Apprentice Opportunity

Tom of Whitefish PotteryHello!
My name is Tom and I own Whitefish Pottery. Welcome! Thank you for checking into our apprentice/internship program. Whitefish Pottery has had a successful apprentice/internship program for 22 out of its 23 years. The position is for one full year (Sept. – August). We are looking for a dedicated individual who is ready to commit for this amount of time. Below you will read through what is expected of our intern during a 40 hour work week and what you receive in return. Our intern takes on many important responsibilities and we expect them to look, listen and learn. After reading through all the information you still feel you might want to come and work and learn in a crazy, hard working, but rewarding pottery in northwest Montana, please give us a call so we can answer any other questions you might have. Thank you.

First, a little bit about the pottery…
I moved here in 1994 after teaching public school in Wisconsin (Go Pack!) and opened Whitefish Pottery in May of ’95. We produce a full line of cone 10 high-fire stoneware as well as special orders and one-of-a-kind pieces by the artist that work at Whitefish Pottery (7 employees). We have a full-time studio manager, full-time production potter, and a full-time glaze person at the studio. There is also a full and part-time person in our downtown store/gallery.

The studio is approximately 2400 sq. ft. There are three electric kilns, three gas kilns, a 30’ wood-fired Anagama kiln that we fire at least once/year and are in the process of building a soda/salt kiln. Both the pottery and my house are located 5 miles west of town on 5 acres of land, the Stillwater river, and acres and acres of woods to go hiking, walking, or mountain biking. I have a two dosg, Komori and Maya, who run free on the property. In the winter our local ski hill, The Big Mountain, offers some great skiing/snowboarding. Glacier National Park is about 25 minutes away.

Our intern works just like everybody else. Your work days are Tuesday – Saturday, 8:30A.M. – 5:00P.M.. (You have two days off with one being Monday, a weekday, in case you are a skier/snowboarder; the ski hill gets pretty crowded on the weekends). Sometimes during the year (Art Fairs) you will be required to work on Sundays, both local and away fairs. You will be compensated with equal hours off, or, you may elect to be paid for your extra time at $10 per hour.

Our intern has an important role here at Whitefish Pottery. Below are listed the jobs you will be responsible for. Don’t worry, we won’t expect you to do it all at once and will ease you into things…

1). Helping to clean the studio. No you do not have to do it all – everyone pitches in to help keep the studio as clean as possible.

2). Processing greenware. This means sanding down greenware from the previous day, organizing it to go into the kiln room, and unloading it either on to shelves or directly in to an electric kiln for bisque firing. This will also make available carts for our production potter to fill up again! Yea!

3). Loading/un-loading electric kilns. You will be responsible for the loading, firing, and unloading, of the electric kilns; organizing the bisqueware on the proper shelves, and making sets out of things like mugs, bowls, cups, etc.

4). Our intern will learn to put handles on almost all of the mugs we make as well as a variety of handles on other pieces. You will also learn to roll ‘patches’ for our Patch-mugs(a very popular item) and learn to put patches on various pieces such as mugs, crocks, pitchers, etc.

5). You will sometimes be helping our full-time glaze person, learning how we glaze our line of pottery and learn how we generally do things in our glaze area. Mini-pots always need glazing!

6). You will be taught how we fire our gas kilns and be required to fire them on occasion.

7). We often get people visiting the pottery for tours. You will learn to give tours, answer questions, etc. as this will be your responsibility also. It really isn’t very hard to do(all of us actually give tours – it depends on how busy we all are). In conjunction with this, making the sale! Often people will buy things straight out of our storeroom and you need to help them in a professional and courteous manner.

8). Art Fairs. Our intern is the main person that helps me at all our art fairs. You will learn how to pack pots to travel to shows, pack the car, un-pack the car, set-up for shows, help customers, take down at the end, and unload back at the pottery. Again, not too bad, we actually get free time in between helping customers.

9). Reclaiming Clay – We reclaim most of our scraps to make our Mini-Pots.

10). Sets – You will be responsible for putting bisware into sets such as bowls, mugs, etc.

There are probably some other smaller items I have forgotten, but the basics are listed above.

This is actually where it starts getting good. Yea! (I went over all the work stuff first to get it out of the way).

1). Free room and board. This includes your own apartment. Basically a bedroom and living room combo. There is a small refridge and a microwave. I’ve been told by my interns that it’s actually quite nice (pictures shown-sorry about the quality). You may wish to bring some of your own things to decorate with but that’s up to you. There’s also a desk and T.V. The only bad thing is there is no running water in the apt. That’s why you are able to share the house/kitchen as well as having your own bathroom. There’s a deck, Hot Tub!, and plenty of woods to take walks in.

2). Food. We usually go grocery shopping together. Don’t worry, you won’t starve. You can also keep some food/snacks in your apt. Sometimes we will eat together, most of the time not just due to different schedules. I do not have a dishwasher so we alternate doing dishes and keeping the kitchen CLEAN.

3). Free studio. You get a small studio area (about 8’x10’), wheel, free clay, free glazes, free firings, and free use of the studio 24/7. There are other work tables in the studio as well.

4). Our intern receives $225/ month. It’s basically some spending money. You also have the opportunity to sell pots/art in our downtown retail store/gallery. Our consignment policy at the store is 65% to the artist and 35% to Whitefish Pottery. We raise the split for our intern to 75%/25% so you can keep a bit more. As I mentioned earlier, you may(?) also earn a few $$ on art fair weekends (about 6/year). You can also take your own pots to sell at the art fairs. I have always said that if our intern feels he or she needs a part-time job, that would be O.K. We could work it out that you possibly get off at 4:P.M.. But, I have always stressed that the time you put in at the studio, and selling work downtown, is much more worth it.

5). Phone. The past few interns brought their own cell phones. That’s up to you. Whitefish Pottery DOES NOT pay for your long distance phone calls. You can use the regular phone and mark off your calls on the bill if you wish. Local calls are free of course….

6). Showtime! If our apprentice earns it, we will have an overall review in May  and give our intern/apprentice a show in the gallery at the end of your stay in August. This is also a good way to pick up some money before leaving. We definitely want you to come here with goals in mind. What do you want to accomplish? Hopefully this will reflect in your show.

7). Hopefully a good learning experience, both from a business standpoint as well as developing yourself further as an artist……

We generally accept applications until the end of May. We look over everything, check references, possibly call you back, and notify someone by mid-June.

After reading the above information, you will undoubtedly have a few more questions. Gather your questions and give us a call – (406) 862 – 8211. Information on the materials you need to send us are listed along the side of this page. Thanks for your interest, Tom

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