Clive Pearson – Ceramicist
Why did you become self-employed?
I was teaching at the time and I had been to teachers training college for three years. I taught for two years and I wasn’t getting on with it as it was quite hard work and I also knew I was good at making pots. So I made the decision to pack in teaching and went along to the Head Master and handed in my notice. It was the madness of youth; I don’t think I would have done anything quite as bonkers today. I set off from Ludlow and bought a tent and sleeping bag in Bristol. I had a tent, a sleeping bag, a shotgun and a fishing rod and I ended up in a field near St Austell. I spoke to the jobcentre and they explained there was a studio looking for a potter in Tintagel. I ended up working there for two or 3 months, however, I didn’t get on with the owner of the studio. In the end, I left and moved into a small cottage in Clovelly and set up a workshop in Welcombe which was very successful.
What have been the main challenges that you have faced whilst being self-employed?
It can be quite difficult with supply of materials and the supply being ever so slightly different from what you had before. So I have had one or two relapses with glazes in the past. Touch wood, the last few years it has been pretty stable. I had a blip two weeks ago, but I believe that was my mistake in the mixing of my glaze, as I have remixed new glaze since and it’s back to normal.
How do you make it work? (Are you full-time self-employed, or part-time?)
I am full time, part-time of the year. I did have two businesses, going back to mid 80’s I started to run a boat to Lundy and so I stopped doing pottery in the summer and that’s how I carry on now. From mid November until the 1st of April for the last 30 odd years I have been making pots in this period. First of all in Hartland and since 1996 have worked in Clovelly. I have now retired from running the boat in the summer but carry on making pots in the winter and then these are sold in our pottery in Clovelly during the summer.
Do you have one piece of advice you would like to share?
Know your market, be enthusiastic about what you are doing and do it 110%. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you are making jars of marmalade, you do your best to make the most delicious marmalade in the world and that is the most important thing.
The next important thing is however good you are and however motivated you are, you have to be able to sell your product. I have always gone along the view that you should be in a position on the map where people can come in and buy something. The three potteries we have had, Welcombe, Hartland and now Clovelly are all in a good positions so that visitors can come in and purchase pots.
Do you have any suppliers you would recommend?
I have two suppliers, my clay supplier is Valentines clay up in Stoke on Trent and we buy their clay through an agent in Exeter. I buy glaze materials from Bath Potters.
Clovelly Pottery Website: www.clovellypottery.co.uk