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ex eastnor pottery apprentice ethan powell

ex eastnor pottery apprentice ethan powellCongratulations to Ethan, our first ever Community Arts Apprentice who’s just graduated in Ceramics from Cardiff School of Art & Design.

Not only that, he was also presented with the Alun Barratt-Danes Technical Excellence Award for his graduate work.

Although the class of 2020 were unable to mount a physical degree show due to the epidemic, students were required to publish an online exhibition of their work.

stomeware cup by ethan powellethan powell's studio in cardiffvase form by ethan powell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what Ethan has to say about his work and motivation as he steps out into the world of professional practice:

“In this body of work, I wanted to know if the experience of seeing, handling and using a fired pot could be as contemplative an experience as making it. When I make a pot, I rely on my skills to take me through the process, however I am not guided by them. I try to follow my intuition and that of the material in the hopes of producing vessels with spontaneity and vitality. In my practice I try to harmonise the qualities of mark making on raw clay and applying slips with the glazes I create though I don’t shy away from aesthetic dissonance. I simply see it as an opportunity for more personal reflection. Within the studio I have come to value gathering local materials to use as glazes, such as slate and sand from the River Taff and wood ash from my childhood home. I find cleaning and curating the studio space to be both calming and clarifying. In that sense the habits of making show me a reflection of my own human nature. Thus, in the aesthetic choices we make when we curate the objects in our home and our lives there is an opportunity to abstract the qualities of our deepest human nature through contemplation.”    

The future looks pretty good for Ethan in these testing times – he’s secured employment for September as a Studio Technician at an Oxford school. Good work Ethan and we look forward to seeing you develop as a maker.

aimee workshop facilitator and studio technician at eastnor pottery and the flying potter

aimee workshop facilitator and studio technician at eastnor pottery and the flying potterJob Title: Workshop Facilitator & Studio Technician

Job description: What doesn’t she do! facilitates experiences, care-takes customers work, packs & unpacks kilns, chief wedger and clay prep.

Q1 What do you like doing when you are not working at the Pottery?

Something creative – most recently cross stitch projects or disappearing for an adventure in the Brecon Beacons – with a camera and sketch book.

Q2 What is your favourite song of all time and why?

A Place In This World by Taylor Swift. I find this song really meaningful and quite relatable.

Q3 What is your favourite drink?

Anything with a fruity flavour such as Summer Fruits Squash or a fruity flavoured cider.

Q4 What is your favourite cheese?

Brie

Q5 How many pairs of shoes do you own?

14 pairs – more than I thought, I really need a clear out!

Q6 If you were an animal what would it be?

Meercat

 

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.”

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.

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