Since coming to PEI from Calgary in 2010, Robert MacMillan has been selling his ceramic creations in gift shops on the Island and at numerous well-established gift shops and galleries in the Maritimes.
And he can’t keep up with the demand. “I am always behind,” he says. But he has the solution—expand.
That means leaving his home studio and establish a new facility. His vision is to have a studio that meets his standard of production. Investing his own money, he has leased space in The Reach Foundation building on Mason Road in Stratford and with his own labour is transforming it into the studio of his dreams.
Robert explains that the main challenge facing a potter is how often the material has to be handled. Each piece is thrown on the wheel, set out to dry, then fired, then glazed (numerous times), set out to dry again, then fired again. And finally displayed or packed to shipment. After forty years of experience as a potter, Robert has this process perfected but to reach the efficiency of handling required each phase of the workflow needs its own dedicated and equipped space. Says Robert “I have to get it out of my home!”
But the vision is larger than more shelf space. Robert plans to hire and train people to produce pots for him in a manufacturing studio where people can work properly and in safe conditions.
Another important aspect of Robert’s 5-year plan includes teaching. There are new wheels installed, set up to allow him to mentor and supervise six students per class. He foresees being able to hire students once they reach proficiency which will in turn allow increased production.
Robert MacMillan Pottery is having a grand opening and open house on Saturday, December 7 from 10 am to 4 pm. Robert invites anyone interested—potters as well as the general public—to help him celebrate the opening and to see what step one along the way to realizing his vision looks like.