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to the Editor
Pottery Program not “Just Playing in the Mud”
posted April 6, 2010
A recent (Wandering Minds) posting suggested that PTC’s Professional
Pottery was simply a group of people playing in the mud. That may seem
true to someone not informed what the program involves and the people
attending and their aspirations. The curriculum is approved through
standards for all academic programs for the South Carolina Technical
College System. Students enrolled take a full complement of courses in
technical skills, glaze chemistry, design, as well as business and
Nearly all students enrolled have plans to start or expand a small
business in South Carolina. According to national statistics,
micro businesses are the future for rural America and craft businesses
are simply another way to make a living. Students come to
Edgefield on daily trips from Abbeville, Greenwood, Aiken, Columbia,
and Augusta to work in the pottery facility.
They take their preparation for business very seriously realizing that
the professional competition is very good and they have to make high
quality work to compare favorably.
Students nearing graduation have spent nearly 50 hours in class this
term going through what is necessary to start and operate a small
business in South Carolina. They have been designing their own
marketing materials such as business cards, hang tags, use and care
materials, artist statements and resumes. Currently, seven students are
constructing home studios as the base for planned businesses and
several more are in the process of making plans to do this.
On average each studio will cost about $10,000 to build and equip.
These are investment dollars being spent in South Carolina with a
variety of suppliers. Ultimately, these small business people will make
and sell work through galleries, shows, festivals, and special events
throughout the region. The customers for these products are often
tourist-visitors from other places and therefore the money craftspeople
generate is almost always new money for their local communities and it
expands the economy.
Two students are expanding long-standing businesses. One, an
experienced basket weaver who has raised and educated her family and
built a comfortable home with her craft has decided to expand her
product line. She now is making pottery forms and adding basketry
for bases, tops and handles. Many of her baskets, gourd baskets, and
now pottery baskets sell for several hundred dollars which customers
readily buy. The second student is gallery owner who has added shelf
space for his own pieces and other potters and is realizing a
significant income from this addition. He has also built a studio
in conjunction with his gallery and is offering pottery workshops and
private lessons generating additional income.
Recently, students from Professional Pottery traveled to Atlanta and
attended the ACC Atlanta craft fair. Visitors to this event paid
$13 admission to get inside for an opportunity to buy craft work.
The arena floor was crowded with visitors and many carried bags with
their purchases. Students recognized many of the participants and
expressed ambitions of being an artist exhibiting in such events
Yes, we do have fun “Playing in the Mud” but it has the ability to
change people’s lives, offer economic benefits, and produce a product
truly ‘Made in America’.
An additional note about the posting suggested PTC would sacrifice
other academic classes but keep the pottery going. If PTC is forced to
discontinue services in Edgefield, students in other academic areas
travel to Greenwood, Saluda, or Newberry to campuses that are being
supported by those communities and continue studies. Pottery
would have to faze out as students currently enrolled are given the
opportunity to complete their program in Edgefield as no other campus
has this program. The program would be closed when those students
completed the cycle.
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