Six months in, Aimee and Immy report on their community arts apprenticeships:
“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!”
“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.”