Helping the next generation.
Clay College Stoke is now open in its home in the Prince of Wales Studios within historic Middleport Pottery. The college will teach a full time cohort of students the wide range of skills needed to be a professional potter. The emphasis will be on core skills and the use of materials and students will be taught all aspects of design, throwing, glazing, kiln building and firing, alongside traditional hand building and decoration techniques. This will be augmented by modules focusing on business skills and marketing which will offer students the opportunity to become self-sufficient, developing their own business model to suit their work. The course will be taught by potters who make their living from ceramics.
The Prince of Wales Studios was opened in 2016 after the restoration of Middleport Pottery’s Old Packing House by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust. It is now owned and managed by the UK Historic Building Preservation Trust (UKHBPT). This location was identified as the perfect home for the Clay College, where students can immerse themselves in a lively ceramics community with both commercial and artisan potteries on their doorstep.
The idea for the College was developed by Lisa Hammond and the Adopt a Potter Trust. Adopt a Potter was founded in 2009 and this stemmed from the tradition of Lisa taking apprentices into her studio which in turn developed into ‘Adopt a Potter’, a charity to support other potters doing the same and to ensure a wage for the apprentices. We are now at a point where many master potters and highly skilled specialists are retiring and their vital skills are not being passed on at the rate needed to keep the skills alive. This is where Clay College comes in.
Twelve months ago ‘Clay College’ was a dream of the pottery community. This is now a reality. This was made such by a large funding effort by the Trustees of Adopt a Potter and the generous donations and support of the entire pottery community.
Lisa Hammond MBE and Trustee for Adopt a Potter and Clay College said “The last 12 months have not only been hard work but a steep learning curve for myself and the other trustees.
We have been driven on by the overwhelming support, generosity and encouragement we have received. Our heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who helped bring this together. Together we have created a great place to learn.”
This weekend the college hosted a three day Masterclass with highly renowned potter Akiko Hirai and from September there will be further opportunities for anyone wanting to learn to throw or interested in developing specialist pottery skills to take evening classes or Masterclasses.
Evening classes begin from the 11th of September and run on either Monday or Wednesday 6.30-9, costing £135 for 6 weeks. These sessions will be delivered by Richard Heeley, a highly skilled potter and member of the Craft Potters Association. www.richardheeley.com/ People taking part in the throwing course will use the college facilities including the 14 throwing wheels, that make up the largest throwing studio in Staffordshire.
The next Masterclass will be with Lee Kang Hyo on Sunday 24th September. Kang Hyo is an internationally renowned Korean Master potter.