The local potter passes on his know-how to the next generation
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – A local potter has been teaching students the art of clay for nearly six decades.
Rogier Donker ventured into art soon after immigrating to the United States from the Netherlands in 1963.
“In college, I came to realize at that point that my Dutch education was way ahead of the American education system,” Donker said. “So my college classes were really easy.”
It was then that Donker began wandering between classes on his way to the fine arts department to play with clay.
“Soon after, I was invited to participate in a teachers’ workshop,” Donker said. “Now beware, I’m 21 and my English isn’t exactly what it is today.”
During the workshop, Donker met a gentleman from the American Art Clay Company (AMACO) which is the largest clay manufacturer.
“Next thing you know, I’m transferring to Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana, which is a stone’s throw from Indianapolis from AMACO,” Donker said.
Since then, Donker has traveled all over the United States teaching students and teachers how to work with clay in the classroom.
Sullivan High School Senior Payton Templeton said learning pottery with Donker was quite an enjoyable experience.
“It’s a whole new world learning from him,” Templeton said. “I thought I knew what I was doing, then I came here, it was just a whole new world.”
Donker said he couldn’t put a figure on the number of projects he started on the potter’s wheel.
“In the meantime, I was also a production potter and was casting 25,000 coffee mugs and 25,000 iced tea glasses a year,” Donker said. “It was every year for 12 years.”
Donker said the Clay City Pottery Festival was one of her many fond memories during her career.
“For 32 years I was the spokesperson for the Clay City Pottery Festival,” Donker said.
Although Donker is not at the 2022 Clay City Pottery Festival, he encourages the public to attend and ask questions via Facebook.
This year’s festival will take place on Saturday, June 11 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Clay City Pottery Stoneware.