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 email@example.com.
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.
What an interesting idea. I really love ceramics. I spent a few years taking classes and participating in a ceramics club. I would come in the evenings and work for a few hours. So much fun creating things and seeing what it starts with and how the finished product really works.
I enjoyed your idea and think that is a very cool post. Good job.
Looks like you have access to a workshop; If you wish to have a go again, I will be happy to be your tutor.You can contact me on devonishart.com.
This is a Wonderful article about Anyone Can Be A Ceramic Artist. Setting up training workshops targeting school children and unemployed persons is a great idea I never thought that doing this we can make money. I think that if I do this I am investing a low price but I can get a good amount. I love Ceramics. When I read your article I think that now I can also do this.
But I want to know more about Ceramics, can you explain more? And what is COD Pottery and Ceramics?
Thanks for such a wonderful and helpful article.
To throw pots on the wheel takes time and proper training, I also have a fail free training program for production on the wheel where you car earn money from the first training exercise. This program is hand building and if you follow instructions can earn an income from day one. the marketing aspect is all part of the training.
COD pottery & Ceramics was a small ceramic production and retail operation I operated in Barbados before moving to Anguilla. Send me an email about yourself and the time you are willing to devote to training and production, production starts on day one once everything is in place. firstname.lastname@example.org
I really like your post. I love ceramics. I am so curious about ceramics and I wanted to learn how to make ceramics. By reading your post my heart feels joy. Because now I can learn about it from you.
Thank you so much for your very helpful post and I want to treat you as my personal tutor.
Thank you I will be happy to be of service; send me an email about your environment, what ceramics materials and equipment are available , and your potential market, and we can get started. I guarantee recouping the initial fee + from the first production if you follow my instructions.
Grateful to know about your story. And I am happy to know your work that you provided training to people to make them able for this wonderful art. It also helped them in there day to day life living. I appreciate that. On the other hand i became sad for the ending of the story. It is unfortunate for him and as well as ceramic industry had a great loss as he was stolen. It is very sad that now he is making wooden furniture instead of ceramics. Lastly your offer is also temptable as it is only for $25.00. Capable persons should think about it!
Thanks fir such a nice post.
Thank you, The potter contacted me recently after over 30 years, I think he would like to return to pottery, i will keep in touch with him.There are some successful ceramic artists around that I have trained, and would like to tutor others online.
The first time I learn how pottery really works, believe it or not, was when I watched the movie “Ghost.” Although I once lived in a residence full of displayed ceramics, yet I didn’t know how they were made until I watched that movie a few years ago.
Reading your content enlightened me in terms of how a simple hobby could influence many people in a locality, if not the country. And how passion of one person could be so contagious that it marks everyone’s interest to learn about it.
I also commend your suggestion towards the end of the post wherein you somehow call an engagement to your readers employing an invitation to do their own potteries at home, through the materials you shared. Kudos. 🙂
Thank you, I do enjoy teaching, The greatest compliment a former student ever paid was this comment- “Sir you didn’t teach me anything, I learn it all by myself”
I have only ever had one student I could not teach the potters wheel; She was a well to do society lady who could afford the training, but I told her I could teach her hand building, but she would never master the wheel, she had no eye hand coordination. After that experience i gave all my students a dexterity test before admitting them for training. At present wood carving is my absolute passion, I have even adapted commercial equipment to suit my needs; but I do not teach my wood working techniques, a young lady might change that, but I have to be sure she is serious, serious enough to inherit my tools and equipment. I am surprise your curiosity did not get the better of you.Best wishes.
Hi Courtney – It’s unfortunate to hear that one of your best potters lost his interest in putting his skills to work as a potter. I think it’s wonderful that you have an interest in helping people believe in themselves and talents by giving them an opportunity to create their masterpiece with clay!! I like your training strategy of not teaching or showing the students your work but handing them the clay and letting them use their creative minds to come up with something. I think that helps build self-confidence when the students sees what he/she is able to create on their own. Best wishes!
Thank you Jeff, my teaching technique helped me to discover a young lady who was able to create some of the most intricate and beautiful glazing techniques, a standard far beyond my capability; she worked with me for years before leaving to go back to her home country to get married. I met her on one of my consulting assignments. We hope to reestablish working together.Best wishes.
Oh, so tempting! I will have to keep you in mind.
There was a time in my life when I was quite involved with pottery. When I lived in the tiny village of Ouzinkie, Alaska, a Canadian woman who had married a local fisherman decided we needed a pottery studio. She persuaded the city to let her use an abandoned pumphouse next to our large creek. A group of us expressed interest and she taught us. We had to do hand pieces first; then we learned to use the kick wheel and then we finally got to use the electric wheel.
I loved it! I think it is such a calming influence on the mind. There are so many creative things you can do with clay, also. I am so glad I got a few years of experiencing working with clay.
Winters there were especially unique. One of us would get to the studio early to get a fire going in the Franklin fireplace. Sometimes it was necessary to pound a hole in the ice in the creek for water. We had a kerosene heater that we put the water pail on to warm up the water so our hands wouldn’t freeze. It was a challenge, but those of us involved thought the challenge was well worth it.
Sound like you had an interesting experience with pottery; you are right about the therapy. magically calming and relaxing.Time to regain the spirit. best wishes.
Love the idea of helping people to become a Ceramic Artist, the skills that you are able to offer would be ideal for anyone wishing to be trained, your fees are also very reasonable.
Always admire people who wish to help others in this way, also the training which you have already undertaken is to be admired, especially turning down a commission and giving your students the work instead.
I enjoyed all my teaching experiences, I first met my Ex Anguillian wife and mother of my beautiful daughter was one of my first batch of students, and the reason I moved to Anguilla; daughter just graduated from the same University where I gained my Teacher Training, with a PhD in clinical Psychology, her ties to art is a side business as a make-up artist. Guess a little did rub off. Have a great day.
This is a great article, I love your strategy, and this is the kind if intervention we need to tackle unemployment. I like art and I always wanted to follow this passion. I recently obtained a mining permit to mine sandstone, and I thought of using the waste from the crushed stone and the clay that comes out as you escavate and create porcelain products. I’m sure I will be one of your students in the near future.
.All the best,
Wow you have a wonderful opportunity and I would love to work with you, it would appear you also have acces to other ceramic materials for glazing.Hope to hear from you soon, in the meantime, buy an inexpensive electric potters wheel and I can offer you a proven crash course in throwing. One of the quickest ways to learn the potters wheel.Hope to hear from you. Best wishes and good luck with your project.
This is an absolutely lovely post, Courtney, and something that my Wife would definitely be interesting in sometime in the future. She doesn’t have access to any of the equipment you mention at the moment but I don’t think it would be too difficult for her to source.
What happened to your Student is a sad ending to a very nice story that could and should have turned out better had he taken your advice.
Thank you for visiting; I knew friends in Canada that owned a ceramic studio and was familiar with the operation in question. They too were suspicious of the motives, but my worker was anxious to get an opportunity to immigrate to Canada. He was the finest potter I knew at the time.He has been trying to reach me by phone, but we are yet to connect.I hope it is not too late, its over 35 years.