This article is a roundup of the ten best pottery classes in San Francisco. From wheel-throwing to handbuilding, pottery is one of the hottest creative hobbies of the moment. If you’ve always wanted to make your own bowl, mug, plate, or vase, but aren’t sure where to start, San Francisco is full of amazing ceramics studios where you can learn the basics, practice your skills, and make friends with pottery lovers from all over the city. If you have a little more prior experience with ceramics, many of these studios also offer membership and other community programs, where you can gain access to studio space, clay materials, demonstrations, workshops, and a vibrant ceramics community. No matter whether you’re looking for a one-time pottery crash course or a lengthier, more dedicated class, there are a ton of incredible pottery studios in San Francisco that offer exactly what you’re looking for.
San Francisco has been one of the most important cultural and economic centers of the United States for decades, famous for its major role in the beatnik and hippie subcultures, free love and anti-war movements, and even the gay rights movement. Nowadays, San Francisco is known for housing the headquarters of many major tech companies, like Twitter, Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and Salesforce.
The first Spanish settlers arrived in the San Francisco Bay in 1769. Since then, ceramic tile has featured prominently in San Francisco’s architectural scene due to its popularity in both Spanish and Chinese architectural styles. Mission Dolores, the first church to be built in San Francisco, is made of adobe brick. Dragon Gate, one of the most iconic structures in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is topped with a roof covered in lacquered green tiles.
If you want to immerse yourself in the rich pottery and ceramics culture of San Francisco, but aren’t quite sure where to start, look no further! San Francisco is home to a ton of amazing ceramics studios that have something to offer to everyone, from a total beginner with no pottery experience to a seasoned pro looking to hone their skills.
We’ve rounded up ten of the best pottery studios in San Francisco, sorted by neighborhood. No matter whether you’re looking for a crash course in the ABCs of wheel-throwing, an intensive workshop where you can learn new handbuilding skills, or even just a relaxing one-night BYOB experience where you can hang with a friend or date and make yourself a new mug or bowl, we’ve got the San Francisco ceramics studio that’s the perfect match for you!
2550 Judah St., San Francisco, CA 94122
2401 Irving St., San Francisco, CA 94122
Sunset Clay House has two locations in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood. They pride themselves on providing a sustainable, community-oriented, adult-only studio space where both beginners and experienced ceramics artists can come together and practice their craft. If you’ve never tried making pottery before and are looking for a comprehensive course that will teach you everything you need to know about wheel-throwing or handbuilding, Sunset Clay House has some of the best pottery classes in San Francisco. Each of their intro wheel-throwing or handbuilding courses consists of four 2.5 hour classes, which take place from 6:00 until 8:30 pm. In between each weekly class, you also have unlimited access to the Sunset Clay House studio to keep practicing your clay skills on your own time! Sunset Clay House’s Judah location only offers wheel-throwing classes, while their Irving location offers both handbuilding and wheel-throwing.
If you already have a handle on your wheel-throwing and handbuilding skills, but are looking for an opportunity to use studio space in your free time and receive feedback from instructors and other clay practitioners, consider one of Sunset Clay House’s monthly memberships! As a member, you’ll receive full studio access, personalized instructor support, shelf space, discounts on classes and guest workshops, and even members-only classes like Advanced/Next Steps Wheel-Throwing, Kintsugi, and beachside Raku Kiln Firing. Plus, when you become a member, Sunset Clay House will provide you with one bag of clay of your choice!
1618 Pacific Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109
Located in San Francisco’s iconic Nob Hill neighborhood, Clay By the Bay is one of the largest and most prolific pottery studios in the city. Their studio offers over 7,000 square feet of space, housing over fifty potter’s wheels, five electric kilns, over 300 storage shelves, over forty in-house glazes and slips, and countless additional tools, making Clay By the Bay a veritable potter’s paradise. They offer three different kinds of classes: 6-Week Classes, 2-Week Mini Classes, and 1-Time Clay Classes. The 6-Week Classes are, of course, the most comprehensive, offering small group instruction for beginners to wheel-throwing and handbuilding, as well as an intermediate option for those with a little bit of pre-existing ceramics experience. In contrast, their 2-Week Mini Classes are available at a variety of skill levels and focus on teaching specialized techniques and skills. Finally, their 1-Time Clay Classes are more of a social activity, perfect for beginners who are looking to have fun and get messy with friends or on a date!
If you already have some pottery experience and are looking for studio space, Clay By the Bay also offers in-studio memberships that will offer you just that! In-studio members receive perks like unlimited open studio use, permanent shelf space, members-only work stations, unlimited free glazes and firing, and priority enrollment for all of Clay By the Bay’s classes and workshops. Speaking of workshops, one of the things that makes Clay By the Bay one of the best pottery studios in San Francisco is their Visiting Artist Program, where ceramics artists from all over the globe visit the studio and give hands-on workshops and community demos, allowing you to learn from some of the best up-and-coming ceramics artists in the world!
1045 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94109
3135 24th St., San Francisco, CA 94110
832 Sutter St. #110, San Francisco, CA 94109
Originally founded by ceramics artist Steve Allen in 2012, SMAart Gallery & Studio has since expanded to three locations: two in between San Francisco’s Nob Hill and Tenderloin neighborhoods, and one in the Dolores Heights neighborhood. SMAart’s mission is to create an environment where community members can learn, share, and create art. Steve and his team of ceramics instructors offer two different kinds of pottery classes, which are available at the 24th St. and Sutter locations: 6-Week Courses and 1-Day Classes. SMAart’s 6-Week courses include Intro to Pottery Wheelthrowing and Intro to Hand-building and Sculpture Work. Each class meeting is 2.5 hours long and includes small group instruction, 12.5 pounds of clay, standard glazing and firing, and unlimited open studio time over the course of the six weeks. If you’re looking for something more low-commitment, SMAart’s 1-Day Classes also come in Intro to Pottery Wheelthrowing and Intro to Hand-Building and Sculpture Work options. Your instructor will do all the trimming, drying, firing, glazing, and re-firing for you, and all you have to do is come back to pick up your finished piece from the studio at a later date.
One of the qualities that makes SMAart Gallery & Studio one of the best ceramics studios in San Francisco is their Team/Private Classes option. You can book private ceramics lessons for class sizes anywhere from one to fifty people, perfect for those looking for solo instruction, a fun date activity, a birthday party, or even a corporate team building excursion. Finally, SMAart offers three different tiers of art studio membership, ranging from a Remote ARTist Membership, which is best suited to a more casual ceramics enthusiast looking for a little extra open studio time each month, all the way to a Resident ARTist Membership, which is perfect for more dedicated ceramics artists looking for ample studio time, space, and opportunities to connect with San Francisco’s pottery community.
300 Bowling Green Dr., San Francisco, CA 94117
Located on the east end of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Park, Sharon Art Studio is San Francisco’s largest public art center. The studio was founded all the way back in 1968. For the past twenty years, Sharon Art Studio has acted in partnership with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to establish community programming that makes the arts accessible to residents of the city of San Francisco. Sharon Art Studio offers classes, workshops, and summer camps in a variety of art media, including fine arts, jewelry, metal arts, glass, and of course, ceramics. One of their most popular classes is their simply-named Ceramics Class, which is a ten-week course open to pottery enthusiasts of all skill levels, and explores a variety of handbuilding and wheel-throwing skills, surface decoration, and glazing techniques. Their other class offerings include a nine-week Beginner Pottery Wheel course, a two-week Ceramic Votives workshop, and a two-week Ceramic Bakers and Loaf Pans workshop. If you sign up for any of Sharon Art Studio’s ceramics workshops, you also have the option of adding on additional open studio time, where you can get additional practice with wheel-throwing, handbuilding, glazing, and trimming.
If you’re a parent, Sharon Art Studio offers some of the best pottery classes in San Francisco for families, tweens, and teens. They offer a Family Clay Day workshop where you and your child can learn a variety of handbuilding techniques and make your own pottery piece using colorful non-toxic glazes. They also offer a variety of eight-week ceramics courses for tweens and teens, where your kid can learn handbuilding, wheel-throwing, surface texture, and glazing skills. Finally, if you’re a San Francisco resident who’s interested in supporting Sharon Art Studio and getting involved in a lot of their arts classes, ceramics or otherwise, you might want to consider a Sharon Art Studio membership. As a member, you’ll receive priority registration for Sharon Art Studio classes, a discounted rate on classes, early admission to events and sales, and even discounts on supplies at local art stores!
2710 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Located in San Francisco’s historic Mission District, Hickory Clay is a community-oriented pottery studio dedicated to fostering an environment where ceramics enthusiasts of all skill levels can come together, learn from each other, and celebrate the art form of pottery. They offer some of the best pottery classes in San Francisco, one geared towards beginners and the other aimed at people with an intermediate level of experience. As a student in each class, you’ll have access to an unlimited amount of clay and open studio hours, allowing you to come into the studio in your free time to get more practice. You’ll also receive personalized instruction and guidance from your class instructor, which means that you’ll have the opportunity to learn and develop skills at your own pace. Both levels of wheel-throwing class have a duration of eight weeks, giving you plenty of time to learn the basics, hone your skills, and foster your passion for pottery!
If you’re looking for a more low-commitment experience, try one of Hickory Clay’s one-time classes or workshops! Their Try Out the Pottery Wheel class is a 2.5-hour guided class where you’ll learn the basics of centering clay and make your own low bowl or cup. You can also sign up for their Mug Making Night class, where you’ll learn how to use molds to make your own coffee mug or teacup. If you’re looking for more intensive skills-based instruction, Hickory Clay’s workshops, like Glaze Design & Mixing or Throwing Bud Vases would be a great option for you. Finally, if the aesthetics of your space matter a lot to you, Hickory Clay is definitely one of the best pottery studios in San Francisco. Their studio space is absolutely gorgeous, full of natural light, white-washed hardwood floors, exposed redwood beams, and ergonomic work stations. For more serious pottery enthusiasts looking for open studio time and inclusion into a vibrant pottery community, check out Hickory Clay’s memberships, which give you ample access to Hickory Clay’s gorgeous studio space, clays, glazes, inspiration board, tool shop, and damp room.
1431 17th St., San Francisco, CA 94107
375 9th St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Clayroom SF is a community pottery and woodworking studio with two locations, one in the Potrero Hill neighborhood and other in the SoMa neighborhood. Their mission is to provide a creative, tactile outlet where people can come together, create art, and participate in community outreach efforts and events. Both the Potrero and SoMa locations offer a wide variety of six-week pottery courses catered towards people of all skill levels, from absolute beginners to more advanced pottery enthusiasts. Specific class offerings vary from session to session, but you can expect to find basic intro classes like Intro to Clay and Intro to Sculpture, as well as more exciting advanced courses like Colored Clay, Functional Handbuilding, and Lamp Making Mixed Medium. If you can’t commit to a whole six-week course, Clayroom SF also offers a one-day wheel-throwing class called Try-Day Wheel-Throwing, which is a two-hour course specifically geared towards people who have little to no experience in wheel-throwing. You’ll watch your instructor demo wheel-throwing, work through the four basic steps of wheel-throwing as a group, and break off on your own to try making your own bowl, cup, vase, or plate!
If you’re a ceramics enthusiast looking for open studio time, Clayroom SF also offers a membership program. Perks include unlimited access to both the Potrero and SoMa studios, private shelf space, use of studio clay, equipment, and glazes, and exclusive access to Clayroom SF’s members-only Power Hour classes, where you can meet fellow ceramics artists and learn new, more advanced techniques. If you have a dog, Clayroom SF also allows members to bring their pups into the studio! Finally, since Clayroom SF is also a woodworking studio in addition to a ceramics studio, this membership is an especially great option for those who are also interested in learning more about woodworking!
199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114
Located right next to San Francisco’s picturesque Corona Heights park, Randall Museum is best known for being a science and natural history museum. However, even if you’re already familiar with the Randall Museum, you might not know that they’re also home to a ceramics lab where they offer some of the best pottery classes in San Francisco! Their recently refurbished ceramics studio features a variety of electric and manual wheels, electric and gas-powered kilns, hand tools, glazes, and clays. Randall Museum offers two types of ceramics classes, both of which run for nine weeks: Creativity Explored and Potter’s Wheel. Creativity Explored is open to students of all experience levels and teaches a variety of wheel-throwing, handbuilding, surface decorating, and glazing skills. As its name suggests, the Potter’s Wheel class focuses exclusively on teaching wheel-throwing skills, where you’ll start with more beginner-friendly wheel projects like cups and bowls before progressing to more complicated pieces like plates and vases. Both of these classes are open to students ages sixteen and older, which makes Randall Museum a great option for potential teenage students who might not be able to enroll in classes at other, strictly adults-only ceramics studios.
If you’re a parent, Randall Museum also offers a variety of classes, workshops, and summer camps geared towards kids, tweens, teens, and families. If you have a young child, Randall Museum’s Dynamic Duo Clay class is a great option for parents and toddlers to get creative together. If your kid is a little older, their Randall Museum Clay Club is a great opportunity for children to learn clay skills like slab, coil, and pinching methods, as well as surface texture and glazing techniques. Finally, in addition to their ceramics lab, Randall Museum is also home to an Art Studio and Wood Shop, where you can take additional arts classes like The Art of Floral Design, Spoon Carving, Intro to Marquetry, Dovetail Cabinet-Making, Shaker Table-Making, and Shaker Bench-Making.
552A Noe St., San Francisco, CA 94114
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s historic Castro district, Ruby’s Clay Studio & Gallery was originally opened by California artist Ruby O’Burke all the way back in 1967. In 1985, Ruby’s became a non-profit organization in order to bring pottery arts to even more members of the local community, as well as to give back to disadvantaged members of the community, including HIV-positive individuals and individuals in transitional housing. If you’re a beginner looking for lengthy, comprehensive, and intensive pottery training in a small-group environment, Ruby’s Clay Studio & Gallery offers some of the best ceramics classes in San Francisco! Their pottery courses are either eight weeks or sixteen weeks long, and are capped at ten students per class. Each class is open to students of all skill levels, and instructors are equipped to offer individualized guidance and attention to more advanced students, but the general instruction of the class is definitely geared towards clay novices. If you’re interested in learning both handbuilding and wheel-throwing skills, check out their All Levels Hand-Building and Throwing class. If you’d prefer to focus exclusively on wheel-throwing, their All Levels Throwing class is the better choice for you. All students are also welcome to come into the studio outside of class time to work on their skills!
If you’re a more experienced, confident ceramics artist who still wants to take advantage of Ruby’s studio space and community atmosphere, try their Drop-In Program, which provides weekly studio time to more self-sufficient pottery lovers. You should also be sure to check out Ruby’s weekly workshops, which generally take place on Sunday mornings, and which invite both in-house and visiting ceramics artists to give demonstrations. Ruby’s also hosts weekly Friday Night Lights potluck dinners, which are free to attend, where community members give presentations on their pottery-making adventures. Finally, Ruby’s gallery is an incredible space that hosts rotating exhibits of local and international ceramic art. Each year, they host a fundraiser called Bowlicious, where they raise funds to support their financial aid program for studio artists by selling handmade mugs, bowls, root beer floats, and ice cream sundaes!
2751 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Founded by Iván Lopez and Alexa Treviño in 2009, Artillery AG is one of the best and most unique ceramics studios in San Francisco due to its triple commitments to honoring indigenous culture, protective and preserving nature, and growing and empowering the San Francisco BIPOC community through the ceramic arts. Their pottery classes are geared towards beginners in handbuilding and wheel-throwing, making Artillery AG best-suited to novices who don’t have a lot of experience with clay. Each class is five weeks long, meets for 2.5 hours once a week, and teaches the fundamentals of handbuilding or wheel-throwing. If you can’t commit to the full five week wheel-throwing course, Artillery AG also offers a Try Me One Time Wheel Throwing introductory class, which lasts for two hours and allows you to learn the basics of wheel-throwing, like centering clay, opening up your piece, and beginning to pull up walls. If handbuilding is more your style, Artillery AG also offers a one-time handbuilding course, which lasts for 2.5 hours, and teaches traditional techniques like pinch pottery, coil building, and slab building.
Artillery AG also offers one of the most unique pottery classes out there, the Nature Excursion: Clay Foraging class, where you can harvest wild clay from a local beach! Your instructor will take you on a short hike through a local nature preserve before arriving at the beach, where you’ll forage wild clay and use it to create a small mask, candle holder, or catch-all dish. Finally, Artillery AG also offers a variety of different membership tiers, perfect for more experienced pottery artists who are looking to take advantage of their pottery community and studio space. Their most popular tier is the Ceramics Membership, which works on a monthly basis and gives you daily studio access, access to unlimited glazing and firing, access to four different clay bodies, and access to Artillery AG’s gorgeous community garden space!
3417 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Located in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, Pinckney Clay Studio is a woman-owned pottery studio that provides an intimate, warm, and friendly environment for people to get creative and learn new clay skills. They offer a variety of six week pottery classes geared towards a variety of different skill levels, including Intro Wheel, a wheel-throwing class for complete beginners, Next Steps Wheel, a wheel-throwing class for those with an intermediate level of experience, and Hand Building, a handbuilding course for students of all skill levels. If you can’t commit to a full six week course, Pinckney Clay Studio also offers a Try-It Wheel workshop, which is a one-time, two hour wheel-throwing class for absolute beginners, where you can learn the basics of centering, pulling up walls, and shaping clay. The Try-It Wheel workshop is an especially great option for dates or hanging out with friends, as it’s low-commitment and less intense than a dedicated wheel-throwing course, but you still get to walk away with two handmade pottery pieces. Every now and again, Pinckney Clay Studio also offers more unique one-time workshops, like their Moon Pipe Making workshop, where you get to make a functional pipe out of clay, under the light of the full moon!
If you’re planning a birthday party, bachelorette party, or corporate teambuilding event, Pinckney Clay Studio also offers two hour private parties for groups of five or more. You can choose between a private wheel-throwing or handbuilding course, and you can even bring your own snacks or drinks! Finally, if you’re a more experienced pottery lover looking for studio space, Pinckney Clay Studio also offers a membership program. Pinckney requires each of its members to take at least one of their six week courses before signing up for membership. But, once you join the membership program, you get unlimited access to Pinckney’s studio space, glazing and firing services, and a personal shelf where you can store your work.