Etiquette & Civility in DMS Ceramics (8.25.21)

I’ve discussed the importance of cleaning but we’ve got an influx of wonderful new members who are unfamiliar with our unspoken code of behavior. No problemo! Let’s discuss.

What is Etiquette? Or dare I say civility? A set of conventional rules of personal behavior in polite society, usually in the form of an ethical code that delineates the expected and accepted social behaviors that accord with the conventions and norms observed by a society, a social class, or a social group (Wikipedia).

Etiquette refers to rules, ethics, politeness, and norms. When we’re all on the same page, things are peaceful, routine, expected, and dependable. These are important traits for any group and the result is … things run smoothly.

To start, it should be known that classes take precedent over individual maker time… and space. Why? Because classes 1) keep our current membership engaged and, 2) introduce new members to our world of ceramics which we hope leads to an increase in membership.

In addition to teaching (and making), many of our teachers are involved in the kilns and keeping our glazes stocked. Yes, they do receive a small amount of compensation for their time but it’s only if a certain number of students show up. This is sometimes an issue and a lot of times, teachers do not get paid. I won’t even mention the prep time and the clean-up time that is needed for a class. It is up to you to check the class schedule and plan accordingly. This doesn’t mean you can’t go in and make but avoid speaking loudly, clean up your area, and make sure to move your projects to another location. Give them space and be considerate. If you are in an area before a class, they can and should ask you to relocate. Ideally, though, you will know that a class is scheduled, and you will work to wrap things up or relocate.

Space is valuable and if you are throwing, you must use the rack in front of the wheels. That’s what it’s there for. Your thrown pieces do not belong on the wedging table nor the slab tables, regardless of a class or not.

New members

If you see someone you don’t know- introduce yourself. If you’re unsure about something- where it goes, what it does, how it works- ask. We’re happy to help and guide you. We are all responsible for being good stewards of the space and for the good of the community.

Seasoned Members

If you see a new member or someone you aren’t familiar with, introduce yourself. Mention the talk threads (posted on various signage around the space) and if you see them doing something unmannerly, tell them “not sure how familiar you are but just remember to wipe down your glaze container/rinse the tools well, etc” If they say, they already know, you can reply “Excellent!”.


In keeping with politeness, after introducing yourself, read the body language of the other person, and if the new or seasoned ceramic artist turns away from you to get back to work, the conversation has ended. It’s nothing personal; we all come there to work and decompress, sometimes with conversation, and sometimes without. I’ve had a few times where I wanted to zone out and an excited potter kept talking to me. I’m also sure I’ve been that excited potter once or twice and wouldn’t leave someone alone. :slight_smile:

Can I introduce myself if they have headphones in?
Yes. I suggest lightly tapping on their shoulder or getting in front of their eye site to get their attention. Make it brief and then leave them alone.

If someone introduces themselves to you, return the sentiment kindly, and depending on your mood and their body language, continue the conversation or say, “It was nice to meet you. I’ve got to get back to making now.” Easy. Not awkward.

It’s part of our culture that we get to know each other (at least by name)- it’s safer, it opens us up to the sharing of knowledge among our DMS Ceramics Community. You make in the same space as ceramic teachers, professional gallery artists, hobbyists and others with varying levels of experience. Remember that. :blush:

Other things:

Always clean up the spot where you wedged. It takes a few seconds and a wet sponge.

Place newspaper under your items before you glaze so you don’t leave contaminates on the table, plus it’s easy to clean up.

Wipe down the outside of the glaze jars.

Do not leave clay chunks on the sink.

Rinse your tools until the tools look brand new.

The shelves are not for storage. Take your bisque pieces home if you are not ready to glaze them yet.

Glaze is for brush on only. Do not pour it on your piece and then pour it back into the container. This action contaminates the glaze.


Please do not do this. Personal space is important and you should not be touching people, with or without headphones. Getting someone’s attention to introduce yourself is not a good reason to touch people without permission.

  1. Classes contribute to the reason we are a 501(c)3 organization.

I respect this dialogue and I know that not everyone is comfortable with touch. I am not a hugger, for example. We work in such a tight space, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped into someone else.
As a former Communication professor and Critical/Cultural Scholar (think Critical Race Theory) at 3 universities, we were always taught that a tap on the shoulder was acceptable and safe. Shoulders (specifically the corner where the arm meets the shoulder) is considered a safe space to touch within a certain context and context is important here. I’m not advocating unnecessary touching. That would be weird. Think about if you’re behind someone on a bus and they drop something, you need to get their attention to hand it back to them because they aren’t responding to “excuse me, you dropped this”. However, it’s ideal to just get their attention and speak to them.


Ah! I knew there was another reason! :slight_smile:

Yeah idk, despite what may be taught in Universities I know many women, myself included, who do not feel comfortable with shoulder touching. It is a specific strategy used by pick up artists and incels to get women’s attention and isn’t great. If you urgently need to get their attention for some important reason it is one thing, but introducing yourself to someone with headphones who is working in ceramics is not really that reason. Of course I try to be friendly to everyone and despite often wearing headphones I am happy to take them off and talk to anyone, but if you come up from behind and touch me we aren’t going to start off on the right foot.


Ew! I’ve read about pick up artists and incels and that’s gross. They’re gross.

While I can’t speak to everyone else’s motives, if I’m wearing headphones it’s because I want to be left alone. I’d suggest that short of important circumstances - i.e. there’s something more urgent going on beyond your desire for introduction - a visual signal with no expectation of reciprocation will suffice.


So just another perspective…you mention how context is important here. Makerspace are known to be full of people that are neurodivergent and with that often comes touch sensitivities. If you don’t already have that kind of sensitivity, it’s very hard to describe. I happen to have that and touch from a stranger is bad. It’s hard enough with someone I know, but from a stranger it’s a HUGE no-no because of the reaction it causes in me.

If I don’t know the person and haven’t had my “touch” discussion with them, then it’s best to just get within my field of view and wave to get my attention. I wish what you mentioned was not taught in Universities because it’s horrible and causes extreme stress in me. There’s nothing I hate more than being in a conversation with a touchy person that always touches a forearm or shoulder. Not everyone likes or wants to be touched.

I get what you’re saying, but we need to think of the context of where this would be happening and you’re more likely to run into a large number of people like me at a makerspace.


We haven’t seen you in ages!

I’m about to start heading back to make things again. Has been an INSANE 4 months if you have followed my Facebook posts.

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I don’t have time to stalk your page. Last I saw you were cooking something.

It’s not stalking…it’s the stupid Facebook algorithm. If you don’t know about every aspect of my current life, that’s who to blame. :wink: Just kidding…I don’t post very often.

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