During the eighties, I was hired as a ceramic consultant to travel throughout the Eastern Caribbean, researching ceramic materials, mainly clay, sourcing Canadian ceramic materials and equipment, and setting up training workshops targeting school children and unemployed persons.
As the owner of COD Pottery and Ceramics, I was faced with unskilled help, so I employed youngsters and trained them from scratch. There was no such thing as an apprenticeship, the employees had to be paid while being trained. A program was designed to earn your keep from day one. Each employee had to produce his salary+ from day one.
The same program was used in the consultancy training. In fact, in Anguilla, the students in the first class was commissioned to produce a ceramic mural for a hotel, for which they were handsomely paid. I was offered the commission but had turned it down and assured the hotel owners that the students would deliver.
One of my main training strategy was to teach nothing in the first class, produce no samples of my work, but to hand each student a piece of clay and access their skills from the word go. The program for training for the wheel was to adopt a strategy I employed for any student seeking training. I would demonstrate this time centering a piece of clay on the wheel, except I never used the word centering and never did during the training until the student could throw a pot that was salable.
It was amazing the untapped talent that was discovered during those training sessions. One of my first potters turned out to be one of the best Caribbean potters and could have been very successful in the Caribbean today. I am yet to meet a potter who can throw a larger pot than he did in one piece. Unfortunately one of the directors from the infamous now defunct Canadian Ceramic establishment stole him by recruiting him to work in their factory.
The story has a sad ending and I did warn him, because I knew the factory. All the production at the factory was from molds and he was hired as a tourist attraction, to be the show, but his work was destroyed after the show. Unfortunately, they destroyed his soul. Today, he is producing wooden furniture.
Why am I writing this story? Because I would like to help all those people who think they have no talent, are unemployed, or wish to change their jobs to be their own boss in the field of ceramics. It will cost you a mere $25.00 for each production exercise. I will not accept your money until I am satisfied you are in the correct environment to produce or can afford or have access to the necessary equipment to produce.
Maybe you are a retiree who wants a new challenge or hobby and enjoy the experience. Here is what you will need before I will take your money.
Have access to or invest in the following:
1. A small slab roller
2. A small electric or gas kiln
3. A set of hand tools to be specified
4. Three boxes of white clay of your choice in temperature, earthenware or stoneware, leave porcelain for later unless you feel ambitious. The clay must also match your choice of glazes.
4. Six pints of ceramic glazes, chose your favorite colors. They can be underglaze colors but you will have to buy two pints of clear glaze.
Payment would only be accepted when I am satisfied you are ready and prepared for your first lesson and have the market or preparation to sell the products, especially if you are in a tourist destination.
I also have secrets for wheel throwing potters, $25.00 for each secret, one at a time, but must first satisfy an interview. For your first interview, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
50 years as a full time sculptor/ceramic artist and gallery owner, I must have learnt a thing or two.
You can consider me your personal tutor.