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pottery co-ops -long

updated fri 18 may 01


kruzewski on thu 17 may 01

Dear Susan,

I came to the list a couple of months ago with this same question - I'm trying to
set up a Co-op in North Wales UK at a recently closed pottery, which is part of a
larger building which had arts and crafts uses.

Most of the machinery etc. we need is in place we just have to negotiate a price
for this as well as rent, overheads etc. with the incoming management who are
hoping to save the building for public arts use.

Because of the legal and financial issues that need to be addressed before any
tenancy can be offered we are hanging on a string at the moment, and the process is
taking so much longer than I ever dreamed possible. I have begun to consider
setting up elsewhere and starting from scratch equipment wise. This is unfortunate
because there is planning consent and continuity of usage precedent at the original
building. This would be difficult elsewhere, as well as getting utilities sorted
out for our particular needs.

I agreed to set up this Co-operative because I suggested that it would be one way
of re-generating this building - Snowdon Mill in Porthmadog. Currently 13 people
have contacted me to say that they would be interested in participating. However,
the organisation is basically down to me. I think that a group of you working
together to get this project started is a far better idea.

I would say make sure that all of you are agreed as to your aims and requirements
from the outset and that all are willing to share in the responsibility and
workload. Have patience - it takes time to do this. Get all the help, practical and
financial, you can. The kindness of others has been a huge help to me.

I have had some wonderful help and advice from Clayart members. Gail Dapogny, a
fellow Clayarter, and her friend Eppie Potts from Ann Arbor Guild have been
wonderful, truly inspiring. This organisation seems to me to be a great example to
Co-operatives all over. They published a book -"Firing Cycle - 50 years of Clay at
the Potters Guild" ISBN 0-9705553-0-X which could help you a great deal.

Jeremy McLoed recommended I get "The Professional Potter's Handbook" by Steve
Branfman, which covers issues you'll need to know about.

I must also mention Kathy Maves who sent me lots of helpful advice and good wishes,
and Janet Kaiser, who lives near me and runs the Chapel of Art in Criccieth, who
has given me loads of helpful local advice.

I feel that you also will get the help you need.

I very much hope that your co-op succeeds and grows - I hope mine gets off the
ground too (hope I haven't sounded too pessimistic) and if you'd like to it would
be nice to share experiences.

Best wishes,

Jacqui (North Wales) - where even the weather men are describing the weather as
miserable and it's so cold (after last weeks sun and warmth) I've been forced to
turn the heating on. On the plus side, it's beautiful and GREEN everywhere - that
newly painted bright green you only get first thing in Spring.

Susan Edwards wrote:

> Hi folks,
> I am a bit new to this list, so if this subject has been talked about to
> death, please be patient.
> There are a handful of potters that are seriously interested in starting a
> co-op. Our city has none, and ours would be the first. I am most
> interested in learning what others have done to organize and run one. We
> are in California, and we wouldn't mind traveling a reasonable distance to
> visit some up and running co-ops. How they work (function and
> convenience)is of major interest, and I expect that each co-op has it's own
> personality.
> I know that Ceramics Monthly has an article or two, but hearing more
> personal experiences are always enlightening. Presently, we are shopping
> for a location. All suggestions, ideas, comments, directions, etc. are most
> welcome and gratefully received.
> Thanks,
> Susan
> at Spiritdance
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