The next featured maker in this ongoing series is Rich Meaux. Rich started as an apprentice at the studio, rose through the ranks, and now owns a pottery studio of his own. He wrote up a little bit of his history and story with Deneen Pottery and sent it over for us to share. Read what he had to say below…
I began working at Deneen Pottery when I was 18 years old in November of 1976. Fresh out of high school I remember those first two winters in Minnesota were bitterly cold. I was hired as one of the first apprentices at the studio. My job was to work in varying positions and to fill in any place where I might be needed. I started working in the glaze area finishing glaze ware and loading kilns. I would tend kilns which back then meant manually watching each kiln to make sure it reached its peak temperature. I soon moved to the jigger machine and ran that for quite some time completing mugs with pulled handles, also plates and bowls. I also worked at the Renaissance Festival which taught me a great deal about the “business” of pottery.
I eventually began to do the wheel work that Peter promised me he would let me try after I had fulfilled my promise to stay working at the pottery for a couple of years. I think my favorite form to make was the Batter Bowl, mostly because they were a popular item. I made a lot of them, and I saw one displayed in a kitchen scene for an old phone commercial broadcast in the Twin Cities.
My favorite aspect of working at Deneen Pottery was not just how much knowledge I acquired working at the studio, but the camaraderie that we shared in the studio setting. I always enjoyed the conversations we had while working, during breaks, or over lunch. I learned a great deal from the people I worked with, since they all had a great deal more experience at that time than I had, and there was much to learn from what we discussed regarding our craft.
I don’t think I would be the person I am today if I hadn’t followed the path I did in working for Peter and Mary. It inspired and paid for my college education. Today my wife and I run a pottery studio of our own, which would never have happened without my experience at the Deneen Studio. I give complete credit to Peter for my being where I am today. I learned all the aspects of running a pottery business by being his apprentice. To this day, I can not sit down to my potter’s wheel without my mind wandering back to the Deneen studio.