events, and parties for all ages. They call their pottery studio the Mud Room, where they offer a 6 Week Adult Class that is open to both total newbies and continuing pottery enthusiasts. For beginners, you’ll learn the wheel-throwing fundamentals of centering, wedging, throwing, lifting, trimming, and glazing. If you already have wheel-throwing experience, your instructor will help tailor their instruction to meet your skills and interests. If a six week class is too much of a commitment for you, try their Try It Class, which is a one-time, 90 minute session that you can take by yourself, on a date, or with friends. You’ll learn the basic techniques of wheel-throwing and have one of our pieces fired and glazed. Finally, if you’ve already completed a six week wheel-throwing course at Cool Creations or have demonstrated prior ceramics experience, try joining their Open Studio monthly subscription, which includes up to 25 hours of open studio time per month.
If you have kids, Cool Creations offers two different pottery enrichment art classes for children. Their Kids Pottery Wheel Class is suitable for ages eight and older, and teaches your kids the fundamentals of wheel-throwing over the course of 5 weeks. Their Kids Art & Clay Hand Building Class is suitable for ages five and older, and teaches kids how to handbuild their own creations from raw clay. Finally, one of Cool Creations’ most unique offerings for children is their Scout Parties, which are geared specifically towards Girl Scouts. If you’re the leader of a Girl Scout troop, you can book a party at Cool Creations where your troop will tour their space, create their own clay pots and figures, and earn their Pottery Merit Badge!
5509 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92115
Located in the El Cerrito neighborhood of San Diego, Ceramic Heights is a pottery studio offering a variety of classes for both adults and children. By far their most popular class is known as Muddy Time, a one-time, no experience required wheel-throwing class where you can get your hands dirty and learn the basics of how to use a pottery wheel. Each Muddy Time session comes with two balls of clay, one hour on the wheel, and the firing and glazing of one item. If you’re looking for more intensive instruction, try their Studio Intro course, which runs for eight weeks. This class is geared towards absolute beginners, and will teach you fundamental wheel-throwing skills like wedging, throwing, trimming, and glazing. If you already have some familiarity with ceramics, try Ceramic Heights’ Open Studio, which allows you to come in and use Ceramic Heights’ studio space on your own time.
One of Ceramic Heights’ most unique offerings is their Clay at Home classes, which began during the height of the pandemic. Each Clay at Home kit comes with everything you need to make your own clay mug at home, including clay, basic tools, and the ability to take your work into Ceramic Heights’ studio to be glazed and fired. Plus, each kit also comes with a video link that gives you instructions on how to make a mug, or any other clay creation you want!