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Does Anyone Out There Truly Support Themselves With Their Ceramics/pottery?


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#21 spring

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 04:01 PM




This is a great topic terraforma. So many pros with lots of experience and so many noobs lookin' for help/support. In my gut I know I have what it takes to succeed, the problem is my husband thinks ceramics is a hobby not a profession and fears I will toil away for years with little money to show for it. We have had two buisness' in the past, so I know that a ceramic buisness like any other, takes time to grow. I have no problem with working hard, really hard, and paying my dues, the only problem is I've never been given the time for the seeds/dirt to make the garden. I was wondering if there are any out there who have succeeded when those closest weren't exactly onboard.

P.S. Fortunately God made me incredibly stubborn. I will not quit! I know what I was meant to do on this earth and I have no intentions of wasting that.


Won't ever be an Otto Heino that made 1.5 million a year at throwing excellent pottery with rare glaze colors. Now that I am retired, I make pots for myself, it self sustains, more than enough sell, the others are for me, friends and family. It will never earn me great riches, but makes my life rich.



thanks for the rely Pres. Otto Heino was a bad ass!

To anyone else, I was kinda hoping to hear from someone whose in a similar situaltion.


Hey Spring I hear you! you're telling my story. I will add to it that two years ago i had to de-rail from what I call now "my profession" in order to make my ends meet. I took a job as field interviewer for some kind of study about drugs, mental health, etc... only to realize I would have been better off doing my pottery all along without listening to the wise partner who highly "recommended" me to take a REAL job and do my pottery whenever I had some time left for me. Money-wise it didn't add up and was left penniless after quitting. Keep your stubbornness and resiliency and you will be far more happier.. Not to say I am rich now but happier... you bet!


Thanks Nelaceramics,

Your response really helped me out today, especially since I have to go look for a job and all I really want to do is create in clay!

#22 clay lover

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 03:30 PM





This is a great topic terraforma. So many pros with lots of experience and so many noobs lookin' for help/support. In my gut I know I have what it takes to succeed, the problem is my husband thinks ceramics is a hobby not a profession and fears I will toil away for years with little money to show for it. We have had two buisness' in the past, so I know that a ceramic buisness like any other, takes time to grow. I have no problem with working hard, really hard, and paying my dues, the only problem is I've never been given the time for the seeds/dirt to make the garden. I was wondering if there are any out there who have succeeded when those closest weren't exactly onboard.

P.S. Fortunately God made me incredibly stubborn. I will not quit! I know what I was meant to do on this earth and I have no intentions of wasting that.


Won't ever be an Otto Heino that made 1.5 million a year at throwing excellent pottery with rare glaze colors. Now that I am retired, I make pots for myself, it self sustains, more than enough sell, the others are for me, friends and family. It will never earn me great riches, but makes my life rich.



thanks for the rely Pres. Otto Heino was a bad ass!

To anyone else, I was kinda hoping to hear from someone whose in a similar situaltion.


Hey Spring I hear you! you're telling my story. I will add to it that two years ago i had to de-rail from what I call now "my profession" in order to make my ends meet. I took a job as field interviewer for some kind of study about drugs, mental health, etc... only to realize I would have been better off doing my pottery all along without listening to the wise partner who highly "recommended" me to take a REAL job and do my pottery whenever I had some time left for me. Money-wise it didn't add up and was left penniless after quitting. Keep your stubbornness and resiliency and you will be far more happier.. Not to say I am rich now but happier... you bet!


Thanks Nelaceramics,

Your response really helped me out today, especially since I have to go look for a job and all I really want to do is create in clay!



#23 clay lover

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 03:33 PM

There are those that say there is a market for every pieces of pottery and every price. That you should make what you want to make and then find the market for it. I don't know if I believe in that or not. . Do you? Could you live off that?

#24 Chris Campbell

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 07:30 PM

It might be a correct theory, but I don't think you could pay the rent with it.
Making those pots costs money, finding and marketing to your customer costs money, shipping costs more ...
So you better be making things a high percentage of people want and be selling them in places people go.

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#25 joshL

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 10:41 PM

Coming from a family whose father was a ceramics teacher and mother was an art teacher I grew up around it. My mother passed away from cancer many years ago but a lot of her weirdness has brushed off on me in my later years and made me take an interest into the arts again. The thing I notice with ceramics is the majority of it all is the same thing done over and over again. Do I think it's possible to be successful in ceramics/pottery. I do (ego aside) believe it's possible to run a ceramics business but you have to look at it from multiple angles and like others have mentioned you have to do a lot of the dirty work yourself. I grew up around ceramics but didn't take an interest to it and consider it a full time job until about a year ago when I joined a studio and got myself into doing it. Honestly to put things into perspective in my eyes is that it is a dying trade to some degree in the usa, but that opens the door to be successful. However you really have to stand out in a crowd of folks. You have to do things others are not doing and get noticed and get your name out there. Marketing yourself is really important in my opinion. I've been planning this out for a few years now on how i'm going to do it for a living but i also have other ideas planned. I build motorcycles as a hobby and plan on selling a few of them from time to time. I also have been in the construction business for 12 years. I want the peace and quiet of it all and the control. However I do have plans to have a few folks work with me but it might start off as just interns. I've wanted to build a few businesses, to say the very least and the economy hurt me in a few of them and some ex's i wish I never dated. ha. Plan it out, plan it out, and plan it out some more before you invest money into anything. I know all the tools/equipment/marketing schemes I'm going to do to build the business even though I haven't started it yet but i haven't been in very much of a rush to get there just yet because of a few reasons. There is a chance i'm rebuilding a mill with another contractor. if the owner figured out the money issuses i will be comfortable to invest in my business. It's 400,000sqft. If I do it i'm hoping it's the last construction job I do but i'm not counting on it. Honestly if that mill was rebuilt it would change the whole city but that's just my opinion. Unfortunately it's a bad economy and things are not that great around this area. The difference between the sub class and upper class folks becomes larger everyday. I tend to believe things happen for reason. It allows me to keep my sanity. When you have just a highschool degree everyone shuts the door on your face if you look for a new job which i've grown use these days and although the family business is a good business my body is falling apart.. Not so great for ceramics, but i'll block it out and based on some of the idea of my business i plan on having some decent young workers. I sound old but i'm 30 and my body is having some issues with a lot of things. There really has to be a stubbornness around it all. Even with a father who was a college ceramics teacher my stubbornness gets into arguments with him about the whole situation. It will really mess with a person when even my father and his girlfriend who is an art teacher were in ceramics and never really touch it anymore. I tend to feel in my shoes I love doing it, it doesn't feel like work, I miss doing it right now as I type this because I haven't done it in about 8 months but I needed a break from a lot of things. I think in the end you have to ask yourself if you push yourself to build a business can you take those breaks and walk away and still have a business. Is there a vacation? The vacation to me is not having to do construction work. At what costs would you build this business? Will you sleep on a futon in a mill when your not really allowed to be there. Will you get bored with it? How long can you do it and it works and then at some point you say to yourself i'm tired of doing this stuff because it can be repetitive or you need the money to invest into more equipment. Can you make it interesting enough to keep it going? Art in general comes down to one thing in my opinion to be successful. Can you do stuff people have never seen before and make them want it/pay for it? Find what works and repeat it, and work on new concepts. Most artist steal ideas from other artists. Can you be creative and different enough and do this over and over again? Define it as pottery/ceramics, but if you go into the pottery/ceramics business as that person I believe maybe you will be slightly successful but you have to go into wanting to be a lot more than a "potter". Seeing my father as a teacher, my mother as an artist, other potters who built business and had them work and then destroy their relationships. Having a girlfriend who did it with me for a while and she was a beautiful girl but just didn't have that drive, grew up in a rich town, daddy's girl. I should of known better. She was the "potter" but it was two folds where I didn't agree with her other forms of "pot". I dislike that in my opinion and walked away from a studio where I worked because of that connection with thing like drugs. Arts and drugs. It's sad. This is all apart of being successful in my opinion.

You have to make yourself a carnival act. You have to get noticed and the quality of your work has to be the best in your opinion and prices have to be right. I've spent a few years planning it out. I'm either creatively genius in my plan or completely faulted, but in the end even folks who are potters and family members have mixed emotions about me and it goes in one ear and out the other ear. That's 5 years of watching someone die from cancer, an ex from quite a few years ago who was an amazing painter who doesn't even paint now, 12 years of a construction business, 6 years building cars in a garage, a few years of arts working some times 2 days without sleep to figure out things and get them correctly and understand how you got from point a to point b and how to repeat it all. A lot of folks who are successful are not going to open their mouths up and help you. I learned that in life, you are competition. I'm vague on here anyways cause this is unfortunately "competition" to some degree but I also believe that at some point all the artists in america are going to learn that if they work together they will work better. Part of what I do outside of ceramics is about that, and i'll just leave that topic alone.

The door is open to be successful. It's not a door others will open for you, and if they open it they want a piece of the pie. I know how to get around that and spent a lot of time figuring it it out. That's something you will have to accept and deal with it and use your creativity to figure out how to make it all work.

I guess that's just my 2 cents. Plan, plan, plan. I walked away from it for months just to plan it out, because once you get yourself into it you don't want to make to many mistakes.

Josh.

#26 Chris Campbell

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 11:58 AM

Great post Josh ... just one thing I disagree with and that is where you mention no other potters will help you.

You might not be aware of Potters Council. The Potters Council was formed to create a community of potters and ceramic artists from around the world. This is a community of potters dedicated to supporting each other by sharing ideas, insights, and advice.

http://ceramicartsda...otters-council/

We have just begun a mentoring program as a benefit of Membership. You request a mentor and get matched with someone who has the skills you need. These are experienced potters who will help you find you way through your obstacles.

There are many other benefits including health insurance, discounts on FedEx and car rentals, great credit card plan, discounts on subscriptions, online gallery ... etc

Check us out ... we are 3,000 potters strong and dedicated to helping potters stay in their studios.

Chris Campbell
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#27 joshL

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 01:27 AM

Great post Josh ... just one thing I disagree with and that is where you mention no other potters will help you.

You might not be aware of Potters Council. The Potters Council was formed to create a community of potters and ceramic artists from around the world. This is a community of potters dedicated to supporting each other by sharing ideas, insights, and advice.

http://ceramicartsda...otters-council/

We have just begun a mentoring program as a benefit of Membership. You request a mentor and get matched with someone who has the skills you need. These are experienced potters who will help you find you way through your obstacles.

There are many other benefits including health insurance, discounts on FedEx and car rentals, great credit card plan, discounts on subscriptions, online gallery ... etc

Check us out ... we are 3,000 potters strong and dedicated to helping potters stay in their studios.



When the time comes I will ask folks for some help but it's not what they will expect. I stay completely away from everyone. I tend to think this happens when other's get involved: paralysis of analysis

#28 Wendy Rosen

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 04:40 PM

It would be great to start a list of how potters "Make it"

Most of the potters I know have more than one source of income...
often it's a retail showroom/gallery with their friends work. Today with
all the gps phones and web portals to promote "events" you can have
a studio on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere... and still draw a
well-heeled crowd.

Statistically, wholesaling artists make 50,000 income from their studio works.
Retailing artists make less than half of that... and their expenses are much
higher. The twice yearly open studio event is still an important piece of the
income pie for most potters and ceramic artists. Add a few private events
for small groups to that, a couple of better retail fairs and a few dozen galleries
that order 3-4x a year... and you've got a path to more than a meager lifestyle.
The better your marketing efforts, the better your results. The time it takes
to sell an object is directly proportional to the price of the piece... a $20
piece sells 5x faster than a $100 piece... but the production effort may bring
better margins for the higher priced work.

Look at the Alumni list of the Arts Business Institute... you'll find a great
list of professional ceramic artists there. If you can't find a local mentor
that is several steps ahead of you... give me a shout!

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#29 Seasoned Warrior

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 10:40 PM

It would be great to start a list of how potters "Make it"

Most of the potters I know have more than one source of income...
often it's a retail showroom/gallery with their friends work. Today with
all the gps phones and web portals to promote "events" you can have
a studio on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere... and still draw a
well-heeled crowd.

Statistically, wholesaling artists make 50,000 income from their studio works.
Retailing artists make less than half of that... and their expenses are much
higher. The twice yearly open studio event is still an important piece of the
income pie for most potters and ceramic artists. Add a few private events
for small groups to that, a couple of better retail fairs and a few dozen galleries
that order 3-4x a year... and you've got a path to more than a meager lifestyle.
The better your marketing efforts, the better your results. The time it takes
to sell an object is directly proportional to the price of the piece... a $20
piece sells 5x faster than a $100 piece... but the production effort may bring
better margins for the higher priced work.

Look at the Alumni list of the Arts Business Institute... you'll find a great
list of professional ceramic artists there. If you can't find a local mentor
that is several steps ahead of you... give me a shout!


Great post Wendy.

I find that most artists have multiple streams of income even those who sometimes insist they don' t: I certainly do I don't think I'd like the lifestyle otherwise. I have recently been looking into starting a co-op gallery because due to the economic environment I have a storefront in a tourist area that is unused and it has proven that co-operative galleries are not the panacea they seem to be on the surface and are probably worse than individual studios. Aside from wholesale being good there is an other area that may be overlooked in some locales. One of the cities I own commercial property in requires that a certain percentage of the construction costs over a certain base amount go to art works and I don't see a lot of ceramic artists taking advantage of this. Civic arts pays well if you can stand the paperwork the reviews and the oversight that goes with it.

Best regards,
Charles




#30 DirtRoads

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 11:54 PM

Only doing this one year, I am selling enough to support myself through a small retail showroom (located on a major highway 9 miles from a casino). I have recently hired an assistant 20 - 30 hours a week. I plan on doing a large flea market two times a year(Canton, MS) and one more hand made show, along with a few festivals within 60 miles of the studio showroom.

I might add that I own the location, the house and buildings and 3 acres of land. No personal or business debt. So this is probably considered a form of income. While I am currently making enough to support myself, I would have additional resources to fall back on if needed.

My prices are right about wholesale (based on what I've seen from other potters in my area that sell to retail stores). I have no retail accounts so I can sell at wholesale. The wholesale pricing strategy is moving a lot of product. Also, I make it a point to have items priced for multiple gift buyers.

#31 neilestrick

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 10:07 PM

I own my own studio, with 10 wheels in the classroom where I teach 5-10 classes a week, both kids and adults. I sell my pots out of the gallery space at the front of my shop and started doing art fairs this last summer- 10 shows. I plan to do 12-15 this summer if my wife will let me! I also sell my work at a handful of other galleries and participate in 3 or 4 juried or invitational exhibits a years. I sell kilns, clay, tools and equipment. I install and repair kilns and wheels all over Chicagoland and Milwaukee. I give workshops at the local colleges and art centers. So do I make a living off my pottery? No, I don't sell enough pots to pay the bills. But yes, the skills learned from making pots has provided me numerous other ways to bring in revenue that are still pottery related. And all the contacts I make doing all those things eventually lead to selling some pots.

Neil Estrick
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#32 Mark C.

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 10:51 PM

I'm a full time potter-pottery is how i make 99% of my income-over the past 35 + years its paid for my property house and other interests (diving/underwaterphotos)I now pull in about 1 % in underwater commercial diving or photo sales
I married late (at 48) now 58 so I can say spouse did not supplement my ceramics
The main thing I see is this-are you willing to work extremely hard at it and never give up-clay full time is not for the weak at heart
I know many other full time potters (none here on this board). they live around the west coast-you can meet them at juried craft shows on any given weekend-
most i know spread out fairs/wholesale/consignment streams of income but all clay.
when i married my heath insurance costs went down as she works for the state of Ca
we never co mingle $ except for food and vacation every 5 years or so.
The key is to have no debt-own it all- which one will if they work hard
Mark
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#33 Benhim

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:49 AM

Right now the only way I'd actually support myself with my ceramics is if I threw an athletic supporter. Maybe one of these days.

BenCo Ceramics


#34 Benhim

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:51 AM

There are those that say there is a market for every pieces of pottery and every price. That you should make what you want to make and then find the market for it. I don't know if I believe in that or not. . Do you? Could you live off that?


Who ever said that should read Adam Smith.

BenCo Ceramics


#35 TJR

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:02 AM

This is a great question, and always on my mind. I have been making functional, decorated pottery for over 35 years. I did all the right things-went to art school in Canada, apprenticed with a master potter in England, went to grad school in the states. My plan was to be a professor at an art school. Didn't happen. Went back to school and got my Bachelor of Education. Been teaching art now for 26 years. The day job, which I love, gives me the freedom to make the kind of work I want without being too commercial. I did an residency at the Archie Bray . People said I'm a pretty fast thrower. The problem is that I can't consistently keep it up. I was surprised at how many other residents there worked as waiters or waitresses. I do know people who can do it full time. Mark Hewitt in North Carolina comes to mind. I have been working out of the same pottery co-op since 1986. Moving out this week. I built a beautiful heated studio in my back yard. I'm hoping to retire from teaching and makes pots full time. I will have my pension. My wife works, but I am the major bread winner. We have three kids still in school, so we need a secure income.
I pretty much sell everything that I make, the problem is getting the time to make it.
TJR.

#36 Frederik-W

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 01:54 AM

Too hard to make money just from making pots.
It may help if you grow pot and sell it as well, and maybe if you smoke pot you will forget about your poverty

OK, I'm not serious! But it is very hard.


#37 teardrop

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 10:07 AM

Or....like the old "Earthworks" factory in Ohio, you could combine the two "hobbies" (pot and pot-tery) into a business and make bongs.

Laugh at the stoners all you want....but this company once employed 30 full-time workers and made over 475,000 "Old man" ceramic bongs!

onward, through the fog!

teardrop


Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)

#38 Kabe

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 11:34 PM

I think it was Henry Ford who said something to the effect that if you believe you can. Your right. If you believe you can't. Your right. I have stuggled for years now with the dream of self supporting myself with ceramics. My interest is more in the tile side than the pottery side but I love both. I was just that close to really opening a market for myself and my work. I mean right at the edge. I had some hand built sinks in the showroom of one of largest plumbing suppliers in the U.S. In Kanas City. For me that's a big deal. The door was open to bring in more. But I, not the economy, or the wife, or the income, not Mom or Dad or the neighbor down the street, I stopped the show by my own lack of faith in my ability to rise to the top. We are all responsible for our own actions no one, nor anything else is to blame . This is a very freeing belief because you can no longer be a victim. You have all the say in your life. I am not posting this as a poor me thing. I want to share what I think is a leason learned and more importantly a way to help other potters succeed in their dream. I believe that the biggest threat to an artist is not the outside stuff. Because we are by nature creative, smart people. Most of us have spent a life time adapting and cooping to maintain our personal idenity. We know how to overcome challenges. The real threat is the the inter voices of self doubt and negataism that we are raised with and what we are taught to believe. "I am not good enough' "No one will want to buy this" "This will be to hard" "I can not learn all the different skills that it takes to wear all the hats that I need to succeed. A successful ceramics business takes a lot of hats. (I'm not talking about voices that only Lithium can remove.) I am refering to self esteem voices. I have stepped back and regrouped and have spent the last year or so reading books on self motivation, book by Napolian Hill, Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyrer, Deepok Chopra, Jay Rifenbary, Gary Zukan, Julia Cameron, Sales books and life planning books. Books that tell you to make a vision board of what you are after. Plan out your future using whatever source of faith you believe in. I know this is off the track, but I feel this is the difference in what make some people succeed while others struggle. Our fellow posters who said they are making it is because they believe they can make it. It is necessary to change our view of our world. If we want to be successful we have to take steps to get there. Your actions are the steps. Your decisions are what controls your actions. your beliefs are what drives your decisions. If you believe that it will be next to impossible to reach your goals then you are right. If you believe it is very possible to reach your goals then you will be right. If I believe in Murphs Law I can't expect to have a great day. If you believe that the universe conspires to help you: then for instance; You will have a chemisty Professer take a interest in tri-axel glaze experiments and start buying glaze books on line,to help you understand glazes and help you through the math. Just because you asked him a question about it . you will have a perfectly good Giffen grip given to you just out of the blue, You will fall into a job where they will let you use their clay, their kiln, their studio for free with a go ahead to do whatever you want. With even a possibility of doing some classes on tile on the side. Those have been some of my experiences since I have changed my thoughts. My world conspires to help me and the more I can go out of my way to help others the more the help seems to come. If you want to be successful you need to hang with successful people. I think this web site is filled with them. Also read books by people who have succeeded. Pottery has techniques, you learn them from potters, Successful living has techniques you learn them from successful people. A topic on our forum was "what are you doing?" I am in the process of rewriting my future goals and plans using a book by Murry W. Nabors. Find a book that will work for you and save yourself a lot of "not as productive as I wished" days. I will succeed in supporting myself through ceramics. I bet you can too if you believe. ain't clay fun Kabe

#39 teardrop

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:01 AM

Bravo. Great stuff. If you believe it will be it will be.

Reminds me a lot of this lyric (from Francis Dunnery's "Immaculate")

If only I could tell you that you are what you believe
The hurting would be over and we would both be free
If only you'd believe me when I said you're beautiful
The images would manifest and beautiful you'd be
If only I could show you what Immaculate could be
The negative would perish and the positive would be
If only you'd allow yourself to hear what I've just said
Then pretty soon you'd realise that immaculate is sitting in your head

onward

teardrop
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)

#40 teardrop

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:16 AM

Believe it and it will be....

or at least ya HOPE it will.... LOL.

I have no plans to attempt to support myself with this endeavor....I just HAVEN'T PUT IN THE REQUIRED TIME TO DO SO.

MUCH respect to those of you who >have<.

What I AM going to do/have done....is that I have committed to 3 Saturdays this Summer at a (Summer long) local (Craft, Klunkery, Wannabee) "Market" and I am going to "test the water" so to speak and see if any of the things I am making have sensory appeal/draw to others. In the end there's really no way to find out but to put it out there and see where it goes....

I can snag other Market days if I choose/once my foot is in the door. Fortunately, as of now, I beloieve that the only other person selling ceramic items is a reseller of some French foo-foo kitchen wares that are imported/not locally made.

if that scenario holds...I may have a snowball's chance in hell of actually making a sale...LOL

In the end the wife supports me and my clay habit and this is all for FUN....so I have it pretty darn good when it all comes down to it!

Hopefully I won't end up next to your booth with my "klunkery", huh?Posted Image

>snickers<
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)




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