Joe Finch Ceramics
He started his pottery career in 1964 with a four year apprenticeship training under his father Ray Finch at Winchcombe Pottery. Whilst learning the more obvious skills such as throwing, glazing and firing, he developed a natural eye for strong, functional forms, and the flexibility to produce pots that are both desirable and affordable. All these factors are still paramount in his work.
In 1968 he travelled to Africa where he was sponsored to establish Kolonyama Pottery, Lesotho’s first studio pottery. In 18 months, with the help of his wife Trudi, a large oil fired kiln was built and blunger, filter-press, wheels, etc. installed. Clays and glazes were tested, six local staff trained and three major exhibitions held.
On their return Joe and Trudi worked again at Winchcombe until 1973 when they moved to Appin in North West Scotland to set up their own pottery. The proximity of a sawmill persuaded Joe to use wood as a fuel. His love and fascination of wood firing continues and is now characteristic of his work.
During the Scottish winters of 1975 and 1977 they revisited Southern Africa and in 1979 spent three months in Australia. On each occasion they have held pottery master-class demonstrations and ended their stay with an exhibition.
In 1980 he was invited to co-manage the Dartington Pottery Training Workshop for six months. While there he designed and built with the students an efficient oil fired kiln.
They moved to Wales in 1984 living first in New Radnor, Powys and then on to West Wales. Here in a workshop converted from a stone barn Joe first made earthenware using an electric kiln. However, having secured a supply of wood he returned to producing stoneware in a redesigned wood fired kiln. Later he added a second chamber in which he ‘soda fires’.
Over the years he has demonstrated at many colleges and pottery events throughout the U.K. In October 1998 and April 1999 he was invited to go to India, as part of an aid program, to design and build an efficient wood fired kiln for the Rajasthan potters.
He has demonstrated and exhibited at The Aberystwyth International Ceramics Festival in 1995 and 2003.
In 1999 and again in 2005 he visited New Zealand where he conducted workshops demonstrating pottery techniques to local pottery organizations in Christchurch, Nelson, Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland.