The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 5, Number 6
Dec 1981

Apprenticeship Workshop:
III. Keeping, Nurturing, Releasing

The National Council for Apprenticeship in Art and Craft held a two-day "Pilot Apprenticeship Workshop," sponsored by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, in New Haven during January 1981. Excerpts from the summary report were printed in the August and November issues of this Newsletter. The November excerpt covered "finding," the first of four main aspects of apprenticeship as conceptualized at the conference. The other three, "keeping, nurturing, releasing," are condensed here from the group memory records turned in by the different discussion groups.


1. The contract: insurance, time, space, eligibility for CETA funds, payments

2. Needs for a structured schedule

3. Apprentice definitions


1. The master must be mature enough to accept apprentices and not feel threatened.

2. Periodic evaluation is necessary--

3. Recognition of different levels of skill--artisanry or creativity.

4. The importance of time--the master conveys the sense of a long, deep commitment as am alternative to "instant learning" and fast results.

5. An apprenticeship should be eight months minimum to a three- or four-year maximum.

6. Where should the apprentice live?

7. Personal discipline

8. Intermittent commitments of the master--teaching, fairs, etc.

9, Agencies, programs, and organizations cam help to define realistic expectations.

10. The master cannot impose his/her will on the apprentice; must help draw out the existing potential.

11. The master is a spiritual leader--must deal with the myths of the craft medium,

12. The master must be mature enough to insulate the apprentice from personal problems.

13. The master must allow the apprentice to have failures (self-motivation).

14. Inservice training or peer group counseling would be helpful.

15. There should be an awareness of different historical and international models of apprenticeships.

16. Training of artisans (as opposed to "artists").

17. There would be different level results from various apprenticeship programs


  1. Apprentice leaves with a portfolio
  2. Apprentice gets a certificate

3. The transitional period in the studio when the apprentice does his/her own work in order to get established:

4. Four steps for exchange of work/payment benefits:

5. Master should help apprentice make professional contacts. Apprentice should be introduced to the network of professionals.

6. Keeping personal and technical journals and maintaining a constant dialogue during the relationship helps the release--journals provide material the apprentice cam always refer to.

7. Unspoken expectations lead to the feeling both parties have of being "ripped off" at the end.

8. The apprentice is better prepared to deal with business procedures after release than the academically trained artist is after graduation.

9. No two people view separation/termination the same. Must be sensitive to these differences.

10. Release from am institution (industrial apprenticeship) and from an individual (studio apprenticeship) need different handling.

11. Both parties must recognize that the relationship will continue, but in a different form.

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