Archive for staff news

New member of the team!

hand made pottery hedgehog on the phone

“Hello, Eastnor Pottery, Horace speaking, how can I help you?!”

This hand crafted, pottery hedgehog was created by a visitor on a team building pottery workshop held at the end of August. It was made using the simple pinch-pot technique where two little ‘pinched’ bowls are joined together to create a hollow sphere, which can be shaped into almost anything – fish, cat or even a hedgehog!

Sarah’s pottery triumph!

potter sarah monk standing in front of her ceramics at her studio on the eastnor castle estate

Contemporary Ceramics is a prestigious gallery in Central London specialising in studio ceramics. For the last 6 months Eastnor Pottery co-director Sarah Monk has been developing a new a collection for exhibition at the gallery.

The work features new colours, new clay, new techniques, new slips and new glazes. The work is on show until the end of October 2018.

Here’s an extract from the article she composed for the Gallery blog.

“Creating the collection has been a winter-evening pursuit, when our busy Studio is closed to customers. By day we offer Pottery Experiences, and have been doing so for the last 24 years. Having just a few hours at the end of a busy day really focuses the creative process for me!

I am a designer-maker specializing in functional ceramics to fit comfortably in the home, particularly the kitchen (my favorite room in our house).

Breakfast has been my starting point; berry bowls and spoons, toast racks and knife rests, egg cups with decorative storage boxes and bowls of all shapes and sizes. The whole range is mix and match.  

Growing up, my Mum collected Watcombe Pottery. Over the years she managed to collect more than 400 pieces and they over-flowed from two dining-room dressers in our kitchen. I remember showing it to my school friends and enjoyed reading all the sgraffito sayings and looking at the vibrant slip-trailed patterns. My plan this year has been to fill a dresser at Eastnor Pottery with my own slipware designs, reveling in the easy-going feel of a country potter. In fact, I have already filled this dresser…..maybe I need to get a second one too!

When making my own work, my approach is relaxed and playful, and I hope this translates through to the finished pieces. I love our studio workshop and make full-use of our facilities; from the electric potter’s wheels to the table spaces for hand-building and modeling – whatever takes my fancy! Slips are brushed on, sgraffito designs drawn into the surface and spriggs applied, making the pieces tactile, a deliberate consideration. I restrict my pallet to blue and white slip on terracotta clay; it links everything together and has a country cottage appeal. All of my making happens at the wet clay stage. After a biscuit firing I don’t add anything else to the surface except for a simple lead-free glaze.”

 

contemporary tableware by herefordshire potter sarah monk

More work can been seen on Sarah’s Instagram.

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 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.

Three months in….

Community arts apprentices Aimee and Immy at Eastnro PotteryWe are delighted at how well Aimee and Immy have settled into life here at Eastnor Pottery and the Flying Potter. In fact the pair are positively flying!

As well as all the wedging, fettling, kiln packing and cleaning, the girls have become very proficient at making pots on the potter’s wheel. So much so we haven’t had any hesitation in letting them share their new found talents with customers of all ages and abilities.

community arts apprentice Aimee instructing a course participant

Community arts apprentice Immy instructing a potter's wheel participant

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