Nastja Novak – pottery mentor who transfers old skills to younger generation


Meet Nastja Novak, 25-years old pottery mentor who is transferring pottery skills to younger generations. She became part of YouInHerit project during the pilot action in Pomurje region in Slovenia. She crossed our path while we were looking for a person mentoring our pottery workshop for youth. With her way of combining old skills and tradition with new and innovative approach, she was the perfect choice. 

How did you become involved in pottery making? Where did you find motivation? 

While travelling around the world I was inspired by many local products, especially pottery. These products are great reflection of each culture. Later I became more aware of traditional, local products that we have at home, in my local environment. Sadly younger generations didn't find them attractive, so I started to think how to combine traditional pottery with new, modern style.

I wanted to design my own plates and other dishes for my kitchen and I also saw that there is a great potential to earn some extra money or even to make a career out of it.  

Nastja Novak

Where did you get the knowledge? Where did you learned …? 

I'm still at the beginning of my pottery journey, but I have a lot of ideas and I'm always looking for something new. I took several courses. I visited local pottery teacher who taught me how to make traditional products. I also joined some courses where mentors were using modern approach and creating modern designs, to be able to create products which are also attractive for people who prefer modern style and design. I'm also using YouTube and Internet to search for new ideas for my products. 

During the summer you were also working as a pottery mentor at summer camp for kids. It was difficult to motivate youngsters for pottery workshops? 

Not at all! You only have to find the right approach how to involve them. I noticed that pottery became quite popular among young people. But unfortunately many of them give up at some point because it takes a lot of time and practice to become a good pottery maker. There are some (young) pottery makers across Slovenia who turned this craft in their main source of living. The most important ingredient to your success is to be innovative, unique. 

Nastja Novak

Importance of projects as YouInHerit for youth and for cultural heritage? 

I see the biggest value of the project YouInHerit in motivation. Through the project we managed to involve several young people, who wouldn't recognise pottery as something interesting. Often it is very important to approach, invite and motivate young people directly. This is what we did through YouInHerit project. It is quite likely that these participants wouldn't join the workshop and wouldn't recognise opportunity without personal invitation. So we focused their attention to the cultural heritage and offered them the place to learn new skills which they can develop and use any time in their future.