A career in ceramics

 3 February 2011

Nic Harrison is a potter. He describes the challenges he faced when starting out, and the stumbling blocks for the ceramicists of tomorrow.

Starting out in pottery

"I started making pottery at college about 35 years ago. After I left college, I was invited by Janet Leach in St. Ives to go and join the team down there to make pottery as part of the production team.

“Since then I've worked at a place called Trelowarren, I was there for 25 years and now I run my own workshop from home making traditional stoneware pottery in the Leach tradition."

Challenges for ceramic makers

"If you want to start out making pottery, it's a good idea but don't give up the day job until you've mastered all the techniques and got your sales right and everything else.

“It is so difficult and I've managed very fortunately to make a living from what I do, purely through my connection from The Leach Pottery. That made such a difference to how I work.

“Many of my customers come to me, but I still need to come out to do the shows to keep interest going. It's demonstrations like this where you'll get the interest of people, they'll come and visit me when they come down into Cornwall where I live.

"If you want to start out making pottery, don't give up the day job until you've mastered all the techniques and got your sales right and everything else."

"There aren't enough people now. All the colleges are giving up teaching it because they're wanting to go more into other crafts. There aren't really the potters any more, there's no ceramics industry to speak of.

“I think it's a great shame, really, that there are so few potters coming through now. Most of them are largely self-taught, which is OK, but you really need to master techniques which you can't always get from your own workshop. It's quite costly too, setting up.

"People often ask me how long it takes to make a pot. I say five minutes and 30 years."

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