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apprenticeship agreement

updated tue 30 sep 97


Brad Sondahl on mon 22 sep 97

My experience with apprenticeships is limited to my own (22 years ago)
and two summer internships. You can be hardnosed and get everything you
can from your apprentices--if the profit incentive is uppermost in your
brain, but generally you soon realize they are real people little
different from yourself, only lacking your stellar abilities. Generally
a place to work and a chance to learn seem like a good deal to a
starting potter. They may assist in menial activities (selling,
shipping, sweeping) and practical pottery stuff like glaze and clay
mixing. Where the rub usually develops is in whether and how much to
allow them to make and sell their own pots. They need to do this to
advance, but it may cut into your sales, or cost you in materials and
firing. Lately I've been thinking that taking a percentage of sales they
make through your tutelage would be reasonable as a way of not getting
gouged on clay and kiln costs. Another related issue is that if they do
sell pots through your business, and the pots are technically inferior
(bad pouring spouts, bad design) these things can reflect on you...Also
in their ingenuousness, they tend to cause some unexpected damage to
kilnshelves, mismixed glaze, misplaced tools. It took me two summers of
funny little holes in my scrap clay to figure out that the interns were
brushing flakes of wax resist scratched from pots into the wheel scrap
clay, later creating limburger pottery.
It's not likely to be so incredibly lucrative so that the unemployed
masses of Hawaiians will be beating down your palmfronds. The question
is, what exactly do you hope to gain by having an apprentice? For me,
the original answer was a housesitter so I could vacation during the
summer sales season. But I also learned I enjoy being mentor to other
people who care about pottery. Also, do you have space for them? As I
recall, Dean reported a tiny studio in a previous post
Brad Sondahl
PO Box 96, Nezperce ID 83543
"When it comes to dabbling, I'm just a dilettante..."