Posts

Experience the potter's wheel vouchers

close up of clay covered hands on the potter's wheel at eastnor pottery

Why not treat those nearest to you this Christmas time to a creative experience they will never forget?

We offer gift vouchers for all our pottery experiences. Whether it’s our Clay modelling at £20, Introduction to the Potter’s Wheel at £40 or an immersive potter’s wheel day or weekend course at £150/£280, we have the pottery experience perfect for your gifting.

And don’t worry, things are so fluid and unpredictable at the moment be rest assured your Pottery Experience will be here ready and waiting for you…however long it takes!

You can purchase your vouchers right here online on our vouchers page.

introduction to the potter's wheel participants at eastnor potteryview from the steps at eastnor pottery in the autumn 2020potter's wheel demonstration at eastnor potterychild and mother making clay unicorn at countrytastic with eastnor potteryclay owl made on a pottery class at eastnor pottery in herefordshirepottery class participants socially distanced at eastnor pottery in herefordshiremother and son at eastnor potterymolly the hen proudly displays her pot made on the potter's wheel at eastnor pottery and the flying potter herefordshire

introduction to the potter's wheel participants at eastnor pottery

As we prepare to close our doors for the 2nd National Lockdown, we’d like to share this article commissioned by our valued partners Virgin Experience Days and penned by Kam Scott at The PHA Group

It succinctly records our experience of emerging from the 1st National Lockdown in July.

Jon Williams, 50, from Ledbury, Herefordshire set up Eastnor Pottery with his wife Sarah Monk, also 50, 26 years ago. Since then, they’ve been teaching the British public how to get to grips with a potter’s wheel and coach them through the process of clay throwing.

“It’s our baby”, Jon says, “What started out as a studio where Sarah and I made pots to be sold all over the world became our everything – a place where we could do what we loved and work with other people. We never factored in the possibility of our business being affected by a global pandemic – who does?!”

Like many other small businesses, COVID-19 threw the future of Eastnor Pottery into complete chaos. In total, Eastnor Pottery was closed for just over 15 weeks, from 17th March until 4th July. At one point, Jon was forced to start thinking about other work: “It was really concerning. I just couldn’t see how we could sustain what we do here. I seriously dabbled with the idea of becoming a postman to keep us afloat.”

pottery class participants socially distanced at eastnor pottery in herefordshire

Before COVID-19, Eastnor Pottery employed a core team of four people, increasing to seven in the summer months during Peak season. When lockdown hit, Jon and Sarah had to shrink the team right back to just the two of them: “The uncertainty of the situation was very unsettling. As a business owner you are responsible for the wellbeing of your staff. Having to shut up shop for three months meant there was no work for our employees. Luckily, we were able to access the furlough scheme and the government’s small business grant.”

Working with Virgin Experience Days meant that the team had a huge number of classes to put on hold. This really shone a light on some of the admin processes that needed revamping and in a bittersweet turn of events, lockdown allowed Jon and Sarah the time to address these issues: “I’m historically one of those people who will write myself a note and then find it two weeks later, Jon laughs, “Our admin system really needed updating and lockdown gave us the chance to regroup. We’re savvier and much more efficient now – we’ve set up an online system which has hugely streamlined our booking process.”

When the government announced easing of restrictions in England on 4th July, Jon and Sarah had to completely overhaul the way they ran their workshops. Due to social distancing guidelines, customers are no longer able to paint their pots – historically, a key element of Eastnor Pottery’s offering. Jon and Sarah were initially worried, but customer feedback has exceeded all expectations: “We’ve got people telling us that they love getting to spend so much time on the wheel. Before lockdown we hadn’t considered this as an offering, but once again, the circumstances have forced us to reflect and have ultimately allowed us to reshape our business for the better.”

Jon and Sarah have done everything to ensure any customers visiting feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Anyone attending a class must wear a mask and wash their hands as soon as they arrive. Jon and Sarah wear Perspex visors and strictly follow the two metre social distancing guidelines.

They’ve also had to cut down on the frequency of classes and currently there is limited capacity for the classes they do run. A typical Saturday pre-COVID-19 would have seen up to 40 people walking through Eastnor’s doors, but now Jon and Sarah welcome a maximum of 12. This allows for a deep clean to be done in between sessions.

However, Jon and Sarah try and look for the positives: “We just want everyone to be as safe as possible. We love meeting new people. Of course, limited capacity means we’re not making as much money, but look at it this way: our customers get an amazing one to one experience and we really get to know them. Our classes were brilliant before, but due to COVID-19, the quality has really shot up. Now they’re extra special.”

It also means Eastnor Pottery has been awarded the Visit England seal, so customers can rest in the knowledge that their safety is being taken seriously.

The pair are ecstatic to be fully booked for the next few months but are ever-conscious of the changing guidelines and potential future lockdowns: “To be honest, we weren’t sure how it would go. When we first reopened, we didn’t know if anyone would have the confidence to come. However, we’re experiencing a huge spike in popularity – it seems people are desperate to get out and do something exciting and creative. We’re not taking it for granted though, who knows what will happen in autumn and winter.”

The pandemic was unexpected, but the positive consequences for Jon and Sarah’s business as a result are even more so: “We feel quite buoyed up. The pandemic is a massive national tragedy, but lockdown has been positive for us. It’s given us a chance to reflect on the business and come back more streamlined than ever.”

participants at pottery course at eastnor potteryintroduction to the potter's wheel participants at eastnor potterypotter's wheel demonstration at eastnor pottery

three wheel thrown pots stuck together to make a daffodil vase

hey clay participant makes a pot at eastnor pottery as part of free hey clay event

thumbs up from hey clay participant at eastnor pottery and the flying potter

There’s still time to purchase the yer ‘ol man a potter’s wheel experience before next weekend :)

We have pottery experience gift vouchers starting at just £20 available to purchase right now.

Just hop on over to our GIFT VOUCHERS page where you can pay via PayPal or card.

hey clay participant makes a pot at eastnor pottery as part of free hey clay event

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potter

textured terracotta tiles made by young children at washwood heath nursery school and jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterThese amazing terracotta tiles have been made by the talented children at Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham. Although they look rather stunning arranged here on the ground, the tiles form part of a much more ambitious project at the nursery.

Jon the potter worked with artist in residence Claire Witcombe, Nursery staff and of course the children to plan an exciting and inspiring project to introduce aspects of pattern making, surface design and construction. The aim, to create something that would pool the skills and experience of all the collaborators and result in an outcome everybody could enjoy and share – as well as provide the children with an exceptional learning journey along the way.

After much consultation and planning, a shelter proved to be a popular choice with all stakeholders – a structure the children could pass through, play in and around. It was decided the interior space would be protected by hand made roof tiles, co-created by the children in a series of practical workshop sessions.

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterautumn oak trees in eastnor herefordshire

Natural resources, hand tools and other mark making objects were introduced to the clay table for the children to press and work into the clay. Once they had flattened large lumps of terracotta clay into flat slabs, the children got to work, pressing and rolling the tools and resources into the soft material. They were also encouraged to cut their textured slabs into uniformed shapes by slicing around a template especially prepared for the task. The range of patterns produced, and the degree of exploration was a delight to behold….And as for the sheer number of tiles made – WOW! Proper tile making factory.

pressing oak leaves into clay slab with jon the potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamcutting clay tiles at washwood heath nursery school with jon williams from eastnor pottery

table full of mark making materials and clay at a creative session led by Jon Williams the flying potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamThe 100 tiles have all been fired and ready for dispatch! The baton now passes to Claire who will enable the children to build the main structure from recycled pallets and boards. The roof tiles will be added later by the children using hammers and nails to hang them on the timber – a traditional and contemporary technique used by roofers in the construction industry all around the world.

The project is a fine example of partnership working and creative collaboration and we all cant wait to see the final piece installed in one of the Nursery’s exterior spaces.

happy potters at eastnor pottery herefordshire

happy potters at eastnor pottery herefordshire

We love our customers just as much as they love their Pottery Experience.

Here are a few reviews penned by some of our satisfied visitors this Autumn:

“Potter’s Wheel Experience was just what I was looking for. The setting was warm, homely, relaxing and zen. Everybody working there couldn’t have been nicer, frequently topping up teas and coffees. And Jon was an excellent tutor, not too hands on but there to assist when required” Tomas Nov 2019

“Jon and Sarah were wonderful and they really conveyed their passion for pottery. We came away with two completely different pots and both thoroughly enjoyed the session. Would highly recommend this workshop!” Sidney Nov 2019

“We did this experience as a surprise treat for a 70th birthday – it was a fun and interesting experience which went down very well. Our teachers demonstrated and explained very well the process of making a pot on a wheel and then glazing it. We were made very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed it.Peter Nov 2019
“It was an absolute pleasure to come to Eastnor pottery. The location is amazing and is very easy to find. The place it self is very cozy and comfortable. We were welcomed warmly by the team that was very passionate about what they do which very much rubs off on you when it’s your turn to do pottery. Sarah was absolutely fantastic teaching us the basics of pottery and your never left on your own. We left so thrilled and relaxed from our experience, and it’s all down to a brilliant team of happy people. Thank you very much” Alex and Becca Oct 2019

“Such a beautiful location and lovely people. So homely and welcoming we can’t wait to book again!” Cheryl Oct 2019

happy pottery experience participants“Sarah hosted our small group of 4, where 2 of the group were birthday girls and it was so much fun! We each took a turn at the wheel and Sarah was very helpful and encouraging, as a talented ceramicist herself, at helping get the best bowl, vase, candle holder or cup. After that we painted our creations and the range of colours was great. We can’t wait for our finished products to be sent to us in the post. We really had the best time and will definitely go again!” Guy & Kate Oct 2019
Thank you to all you 2019 potter’s who took the time to review us – we love you!