This article compiles the seven best pottery classes in Philadelphia. Making your own pottery is one of the best ways to relax, learn a new skill, and of course, express your creative side. However, if you’ve never made pottery before and are feeling intimidated, try a pottery class! No matter whether you’re a complete beginner or have a little bit of ceramics experience under your belt, there are a plethora of amazing ceramics studios in Philadelphia that will teach you what you need to know. Some of these studios offer comprehensive multi-week ceramics classes taught by teachers who customize their instruction to match your skill level. If you’re looking for something more low-key, other studios offer one-time workshops that teach you the basics in just one day! No matter what kind of pottery experience you’re looking for, there’s a great pottery studio in Philadelphia that’s perfect for you!
Philadelphia is one of the oldest and most important cities in American history. In fact, from the birth of the United States all the way until the year 1800, it was our nation’s capital! However, what you might not know is that ceramics have played an important role in Philadelphia’s history and culture since the very beginning.
Before European colonization, the Philadelphia area was home to the Lenape tribe, which was renowned for their pottery. Lenni Lenape pottery was designed for both ceremonial and everyday use, and featured beautiful geometric carvings and etchings. In the 1600s and 1700s, German immigrants living in Philadelphia became well-known for their distinctive ceramics designs, which are recognizable by their earthy tones and sgraffito, or decorative incised marks.
If you’ve ever wanted to try making your own pottery, but have always been too intimidated to start, Philadelphia is a great place to be! As you can see, pottery is a huge part of Philadelphia’s history, and it remains a significant part of its arts scene to this day. Philadelphia is chock-full of incredible ceramics studios, shops, and galleries, each of which offers its own unique spin on this age-old art form.
We’ve rounded up seven of the best pottery classes in Philadelphia. No matter whether you’re a true novice who’s never touched a pottery wheel before, or you have ceramics experience and are looking for a place to hone your skills and learn new techniques, there are plenty of ceramics classes in Philadelphia that have exactly the kind of instruction you’re looking for. Now, without further ado, here are the seven best ceramics studios in Philadelphia!
715 S. 50th St., Philadelphia, PA 19143
Located in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Cedar Park, Black Hound Clay Studio prides itself on being an inclusive, affordable, and community-oriented ceramics space for those living west of the Schuylkill River. They offer some of the best pottery classes in Philadelphia, designed to accommodate a wide variety of skill levels and create a fun, inclusive, and creative environment where you can make new friends, learn new skills, and receive personalized, individual attention from staff members and teachers. In addition to their eight week in-depth classes, Black Hound Clay Studio also offers one day wheel and handbuilding workshops, as well as open studio space for enrolled students.
If you’re looking for a learning experience where you receive individualized instruction on your wheel-throwing skills, Black Hound Clay Studio’s eight week classes are definitely the way to go. They’re offered in a variety of levels from absolute beginner all the way to advanced. However, if you can’t commit to an eight week course schedule or are just looking for a fun activity to do with friends, family, or on a date, give Black Hound’s one day wheel-throwing or handbuilding workshops a try! One of the most unique things about Black Hound is their commitment to accessibility and affordability, which means that they offer sliding scale programming, installment payment plans, and even a Member Support Fund to help make ceramics open to more people, regardless of income level or financial situation. Finally, if Black Hound Clay Studio sounds compelling to you, but Cedar Park is too much of a trek, they’re working on a sister studio location in South Philadelphia, with an estimated open date in Fall 2023!
1425 N. American St., Philadelphia, PA 19122
The Clay Studio was originally founded in 1974 by a group of students at Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art as a place for budding ceramics artists to share studio space, equipment, and artistic inspiration. In the nearly fifty years since its inception, The Clay Studio has grown and expanded to become a nonprofit educational institution geared toward providing quality ceramics education to all members of the community, from novices all the way to seasoned artists. They offer a wide variety of classes that cater to all skill levels and ceramics techniques, including handbuilding, wheel-throwing, and even special topics like functional ceramics. If the cost of The Clay Studio’s classes is prohibitive for you, they also offer a Community Supported tuition rate, which is discounted from the standard rate, as well as a Tuition Assistance program that you can apply for online. This commitment to community and affordability makes The Clay Studio one of the best ceramics studios in Philadelphia!
If you’re looking for a more lowkey option, The Clay Studio also offers a variety of one day workshops, which also accommodate a range of skill levels and techniques. One of their most popular workshops is the Date Night workshop, where you and a date will learn the basics of wheel-throwing, enjoy wine, beer, and light snacks, and walk away with a handmade ceramic piece of your own! They also offer a more family-oriented Community Workshop, where pottery lovers of all ages and skill levels can make their own pottery together. Finally, in addition to classes, workshops, and even summer camps for children, The Clay Studio features a gallery full of permanent collection items and temporary exhibitions, where you can appreciate the work of local ceramics artists!
719 Catharine St., Philadelphia, PA 19147
215-922-3456 ext. 300
Fleisher Art Memorial is not just one of the oldest arts centers in Philadelphia, but is in fact one of the oldest nonprofit community art schools in the entire country. It was founded in 1898 by Samuel Fleisher, the vice president of a family-owned wool company who dreamed of a place where all members of the community could study and create their own works of art. In the 100+ years since Samuel Fleisher founded the school, it has expanded to become a pillar of the Philadelphia arts community, offering free or low-cost classes on artistic techniques like painting, photography, jewelry-making, screenprinting, and of course, pottery.
Each season, Fleisher Art Memorial offers a rotating selection of pottery courses, from introductory classes like Wheel Throwing for Beginners all the way to Ceramics Open Studios for experienced ceramics artists looking for a community-oriented space where they can practice their craft. Many of their ceramics courses are available in the evenings, allowing plenty of flexibility for those who are looking to learn a new skill after finishing work or school for the day. Plus, a select number of Fleisher’s pottery classes are tuition-free for Fleisher Art Memorial members, making this a great option for anyone who would like to get into ceramics, but finds the cost prohibitive at other studios. Finally, in addition to more widely-offered classes in handbuilding and wheel-throwing, Fleisher Art Memorial also offers really cool, unique ceramics classes like Ceramic Dolls and Ceramics for Walls, which you won’t find anywhere else.
2034 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19130
Neighborhood Potters is located in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia, just a few blocks away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This combination ceramics gallery and pottery studio was opened by two ceramics artists, Sandi Pierantozzi and Neil Patterson. Sandi and Neil are committed to making pottery that is sustainable, creative, and functional, prioritizing interesting textures that foreground the innate vitality of clay. Their interest in sustainability also extends to the way they run their business, which recycles clay, uses wind powered electricity, and has recently won an energy audit and grant from the city of Philadelphia. Neighborhood Potters’ classes are capped at small class sizes of ten to twelve students, ensuring that you get specialized attention from your instructor. In fact, the kinds of skills you learn in your Neighborhood Potters class will be customized specifically for your experience level, making this one of the best pottery studios in Philadelphia for those who are looking for an intensive, comprehensive pottery education.
If you’re a complete beginner, your instructor will walk you through the basics of handbuilding before you begin working on wheel-throwing. If you have a little bit of previous ceramics experience, your instructor will work with you one-on-one to improve both your handbuilding and wheel-throwing skills. Finally, in addition to their Fairmount location, Neighborhood Potters also has a pottery studio location in the Brewerytown neighborhood of Philadelphia, where they offer more intensively wheel-throwing-focused classes. If you’re an intermediate-to-advanced wheel-thrower who’s looking for a dedicated space to practice your craft and receive instruction on how to improve, we recommend that you book a class in the Brewerytown location instead of the Fairmount one, which focuses a little more on handbuilding. Finally, Neighborhood Potters offers a really cool retail-gallery space where you can view and shop Neil and Sandi’s incredible pottery!
Fairmount, Queen Village, & Mount Airy
2333 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19130
514 Bainbridge St., Philadelphia, PA 19147
530 Carpenter Ln., Philadelphia, PA 19119
Philly Art Center was founded almost twenty years ago as an authentic space for both children and adults to develop artistic skills in a small studio environment. In the near-two decades since, Philly Art Center has expanded to three locations in three different Philly neighborhoods, plus one additional location in New Jersey! This triples the odds that you’ll be able to find a pottery studio near you, making Philly Art Center one of the best pottery studios in Philadelphia. They also offer a wide variety of different arts classes, including painting, drawing, mixed media, and of course, what we’re all here for, ceramics! Their mixed-skill adult pottery courses take place in the evenings, making them a great option for those who are only free after work or school. You’ll learn a new handbuilding and/or wheel-throwing skill each week, making Philly Art Center’s pottery classes especially great for those with little to no prior ceramics experience.
If you’re a parent, Philly Art Center is an especially great option because of their emphasis on family-friendliness. In addition to their adults-only pottery classes, they also offer Parent + Child courses that allow you and your little one to get creative and foster your artistic skills together. Philly Art Center’s Parent + Child courses are geared towards children ages two to three. Finally, if you have children who are a little older, Philly Art Center also offers a variety of children’s classes and summer camps where they can learn ceramics skills, too!
3237 Amber St., Philadelphia, PA 19134
Yay Clay! was founded by ceramics artist Keith Grabowsky in 2014. For six years prior, Grabowsky made a name for himself teaching private and group pottery lessons throughout New Jersey. After moving to Philadelphia, he found a beautiful 1,700 square foot warehouse space in the Port Richmond neighborhood to host Yay Clay!, and the rest is history. Yay Clay! specializes in Clay Dates, which are one-day pottery workshops for two. As the name suggests, Clay Dates are the perfect place to take your partner, spouse, or even a buddy for a fun friend date! Their studio space is large, light, airy, and just a little quirky, featuring an array of free arcade games that you can play in between learning how to wheel-throw and handbuild. Plus, all of Yay Clay!’s Clay Dates are BYOB, so you can totally enjoy a drink or two as you learn the basics of ceramics.
Each Clay Date is two hours long and costs $75 per person. You’ll begin by learning the basics of how to wheel-throw and handbuild. Then, you’ll get the chance to create your own handmade pottery piece, like a mug, bowl, plate, vase, or paperweight. After the workshop ends, Yay Clay! will fire your piece, and you can pick it up three weeks later or mail it to you for $15. In addition to their normal Clay Date workshops, Yay Clay! also allows you to reserve their entire studio for a more intimate date environment, which means that you and your date will get a private ceramics lesson with the whole studio space to yourself. If you don’t have a date, but still find Yay Clay!’s one-day workshop format appealing, you can call them to book an individual Clay Date spot. Finally, if you’d like to book Yay Clay!’s space for a private event, like a corporate teambuilding event, bachelorette party, or birthday party, you can do that, too!
20 E. Mt. Airy Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19119
Finally, if you’re looking for a more intense environment where you can pursue serious study of ceramic arts, Outlaw Arts is a place for you. Other pottery studios in Philadelphia cater to families or offer one-off workshops that teach you the basics of wheel-throwing and handbuilding in a day, which is great. However, if you’re looking for something more rigorous and artistry-focused, Outlaw Arts is one of the best pottery studios in Philadelphia. They were founded by Cornelia Kietzman, a second generation potter with a passion for ceramics artistry, functional pieces, and fostering a flexible, supportive environment where artists can learn new skills. Sadly, Outlaw Arts does not offer traditional ceramics classes for adults anymore. However, they do offer pre-membership training courses for people who are looking to become Outlaw Arts members and take advantage of their studio space and clay resources.
Outlaw Arts specifies that their memberships are geared towards those who already have at least eight weeks of experience in a prior pottery class or course, or some other equivalent form of ceramics experience. Their Pre-Membership Training series offers comprehensive training to bring all participants up to speed on wheel-throwing and handbuilding, as well as glazing, surface decoration, and good studio etiquette. Each training series consists of four sessions, which are three hours each. Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll be an Outlaw Arts member who has access to independent studio time. Outlaw Arts’ memberships take place on a monthly basis, and the price depends on your expected output and the kinds of studio maintenance jobs and leadership responsibilities you’re interested in. You’ll also gain access to workshops that teach you skills like glazing and decorating, throwing and handbuilding, advanced handbuilding, and even a pottery troubleshooting workshop with founder Cornelia Kietzman herself!