This article rounds up the eight best pottery classes in Chicago. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at wheel-throwing or handbuilding, but never got the chance, Chicago is a great place to get started. From north to south, Chicago is full of renowned ceramics studios that offer a fun and friendly environment, personalized instruction, and all of the materials and tools you need to learn this exciting new hobby. Learning how to make your own bowl, plate, or mug from scratch might seem intimidating, but don’t worry! These Chicago ceramics studios are the perfect setting to get your hands dirty and get in touch with your inner artist. No matter your skill level, neighborhood, or schedule, there’s a pottery studio in Chicago that’s perfectly suited to your needs. You’ll feel like a master ceramics artist in no time!
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at making pottery, Chicago is one of the best places in the US to get started! The history of pottery in Chicago dates back hundreds of years to the cultural traditions of the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Algonquin tribes, who lived in the Great Lakes area before European settlement. Following the aftermath of the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871, fireproof architectural terra cotta became a popular building material in Chicago, further strengthening the relationship between pottery and the city.
Nowadays, the pottery and ceramics scene in Chicago continues to flourish. There are a ton of ceramics classes available to suit any skill level, from a true beginner all the way to a seasoned practitioner. No matter whether you’ve never touched a pottery wheel in your life, or whether you’re a pro looking for open studio space to let your creative juices flow, you’re sure to find a pottery home in Chicago.
In addition to studios where you can learn how to make your own pottery, Chicago is also home to tons of museums and galleries where you can appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of generations of Chicago potters. Who knows, maybe your work will one day be featured in one of these museums or galleries!
If you’re overwhelmed by the possibilities and don’t know where to start, don’t fret! We’ve done the legwork and compiled a comprehensive list of the best pottery classes in Chicago, sorted by neighborhood, so you’re sure to find the best ceramics studio in Chicago that perfectly suits your needs!
Lincoln Square/North Center
4150 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60618
Located in Lincoln Square, a neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago, Lincoln Square Pottery Studio and Learning Center (LSPS-LC) has been a pillar of the community for twenty years. If you’re looking for comprehensive, skills-based pottery classes in Chicago, LSPS-LC is the place for you. They offer classes for all skill levels, from Beginner Wheel-Throwing all the way to Independent Study studio time for experienced artists. Each class, which lasts for eight weeks, is led by a volunteer instructor and is capped at a low class size, ensuring that students get the specialized attention and instruction they need. Most of LSPS-LC’s classes take place on weekday evenings, making it especially convenient for adults who are looking to pick up a new hobby after getting home from work or school.
The LSPS-LC studio is home to fourteen wheel-throwing stations, two high-fire electric kilns, a wide variety of pottery and ceramics tools, and a Wall O’ Glazes, all of which are food and dishwasher safe. If you’re taking a stroll through Lincoln Square, you might notice the display case proudly displayed in their window, which is full of finished pieces made by LSPS-LC students, volunteers, and visiting artists. If something catches your fancy, all of the items in the display case are for sale, so you can buy it and take it home with you!
2516 W Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
Penguin Foot Pottery was founded in 2010 as a place for ceramics enthusiasts and newbies alike to foster art and community in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Their venue is especially spacious, featuring 37 potter’s wheels, three electric kilns, a slab roller, extruder, spray booth, and a rotating offering of hand-mixed slips and glazes. On top of all that, they offer a ton of pottery classes that target a wide variety of skill levels and ceramics techniques, from wheel-throwing to handbuilding to sculpture. Each class session is four weeks long, with classes meeting once per week. During those four weeks, you can also book open studio time outside of class to come in and work on your creations. Penguin Foot’s beginner classes, like Wheel Throwing Level One, are available at a variety of class days/times, including weekday evenings and weekend mornings, making them more flexible. However, their more advanced classes are usually only available at one day/time per week.
If you’re not ready to commit to a full course or if your schedule can’t accommodate Penguin Foot’s class times, they also offer one-off wheel and glaze workshops. Penguin Foot’s classes and workshops are a great activity for couples or groups of friends, but if you’re enrolling solo, not to worry! The environment is super welcoming and friendly no matter whether you’re attending alone, with a date, or with friends. If you’re enrolled in a class, workshop, or taking advantage of Penguin Foot’s studio space, be aware that the building entrance can be slightly tricky to find. Located just off the Blue Line, the entrance is most easily accessible at the back of the Integrative Pet Care building. If you’re driving, limited parking is available on Bingham Street. Even though the building is a little tucked away, Penguin Foot is one of the best ceramics studios in Chicago, so it’s certainly worth the little extra effort it takes to find the entrance!
Lincoln Park/Park West
2646 N Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614
Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Park West Ceramic was originally founded in 1997. They also pride themselves on being a small, intimate space where you can receive individualized attention to improve your pottery abilities, no matter your skill level, and build community with other ceramics lovers. They offer a variety of different wheel-throwing and handbuilding classes that target three different skill levels: beginner, intermediate-beginner, and intermediate-advanced. However, wheel-throwing for beginners is definitely their specialty, making this a great studio to visit for those looking for introductory ceramics classes in Chicago. In addition to their ceramics courses, they also offer one-off pottery workshops, which meet only once and teach beginner wheel-throwing. Finally, if you’re a more experienced ceramics artist looking for studio space and community, Park West Ceramic also offers independent study studio space for $225 a month.
Because Park West Ceramics focuses so heavily on catering to beginning wheel-throwers, this is an especially great studio to visit on a date or as part of a group activity with friends. They allow you to BYOB, so you can enjoy a glass of wine while you learn the fundamentals of wheel-throwing! You can even book an entire class for a private event, like a bachelorette party or birthday party. If you’re looking for a cozy, intimate space that allows you to combine the fun of a social event with the creativity of learning a new artistic skill, Park West Ceramics is definitely a great choice.
333 N. Oakley Blvd. #305, Chicago, IL 60612
Located in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, The Digs is one of the city’s newest and coolest nonprofit ceramics studios. The studio was founded in 2020 by ceramics artists Fawn Penn and Zoe Minzenberger. Two years later, they expanded their space to a 4,000 square foot building that hosts a private artist residency program, ceramics classes, workshops, and even events. They offer two four week classes: Wheel Throwing Class and Pinching Pottery Class. If you have beginner or intermediate experience with wheel-throwing, the Wheel Throwing Class is a good place to start. The class accommodates multiple skill levels, but the instructor will tailor their guidance and advice to each student’s individual experience level. If you can’t commit to a full four week class or would just prefer a one day experience, The Digs also offers Wheel Throwing Workshops for beginner and intermediate skill levels, as well as Handmade Mugs and Cartooning on Clay workshops!
If you’re looking to book a super relaxing, artsy, warm, and welcoming space to host an event like a team building event, birthday party, or bachelorette party, The Digs offers those, as well! Their A Day in Clay workshop accommodates seven to fifteen participants and allows you to customize your own bowl or mug, and their Intro to Wheel Throwing workshop teaches beginner wheel-throwing to a group of five to nine participants. Finally, The Digs cares a lot about making ceramics accessible to as wide of an audience as possible, so all of their classes and workshops are available on a pay-what-you-can sliding scale basis. On their site, they’ll list a suggested price for each class or workshop, but while checking out, you can opt to take a 15%, 25%, 35%, or 45% discount if the full price is prohibitive for you. If you’re on the hunt for a cool, new, and aesthetically pleasing place to learn how to make pottery or develop your ceramics skills, The Digs is definitely the place for you.
4401 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
Lillstreet Art Center is one of the oldest and best ceramics studios in Chicago, founded almost 50 years ago. Way back in 1975, clay salesman Bruce Robbins founded Lillstreet Art Center in a former horse barn in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. In 2003, Lillstreet relocated to their current location, a former gear factory in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. With all this extra space, Lillstreet Art Center has been able to expand their course offerings considerably, and now offer classes, workshops, and studio spaces in drawing and painting, metalsmithing and jewelry, printmaking and book arts, and textiles. Of course, the heart of their business is still ceramics. They offer a ton of classes in a variety of skills and skill levels, including wheel-throwing, handbuilding, and even more esoteric ceramics classes like “Art of Food: Lemony Lemons” and “420 Friendly.”
In addition to classes, Lillstreet Art Center also offers workshops, where you can sign up for one session and learn to make a cool ceramic craft, like a slab vase, smoothie bowl set, or tiki cups! Plus, Lillstreet Art Center also prides itself on fostering relationships among resident artists, ceramics enthusiasts, and members of the community at large. Each summer, they hold an Empty Bowls Fundraiser, where you can buy handmade ceramics bowls and enjoy ice cream, with all proceeds going to Common Pantry, a local Ravenswood food pantry. Throughout the rest of the year, they also hold artist-in-residence panels, food and drink events, and other community activities. All of these amazing courses and community offerings mean that Lillstreet Art Center is certainly one of the most well-respected and overall best ceramics studios in Chicago.
2255 W Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60612
Located in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, Creative Claythings is another ceramics studio and gallery that has a long and storied history with the city. The studio was originally founded all the way back in 1979, became a combination studio and gallery in 1983, and relocated to its current West Town location in 2022. Their facility features two electric kilns, eleven electric potters wheels, a slab roller, a clay extruder, and a wide variety of glazes and tools. Creative Claythings is first and foremost a teaching studio, which means that it’s a great place to go no matter whether you’re an absolute beginner or an amateur ceramics enthusiast looking to learn new skills and techniques. They split their classes, which combine both wheel-throwing and handbuilding, into four skill levels: beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Their ceramics classes tend to be more affordable than other Chicago ceramics studios, which is always a plus!
Creative Claythings prides itself on creating a warm, intimate, and friendly environment for its students. They cap their class sizes at eleven students, so you’re sure to get a lot of specialized attention from your instructor. They’re a great bonding activity to book with friends, but because of the small class size, they’re also a great place to meet new people! However, if you’re a dedicated ceramics artist looking for open studio space, unfortunately, because of Creative Claythings’ exclusive focus on teaching, they don’t offer open studio space. Finally, if you’re planning on driving to the studio, there’s plenty of street parking available nearby. However, it’s not super close to any bus or L stops, making the studio slightly more difficult to access via public transportation.
1200 W. 35th St., Chicago, IL 60609 and 3057 N. Rockwell St., Chicago, IL 60618
Chicago Ceramic Center was founded in 2015 by Jay Strommen, a pottery artist specializing in wood-fired ceramics, who also taught at Park West and Lillstreet Art Center before opening his own studio! Chicago Ceramic Center has not one, but two locations, one in the southern neighborhood of Bridgeport and one in the northern neighborhood of Avondale, doubling its flexibility! The Bridgeport location is part of Chicago’s historic Bridgeport Art Center, famous for its gorgeous skyline loft and sculpture garden. The Avondale location is located right above Rockwell on the River, a brewery with beautiful views of the Chicago River. If you live too far away from some of the other options on this list, Chicago Ceramic Center’s multiple locations are a huge part of what make them one of the best pottery studios in Chicago.
Both locations offer eight week wheel-throwing classes for beginners and intermediate pottery students, one day “Clay for a Day” wheel-throwing workshops for beginners, and an independent study course for more advanced potters. Most of their classes take place on weekday evenings, making Chicago Ceramic Center a great option for people who have work or school during the day, but have free evenings. The Bridgeport location also offers additional courses, like handbuilding and figurative sculpture. Plus, in addition to offering pottery classes, Chicago Ceramic Center is also home to Circle Line Gallery, a ceramics gallery that showcases rotating ceramics exhibitions by local and visiting pottery artists. If you’re a serious ceramics artist looking for opportunities to partner with local organizations, Circle Line Gallery also offers apprenticeship and residency positions for pottery artists.
5020 S. Cornell Ave., Chicago, IL 60615
Founded by a cohort of volunteer artists all the way back in 1939, Hyde Park Art Center is a foundational pillar of the arts community in Chicago. They provide a home for professional artists and community members interested in a wide variety of art practices, from textile to printmaking to photography. Of course, they also offer classes, residencies, and exhibition events geared specifically towards pottery! Hyde Park Art Center’s ceramics classes are catered to a wide variety of skill levels and interests, ranging from Intro to Ceramics all the way to Sculpture: Animals and Creatures. As a community center, many of Hyde Park Art Center’s courses are designed to be friendly to families, including their Family and Youth ceramics classes. If you’ve ever worried that you’re too old to get into ceramics, don’t worry! Hyde Park Art Center even offers a “Silver Sculptors” ceramics course catering specifically to people who are ages 65+! This wide variety of age ranges, skill levels, and techniques means that Hyde Park Art Center is equipped to offer some of the best ceramics classes in Chicago.
Some of Hyde Park Art Center’s ceramics courses are labeled “Open Arts,” which means that they don’t charge a minimum required tuition, making classes more accessible to a wider audience. Instead, the center asks that students contribute what they can, with a recommended contribution amount of $350. Hyde Park Art Center’s focus on the community can also be seen in their public exhibitions, public programming, and artist residencies for both Chicago-based and visiting artists. If you’re a Chicago native looking for a vibrant, neighborhood-based place to learn new skills and be a part of a thriving arts community, Hyde Park Art Center is definitely the place for you.
917 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL 60608
If all of these super serious ceramics studios seem a little too intense for you, and you’re just looking for a fun, simple night out with friends trying a new activity, give Color Cocktail Factory a try! Located in Chicago’s historic Pilsen neighborhood, Color Cocktail Factory is not your average pottery studio. They specialize in fun, one night only pottery classes that are the perfect place for a date, night out with friends, bachelorette party, or birthday party. They offer a basic wheel-throwing class that teaches you the basics of making a mug, bottle, bowl, or plate using a pottery throwing wheel. They also offer raunchier, more adult-oriented pottery classes, like their Vagina Creations class, where you learn how to make a mug decorated with a molded clay vagina, their Dildos & Bottles class, where you learn how to make a sculpture shaped like a dildo, and their Smoking Pipe & Ashtray class, where you learn how to make a 420-friendly ceramic pipe and ashtray.
Color Cocktail Factory’s classes are all BYOB, so you can enjoy a drink with your friends while making some pottery! They also offer free street parking along Peoria Street, just to the north of the Color Cocktail Factory building. Just be sure to get to the venue on time, so the free parking slots don’t fill up! Finally, in addition to their ceramics classes, Color Cocktail Factory also offers other similar, super fun art classes, like Sip & Paint, Pottery Painting, Glass Painting, Soap Making, and Candle Making. If you’re just looking for a fun opportunity to relax, unwind, spend time with friends, and walk away with a cool piece of custom pottery, Custom Cocktail Factory is the Chicago pottery studio for you!