Archive for May 29, 2018

Snow fun!

Terracotta pheasant made at Eastnor Pottery covered in snowI think you’d all agree this Winter has been a long, cold and drawn-out  affair. Not only have we been frustrated by frozen clay (it really does!) but, the three bouts of heavy snow fell at weekends, blitzing x3 fully booked potter’s wheel workshops. That’s quite a lot of participants that need rescheduling so we’ve added a few extra workshop dates to accommodate the snow refugees…which means even more opportunities to take a day or weekend spin on the potter’s wheel – C’mon you know you want to!

Straight from the horses mouth!

Six months in, Aimee and Immy report on their community arts apprenticeships:

Aimee

Aimee one of our community arts aprentices showing a customer how to make a pot on the potter's wheel

“6 months in….my goodness! Time is literally flying by! Still can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I started at Eastnor Pottery. It literally still feels like yesterday! I have to say 6 months in and I still feel lucky to have found such a wonderful opportunity. It’s definitely so much better to working in retail in my opinion!
Despite having studied GCSE’s, A Levels and even a Foundation Diploma in Art, I hadn’t done an awful lot of work with clay in the past. These past 6 months of learning about clay and working with it have become another new experience for me. When I sat on the potter’s wheel for the first time, my first pot wasn’t amazing but the experience was and since then, without sounding too bigheaded, I feel my skills have improved so much and I now feel confident to pass them onto our customers. I’ve also found I want to constantly  improve my clay skills and get better, especially on the wheel as I’m now at a point where I’m trying out slightly different techniques to holding the clay as it spins for more effective results, especially with customers.
When the Flying Potter goes to visit schools, I have accompanied him on a few visits and have found to quite enjoy working with the children on various clay projects – more than I anticipated I would! These days tend to be quite positively crazy and action packed. You could say I definitely sleep well on those nights! It’s so fascinating to see that one project can be set and yet you never see two of the same results. This happens also back at Pottery HQ and I love watching customer’s work going through the aftercare processes which I’m also involved with.
I’m fortunate to have started with and work with another apprentice, Immy (not sure how lucky she feels about working with me!) and it’s great to be able to support and encourage each other. We’ve both become a right pair and I think have nicknamed ourselves Ant & Dec. I don’t think a day goes by with Immy, Jon, Sarah and Jo where we don’t find ourselves in stitches over something or another!
With all the positivity, I have come across a few challenges. My strength has always been a challenge especially when moving wheels and furniture about and lifting kiln shelves due to their weight. However, this was a challenge in the beginning but since, I feel a stronger person and despite it still being a challenge, it’s easier than it was. Immy and I have even adopted our own “Shimpo Shuffle” when we’re moving potters’ wheels. Even the Kiln shelves have become easier to lift. They’re still heavy but a little lighter than when I first lifted one and thought I was going to drop it on customers’ work! (luckily I didn’t). Despite all this, I love waking up in the mornings wondering what is going to happen that day and I always look forward to the commute as I get to enjoy beautiful views both ways!”

Immy

Immy one of our community arts aprentices showing a girl how to make a pot on the potter's wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Starting my apprenticeship at Eastnor Pottery was a real change for me. I came to the pottery straight from sixth form, not a moment too soon as far as I’m concerned! Although I felt like I was starting to disengage at school towards the end, I’d always stayed keen on photography and other creative based subjects.

 It was the first time I had ever had a real or proper job and therefore I was nervous, but also very excited! To begin with I was anxious about the thought of working with the general public and how confident, or not I might be. However, I quickly learnt that this would not be the issue I thought it was because I had more confidence than I first believed. Within a few weeks I found myself enjoying something that had previously scared me.

Although Eastnor Pottery is a small business there is a great team of people who made me feel very welcome from the beginning. Jon and Sarah’s passion is infectious and this has made it easy for me to learn. Jo, in the office who is incredibly friendly and always up for a good chat. Another apprentice, Aimee, started at the same time as me and its good to have somebody who is on the same level as me.

I had not had my hands on a lump of clay since I was a young child and felt completely new to the world of pottery and ceramics. Although I am no where near an expert, in the last 6 months I have learn the basics, and now understand the process of how clay transforms into ceramics. I’d never used a potter’s wheel before and although I’m not up to making a 52-piece dinner set, I could probably stretch to a bowl or a useable vase.

One of the biggest surprises I have had whilst working at the pottery is how much I enjoy teaching. I’ve never thought I would have enough skills to share or be any good at teaching but with the guidance and encouragement from everyone around me it now seems like a natural activity for me and I feel competent in what I’m doing.

Teaching in schools was something I had considered as a profession, but I never thought I would have the correct skills needed for it. Although I am still not certain that it is something I want in my future, the pottery workshops I have been part of in schools have made me think about teaching as a career again.

One of the best aspects of the job is the interesting and varied individuals that come in to take part in the workshops. Sometimes I feel as if I make a friend for an hour or so and enjoy their company, before the next person comes in!

 Working at the pottery has taught me so many things, not only the obvious like clay and the process of making ceramics but engaging with the public and sharing my new-found enthusiasm.”

The international language of clay

Lugwardine primary school logoThe Flying Potter landed at Lugwardine Primary School near Hereford just before the Easter break.

The school was celebrating all things arty and crafty in their annual arts week and pottery was just one of many art forms the children were encouraged to engage with over the five days.

Each year group was given a different country to inspire their clay work with each class making a collaborative terracotta planter encrusted with decoration associated with their assigned country. The Sydney Opera House on the Australian vessel was a particular stroke of genius!

The pots have been dried and fired at Eastnor Pottery HQ and returned to the school to take up permanent residence in their new sensory garden.

We didn’t manage to get a photo of the x7 finished terracotta pots before we delivered them (doh!) but…. they posted a lovely photo of the pots freshly made on their website:

x7 terracotta collaborative pots made by the whole of Lugwardine Primary School

 

 

Praise indeed

collaborative planters made by bishops cleeve primary school and eastnor pottery and the flying potter

We’ve worked with Bishops Cleeve Primary School for a number of years producing quality, collaborative ceramic masterpieces, most of which are proudly displayed through-out the school.

We thoroughly enjoy our visits and it appears the school do too! Here’s what Arts Development Officer Mrs Parks has to say about our relationship:

“Always polite and puts all at ease whether paid teaching staff, classroom assistants or the unpaid voluntary helpers who make such a difference to the children’s experience of clay. Jon is always totally responsive to ideas and suggestions from the teacher planning the day and he or his friendly & helpful staff, respond promptly and enthusiastically to all the administrative details that schools need.

Jon’s encouragement and gentle, open manner with the children never fails to put all at their ease and get the best outcomes possible.

They love his sense of fun and even the teachers forgave him his jokes! It is always evident that Jon has a wealth of experience working with children of all abilities and he seems to have an intuitive feeling for the best approaches to take with each individual. His enthusiasm is infectious and our children gain valuable memories or working with a professional artist who is happy to share his skills and passion for all things muddy!

It exceeded my expectation as the children were more original and Jon’s demonstration of different ways of forming the animals and borders were so clear that all the children had a range of choices to make and were able to adapt the techniques shown to suit their animal and their own ability.

I just know the highlight hasn’t happened yet…it is the moment that the children see their fired pieces and those wide eyes and happy faces make it all worth while!”

Mrs Parkes is also an extremely talented maker in her own right. Examples of her work can be seen here.

The boy done good!

Ethan unpacking kiln at Eastnor Pottery

Some of customers over the past four years or so will remember throwing pots under the tutorage of one of our staff members called Ethan.

Ethan joined us in 2012 as a fresh faced Community Arts Apprentice having never thrown a pot in his life. As part of his training we encouraged him to spend at least an hour a day on the potter’s wheel perfecting his technique. In a short space of time he was proficient enough to work with our customers, and was so smitten with the clay, established a studio at home.

Such was his rapid development and interest in pottery, after he finished his year-long apprenticeship we were able to offer him full time employment as a workshop facilitator here at Eastnor Pottery.

Fast forward to April 2018 and Ethan has nearly completed the first year of a BA Hons Ceramics course at Cardiff Metropolitan University!

Throwing is still very important to his making and he’s been making some pretty handsome forms decorated by way of a technique called naked raku.

More examples of Ethan’s work can be seen here.

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