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How Much Do You Charge For A Mug?

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51 minutes ago, Mark C. said:

I stopped making pots and have been working on this formula above -Collecting all the data ,I think in a another month or two I can get to the bottom of how much a mug costs me to make.

Hopefully by spring I will know what a ceral bowl costs me to make maybe?

Up until now I have been making pottery and selling it knowing that I always have enought money to pay taxes and have plenty of money left over after expenses year end.. I'm concerned that now as I'm not making any more pottery ( this data is taking me forever to collect  )to sell this figuring may really cost me .I may have to get a day job to figure this out?

Actually for me this  statement below has  always worked well.

(Up until now I have been making pottery and selling it knowing that I always have enought money to pay taxes and have plenty of money left over after expenses year end.)

I take pride in never have counted how many pots fit in my car kiln in the past 40 years.If I knew I'd likely have quit years ago.

At this risk of drawing forum ire I'm inclined to gently suggest that mocking people is insincere and counter productive.

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1 hour ago, Mark C. said:

I stopped making pots and have been working on this formula above -Collecting all the data ,I think in a another month or two I can get to the bottom of how much a mug costs me to make.

Hopefully by spring I will know what a ceral bowl costs me to make maybe?

Up until now I have been making pottery and selling it knowing that I always have enought money to pay taxes and have plenty of money left over after expenses year end.. I'm concerned that now as I'm not making any more pottery ( this data is taking me forever to collect  )to sell this figuring may really cost me .I may have to get a day job to figure this out?

Actually for me this  statement below has  always worked well.

(Up until now I have been making pottery and selling it knowing that I always have enought money to pay taxes and have plenty of money left over after expenses year end.)

I take pride in never have counted how many pots fit in my car kiln in the past 40 years.If I knew I'd likely have quit years ago.

Hilarious! thanks,  Ill do the calculation and take the extra time to measure how long it took me as well :) .  Glad you are throwing pots, what do you charge and are you near an urban centre or are you in a quieter area?  

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On 2/14/2017 at 4:20 PM, GEP said:

Chris and Diesel, the two of you might be talking about two different items that can both be called espresso mugs.

 

I firmly believe that everybody has the right to price things based on their own needs and values, and for their own situation (location, audience, experience level, size of following, etc). Sure there is lots of underpriced pottery, but in my sphere I see more overpriced pottery than underpriced. There are forces that pressure potters into both mistakes. When I discuss pricing, I try to steer people towards real world trials and results, rather than theory or pressure.

its something we never talked about in university, but often our self doubt is reflected in charity level pricing.

 

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7 hours ago, keith barber said:

one way to do it is set aside the typical costing determined  by what the market will bear

If your business is SO big that you encompass such a wide market, you can approach pricing in the manner you describe; if you go by this method you will have an item that will be greatly overpriced for many, many markets, but because your marketing reaches a million or more humans per year, you'll sell enough work to justify pricing set in this manner. For most potters, even the really good ones, our markets are generally quite small....art/craft shows, galleries, and the "online" markets. If I priced my work truly based on what its "worth" like you say, then Id be the one potter at the show with $50 mugs, where everyone else's generally max around $35-40; the market is not big enough to find those "white whales" which will yield me a great enough profit, and quite quickly Id be bleeding my business. Sure, there are those that change their prices when they are selling work in TN, vs CA, but I generally think of this as a poor business practice.

7 hours ago, keith barber said:

what education and experience do you bring? not sure how to put a price on this ( cost of education plus interest divided by what you have produced so far- that makes your first cup very expensive if you just stepped out of your masters thesis studio...) (or each year of education plus years of experience  - this is the real value added your creativity and skill.

I spent $200k on 5 years of out of state tuition for my college degree; 20 years of making pots thus far is the reason why I can charge $24 for an item that took me 15 minutes of hands on time to make, but I surely cant be tacking on a "cost of education fee".....I see a lot of newbies "selling" mugs that are gorgeous $60-100 pieces of artwork because they just got out of the MFA program and they have an inflated sense of self....I dont think this style of pricing works well for most, unless their living expenses are nil. Is one who receives an MFA automatically considered a master potter, and thus demands "master" prices? Does 10,000 hours of slapping mud to a wheel head determine greatness and thus great prices? Do you only "charge" folks for the years of your education where you actually started to make good work?

My associate JUST retired after practically 60 years of making pots (from playing "potter" as a child, getting a BFA & MFA in ceramics, teaching for 15 years, and finally a full time potter for nearly 20) and he sold mugs that are cheaper than the ones I sell. It'd be wonderful if I could add a dollar for every year of experience to every pot that i sell, but doubtful Id sell many $40 spoon rests, let alone another 20 years of making pots and asking $60 for a spoon rest.

Its admirable that you've tried to consider every real cost that goes into making pots, but in my experience, you have to take half of what you consider a factor in determining price as just the cost of doing business. IMO the market is what determines your prices; a friend of mine is a mediocre potter (IMO) in LA who sells berry bowls for $100+ that would never budge at any of the 20+ midwest/eastcoast/southern shows that I go to every year.

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okay , it took about 1.5 hours searching the internet and asking a couple of local experienced  potters for guesstimates, here is what i have :

This is based on making 34 mugs all working out and getting produced and fired all at once, by a nothing but mugs potter working almost 6 hours a day, with a steady reliable mug market.

one way to do it is set aside the typical costing determined  by what the market will bear and get clear on the cost and qualities brought to production. the cost of materials-  box of clay divided by the weight of the clay, [40$ box making 34 cups], glaze and resist costs [86  divided by 250 mugs,  .30$ per mug wax},  1.18 plus 0.64- so materials/per mug 1.82$

cost of tools/wear and tear- bats, basic kit, other tools used- how many years do they last and how many pots do you throw in their life time. i make a thousand pots out of a 28$ tool kit,(so 28 divided by 1000 is 0.03$per mug)I’m new enough that none of my bats had died yet so not sure of their longevity) chatted with other potters today and bats costing 78+4$/square insert for a total cost of 104.00$, of  each last for at least 3000 mugs- which works out tools cost to 0.002 per mug

2000$ wheel cost, 5000$ kiln cost= 7000 cost /5000 objects=1.40$

water, electricty used (wheel or kiln), wood for kiln, percent of kiln cost  based on how much you fire it.  water bill divided by what you produced monthly, ditto electricity, rental of space also. Electricity here in Manitoba is about 0.09$ per kilowatt hour, kiln uses 2.5 for firing 34 mugs- so 0.01$ per mug, it takes 2 litres water to make 34 mugs so about $o.65/34= 0.02$ permug, not sure for woodfire what the cot breakdown is

cost of living income for your area divided up by hours per year (35 hours a week 47 weeks) this includes the 5 weeks of holidays Canadians get. So im in a socialized country so we have medical covered, 1983.87 monthly per single person. Or 14.47/hour of work., it takes about 4 hours of actual work to make 34 mugs so 14.47x4 divided by 34= 1.71$ per mug labour cost

what education and experience do you bring? not sure how to put a price on this (cost of education plus interest divided by what you have produced so far- that makes your first cup very expensive if you just stepped out of your masters thesis studio...) (or each year of education plus years of experience  - this is the real value added your creativity and skill.

Looking at stats from education linked to average salaried union member income each year of training/university adds about 2,300.00$ to your annual income, and each year of experience full time equals  2,500.00$. So if I have five years in Fine Arts university, and two years as an experienced potter it would be [(5x2300) + (2x2500)]= 11500+5000=16500.00$. 16500 divided by hours per year worked   (35x47=1645) and then multiplied by four hours divided by 34 mugs= 1.18$ permug  

 Then do youi need to pay for sales floor or stall at a market, gas and containers to shift and store your wares, cover breakage…

are you going to add a small fee you will pass on to the infrastructure that supports your presence there, town taxes in a sense, or local education in art to ensure a next generation.  use this to round up to the next coin or plastic bill, and actually follow through on this!

Then there are taxes which are a total of 14% here

So far we are at 7$, but people would sneer at a 7$ mug and not know what was wrong with it but suspect something. yep i left outr rental of studio space because i run in my garage but this could be added in too.

And every time you touch a pot to change it it gets more expensive to make, engraving, detailed waxing, wiping it down, refiring, lustre, detailed brushwork all add time to its making. Those would all add to the cost of production.

this all sounds like alot but if you make and sell many mugs it might be nice to get clear on this before you set your prices.

The other consideration would be to price it as a functional sculpture, an art object, not just a coffee container.

If it was a really nice mug I would pay 60$ for it, if it was just a basic mug i'd happily drop 25 on one.

Edited by keith barber

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I like doing the real cost accounting, it often surprises me how little it costs to make something, all things considered.  A really good conclusion jump goes much farther than a nearly accurate guess. The other benefit is to see where your actions can be refined to save you effort and still get a nice result for a lower cost input.  It might discourage certain highly decorated styles but might favor subtle simpler designs.

Where you are geographically, where you are on your career journey, what is subsidized by your community all affects the results.  Free education, rent control, single payer healthcare etc... all lower the cost of a mug by bundling it more cheaply in a tax as a massive economy of scale. 

pottery seems to lend itself to being a workers cooperative, has anyone done full cost accounting on that?

Edited by keith barber

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2 minutes ago, keith barber said:

40$ box making 34 cups

Thats some pricey clay; I pay $16/50#.

 

3 minutes ago, keith barber said:

2000$ wheel cost, 5000$ kiln cost= 7000 cost /5000 objects=1.40$

Are you saying that $7000 investment in both a wheel an a kiln will produce 5,000 objects, for a yield of $1.40 per object made? Ive had my wheel which cost me less than $1k and has made well over 30,000 pots in the last 15 years; kiln is the same..spent less than $1k on it, and its bisque fired more than 25k pots....gas kiln cost $7k but last kiln which cost the same was fired 650 times before needing rebuilt...each kiln load is between $3500-8k in inventory value.

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LOL , now you are doing your local pricing calculation now, Thanks for refining the calculations.  Id love to buy one of your mugs, i looked at your website Sam, Wow! I started thinking only "Now i have riled you i owe you that, and i suspect you make wonderful mugs" but i ended up jaw dropped at the beauty of your work! 

Edited by keith barber

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1 hour ago, keith barber said:

"Now i have riled you i owe you that

I hope I didnt come off as riled up....well maybe a little. Even though I love number crunching, (right now looking at 2018 total expenses/income and crunching numbers), and I think that can be a very accurate way of coming up with evaluations of certain "things", when it comes to handmade pots, that specific attention to details/numbers can be very helpful in determining your COST in a mug, but should not be a huge factor in deciding retail prices...as you saw, $7 for a mug.....god bless, Id be a truly (even more so than I am) starving artist! Numbers only get you so far, I think the best evaluation is looking at your market, and your competition.

Thanks for the comments about my work! 20 years of hard work!

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39 minutes ago, hitchmss said:

I hope I didnt come off as riled up....well maybe a little. Even though I love number crunching, (right now looking at 2018 total expenses/income and crunching numbers), and I think that can be a very accurate way of coming up with evaluations of certain "things", when it comes to handmade pots, that specific attention to details/numbers can be very helpful in determining your COST in a mug, but should not be a huge factor in deciding retail prices...as you saw, $7 for a mug.....god bless, Id be a truly (even more so than I am) starving artist! Numbers only get you so far, I think the best evaluation is looking at your market, and your competition.

Thanks for the comments about my work! 20 years of hard work!

Bah, you just need to make 100 mugs a day, you'll be fine...

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no worries, the 7$ was just the baseline, its good to have stuff at many price points and then you can ask what you think its really worth, Sam, how do i get your stuff if I cant travel to your shows? does a gallery sell for you also and do online orders? 

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10 hours ago, C.Banks said:

At this risk of drawing forum ire I'm inclined to gently suggest that mocking people is insincere and counter productive.

I was only making a joke-but thanks for reminding me to make that more clear-I meant no mocking.

No ire from me.

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11 hours ago, C.Banks said:

At this risk of drawing forum ire I'm inclined to gently suggest that mocking people is insincere and counter productive.

The problem is clearly that Mark lacked the foresight and skills necessary to include a big fat smiley face after his comment.  But I also wonder if  C. banks may be doing a little subtle ha-ha as well.....especially since if there is ever a site markedly free of ire 98% of the time, it is this one!  Hmm.....??   Me, I am ROFL :rolleyes: 

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12 hours ago, keith barber said:

Sam, how do i get your stuff if I cant travel to your shows? does a gallery sell for you also and do online orders?

Hey Keith, you can send me a PM to my email hitchmss@gmail.com, or you can call me. Contact info is on my website. Ill have new work ready for sale in about three weeks or so!

 

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13 hours ago, shawnhar said:

I charge $20 for a mug and "buy 3 get one free", the average in this area seems to be $18-24 and I've seen $30 at a show.

I would be priced out in this area by mugs that are over $20. People just don't want and don't use something that expensive around here. Last year I wholesaled mugs at $12 to Savannah Bee, maybe that market will bear more, but they will have to figure that out. This strand has me wondering though. 

The only time I have seen higher prices in our area is at the Penn State Arts festival in the Summer. There I have seen ranges from $18 to $45 for mugs. 

 

best,

Pres

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It's always interesting when older threads get revived. This one was extra interesting because I was doing cost analysys of my kiln filler pieces yesterday so I could figure out how many I needed to make for the next few months. Another interesting thing about this thread is that there are people at a number of different levels of business commenting here, and a lot of different needs and expectations are at play. My mug prices are higher now, as they've improved in design, and they command a better price. I did indeed end up bumping up the price of those espressos because I was spending too much time on them, and I needed them to be more profitiable. So hooray for more money for less work!

I think that the scale you're producing on affects how you need to approach pricing. Doing a thorough per-item cost breakdown has a limited window of usefulness when you start getting to a point where you're making larger quantities of work, in the name of controlling some production costs. (Kieth, if you're paying $40 CAD for a box of clay, you need to call Plainsman or Tuckers about a price break for a bulk buy, man! I think I pay $26 per box. Sam, that's Canadian price, so take 25% off that to get US equivalent.)  However getting those very specific, accurate numbers with no estimates is time consuming, and will go right out the window as soon as you change the amount of time you spend making a given piece, or introduce a new style or glaze. It isn't my belief you should be punished monitarially for making a piece more efficiently. Amortizing the cost of capital expenditures like your kiln or your wheel only needs to be done on your tax return, and even then they only want a certain percentage done per year. While it needs to be factored in to your bigger picture costs, working that amortization out per piece isn't useful.

When you're getting started and the value of your own work hasn't been established yet, I think doing comparisions and finding the range of work WITHIN THE MARKET YOU WANT TO BE SELLING IN are a good place to start. For a Canadian to be using US mug prices as a baseline isn't useful, unless you're making your sales in the US. Looking on Etsy for prices isn't useful if you're selling at in-person markets. Since clay and materials and firings are relatively inexpensive ( I have clothing and jewelry designer friends who are shocked at how little I pay for materials in a year) and we've established that $7 in fixed and variable costs minus wages is well below half of any of the prices quoted here, its a more efficient way of getting started. Once you get some more data about your sales after having made some, you can then fine tune things and do your more elaborate cost analyses.

The big thing with pottery businesses is that we are in a position of needing to collect our own market data in order to make some of these decisions, so we really do just have to pick a place to start and go from there. I haven't really found a datatbase that has numbers that actually pertain to artists or fine craftspeople that you can look up ahead of time, and I live in a very entreprenerial-minded city that has resources like this for other businesses. I can't just go down to the Calgary Busniess Library and look up the data on how big my market is annually and roughly who my demographic might be: we tend not to report this information ourselves, and no one is looking for us as a major economic driver. CERF did put out a report a few years ago, but the numbers that actually responded to the survey were very low, and because it was done through an arts organization (instead of say, the census), the response rate didn't include the folks that don't identify with that world, but are still making pots.

As for raising prices as a more experienced artist or maker, I think it's worth conducting a pricing experiment every once in a while if you haven't moved things. It's worth challenging your beliefs about what other people find valuable. Just as an anecdote, I thought I had one style of mug priced well at $30, and that going higher wasn't going to work. My husband was minding my booth for me at a sale while I was having a walk-around, and when I came back he told me he'd sold a couple of mugs for $35 in my absence. Turns out, he'd misread my handwriting on the price sticker and had overcharged for that style. Because no one had batted an eye at the price increase, I moved them all up, and didn't notice a change in sales. I think it's worth a test.

 

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There are so many factors for pricing.Its really an endless quest on the answer as it varies so much.

It swings to the far side of what the market can bear (hey I make two mugs a year and take two weeks on each one)I need 100$ to break even to I make 1,000s a year and want the cash flow so they are all 18$.The part of the country-your clients -the venue-Reality-quality-reputation-size-work involved-and 100 more categories .

endless really.

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2 hours ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

It'd be soooo much easier if we could just crunch some numbers and come up with an accurate price.

yes, and that doesnt really give you a final answer but it helps you see your practices with some care, it might be good to do it every five years or so, if someone was good at spreadsheets they could set it up to just plug in the numbers and it would spit out the full cost accounting - it might suggest places that we are worried about which we needn't, or places we should stare hard at and do some tweaking. not the heart of the art for certain, but worth a look occasionally, then when someone asks we can tell them with accuracy.

 

BTW- ive really enjoyed the care and help offered by folks to eachother looking over these chat pages across topics, i hearby declare this a good community for potters, and the education pages are really fruitful also! Thanks folks

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I have a question for all you Potter folks.  Do you fight for a certain "hourly wage" and put that into your prices?  I've seen so many videos and pricing tutorials where they include a desired hourly wage.  I have always figured do the work and sell it for what the market bears, the "result" is your hourly wage.  I've owned a few businesses and I've never tried to force an hourly wage onto myself so it really feels weird when people consider it on pricing mugs or bowls or whatever.  I understand trying to pinpoint your COSTS but it's a hustle, your time is worthless if you aren't selling anything, right?  It's not a cost, it's the cost of working for yourself, am I wrong here?  It costs me less than a dollar in materials and electricity to fire a mug, takes 3 minutes to throw, I don't trim, maybe 3 minutes (being generous here) to add a handle and another 3 to glaze.  If I sell a mug for 15 bucks, that's a healthy wage.  It's never that simple though is it, because the hardest part in it all is lugging that box of mugs around with you to shows, markets, galleries, etc. And actually selling it!  I think that's the part that takes the most time and you'll probably never be happy if you take that into account for your hourly wage, right?

I like the idea of calculating the ideal price for an item, but it's just not that simple is it?  Working for yourself comes at a pretty high cost.

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@liambesaw @keith barber You both will probably appreciate this blog series on pricing by Mea Rhee, who was the business moderator before me, and is still an active community member. Back in 2011, she did a cost analysis of how much money she made based on the different income streams she used at the time. Rather than assigning herself an hourly wage, she tracked the time she spent on various tasks over the course of a year, and figured out how much money she made per hour. 

It’s required reading, in my opinion. 

http://www.goodelephant.com/blog/category/the-hourly-earnings-project

 

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