Studio Pottery : Small Business Practices : Artisan Manufacturing

Inquiries please contact Robbie Lobell  :  360.678.1414  :

The Zakin Apprenticeship Program honors the spirit and practice of inquiry and learning, of daily and wholly living a creative life, working and living within a community of makers. Our goal is to give women the time to develop their work, and then the means to go out on her own with the tools in studio practice, pottery design, business practices, and the possibilities of artisan manufacturing.

The ZAKIN APPRENTICESHIP Program is a one-year hands-on apprenticeship providing instruction and mentoring. Apprentice participation in the many aspects of operations and hard work at Cook on Clay are core opportunities for training and learning in a safe and supportive environment. Training, skill building, and task assignments take place in 45-50 hours per week including a minimum of 18-20 hours in your studio actively pursuing your personal body of work. Schedules fluctuate season to season requiring the flexibility experienced by all studio artists including the need to periodically work on national and cultural “holidays”.

Your development as a potter and engagement in studio life is paramount to your experience. You must be committed to developing your work and your visual voice. This is where much of the mentoring and guidance takes place including ongoing conversations, critiques, demonstrations, glaze and clay development, and firings.

Apprentices are introduced to and educated in the production processes of our pressed cookware. In exchange for approximately 25 - 30 hours per week of labor we offer housing, facilities, materials, opportunity, mentoring and guidance. Tasks, chores and projects you might do in any given week include finishing pressed wares, mixing glazes, glazing, grinding and washing shelves and posts, kiln maintenance, sanding and packing pottery, grounds care, inventory management, photographing pots, studio and facilities maintenance, social networking, going to markets, selling in the showroom and talking about our cookware.

The apprenticeship is not a 9a – 5p job, it is a work trade agreement with no monetary exchange. The work at Cook on Clay is project-based and we work until the project or task is complete. This is sometimes a matter of hours and sometimes days. During the summer months and winter holiday season, schedules fluctuate requiring the flexibility experienced by all studio artists. Apprentice participation in the successful operations at Cook on Clay is core.

Zakin Apprentices learn to set-up and arrange market displays, engage with customers, and make sales. You learn the difference between advertising and marketing, how to develop a business plan, find sales opportunities and to approach initiating your own studio practice and business. Through diligent studio work, training, and skill building, Zakin Apprentices develop a personal visual vocabulary and a cohesive body of work.

Apprentices learn to function and thrive within a working pottery business where a sense of ownership and pride of place is an important ingredient to a successful time with us. We look for apprentices who are hard working, thoughtful, open to learning, eager, and respectful. You are a team member who participates in Cook on Clay’s practices and values, and contributes to the training and learning environment with a positive cheerful attitude. You work hard at tasks and chores until they are complete. This sometimes requires long days.

The Zakin Apprentice is provided with studio space, a living space (you pay approximately $45/month utilities), and use of studio equipment, facilities, and materials. Most importantly, apprentices have access to Robbie Lobell’s years of clay, design, firing experience, and working knowledge as a professional self-supporting studio potter. Maryon Attwood provides her years of experience as a successful non-profit administrator and grant writer, manages the artisan manufacturing and marketing aspects of Cook on Clay. There is an array of sales opportunities in the immediate area including cooperative galleries, farmer’s markets, studio tours, and craft fairs. After 6 months working with us, we actively encourage apprentices to sell their work in these venues and to apply to regional and national shows.

The ideal applicant is excited about working in a team environment, yet can work on her own. She has a keen desire to learn about and engage in the life and business of studio pottery including manufacturing practices. The Zakin Apprentice at Cook on Clay has a dedicated work ethic and is physically strong; has an inquiring mind and a positive attitude; is flexible and willing to work diligently in a collaborative environment; and engage fully in her own studio practice. She may already be on her way to exploring a life in the studio. She does not need to have years of experience or a formal academic education, but must be committed to the work required to become a professional in the field of ceramics.




Cook on Clay Studios and living spaces are located on our 10-acre homestead in Coupeville on Whidbey Island in Northwest Washington. The Cook on Clay Production Annex housing the hydraulic press, 140 cu ft propane-fueled soda vapor production kiln, finishing and glazing spaces, and packing and shipping is located a few miles down the road. There is a large arts community, small family farms, and unsurpassed natural beauty. Hiking, biking, kayaking, and beachcombing are readily accessible in this spectacular corner of the country.


To reiterate: The apprenticeship is not a 9a – 5p job. The program is a work trade agreement with no monetary exchange. It is project-based and we work until the project or task is complete. Apprentices facilitate the production of our pressed cookware and studios maintenance. In exchange for approximately 25 - 30 hours per week of labor we offer housing, facilities, opportunity, mentoring and guidance. Materials and firings at minimal cost.

Professional development may include workshops, field trips, NCECA attendance, assisting Cook on Clay at shows and sales, workshops, seminars, presentations, and events. The apprentice provides her own tools, including a wheel for her studio (negotiable). Apprentices are welcome to take advantage of any discounts available to the Cook on Clay studios and may re-process scrap clay in the studio pugmill. Fees for firings, materials, and utilities are due on the last day of each month.






Studio Practice Guidance

Studio Equipment

Business Practices Instruction

Manufacturing/Production Training

The following is a survey of tasks and skills achieved by the apprenticeship team for Cook on Clay. We will teach you how we do what we do and why.






Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners in a trade or profession with on-the-job training and accompanying studio practice and study. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships. Most of their training is done while working for an employer or Master Artist who helps the apprentice learn their profession in exchange for their labor.

Master Artists are individuals recognized within their communities as exemplary practitioners of traditional art forms. Apprentices - individuals who learn under the guidance of Master Artists - typically have some prior experience in the traditional art form, significant promise, and a serious long-term commitment to practicing the art. Traditional arts apprenticeships is two-fold: it is meant to support Master Artists who seek to pass their artistic and cultural knowledge to qualified apprentices; and to provide apprentices with an opportunity to advance their artistic and cultural knowledge to a higher level so that they may continue to pursue the art form beyond the life of the apprenticeship.