Antigua St John's - “It was my calling. I think I was born to do this.” That’s what Raymond Mclean, proprietor of Ray’s Pottery, candidly told Caribarena during an interview about his career in pottery, which spans well over 20 years.
Mclean said it must have been fate that led him into a pottery studio and showroom in his hometown of Guyana back in 1984 . He eventually left not only armed with skills, but found a wife too.
Mclean said when he saw how natural pottery came to him, he decided to further his studies.
He heard about an opening with the Fullers in 1999, and came to Antigua. He has been working with Sarah Fuller since then, while also doing work on his own.
He said, "My very first hand-built piece was a church. It was sold for 10,000 Guyanese dollars. I was simply blown away to see the great response to my work of art at the time, as I was fairly young in the business. I was really grateful and at that point I believed that was my calling. I’ve tried a lot of other things, but I always came back to pottery."
He creates plant pots, canisters, decorative pieces, candle holders, personalized cups, and caddies. The cups, the Antigua frigate bird, and lately the plant pots are among his biggest sellers.
He mainly does work on order, and plans to open his studio soon. He now works from home. Business is in demand from places like Mill Reef, Sandals, and St James’s Club right now, and he is seeking to initiate a new market venture with Jumby Bay.
Mclean also plans to start a do-it-yourself class and hopes to develop a programme in the schools.
“The response has been good, and a lot of locals have shown interest, along with visitors as well," he said. "You have to market your products properly.
That is very important. You have to market your business, find new avenues to expose your talent, expand your clientele, and I must say I have a good clientele base and it has been pretty good so far. This is what I do for a living, and it has been working well so far.”
To those who might want to get into pottery, he said, "You have to be dedicated dedicate yourself to what you are doing. This is one of the main complaints, that pottery takes up too much time. But you have to put in time in order to keep the business afloat. I’ve had students all the way from Israel who’ve done classes with me and they’ve received tremendous satisfaction from the time and effort they’ve put in.”
Mclean said from his observation, it seems like the art of pottery is fading, and efforts must be made to keep it growing.
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