Blake on thu 8 sep 05
I am 24, and establishing my first studio. I just finished my B.A. in
Asian Studies/Ceramics. My grandmother and mother did slipcasting, and I
have entered the realm of throwing. I soon hope to inherit my
grandmother's last kiln. Most of the work I sell is to neighbors,
friends, and classmates. I am almost laughed at when I ask older potters
about apprenticeships and such. Most people are sons of potters, or
retired ect. When trying to find places to fire my work, it is nearly
impossible, unless I want to do Raku. And then when I do find a place the
prices are outrageous. I understand the process is expensive, but it
seems to me that many people are very protective of their kilns. I am
looking for a master potter to work with in Washington State. Can anyone
help? Where are all the Master Potters?
Kathi LeSueur on thu 8 sep 05
>.... I am almost laughed at when I ask older potters
>about apprenticeships and such.>>>
It isn't all that long ago that fair applications stated "those who have
APPRENTICES or employees need not apply". I personally know a potter
who had a wonderful program. She took two apprentices a year and gave
them full studio involvement. All she got was grief from other potters
who complained about her to fairs. Claimed she was a factory.
Then there is the issue of apprentices going out on their own with all
of the design and technical knowledge they got in their apprenticeship.
Next thing you know they are making your pots, using your glazes, and
selling them cheaper. And, just the aggravation of having someone
working in your space. Screwing things up. Ruining your favorite tools,
or contaminating a full bucket of glaze. Mixing a glaze wrong because
they thought that manganese dioxide and magnesium carbonate were the
> ......When trying to find places to fire my work, it is nearly
>impossible, unless I want to do Raku. And then when I do find a place the
>prices are outrageous. I understand the process is expensive, but it
>seems to me that many people are very protective of their kilns.>>>
What does it cost to build a kiln today. Brick are over $2 a piece.
Shelves are expensive, too. Why would I risk my investment to help you?
There are many horror stories of kiln accidents when potters fired work
for others. In spite of claims that the clay and glazes were cone 10,
they turn out to be cone 6, melting all over the shelves and floor of
the kiln. Or the clay has contaminants in it that cause it to explode
damaging the walls of the kiln. Repair and replacement is very time
consuming and expensive.
Add to that the outrage of the person who requested you to fire their
work when they find it has melted or exploded. Threats to sue.
Blake, it just ain't worth the aggravatiion.
John Baymore on thu 8 sep 05
Apprenticeships DO seem to be getting harder and harder to find in the
USA. So I undrstand your frustration with the situation. All I can
suggest is keep searching and do exactly what you are doing....
communicate your interest as widely as possible.
Also, find a potter that tyou really think would be a good match... and go
volunteer your time around his/her studio. Show them that you would be an
asset to their operation......... and that the two of you will get along.
A "known quantity" is far more "attractive" than a resume and letter in
the mail or even a phone call . If the person in question is giving a
workshop somewhere... go there and participate...and meet them.
A "pain".... yes. But it might be what you need to do to make
the "connection" that makes the difference.
If it were easy.... everybody would do it !
Back in the later 70's B.C., I had "live-in" apprentices here at my studio
in NH... (B.C. = before children ). I now would not do that due to the
hightened liability situation, the current labor laws, the federal
paperwork for employees, the OSHA regulations, and so on. Simply not
possible for me to make it actually worth it anymore. I imagine that
stuff impacts others also.
As to being "protective" of kilns space and such. That is likely kinda'
true.... due to the COST of putting in and firing kilns these days. I
look at the depreciation costs of each firng and the labor and fuel costs
( I fire wood so it is VERY expensive).... and suddenly the kiln space
needs to be VERY productive financially for me .
Kiln space in an existing kiln is not "free".
So... good luck with your search.
River Bend Pottery
22 Riverbend Way
Wilton, NH 03086 USA
"Please use compuserve address for any direct communications."