In anticipation of our Raku workshop on Saturday 9 September, we caught up with Andy Mason and asked him a few questions about himself, pottery and, of course, Sharpe’s!  This is what he had to say …

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hmm… well, here’s a little something. I remember when I first heard the word ambivert and thought, ah, that’s me!  I like my quiet introverted, introspective time, busily working in my studio, but then the pendulum swings in the other direction, as I pick up my more extrovert characteristics when running workshops.

What got you interested in pottery in the first place?
At school I studied GCE O level Ceramics – design, making, history & technical! Also living near ‘The Potteries’ captured my interest.  The material! Physically, clay work is so addictive, and the more I looked, the more I wanted to create for myself.

Did you teach yourself or study at college?
I often think there’s a large part of self-taught in all artists, but yes, I did study at Art College. A vocational course at Derbyshire Higher Ed College (now University of Derby) and then a Further Education Teaching qualification.

What fascinates you about Raku in particular?
In short, it’s slightly elusive, so it draws you back in for more. It has an intriguing history, and the whole process is so engaging. I think it taps into the emotions, and it generates a group energy through workshops.

What is your best and worst pottery memory?
Kyoto, Japan, at the Raku Museum! That’s the best, obviously.
Many years ago whilst mould making, the cottle, which holds the plaster in place, was becoming loose before the plaster was cured, i.e like a liquid slurry. All this mass was mounted on the wheel, and as I was struggling, I accidentally put my foot down on the pedal up to full speed! Possibly the worst technically, but also, soon after, it created lots of laughter.

Who is your favourite historical potter?
There are quite a few I admire, but for sheer vitality, spirit, and skill it has to be Josiah Wedgwood. He was also very influential in the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire – quite a remarkable human!
I’m into 18th Century history, particularly of The Midlands region. The Potter’s Hand by A.N Wilson, is a brilliant book.

What’s your favourite Sharpe’s object and why?
Well, it’s a big object – The Kiln! Do I need to explain why?!

What next for you?
A cup of tea…in one of my hand thrown mugs, and perhaps contemplating one of the many ideas in my portfolio, yet to be explored further. My art, and craft, is my livelihood, so it demands a level of consistency and continuity, but I have a broad outlook, and I like developing adaptability of skills, ideas and artistic expression.