Ceramics Teacher finds Youtube Success

Scott Reckers | Staff Writer

Karan Witham-Walsh, a ceramics teacher, started her now-popular youtube channel as a tool to instruct her students.

Karan Witham-Walsh is known by most of her students as a ceramics teacher, but to her 41,000 subscribers, she is a YouTuber.

Witham-Walsh started her channel, Karan’s Pots and Glass, in 2013 to teach her ceramics students. She said she believes the videos to be an efficient way to teach, especially for ceramics, as she doesn’t have to set up a demonstration for each bell.

“[My channel] helped shorten the demos, and if a student was absent they could just watch the video,” Witham-Walsh said. “With ceramics, every time I demo, I have to actually make a new piece, which is a waste of time and materials. I thought if I just made videos I could shorten [the lesson] and [my students] could still learn.”

Witham-Walsh noticed her channel was gaining popularity and her production skills were improving. As Witham-Walsh made more videos, she used skills she gained from teaching a variety of classes at the high school. She said her videos were improving in quality thanks to these skills.

“I used to teach Digital Image design and that background really helps with editing videos,” Witham-Walsh said. “I also do some photography, I have a side photography business, and the thumbnails on YouTube is what needs to grab people. At first I didn’t care much for a good looking thumbnail but now I am taking pictures and editing them.”

Witham-Walsh has used other methods to get her passion for ceramics out on the internet. Though she prefers YouTube,Witham-Walsh also has an Etsy shop where she sells pieces she makes in her own time. 

“My Etsy shop is not even close to as successful as the YouTube channel,” Witham-Walsh said. “I love making pieces but it takes so much work to make them and to maintain the Etsy. I have a line of National Park mugs that are on the shop because those are my specialty. But I like making videos more because once I make it, it doesn’t go away and it still will generate revenue, but once I sell a pot it’s done.”

Through YouTube, Witham-Walsh said she has found a new both a new teaching method and hobby. She started out making videos because it was convenient, but now she said she makes them because she is passionate about them. Witham-Walsh said she hopes to keep making videos even after she stops teaching.

“When I retire from teaching, I will definitely keep making videos,” Witham-Walsh said. “I am about 6 years away from retirement, and I am definitely setting things up to keep making videos when I retire. Having the channel, I’m noticing that I am being able to go to conventions to be a guest, like a speaker. I am hoping to be a presenter at an upcoming National Convention in Cincinnati, I just have to get approval from the district to go.”

About a year after she made it, Witham-Walsh’s videos started gaining attention outside of the classroom. Witham-Walsh said her students are shocked by Karan’s Pots and Glass’ subscriber count.

“My student’s reaction to my channel at first is really funny,” Witham-Walsh said. “They say, ‘I thought this was just my ceramics teacher. What?! She has over 40,000 subscribers?!’ I never dreamed that people other than my students would watch my videos.”

Photo by Scott Reckers.