Jump to content


Recommended Posts

Hello Folks,


I am new here and fairly new to pottery as well. Recently just out of the blue sky I got this deep interest 

towards this craft and now spending long hours researching the web and trying to find information about apprenticeship

opportunities. First of all, I am in Germany and am an EU citizen, but would like to know a little about the general situation

in the US. I have no art education and I really doubt I would want to go for a ceramics BA (at least at this point), for several

reasons. I would definitely prefer an apprenticeship straight away. Here in Germany there is an apprentice programme

supported by the government (with less and less money) where an apprentice spends 3 years in a workshop, gets paid

from day one (I'd say just enough for sustaining yourself) and has to follow a standard series of lectures as well.

Places for this kind of apprenticeship are really hard to come by, especially for me since I am not German and have

difficulties with the language as well. I have been looking the UK as well and my general picture is that most studio potters

prefer taking on "promising" students with a foundation course, but I assume places are scarce there as well.

So I was thinking maybe I could try the US, if there is a system that provides visa for apprentices. Could you give me

some directions where to look for information?

Or share your knowledge please, I would really appreciate it.

When doing apprenticeship in the US in general, does the apprentice get paid from the beginning? Is it enough to

get by (I mean meeting the minimum needs, which is basically food, shelter and perhaps a few extra necessities)?


Thank you for reading!




Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, I will say that I am not an immigration expert by any means.


I would suspect that you will not find it easy to get an apprenticeship here as there is no lack of promising talent for experienced potters to choose from.


My best advice would be to find a pottery in the EU and offer to work there for room and board. Do all the jobs and learn as much as you can. Then you will have knowledge and experience to offer so you can move up the ladder.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest JBaymore

Hate to "rain on your parade" ,,,,, but this is not very likely.


There is no "formal" national apprenticeship program in the US for ceramics, nor any "standards" for someone being a professional potter. 


In fact, there are very few opprotunities for these kinds of situations here at all.  The few that do exist are VERY competitive (as Chris says).  Usually filled by someone graduating out of an undergrad BFA program.


Many of these existing "apprenticeships" are anywhere from quasi-legal to fully illegal as far as Federal and State wage and hours laws and stuff like OSHA workplace laws go.  Some include things like a room and studio space and materials and firing but no pay.  Some include some pay...... but no room.  It varies a lot.


As Chris said... the odds of finding one from afar without much experience is slim to none.  You'd be better off looking more locally where you can do "footwork" looking around yourself.


And getting a US educational visa or a green card.... likely VERY difficult.  Unless you are enrolled in a US fully acredited academic institution and are pursuing a degree option.





Link to post
Share on other sites

I see, thank you for your answers. Don't worry, I didn't expect much.


Ok, so another question. Do you think it is necessary to go through the academic part of the education for a certain amount of recognition

by the "establishment"? Or it is just a question of what you make and how you make yourself visible? I am talking about a little bit of "elitism" here,

perhaps - I have nothing against it, its just natural, in my opinion.

Link to post
Share on other sites

La Meridiana in Certaldo, Italy offers apprenticeships. I met a young woman from Germany who was an apprentice there in 2002. There have been many side. 

There is not much pay and a lot of work. Room and board is provided.You would probably have to interview with Pietro.


Marcia Selsor

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you think it is necessary to go through the academic part of the education for a certain amount of recognition

by the "establishment"? Or it is just a question of what you make and how you make yourself visible? I am talking about a little bit of "elitism" here, perhaps - I have nothing against it, its just natural, in my opinion.

What kind of pottery are you interested in? Functional wares used day in/day out? More art-focused wares, perhaps sculpture? Etc. How you answer those questions may help tell you if you need an academic education or an apprentice-type education. A good foundation in basic functional throwing and hand-building, oftentimes learned at community studios, will allow you to develop a portfolio that can open the doors to an apprenticeship or a formal educational program of study. Potters who take apprentices often expect the apprentice to bring basic skills. Some potters start out with an informal or apprentice education and then go for a formal education; others, start with the formal education. There does not seem to be one set pattern or prescribed way of doing. If your goal is to make and sell pottery, then a formal education is not always required to be successful; if your goal is to teach at a university or high school, then the MFA becomes a requisite.


If you haven't already done so, try finding a local potter/studio who may allow you to work with him/her informally -- trade hard work for lessons. While building your portfolio and experience, you can start networking to find a formal apprenticeship program or formal education program that meets your needs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your answers.


Chris: I hope I don't come off as a wannabe faker who just wants to get away with an easy route. If so, I have a big problem!!

By recognition I didnt mean being famous. In fact I think that is quite harmful for a human being. But actually recognition always

depends on the cultural/art regime that prevails in a specific country at a specific time - to a certain extent, at least. There are always

ways around it, too. Just like Shiro Tsujimura, for example. Of course he is a huge talent and Japan seems a very "friendly" environment for

potters. But I would be curious why you think the MFA opens only doors, and what doors exactly?


Marcia: thank you for pointing out that possibility. I actually found my way to their website already, but thought it was not the place for me...

I will try and contact them.


Bruce: it's quite difficult for me to answer your question. In fact I would have to say both (functional and art focused), but at the same time I do not crave for being

revered as some great artist, I simply find qualities in pottery that appeal to me very much. Part of them comes from the physical side,

working with clay and elemental things, and even being at the mercy of the kiln each time. Also, bringing some impulses into peoples lives by

simple objects. So I think I'd be satisfied producing functional ware on a general basis, but I do have a hitherto relatively unexplored

affinity with creativity in my life. I always liked drawing and have been making photography. Only now I realize in photography I was looking for

the kind of things that can be brought to existence or can be "met" in pottery/ceramics on much deeper levels. So if I had clay and a way of

baking it, would I restrain myself and would I not try to give heed to my creative impulses?

I like

, and what Jim Malone says about providing the environment where good pottery can happen. Its not about the potter and their

person posing in the center, engaged in "self-expression". Its something humble and organic...this is where I come from, so far!
I do not plan to pursue any academic career.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you done any work with clay before or just researched it on the internet?


It sounds to me like you have not, so I would advise trying to find a shorter course just to get a taste and see if it is what you think it is.


The best thing I ever did with my life was an "art foundation year" I am not actually sure on the qualification but the general idea was you did a week of 10 different subjects and then specialized in one for the year. I went to do graphic design but ended up loving ceramics too much and spent the year studying it.


I think something like this would be really good for you to decide what direction to go. The good thing about college is they remove most of the hard and slightly tedious work and leave you the most enjoyable sides of ceramics. I didn't realise how easy they made my life until 3 years later when I rented a studio and bought myself a kiln to find out that everything was down to me  ;) I miss the days of handing over a piece to be fired and it coming back beautiful without any effort on my part.#


We have something in the UK called http://www.adoptapotter.org.uk/ that seems to be the only thing around when I looked into apprenticeships. Might just be worth asking if they know of anything similar in Germany.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that you should work for a year or so in a pottery or take classes for a year where you make pots. You need to find out if you even like the process ... and no, I am not saying that you are looking for shortcuts. Not at all. I am just recommending you get some first hand experience before you commit your valuable time and money to this.

That film makes it all look very romantic and zen like which is wonderful to be sure ... but also about 180 degrees off the usual day to day work of a pottery life.

I do wish you the best of luck in your explorations! :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest JBaymore

That film makes it all look very romantic and zen like which is wonderful to be sure ... but also about 180 degrees off the usual day to day work of a pottery life.


What's that saying..... 1% inspiration....... and 99% perspiration.  ;)  





Link to post
Share on other sites


Having been an apprentice at two potteries, one in England, and one in Scotland, I had to smile at that Jim Malone vid.Very romantic, and the sun was shining! The Svend Bayer video is another good one, but he doesn't take apprentices.The deal with apprenticeship, is that you have to bring something to the table that the potter can benefit from, and it is a mutual exchange of ideas. I worked in southern England. The sun didn't shine for weeks. I moved wood, mixed glazes, loaded and fired kilns, and most importantly, made pots. I already had a degree from an art school in Canada, and I knew how to throw. i had to re-learn my throwing techniques, as I didn't know how to throw with a rib, and didn't throw to a measure. Apprenticeship can be humbling, but if you are willing to suck up your pride, you can learn a hell of a lot. Both potteries offered a board and room set up. I did not receive any pay, and my pots were owned by the potter. My experience happened in the late 70's, so I can't comment on what is available today. I know there are a lot fewer potters.

I would suggest taking some courses and learn some skills so that you can offer your labour. Remember, it is costing the potter money to have you there, so it has to be worth while for both of you. You also want to learn, not just be a source of free labour.


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually don't have such a romantic approach, but maybe I am wrong about it...and yes, I have no experience apart from a little throwing on the wheel.

I understand that pottery involves a lot of physical work and hardship...

Anyway I will start an ongoing evening course with a local potter in 3 weeks.


I found this flick by Jeff Shapiro:



Link to post
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.