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Mid Wales pottery school launches gift and experience days

Alex Allpress at work.

Potter Alex Allpress and artist Blue MacAskill, who run the Alex Allpress Pottery School in Mid Wales, are launching gift and experience packages for the autumn and winter season.

The couple, who graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in London in 2008, have realised a dream of owning their own place where they can build a life together and establish a studio.

They live in Newbridge-on-Wye, a village nestled in the glorious Wye Valley, where the pottery school and Alex Allpress Ceramics is based.

In time for the autumn and winter, they have launched a series of offers for customers. When two people book a pottery experience taster day in the studio, the second person goes half price – £142.50 instead of £190. If three people book together, the saving is £100.

This offer runs until December 31 and vouchers purchased by customers are valid for a year.

The pottery is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, subject to lockdown restrictions, and taster session may be booked on Tel: 01982 552854, 07443 875016, by email at [email protected] or online at alexallpress.co.uk.

The business is also offering ‘pick ‘n’ mix Christmas vouchers from £40 to £100, which can be used to purchase ceramics, pottery school taster days or a combination of both.

“We think it’s a great gift and experience idea for this autumn and winter season,” said Blue. “People can stay warm by the studio wood burner and buy their loved one a once-in-a-lifetime gift of a voucher that has no downside.

“They can spend however much they want and can use it for a taster session on the potter’s wheel, buy themselves a mug or bowl or combine both. We are encouraging people to support the #buylocal ethos this Christmas with Welsh makers and crafters who have been having such a hard time during the pandemic.”

In his pottery school, Alex teaches individuals, couples, multi-generational family groups and team building corporate groups how to be creative on the potter’s wheel.

He believes the offering is particularly attractive to staycationers, as an increasing number of British people opt to holiday UK during the pandemic rather than jetting overseas.

The couple’s pottery adjoins a pretty, three bedroomed cottage that can be let with or without a pottery course. The cottage is decorated with handmade art, photographs and, not surprisingly, pottery.

“People want to have unique, creative experiences,” explained Blue. “They want to be involved in and part of the experience, rather than watching someone else or staying somewhere that they can’t take home with them.

“People come to Alex’s Studio and are made to feel special when they have a lesson and then make what they want. A lesson can be flexible, from two hours to a half day or a full day.

“Throwing a pot is like magic, watching that ball of mud clay turn into something special and wonderful that you have created with your very own hands.”

Alex has noticed that customers buy the experience for someone special, for a family reunion, multi-generational groups or extra special occasions.

I love watching people learn and change as they work,” said Alex. “When they arrive here, they are so tense and stressed out that they want the clay to do what they envisage straight away, but that’s not the way pottery works.

“They change, relax, work hard and enjoy themselves and then, at the end of the session, they have made something remarkable. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.

“A pottery is a special place. People are looking to make that perfect bowl but what they come away with is a feeling inside that is so good.”