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#21 Joseph F

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 09:07 PM

I just want to put there here, that in no means was I trying to put down anyone's success. I hope you all make millions. I just meant that I haven't seen anyone selling solely hand built or wheel thrown work for the amount of sales that you are achieving Lorrie. I am not cutting down slip cast ware by any means. Most of us here in this thread are hand builders or wheel throwers, so I just based my research off those figures for Etsy shops.

 

If you know of other potters who are producing wheel thrown or hand built ware that have 25k+ sales that I haven't seen their store I would love to see it. Your figures are fantastic, congrats on your success. I have looked through Craft count before, and the two stores I listed above are in the top 10 for sales, you are achieving nearly 5x the amount of pots they sale per year. That's a very large difference.



#22 LorrieMud

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 11:02 PM

No worries Joseph! Thanks so much for your kind words. June and July are traditionally the slowest months on Etsy but the stats are still interesting. For example,  check out dgordon.  She's currently the top 3rd pottery seller- selling mainly handbuilt ringholders.  Many sellers cummulative sales don't reflect what their day to day revenue is.  If you click the blue sales number and sort the results by line instead of grid you can actually see specifics of what each shop sells per day.  Looks like dgordon sells an average of 8- 13 pieces a day at an average of $20.00 each.  Sellers like her also sell larger bulk orders that are not shown in sales history- so she may get large wedding favor orders that do not show up as they are special listings.  Another shop, Say your piece, also sells an average of 8-15 pieces per day handbuilt only, with price per sale averaging around 16. The Etsy shop The brick kiln sells an average of 10 pieces a day handbuilt only  at $70 each.  The shop Miss Pottery sells an average of 4-5 pieces a day, with mugs at $30.00 each.  Clarey Clayworks sells an average of 8 handbuilt only pieces a day currently, at an average price of $49 per handbuilt dish.  Dariellesclayart sells an average of 8 pieces per day at an average price point of $20 each. Claylicious sells an average of 6 wheelthrown or handbuilt pieces a day at an average price point of $30 per piece. I could go on but if anyone is interested in really looking through what potters are making on Etsy and what is elling, just visit craftcount dot com and view top selers by category- if you click on pottery and ceramics it will sho you results for 169 of the busiest ceramic shops on Etsy.

 

I know most of the potters mentioned above- having been on teams and at events with them. Some generalizations I would make are that smaller items at lower price points do sell well and seem to be easier to manage from a shipping standpoint.  Mugs used to be a great category for most potters but Pinterest and the dawn of the DIY sharpie a dollar store mug era have really changed that-- you now see beautiful stoneware pieces placed side by side in search results with commercial mugs that someone has used an oil based sharpie on.  I'm not a fan of that change but the nature of e-commerce is that you must adapt to survive. 

 

The shop that used to be the top shop and that many of us used to aspire to be like when we first started was Palomasnest. They now do the bulk of their business on their own website instead of Etsy but they remain a great example of how the marriage of an aesthetic and an online presence can create trends and change design tastes.  Their small handbuilt dishes are $54.00 each. 

 

I think if you go through the stats shop by shop you'll see that for many many potters who do not do Etsy full time, that the average revenue is likely $150 per day gross.  For most of them, that is just one of several revenue streams that include other online venues and websites and wholesale gigs.  Etsy has a wholesale division that assists sellers who want to reach an audience of buyers.

 

That said, Amazon announced recently that they will be launching a juried handmade only marketplace as an aspect of their site soon.  Many Etsy sellers are applying to be part of that venue as they expect the revenue opportunities to be even greater through that host.

 

I am an introvert with bad knees, so for me-online selling is the perfect way for me to sell large amounts of work without having to schlep a tent or chat with someone about their high school ceramics class (LOL) .  But I have tons of friends who love traveling to shows and really enjoy the interactions with customers who purchase their work--and they get great pleasure from in person, hand on revenue streams like teaching, etc. 



#23 Joseph F

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 11:14 PM

Lorrie,

 

Thanks for the info, I haven't broken it down in detail as you have. I just skimmed through a few shops that I found with a lot of sales. As I dont sell on Etsy(yet), I don't know the months. I was just doing simple quick maths in my head and ballparking the average shop(given ups and downs), since I assume people adjust prices constantly for slow and hot times.

 

Good to know they are doing so well, something for all of us who are interested in it to strive for. I know I plan to sell on etsy once I develop my glazes a bit more.

 

I have went back and strike through my previous post, so if someone doesn't finish reading they wont be misinformed. Thanks for your information. 

 

It is interesting about Amazon. I am huge fan of Amazon and have been a prime member since its beginning. I haven't seen or heard about the juried handmade market place. What is the name of it?

 

Edit: never mind found it here: http://services.amaz...e/handmade.html



#24 Mark C.

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 01:58 AM

I have had a seperate  side slipware business ( for about 10 years  about 10 years ago it stopped when client went to China) in my 40 years of making wheel thrown pottery and it was great for production of the same form but it really is not anything like one of a kind work its more like 10,000 of a kind work. 

I threw a aromatherapy lamps for a customer (major herb products-caller frontier herbs) and made the molds from it and sold many thousands of that form to them. I can say that  in my business of juried art fairs there is no place for slip wares. 

And thats how it should be as slip wares can be made for so much less money so they should not be in the juried art markets.

I have nothing against them as they are just one more process in ceramics but they are by nature easy to mass produce.Thats why they are not allowed at most juried art shows-at least the ones I do.

What I see is the public does not know the difference many times  on how things are made and thats my issue with slip wares.

Also most slip wares are produced at lower temps at do not hold up as well as higher fired wares.

Mark


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#25 LorrieMud

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 08:21 AM

I think that some of your comments (Mark) definitely do apply to my own work and I do not expect to participate in juried art shows with the type of work I sell on a mass scale.  But i do disagree with the statement that slipcast pieces are always easy to produce/ less expensive.  Check out this etsy shop: revisionsdesigns  (if you want to check out any of the etsy shops in this thread just type the shop name no spaces dot etsy dot com) She slipcasts porcelain antique bottles. A set of replicas of vintage pharmacy bottles retails for $189 and i could certainly see those and other pieces in a juried art fair.

 

I think the most awesome thing is when people of the mud are open to learning ANY aspect of ceramics and don't dismiss some techniques as being "too commercial", "easier" or anything that labels them as inferior because they do not meet a personal definition of pottery.  I personally was asked to leave the Pottery/MUD team on Etsy once my shop became successful as they felt I was not "Muddy" enough because I used slipcasting or jiggered techniques (along with handbuilt and wheelthrown.)  This was hurtful-- young chiccas in their 20s who were using cookie cutters and rubber stamps were considered more of a "true potter" than I was.  I liken the discussion to an ongoing one I have observed with jewler friends- who think the jewelry maker who puts a pendant (which may be beautifully made fused glass or metal shopped etc) onto  commercial chain is less than an artist than they are.  All artists who are business people as well can benefit from an analysis of ways to make work more efficiently.  (I wrote that last paragraph not meaning it to refer to anything or anyone in this thread--just sharing experience elsewhere;)

 

Lorrie



#26 GEP

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 09:18 AM

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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#27 Chris Campbell

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 09:51 AM

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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#28 GEP

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 10:10 AM

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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#29 Matt Oz

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 10:26 AM

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.



#30 Mark C.

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 10:28 AM

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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#31 LorrieMud

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 10:31 AM

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!!!



#32 JBaymore

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 10:41 AM

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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#33 Diesel Clay

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 11:32 AM

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.

#34 JBaymore

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 12:37 PM

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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#35 Rae Reich

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 01:25 PM

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!

#36 Chris Campbell

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 01:45 PM

.... 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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#37 JBaymore

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 01:51 PM

 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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Adjunct Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Former Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

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http://www.nhia.edu/...ty/john-baymore


#38 JBaymore

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 01:59 PM

.... 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


John Baymore
Adjunct Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Former Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

http://www.nhia.edu/...ty/john-baymore


#39 rayaldridge

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 03:05 PM

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. 



#40 Mark C.

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Posted 03 July 2015 - 06:07 PM

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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Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com





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