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Judith B

Induction process at local pottery club

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Hi everyone,

 

I recently joined the volunteer circle at my pottery club and there is a need to put in place an "induction" process for new members. The idea is to run them through the safety rules and basic Do's and Don'ts. At the moment, it's pretty crazy what people do, like glazing a bowl and dumping the excess glaze in the sink, pouring wax in the sink, etc.

 

So I was wondering, if you have been member at a pottery club and used their facilities, did you get any kind of crash course when you joined? If not, how did you navigate the different spaces and rules?

Thanks for your input :) 

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I have several students who have a key and 24 hour access to my studio. Before they're allowed to do that, they must enroll in at least one 8 week class session as a normal student so they learn how the studio functions. If you don't have a class to put them through, then you'll definitely need to go through the rules. I strongly suggest putting everything on paper and having them sign and date it, so they can't use the excuse that 'no one told them' not to do something. You'll get people coming from lots of different studios with lots of different ways of doing things, so it's a matter of creating your own systems and studio culture.

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Monthly studio membership in my studio has a prerequisite of prior experience in a clay studio. Total beginners are required to take an 8-week class so they are taught both the ceramic process and the studio's rules, regs, systems and safety stuff. Students who sign up as monthly members after their class ends do not need a studio orientation, as their class serves this process, but they do need to fill out membership paperwork. People who have previous experience and sign up as members without taking a class, regardless of how much experience they say they have, are required to go through a studio orientation process and sign a liability waiver/acknowledgement of studio policies. Within the studio there are no different spaces or rules for members and students.... everyone has the same access and expectations. And all hours of studio access are hosted by a volunteer who helps with kiln loading, glaze mixing, etc, but also can step in to make sure things don't go awry... like wax getting dumped down the sink... woof.

 

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My experience is very similar to Neil and Chris. At the studio where I used to teach, those with little or no clay experience were required to take a class, where they would be under a teacher’s supervision. Those with enough experience who just wanted open studio access, but were new to the studio, had to attend a one-hour meeting with the studio manager at the beginning of the session. Those potters got a tour and a run-down of the rules/procedures. All of the rules were written down in a 3-4 page document, so that people couldn’t argue “I didn’t know that was a rule.” 

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thank you so much for your contribution! I didn't think about having people sign a document but it seems to be a great way to officially acknowledge they have been talked through the rules. 

There has been some debate amongst our circle of volunteers to recognise prior experience and not put those experienced member through the induction session but I feel like everyone should know how our studio functions. 

Our studio is pretty much the only one in the city and is really cheap so I think we get lots of people who are "curious" and have no clue you can't just do whatever with clay and glazes. There is definitely a need for an education process!

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50 minutes ago, Judith B said:

thank you so much for your contribution! I didn't think about having people sign a document but it seems to be a great way to officially acknowledge they have been talked through the rules. 

There has been some debate amongst our circle of volunteers to recognise prior experience and not put those experienced member through the induction session but I feel like everyone should know how our studio functions. 

Our studio is pretty much the only one in the city and is really cheap so I think we get lots of people who are "curious" and have no clue you can't just do whatever with clay and glazes. There is definitely a need for an education process!

Experience in another studio doesn't mean squat. I've had lots of students who spent years at other studios but had very little ceramics knowledge.

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3 hours ago, Judith B said:

to recognise prior experience and not put those experienced member through the induction session

Anyone who is worried about offending someone, or hurting someone’s feelings, should not be making these decisions. An orientation can be done without any meanness or condescension. Just a straightforward tour and explanation of the rules. An experienced potter will understand why it’s necessary, and will probably appreciate it. 

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23 minutes ago, GEP said:

Anyone who is worried about offending someone, or hurting someone’s feelings, should not be making these decisions. An orientation can be done without any meanness or condescension. Just a straightforward tour and explanation of the rules. An experienced potter will understand why it’s necessary, and will probably appreciate it. 

Exactly. No matter how much experience you have, things are done differently at every studio. Each studio has a system that works for them, which may not be the same as where you came from. If I went to a different studio I would want to know how things worked.

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10 hours ago, neilestrick said:

If I went to a different studio I would want to know how things worked.

Agreed, I feel at loss when joining a new studio trying to figure out how things work and where things go without disrupting anything! Of the studio I have been so far, only the privately owned would take me through a thorough tour. Community centres and associations have let me use facilities with a very brief welcome session only. I find it quite interesting knowing how much safety hazards there are in pottery studios!

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In my experience/opinion, too many settings forego a timely orientation to the setting and it's parameters. Any type of orientation should be clear, simple, reasonably comprehensive, and available in a written format, like a small handbook, as well as verbal.  The oversight entity should provide an introduction to the studio layout, storage, dedicated areas for specific purposes, sink practices, how the kilns are fired, the protocols for participating in community wood fired kilns, essentials of indoor and outdoor safety,  etc etc etc. No one should be put off by this, including attesting by signature that one has been advised of the studio's (or Guild) protocols-no exceptions-not people brand new to the field nor seasoned experts.  

Not only is it uncomfortable to have to flounder around trying to find one's way, and figuring out how things are done, it is like navigating a field of landmines that can set off anything from  making a royal mess to being downright dangerous. 

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