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Back at the Pottery

Jon the Potter at Eastnor Pottery generally doesn’t run his throwing workshops over the summer, finding that there is more demand for family and child-centric activities over the holidays. However, now that the schools are back, he’s restarted his weekend throwing courses and workshops aimed at adults. I was keen to get back into the rhythm after several months off, so it was good to spend Sunday morning at the pottery throwing a succession of jugs, saucers and bowls.

For the last eleven months they’ve had an apprentice working there, training him up “on the job” – not just in the technical skills of throwing, glazing and firing pots, but also in the skills needed to run a small creative business, teach and lead classes, develop and pitch projects, and work with the wider public. Unlike the traditional engineering apprentices we employ at work, who are on three-year courses, this is a one-year apprenticeship, and in just under a month he will be finished, and can call himself a “Community Artist”. I hadn’t even realised that such a profession formally existed, let alone that there is an accredited training course leading to it!

I had a chat with the soon-to-be-ex-apprentice yesterday in between throwing my pots. He plans to stay on at Eastnor Pottery after he completes his apprenticeship, working there part-time while he builds up a portfolio of projects and opportunities. He had always wanted to make his living from “making things” as he put it, and the apprenticeship has been a way for him to build skills and bolster his CV to give him a leg-up in the creative industries. It seems to have been something of a win-win: the pottery gains an employee trained up in their way of doing things, and the apprentice gets paid to do on-the-job training, and learns skills that would not be taught at university.