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rayaldridge

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GEP    863

Lorrie,

 

I'm really glad you chimed in on this thread. You gave us a view of Etsy that most of us haven't seen. I still think that grype's depictions are more realistic. However, the same can be said for those who choose the art festival route. The majority of festival potters are making a side income, alongside another job or a supportive spouse. Only the exceptional few are rocking out the big incomes.

 

My personal feelings about slip casting ... if someone is designing their own forms, then slip casts the heck out of them to generate more volume, I'm all for it! I do have a problem with someone who purchases molds that somebody else designed, then refers to it as "my work." It's not their own work. If they are doing a great job with surface treatments, that's another subject altogether, and they should call themselves "illustrators" rather than pot makers. There is nothing wrong with calling oneself an illustrator. It is a worthy profession of its own, one that most potters have no clue about. I just don't want that type of work to be confused with those of us who are developing forms, and dealing with a much bigger universe of technical issues. At the same time, I am realistic enough to understand that most consumers do not care about these differences, and I shouldn't expect them to. So my approach is to choose venues where I don't directly compete with anything other than strictly handmade.

 

Lorrie if you feel like people look down on you for slip casting, just know that this type of judgyness happens at all levels of the craft world. These days I do some shows where I'm pretty sure other ceramists are upset that I brought so many items under $100, because they were hoping the show would contain nothing but collector-level Art pieces with a capital A. We are all somewhere on the same spectrum.

 

I heard that Amazon was launching a competitor to Etsy, with a stricter definition of handmade. I'm very curious to watch how it goes. I sort-of understand why Etsy went down a path towards mass-produced and imported goods. The strictly handmade economy probably wasn't big enough to sustain them or their ambitions. Amazon, on the other hand, can probably afford to subsidize a strictly handmade venture. But will that make sense for them in the long term?

 

(ps, I'm adding this thread to the FAQ section about online selling. Lots of great info here, and lots of differing perspectives, all valuable.)

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Chris Campbell    1,088

YES! Thanks so much for adding factual input on what etsy can do for a committed, hard working, flexible artist.

 

As to being "real" enough .... Aarrgghhhh .... When is that ever going to end?

 

As to Amazon trying to jury in truly handmade ... Good Luck to them. I was a jury member for a website trying to do this and it was a nightmare. Every single tiny niche of the craft world fights for its own definition of hand made and trying to place a line somewhere is impossible. Last one in wants to lock the door on anyone who is different.

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GEP    863

As to Amazon trying to jury in truly handmade ... Good Luck to them. I was a jury member for a website trying to do this and it was a nightmare. Every single tiny niche of the craft world fights for its own definition of hand made and trying to place a line somewhere is impossible. Last one in wants to lock the door on anyone who is different.

I don't know, my early prediction for Amazon is that they will succeed at this. I do believe it is possible to define guidelines for what is considered "handmade." Not that it will be easy, but Amazon might be smart enough to do it. In the experience you describe, it sounds like there were too many artists involved in the deciding. Self-interest can be removed from the situation. My question is, do they want to? They might eventually decide there's not much money to be made here.

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Matt Oz    67

A lot of juried shows in my area do allow slip cast wares, as long as you designed the mold yourself, and high fired porcelain, bone china, stoneware, all types of clay are used.

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Mark C.    1,807

I have along varied career in ceramics and have made many molds myself-In the 70's I to cast antique bottles and did luster and decal work on some -I slat fire others. The molds do take time and on the scale I was working I made less than 24 of each item,

I also in the 80's used to attach a slip cast Rino or buffalo or dolphin (which I made from clay )as a lifter to my hand thrown butterdishs. This combo work sold well but was all small scale stuff. For me slip cast is just another process that I have combined to wheel work. It was not the whole process as you mentioned. I will add that mold work can be very hard and making masters and working molds is a lot of work. On all my small scale stuff I only had a few working molds as it was a limited run.

slip wares are plenty muddy.

As to jiggering its also just another process that can add scale to production. Once the original is made one can jigger knock offs of the same form. I have known a few production potters to jigger.

As you noticed folks tend to place every process in some sort of order of eutectics

Clay in general in the art world is a lesser form-we all have felt this.

I personally feel that there are differances between the various tecniques with clay and all have there own quailities.

I think many tend to judge when the words mass produced come into play.

When I did the aromatherpy lamps I felt I was mass producing and they never sold anuwhere except to my clients even though I had no contract to that option.

Its all about perception really.

I will add some photos later to this post of my bottles from the 70's from another computer.

I have a large shipment of pots to deal with this am first.

Mark

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LorrieMud    19

I think it is going to be difficult for Amazon to try to position itself as a juried, one of a kind only, completely handmade site and then serve a customer base that is used to getting their products in two days.  My experience is that "instant shipping" and "traditional methods of making" don't usually cuddle up together- so I worry that some novices will find themselves in a difficult situation if they encounter volume for the first time.

 

Many people mistakenly feel that Etsy relaxed its outsourcing and manufacturing TOUs because it meant more money for them.  As someone who is friends with many administrators and has been on Etsy for so long I can say 100% that that is not the main reason these rules were changed which have many handmade purists up in arms.  The main reason the changes were made is that Etsy became an arbitrator or tastemaker for a design aesthetic.  Large companies used Etsy as a "think tank" of sorts and it became standard practice for a small business to find their work in Target, Urban Outfitters, Gap, etc.  There are several articles online about this.  These small businesses could not afford attornies to defend copyrite lawsuits, etc. and many watched helplessly as the small businesses that they spent years building and the products they innovated were undermined and ruined by big businesses.  Allowing Etsy artists to outsource aspects of their production meant that these companies could afford to wholesale to places like West Elm or Whole Foods--and to grow their business as large as they wanted withot imposing a ceiling that only  made them fodder for bigger fish.  I ran a symposium in Brooklyn a few years ago entitled "The Greedy Crafter". The thrust for the discussion was: do you believe artists can make lots of money without compromising their integrity?  Very heated and interesting debate.

 

Handmade has always competed against mass produced.  The mistake many artists and makers make (in my humble opinion) is making the assumption that "truely handmade" is a comelling enough aspect for the majority of people that they will base their buying decisions only on that one thing.  Yes- responsible consumers exist, but the majority of buyers consider several different aspects of a product before parting with their money.  As a maker who straddles the world of mass production and made in China in my day job and also does individual works in my spare time, I am in a unique position to see where the niches are that handmade artists can play in that mass produced items cannot.  At te end of the day- it comes down to what you have put into your own work- and not at all about what someone else (an individual or a ginormous corporation) are doing.  Innovate- adapt- delight- surprise- and the repeat.

 

This is an awesome place to have this discussion and I so appreciate you allowing me to contribute my 2 cents.  Loved your quote Mea and so agree with you Chris.  Sorry for being so verbose!!!

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JBaymore    1,432

Can o' worms!

 

Actually Chris, when if comes to a single media, I think that you CAN deal with specifying pretty tightly what YOU want to handle as what YOU will call "handmade".  Since YOU are the boss in the matter, you call the shots.  You simply list exactly what processes are acceptable for the show/fair/venue. 

 

As in...................

 

Ceramic work submitted for this show/fair/venue must be produced as follows:

 

By a single artist who handles all of the steps of the process from forming to decorating to glazing to firing.

 

Exclusively by the methods of coiling, pinching, slab building, wheel throwing, handwork plastic clay press molding, or hand carving.

 

(Forming methods specifically excluded include slip casting, pressure slip casting, jiggering, jollying, hydraulic pressing and 3-D computer printing methods.)

 

And so on.

 

Yes... the jurors/organizers will sometimes have some issue identifying if pieces are actually compliant.... but that is the reason they are getting paid to do the job.  And sometimes they WILL get it wrong.  Such is life.

 

If this kind of stuff is presented totally up-front, then the public and other artists know exactly what to expect.  And yes... this kind of specificity WILL potential exclude some people who might sit on the "edges", production-wise....... that "is what it is".  Sorry.  As they say.... 'my football.... my rules'.  Some consumers will care....... some won't.

 

My "issues" with  all this "what is handmade" stuff revolve around what I term "Truth in advertising". 

 

I don't care how a well designed object is made as long as I am not being mislead as to the genesis of that object in one way or another.  If people openly specify how work is made.... I can decide for myself if I consider that what I personally define as a "handmade" piece, and if I think that FOR ME the pricing is appropriate to that work.

 

The problems come when the venue does not require that information.  And/or when the producer of the objects is concealing or lying about the nature of the work.

 

A great example of this is one very well known ceramic artist with US national acclaim.  A large portion of their heavy production work is jiggered/jolllyed.   It is regularly sold in "handcraft galleries" along side hand thrown and other such works.  The hang tags and the info on the pieces does not indicate that forming methods for those pieces.  The price points are not typically lower than other hand thrown work.  For a long time I made a point of going into the shops that handled their work and asked the salespeople about the particular pieces.  100% of the time I got told how the pieces were hand thrown on the potters wheel!  I then took the time to explain to the salesperson how that work actually was made.  They usually were quite surprised.  But if I went back later... the work was still there and still making people THINK they knew how it was made.

 

The pieces in question there are beautiful.  But from MY definition (and I bet many other people's) they are not "handmade".  They are "limited manufacturing" or something like that.  SO for me,...... I would not be paying truly "handcrafted" pricing for them.  And I would not tell anyone they are "thrown".  I would say that they are great serving pieces....like much of the work from places like Noritake.

 

When what are euphemistically termed "assisted technologies" in the ceramics field are used specifically to increase production rates and/or reduce price points...... and the work is then offered for sale in venues that the consumer would expect a high involvement of "the skilled hand" to be involved........ then I think the work has moved outside the realm of "handcrafted".  For ME.

 

For example "slip casting" or "hydraulic pressing" can be used for many end-goal reasons.  One or them is to allow the forms to then be manipulated in such ways that it is the best ways to create certain end forms.  Things getting cut up and reassembed.... multiples arranged in arrays or installations....and so on.  The other end of the spectrum is to use those forming methods to produce multiples at a high rate with less skilled handwork either as a goal to increase production or lower price points to increase market share.  For ME....... the first is "handmade".... the second is "assisted technology".

 

best,

 

..........................john

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I've had my etsy shop open for about a year, and it is not a success. The lack of success is solely on my own lack of knowledge and skill, I am not going to blame Etsy for it at all.

I got into it thinking it would be a small but growing income stream that I could start my business with, and it seemed be a good place to start an online professional presence. Knowing what I know now from etsy, I would build the online presence with a website first, and then add e-commerce once I had a bigger real life following.

 

My experience of it is that Etsy is a tool, and like any tool you need to know how to use it properly, and you need to have an idea of what you want to accomplish with it to get the most out of it. (I am still trying to figure out the way that works best for me. )

 

Things that I have learned in my year, in no particular order:

 

-You will not be found randomly in search (too many other vendors, not enough clarity in the categories). You need to learn SEO (I'd focus on google search more) and drive people to your site yourself through other marketing means. Mostly that last one. If you have an existing following or are already business savvy, this will go more smoothly than if no one has ever heard of you before.

 

-if you fill out all the forms and shop sections (policies, About, etc.)and really craft your listings well, it's a good exercise for improving your photography and content writing skills. This helps if you want to build your own website with a drop and drag template from Weebly or wix, and it can give you some good starting blocks if you're applying to shows and contests and things. Consider starting an Etsy shop to be a tutorial.

 

-stay off the forums, unless you need quick technical help. Choose your source of shop critique carefully, don't just throw it open to the random public unless you want every piece of contradictory advice available. The Handbook however, has some good resources, especially for photography.

 

-there are alternate ways of using Etsy successfully. Ayumie Horie and Carole Epp both leave their stores empty most of the time, and advertise flash sales and build hype on their social media a week or so before posting anything for sale. Their stores tend to empty out in 24-48 hours so packing and shipping is done all at once. This method seems to work best for people who already have a following. (I believe Mea does something similar with her Big Cartel page at Christmas.) This is part of a "multiple streams of income" type plan.

 

-Etsy isn't juried in any way for quality of work. As Chris pointed out, it would be a nightmare. John is also correct that someone can curate a show or collection, but they have another word for that: Gallery. Etsy is a lot of things, but a gallery isn't one of them. If you're just starting out, I think you have to ask yourself if you want to be in a huge online sale with everyone from Justin Rothshank to the twelve year old who is selling rainbow loom bracelets so her mom can teach her about entrepreneurship. Both are worthy pursuits, but I'm not sure having them both on the same playing field is a service to either.

 

-Etsy is time consuming, especially if you are just learning a bunch of stuff. You will get out what you put in.

 

-it's a secure, trusted online platform. If you have people looking for your things in between craft sales, it can be a good gap-filler.

 

-in hindsight, it wasn't the good beginner step I thought it would be for financial reasons. It taught me a lot of other valuable things that I wasn't expecting though.

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JBaymore    1,432

My experience of it is that Etsy is a tool, and like any tool you need to know how to use it properly, and you need to have an idea of what you want to accomplish with it to get the most out of it.

 

Great "Diesel" powered post above this one B) .  Had to quote the tool line and add a thought............

 

Make sure that if you (the generic "you" there) need a screwdriver, you are not using a hammer.

 

best,

 

....................john

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Rae Reich    67

John, I think you have fine-tuned the definition of "handmade" beautifully, making the distinction between artist-involved and artist-directed. I think these would be useful guidelines for any jurying situation. (But don't leave out Pugaboo's extruder!)

 

LorrieMud is fortunate that her business allows her to get her hands dirty as an individual creative potter while all the rote aspects of her business can be attended to by others. Her prototypes, as individual creations, would fall into the above definition, but not the production work. I think there's a market for both, but educating the public about the differences as Amazon and Etsy, etc. could do with some John-type criteria could go a long way toward a "living wage" for Studio Potters.

 

I am reminded of the first time I became aware of this controversy in a Letter to the Editor in a long-ago CM. A fellow named Howard Kottler made a piece that was featured, a cast brownstone beside a cast paper bag filled with cast peanuts titled "The Old Bag Next Door Is Nuts." Oh, the furor!

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Chris Campbell    1,088

.... and then, after WE artists minutely dissect the parameters of acceptable human made work, the buyer buys because they like it, they want it, the price is right, it says good things about them, it's a perfect gift .....

 

"Sizzle" ... not burger forming and cooking methodology.

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JBaymore    1,432

 A fellow named Howard Kottler made a piece that was featured, a cast brownstone beside a cast paper bag filled with cast peanuts titled "The Old Bag Next Door Is Nuts." Oh, the furor!

 

 

I LOVE that piece!!!!!

 

best,

 

...................john

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JBaymore    1,432

.... and then, after WE artists minutely dissect the parameters of acceptable human made work, the buyer buys because they like it, they want it, the price is right, it says good things about them, it's a perfect gift .....

 

"Sizzle" ... not burger forming and cooking methodology.

 

 

Not ALL buyers approach things that way.  Some do care about the genesis.  Selling your work CAN BE about market segmentation. 

 

I personally don't make for "everyman or "everywoman".  Or even try to.  I make for those that appreciate the work for what it is. 

 

Lamborgini does not make a car to compete with the Ford Fiesta.  Is there a broader market for Ford Fiesta's.... of course.  Lamborgini I am sure knows this... and keeps making and marketing what they make.

 

And the "sizzle" in the whole artisanal food movement IS about the way the food is prepared and what it is made form. 

 

It is all about what market you want to go after.

 

I'm after people who appreciate the genesis of the work.   Others may be after something else. 

 

I am back to "truth in advertising"..... be clear about your work if you are selling in a venue that imparts to the consumer the impression of "handcraft".  Otherwise... we should be seeing Noritake and Pfaltzgraph entering work in the "Strictly Functional Pottery National".... they make some NICE pieces that are eminently functional.

 

best,

 

.......................john

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rayaldridge    276

This has become a far more interesting discussion than I expected when I started it.

 

I remember the Kottler piece.  Very witty, though very different from what I like about clay. 

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Mark C.    1,807

These are all slip cast items from my past all done in the 70's about 73-1976. Almost 40 years ago. 

The ship decal bottles where for our 200th Birthday for the 4th of July show in 1976-I kept these two from then.

I made the molds and slipped them all-I salt fired  two of them-they are all porcelain fired to cone 10

The decals and lusters where c017

except the take out teapot which a friend made and is low fire but slip cast.

These are all from a long time ago in my ceramic past. It was part of learning all ceramic processes which is important for your whole.

Tomorrows show will be my 42nd straight 4th show-I'm starting to feel the miles.

Mark

 

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DirtRoads    145

Is Etsy really supposed to be a hand made only site?    There is no way ... no large company like that could be fooled that easily. 

 

The only area I know for sure is jewelry.    I'm not even sure what qualifies jewelry to be "hand made" on Etsy.    The other side of my business is jewelry and most of it is put together here.   But not all of it.   I do have one wholesale customer that buys for Etsy.   I've known them for years and I called them about this thread and they said I could post this, as long as I showed nothing that could ever be linked back to them.    I looked them up and they do pretty well on Etsy .. not quite six figures but close.  I specifically look for items made in China for them to put on Etsy.  Last order they bought  3 items they buy from me that we make here, in Edinburg, MS and 4 items that I just imported. .   And I've seen other items on Etsy that are straight from China.  One leather type bracelet that you could import for like 40 cents selling for $10. 

 

I have a pretty large line of "hand made" jewelry.  (2nd photo)  Look at that first item ... similar pieces are all over Etsy.

 

I found Lorrie's post to be interesting (googled ceramic decals) and commerce savy.   But I wouldn't classify that work as handmade pottery by just looking at it ... sorry.  I can see why Grype picked the examples  as they are most reflective of the pottery on this boards.  I don't think anyone would exclude you being a potter .. just didn't see it outright but I see it now.  But I really perked up at the $100K/yearly and 28K of sales transactions.    I think my own pottery approaches boundaries since I have 4 employees but I've never had anyone on the board show any concern about me being borderline.   I'm pretty interested in slip casting.    I see it as a way to expand but not right now because I'm not sure want more pottery sales at the moment.    Right now my production is capped at $3500/week.   Averaging $14k  ... 10 months of the year.   $3500 a week is the most profitable point for me right now, using my current facilities.  I really don't care for this production type business.  Anyways, two alternatives I haven't thought much of :  Decals and slip casting.  Thank you.

 

Really who can solo produce $100K a year at $10-$20 price points?  AND ship in 1-3 days!!!  For an authentic "hand made".   Not that I even know what that is anymore.

 

I've always found John Baymore to have the most insightful perspective on this subject.  And he expresses without putting the less than art less than 100% handmade down.  I really think he should establish some classification scheme.  He should put us all into categories.   Lots to be learned from different groups but a classification would facilitate that.   I would like to know exactly where I fit into all of this.

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DirtRoads    145

Is Etsy really supposed to be a hand made only site?    There is no way ... no large company like that could be fooled that easily.   It has to be that it doesn't matter if items are really hand made.

 

The only area I know for sure is jewelry.    I'm not even sure what qualifies jewelry to be "hand made" on Etsy.    The other side of my business is jewelry and most of it is put together here.   But not all of it.   I do have one wholesale customer that buys for Etsy.   I've known them for years and I called them about this thread and they said I could post this, as long as I showed nothing that could ever be linked back to them.    I looked them up and they do pretty well on Etsy .. not quite six figures but close.  I specifically look for items made in China for them to put on Etsy.  Last order they bought  3 items they buy from me that we make here, in Edinburg, MS and 4 items that I just imported. .   And I've seen other items on Etsy that are straight from China.  One leather type bracelet that you could import for like 40 cents selling for $10.  

 

I have a pretty large line of "hand made" jewelry.  (2nd photo)  Look at that first item ... similar pieces are all over Etsy.   Those earrings are "hand assembled" in Edinburg, MS.  How could anyone really tell if they were assembled in China? or in a factory here?  Close up of earring (3rd photo) .. does this look "hand made" to you?  Similar versions are on Etsy right now.

 

I found Lorrie's post to be interesting (googled ceramic decals) and commerce savy.   But I wouldn't classify that work as handmade pottery by just looking at it ... sorry.  I can see why Grype picked the examples  as they are most reflective of the pottery on this boards.  I don't think anyone would exclude you being a potter .. just didn't see it outright but I see it now.  But I really perked up at the $100K/yearly and 28K of sales transactions.    I think my own pottery approaches boundaries since I have 4 employees but I've never had anyone on the board show any concern about me being borderline.   I'm pretty interested in slip casting.    I see it as a way to expand but not right now because I'm not sure want more pottery sales at the moment.    Right now my production is capped at $3500/week.   Averaging $14k  ... 10 months of the year.   $3500 a week is the most profitable point for me right now, using my current facilities.  I really don't care for this production type business.  Anyways, two alternatives I haven't thought much of :  Decals and slip casting.  Thank you.

 

Really who can solo produce $100K a year at $10-$20 price points?  AND ship in 1-3 days!!!  For an authentic "hand made".   Not that I even know what that is anymore.

 

I've always found John Baymore to have the most insightful perspective on this subject.  And he expresses without putting the less than art less than 100% handmade down.  I really think he should establish some classification scheme.  He should put us all into categories.   Lots to be learned from different groups but a classification would facilitate that.   I would like to know exactly where I fit into all of this.

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Joseph F    865

The reasons you list dirt roads is why I think this has pretty much happened: 

 

$ETSY http://yhoo.it/1C8BLpE?soc_src=default&soc_trk=tw

 

each update to their ToS has watered down their qualifications of hand made, while helping some, I think it hinders more. I can't speak to the truth of this subject as I am merely an outsider looking in. The rules haven't hurt anyone I know who sales on etsy, but I can't presume people can compete with the things you are describing.

 

With the amazon marketplace coming, which if they really are going to be more strict about it(only time will tell), then a lot of the crafters who meet the Baymore (are we calling it this now? ;)) standards will be moving to this area I presume. Why would you want to compete with crafters, that are calling themselves handmade when again they don't meet Baymore standards. I know if I could get into amazon's marketplace, I would be thrilled. I am no where near there yet, but maybe by next year I can enter that market.

 

But truth be told, why would you not be on etsy and amazon. I assume you would do both. I know once I nail down my glazes, can reproduce the effects, I will be attempting to sale on etsy.

 

 

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GEP    863

I've always found John Baymore to have the most insightful perspective on this subject. And he expresses without putting the less than art less than 100% handmade down. I really think he should establish some classification scheme. He should put us all into categories. Lots to be learned from different groups but a classification would facilitate that. I would like to know exactly where I fit into all of this.

Yes, John brings a very well-thought-out perspective, and his thoughts are important. However, this forum should not be trying to put people into categories. I believe that every successful artist and/or business person is charged with defining themselves. Then living up to their own standards with integrity. No one gets to decide that for anyone else. All of us who are seeking income from our work fall somewhere between art and manufacturing. It doesn't matter where. The differing points of view are great! I think many art communities (online and otherwise) suffer from a lack of differing perspectives, sheltering themselves to their own detriment. I don't want anyone to leave this forum because they felt like they were being categorized.

 

Although I do think it's appropriate to use the term "Baymore standard." But what I understood about John's words is that the Baymore standard is not about the degree of handmade-ness. It means "do things the way you think is right, then be honest about it to your customers."

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Joseph F    865

 I don't want anyone to leave this forum because they felt like they were being categorized.

Although I do think it's appropriate to use the term "Baymore standard." But what I understood about John's words is that the Baymore standard is not about the degree of handmade-ness. It means "do things the way you think is right, then be honest about it to your customers."

 

 

Well said! I don't want to anyone to feel that way either. We have kinda derailed the thread a bit, and your definition of the "Baymore standard" is definitely better than what I was interpreting it as.

 

Good Stuff

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JBaymore    1,432

 

But what I understood about John's words is that the Baymore standard is not about the degree of handmade-ness. It means "do things the way you think is right, then be honest about it to your customers."

 

Yes....GEP has it about right ......... my core point is about "truth in advertising".  Be honest about the nature of your work.

 

The "standard" in the one posting above that I did was simply an EXAMPLE of one section of a possible definition for a specific show/venue that COULD be used ....and was not intended itself to be any kind of a completed 'yard-stick' to measure "hand-crafted-ness".   So please do not call THAT the "Baymore Standard" (appreciate the flattery though  :P ).  The point I was making was that it is POSSIBLE to draw up a set of pretty tight specifications if you want to do that.  What those specifications ARE is up to the individual or group defining the specifications.

 

An important point in all this for me is.........

 

IF ... and that is a BIG "if" there............  there are some standards set either implicitly or by inference that the customers who might purchase your work will or easily CAN believe ...... then I believe that as a professional the onus of responsibility is to make sure that if your work does not clearly fit those expectations pretty darn tightly .......... you communicate facts so that everyone is on the same playing field and level of understanding. 

 

Then people can buy or not buy as they see fit.  If they actually care how or where the object is made, they can then make an educated decision based on the veracity of the information presented.

 

There is such as thing as an "untruth by omission".  It is a subtle way of avoiding the truth.  And sometimes allows us to rationalize the situation.

 

Let's say I design a particular piece, (and it is a nice piece too ;) ), ship it off to one of the many ceramic production facilities in (let's stop solely bashing PRo China) southeat asia, where they make the master and working molds, factory workers using serious ceramic manufacturing machinery slipcast or jigger/jolly or pressure cast or hydraulic press the forms, the automated machines that handle the process and even glazing do their thing, and the pieces are then fired in continuous roller hearth tunnel kilns that get auto-loaded by robots, and then the work is crated and shipped back to me here in the USA.

 

Here come the important parts of this situation that I have to look at, at least to me.

 

WHY did I take this particular approach?  Was it that the production facility can do something that is totally unique and highly skilled that is impossible in other ways to achieve an artistic end?  Sculptors use casting houses all the time to pour bronzes...a highly technical process.  Or was it because the production facility can produce them very cheaply and in high volume?  As we all know, true single artist, hand processing of every step of the process is NOT about low costs. 

 

Very importantly, what do I then do with the work produced by this approach? 

 

If I then sell them as "handmade" by John Baymore, studio ceramic artist....... well.... for my personal ethical standards, that is "untruth by omission".  If I sell them as "designed by John Baymore, ceramic artist".... with a "southeast asia mfg. tag........ that is FAR closer to the truth of the situation and would be fine (depending on the venue I sold them in). 

 

If, before everyone became aware of the volume production work, I ship one of the production run off to the "Strictly Functional Pottery National" competition ......... I think that I would be deliberately implying a certain genesis for the nature of the work....and would not be very truthful.   If I shipped the ORIGINAL piece that served as the prototype for the production work off to SFPN .... that would be fine.

 

If I flat out told people they are hand thrown verbally or with hang tags........ well....... you know what that is. :angry:

 

If I placed a bunch of them in a shop in some local community that communicates to the public that it sells "handcrafted" work from studio artists who live in the state...... that would be a deliberate omission of what should be important facts in that particular context...... calling it 'what-it-is'... a deliberate lie by omission.

 

If I placed them in some store that sells "designer" type work, then that is the perfect and truthful venue fit for the objects.

 

Unfortunately there is no "legal" definition for the term "handmade".  That makes this a very difficult subject.  If a venue simply says "handmade" as a standard of some sort for the work ......... it leaves a hole big enough to squeeze a Brontosaurus thru.

 

 

 

If anyone has not seen what contemporary ceramic production is really all about......... and the level of "hand-crafted-ness' that might be involved ... please take a look at these videos:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7Tk_7_9qck

 

 

 

Long but interesting.........

 

 

best,

 

........................john

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Thank you so much Lorrie and Grype, etc., for this fabulous thread on etsy.  Incredible information and insights.  I just opened a shop on etsy and now I see what I need to do to have any semblance of success.  Lots more pots at lower prices. Promoting on social media. Etc., etc...  I really like good craft fairs, I enjoy talking to people (and basking in their praise), but the physical work of packing everything, setting up and breaking down is daunting for my husband and I, so trying to sell online has its attraction. A lot of work, but a different kind of work.  Thank you Lorrie for the list of successful shops from etsy.  I'm going to study them. I'm also going to look into Amazon.

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Rae Reich    67

I have no words for that Kenny G music and the kiln moving at a glacial pace...

That's video 4 on John's list for those of you who haven't checked.

Priceless! I could hear the music before it even started, thanks to you, Diesel. You can tell that Mr Patel takes a very romantic view of his fine business.

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NFallon    20

Thank you all for these observations and comments. (Reading these posts with my morning coffee) We have all wrestled with this subject in our own minds...and with those close to us...as we navigate through our own journey with clay. I opened an Etsy shop to have an inexpensive, ecommerce presence. It isn't successful using any measurement, but is/was educational for all the reasons previously stated. I will take what I have learned to expand into other online media...just like I have taken what I have learned about making to expand my work. Thanks again. I am NOT crazy for talking to myself about all this! :)

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