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Trying to establish a clay club: Advice Needed


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#1 Brian Reed

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 11:22 AM

I have been doing pottery in my area for a little over ayear now and have tried to reach out and meet as many local potters as I couldin my area. Up in the Pacific Northwestthere is no shortage of Potters, or artists for that matter. Seems everyone is doing somethingcreative. In that respect I love it becauseI can easily find all the material I want.

However I am kind of frustrated with my regional potters inmany aspects. Many of them do not seemto want to communicate at all. I meanliterally putting their face in a newspaper instead of talking to you. One guy is doing such great wood firing andan amazing climbing kiln, but as far as I can tell shuts himself out and no onebarely even knows him. Everyone seems tohave a secret that they do not want others to know about. We have a Washington Potters Council and Ijoined and hope to get involved in that, but if their website is any indicatorthey are not a growing and dynamic group. Our local supplier is not friendly at all, but they are well stocked soif I am forced to buy something there I try to just go in and out. Even though I have spent thousands there overthe past 6 months.

What I want to see is something more like the “Clay Club” inNorth Carolina. They seem to be agrowing and dynamic group of potters that meet and share ideas. They all play and work together as far as Ican tell. It would be great if we couldband together and create another studio potter revolution. Start to push it in our area and get people(buyers) excited about what is being created in their backyard.

Having said all of that I have found a couple of reallygreat potters in my area which have helped me, and I in turn help them. Any advice from people who have built apotter community? Here is what I have doneso far:

1. Tried tomeet as many potters in my area as I can.

2. Joined many art shows in order to get around.

3. Working on getting together a workshop in myarea with a well known potter.

4. Joined the local potters council

What are some other suggestions?


Brian Reed

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Northwest Clay Club

#2 Kohaku

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 05:05 PM

Brian- I'm enough of a neophyte to not have much good advice... but you've got an awesome vision, and I'd love to participate, if you can accept carpetbaggers from Northern Idaho!

I have family in Port Angeles, so I trek through Seattle with some frequency. I'd love to become more networked with studio ceramic artists in your area.
Not all who wander are lost

#3 bciskepottery

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:10 PM

Drop an email to John Britt at Clay Club; I'm sure he'd be more than willing to share his experience in growing the website and community.

#4 Brian Reed

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 11:16 AM

Kohaku Yes I will add you. I think that anyone who has a desire is welcome even people from Idaho. I will keep you posted. I also have you on the Simon Leach Workshop, looks like it is going to be May6-9. Does that time work for you?



BCiske - That is good advice. I worry about bothering people like John as I think he has some notoriety and gets tons of questions. Maybe I am gun shy because of what I have experienced here in WA. However I will try and contact him.
Brian Reed

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#5 Rebel_Rocker

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 01:01 PM

Probably a lot of potters who are already well established and doing their own thing are less likely to join than people who are starting out.

Sounds like a cool idea, but I imagine these things usually start with fresher faces in a small group, maybe 2-3 the first year. If everyone can bring one person in you'll have 6 the next year, etc... In 10 years if you keep it up you might see 20 plus. (I've seen it with bicycle clubs, I figure it's the same with any type of club, most people don't want to blaze the path they just want to jump on a path that's clearly been blazed for them)

There's a local clay guild here and I've met probably half of them at the Art Center where I'm taking classes. I haven't joined yet but I think I probably will. I think they get together once a month, have discussions or have a member show a certian technique, one of them has a woodfire kiln they fire once a year I believe, and they have established some yearly shows at the art center, shops around town. Seems like they use membership dues to pay for the show space.
They also have a website but it seems somewhat neglected.

Those are probably the things that would really draw in some newer faces (but established artists probably already do shows, have kilns, know techniques, etc...). And these days having a frequently updated web site is pretty easy and can help draw attention.

As far as contacting established potters it can't hurt. Some may not want to help/participate but some might. Potters around here seem to be pretty open to talking to people, that all depends on the potter though. The worst they can say is no.

#6 Kohaku

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 03:15 PM

Kohaku Yes I will add you. I think that anyone who has a desire is welcome even people from Idaho. I will keep you posted. I also have you on the Simon Leach Workshop, looks like it is going to be May6-9. Does that time work for you?

BCiske - That is good advice. I worry about bothering people like John as I think he has some notoriety and gets tons of questions. Maybe I am gun shy because of what I have experienced here in WA. However I will try and contact him.


Brian- I think I already noted that I need to be a tentative for the workshop. I take a group of students to Ecuador in mid-May... and as a consequence, that part of the year is pretty tight-wound. I should be able to confirm with more certainty in the early stages of 2013... but don't hold a spot for me at this point if there are other interested parties.
Not all who wander are lost

#7 Wil

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:29 AM

Brian, I have taken pottery serious for over 10 to 12 years so far and have worked with slip casting for over 40 years. My level of education in pottery is what I would consider adequate since I have taken three years at one college and about to get into another one just for the advanced experience. As to the situation which you are in, I am sorry. I lived on Whidbey Island for many years and love the area, Seattle included, but I have never seen any one that was willing to set at the table and just have a good potters round table. I do not live in that area now, but still have the same problem. It appears that there are a good many potters and the objective is to "take" someone's idea. I am still trying to organize a guild where I am at and am surprised that it is a "no-go". We all started together and now most of them do not want to talk with each other. I have my glazes which I made, I have my clay which I have made and that which I have blended. I do not run from them. I just have a couple glazes which I do not let people know how I did it, and what is in it.

The major problem I am having down here, Mississippi, is that some people want to run an organization which is not conducive to good communication. We cannot dictate what an organization will do. Get a document started which would be like your business plan, let that be the "Constitution" of your organization and once there is a meeting, modify as needed. You do not need a 501C3 organization as some people claim.

I am trying to organize a guild, still, and I am using the ideas from one area which I found very nice. Door County, Wisconsin has a guild that is made up of 8 different potters and they all talk quite highly of each other. They collectively have a brochure advertising their own studios. They are impressive. I am on the mailing list of one of the potters and the next time I get his update, or find the last one, I will email it to you. Better yet, go and visit Door County, Wisconsin.

I wish the best of luck to you and your ideas are great. Good luck.



#8 SShirley

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 04:11 PM

Our clay group started out really small. We started with a "Potter's Lunch", with six or seven people. A bunch of us got together once a month to eat and laugh and share stories. From that it evolved into having a studio tour at holiday time, then to a more structured group with officers and dues. Now, ten years later, we have over 20 members and have group shows twice a year, and group exhibitions and whatever else comes along. It's been really nice.

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#9 GEP

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:49 AM

Brian,

In my neck of the woods (metro DC) there is a group called Montgomery Potters. I am not a member but I know several potters who are, and enjoy it very much. Here's a link to their website, you can learn a lot about their activities and structure from this site (including their constitution and bylaws), and maybe you could contact someone there for guidance on how to start your own group.

http://montgomerypotters.com/

Mea
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#10 GEP

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:03 AM

Probably a lot of potters who are already well established and doing their own thing are less likely to join than people who are starting out.

Sounds like a cool idea, but I imagine these things usually start with fresher faces in a small group, maybe 2-3 the first year. If everyone can bring one person in you'll have 6 the next year, etc... In 10 years if you keep it up you might see 20 plus. (I've seen it with bicycle clubs, I figure it's the same with any type of club, most people don't want to blaze the path they just want to jump on a path that's clearly been blazed for them)

There's a local clay guild here and I've met probably half of them at the Art Center where I'm taking classes. I haven't joined yet but I think I probably will. I think they get together once a month, have discussions or have a member show a certian technique, one of them has a woodfire kiln they fire once a year I believe, and they have established some yearly shows at the art center, shops around town. Seems like they use membership dues to pay for the show space.
They also have a website but it seems somewhat neglected.

Those are probably the things that would really draw in some newer faces (but established artists probably already do shows, have kilns, know techniques, etc...). And these days having a frequently updated web site is pretty easy and can help draw attention.

As far as contacting established potters it can't hurt. Some may not want to help/participate but some might. Potters around here seem to be pretty open to talking to people, that all depends on the potter though. The worst they can say is no.




I agree with all of this. Launching this type of organization will take a great deal of social awareness and leadership and maintenance. Don't be too hard on the experienced potters who don't seem helpful. If they're like me, making a living at pottery means very little free time.

Mea
Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
http://www.goodelephant.com




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