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shawnhar

Reputation for selling cheap pottery

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Also, in regards to selling your work, as  a beginner, if it is functional, safe to use, etc I don't see a problem with it. 

We are all growing as artists.  Not only have our skills developed over time, but so have our taste.  Forms and glazes, that we may have liked, at one time, might not interest us anymore.  The same is true for any artist, in any media; Painters, photographers, designers, etc.  This doesn't mean that earlier work is worthless.  So if your work is well made (No cracks, horribly uneven spots, overly thick) and you've got a proper glaze on it, by all means, sell away. 

As Mea said, she has family with some of her earlier work, that she would rather "Didn't exist anymore".  I too have some out there.  They are all gifts, but that doesn't diminish my distaste for them.  I can happily report, that a few of them were liberated from my Grandparent's, when I helped during a move...

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On 4/20/2018 at 6:19 PM, GEP said:

$30,000/year with $5 pots is 6000 pots per year. Is that realistic?

I make about 2000 pots per year, and trying to lower that number this year to be easier on my body.

@Mark C. might be making 6000 pots per year, but keep in mind he’s been doing this for 40 years. That kind of speed and skill cannot be gained quickly. 

I hate to say this but its more than the 6,000 per year-yesterday was my easy day -I counted the stuff just to see what an easy day was.

fire two glaze fires threw 24 square chopstick bowls and trimmed them

Did 3 square slab plates-finished them with the suns heat

30 sponge holders cut and finished-extruded 25 soap dishes -sponged and holed them

did a fair amount of misc outside studio as well

see if I counted this stuff I would go nuts

Edited by Mark C.

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That's awesome Mark. I'd be thrilled at this point just to throw 20 "anythings" in one day. (Pretty sure I could throw 20 bowls, but also pretty sure I would not be proud of them, lol)

 How did you dry the feet enough to trim the same day you threw?

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On ‎4‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 8:19 PM, GEP said:

$30,000/year with $5 pots is 6000 pots per year. Is that realistic?

I make about 2000 pots per year, and trying to lower that number this year to be easier on my body.

@Mark C. might be making 6000 pots per year, but keep in mind he’s been doing this for 40 years. That kind of speed and skill cannot be gained quickly. 

here's the thing I've found.  I also drive for uber and this is easer to understand as an example.  I really only drive on Friday and Saturday nights because that's when I make money.  yes I can drive other days and make enough money to pay for gas and maybe a burger but I would go crazy basically selling my self short.   so point is  maybe you could make $30,000 but all the work you put in to making those 6000 pots  seeing someone sell just one mug for $25 would set you off the deep end.   plus  $30,000/yr would equal $15,000 after all the cost  and how many pots did you make that failed.  all I see for selling for $5 is heart ache  unless you threw 6000 pots they were done fired and you started throwing more and you were like o crap  where am I going to put this new stuff well I guess I'll just sell the old ones.   sell your self for what you would buy you things for if you sell out raise the price.       

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Completely agree and I have no intention of selling anything that cheap and I do't think anyone was actually suggesting it was possible, just pointing out how incredibly difficult it would be.

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8 hours ago, shawnhar said:

That's awesome Mark. I'd be thrilled at this point just to throw 20 "anythings" in one day. (Pretty sure I could throw 20 bowls, but also pretty sure I would not be proud of them, lol)

 How did you dry the feet enough to trim the same day you threw?

I throw porcelain which dries much faster and  more evenly than stoneware. I also throw any pot 8#s and under on plaster bats I made. This dries the foot as fast and even as the lip.

I can throw dry and Trim and dry all on same day if it sunny out.I put the work outside.

if not sunny my shop heater can do the same in same day as well just not as fast.

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On 4/26/2018 at 7:30 PM, Mark C. said:

I throw porcelain which dries much faster and  more evenly than stoneware. I also throw any pot 8#s and under on plaster bats I made. This dries the foot as fast and even as the lip.

I can throw dry and Trim and dry all on same day if it sunny out.I put the work outside.

if not sunny my shop heater can do the same in same day as well just not as fast.

Learning to throw dry (ok, very little water) saves lots of drying time. It also minimizes slop clean-up.

Edited by Rae Reich

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I guess I just see a good pot is a good pot, a second is a good pot that has a small blemish that keeps it from being top shelf and trash is trash. I wouldn't sell or give away junk period. What's the point? if it didn't work, it didn't work. Toss it and move on. it's a part of the journey. No one likes tossing a finished pot but its just the nature of the beast.   

I just recommend ya go get 7-8 tubs and just start building your show inventory. You're going to need a few hundred pots to fill a booth and do a 3 day show. Wrap the the good pots and box them up for your first show and send the near misses to your wife's shop and trash the rest (like we all do). By the time you have 2-300 nice pots for your show inventory you will be making less and less junk and it will all work itself out. I guarantee you that after your first show, no matter how picky you are when you first judge your work, you will have a couple more boxes of pottery for your wife's shop. 

Now having said all that above, I drink out of my very first mug that went all the way through to glazing most days and it is a really, really bad pot that functions extremely well B)

 

 

 

 

  

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shawnhar, you asked how to trim the same day a pot is thrown.  the answer is do not use a ton of water, throw the pot and trim as you finish it.  if your cylinders start out like a ski slope, learn how to get a finger under the edge right at the wheelhead and lift the wall.  save time, effort and frustration by learning how to do it right at the beginning.

 

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On 4/20/2018 at 3:06 PM, LeeU said:

Cheap, sub-par, not up to standard...cheap, sub-par, not up to standard...." Those beginner pots I would not have sold, they are "My Memaw took a pottery class and made this" level to me" really says it all.  I often try to find "an easier, softer, way" but have come to learn there ain't no such thing.  The practice of putting poor goods out on the market also cheapens the craft, dilutes the art, and detracts from the professionalism of ceramicists/potters/clay artists, in my opinion. The public, in effect, is being "taught" that cheap, sub-par, not up to standard "is" the standard. I think that does a disservice to the field in general.  

I do not want my "less than" pieces floating around my community, signed or not signed. It is sorely tempting, but in the long run just not worth it if I want to cultivate a decent reputation for decent work...

...your kidding, right?...

Edited by Rex Johnson

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shawnhar

I get your concerns about justifying buying equipment (a wheel) but it really has nothing to do with how much you sell. At least as your starting out and learning.

I'll dare to recommend that both you and your spouse need to put the cost vs. return equation on hold.

There is so much work and learning involved in just the making itself, even before the glaze/firing steps.

There's a million beginners/hobbyists/retirees that have that vision of making pottery and there's another million with their Skutt kilns and pottery wheels for sale for a multitude of reasons that equated to not being able to make it happen. However most of them had that, however brief, moment of enjoyment in the 'making'.

In the end, that's what counts. It's why most of us started out doing it in the beginning.

So take them MeMaw bits and set 'em on a shelf, toss them in the trash, or put them in the second hand store.  Better yet, if you don't want to do any of those things, use them for garden art.

In the big picture, it doesn't really matter and it carries no bearing on your personal success.

Either way it's a long row to hoe, so keep practicin'...

B)

Edited by Rex Johnson

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There is all kinds of cost going into making a pot.  But I cost out mine and I set my profit margins according to where I am selling. Know your audience.  There's a difference between selling at a local farmers market than in a gallery.  It's the clientele.  But no gallery is going to put a beginner in their shop.  Costing it out, is a little time consuming, but then you can come to a reasonable price. 

 Cost out on one piece.  how much did the clay cost per pound?

Cost of delivery or travel cost in gas (mileage is a deduction). 

Cost of glaze (Shop recipe( cost out each ingredient in recipe  vs Commercial). I calculate when I buy my raw material(cost/#, delivery cost, labor to make a batch, cost per recipe (gram). 

Cost of the bisque and Glaze firing.  (this is best by doing a full load of the same kind of piece).  Every kiln is a bit different.  You can Google the formula: Calculating the cost of firing an electric kiln.  Of course summer rates can be different than winter, unless you have locked in the price with your electric provider.  I pay .11/Kw. once you have this you can divided the cost by the amount of pieces fired.  A single $8.00 firing divided by 50 pieces = .16 each. 

Cost of your total time from start to finish make a mug (before firing) based on what you would pay yourself per hour. Exp. (15 minutes or 25% of $20.00=$5.00) then add in the cost per piece fired + cost / # clay. = your cost. Set a profit margin you want 

Keep records is very important as material cost can change.  It's seems like a lot, but once you've done it you will have a good idea if you should be a potter and sweat blood and tears or get a day job. 

Watch the videos here and there and take a class or work for a seasoned potter that can train you in exchange for work or practice practice practice. Make mistakes and learn from them. It takes years to find your talent as a potter.  But only the goods ones get reclaimed and pugged when they died.  At least you came to the right place for answers. That's a good start.

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I 'rule of thumb' figure price per pound + fuel + glaze = cost then double it unless it entails more work to make (i.e. lidded pieces).

Pieces I think hit the mark I'll either set aside or ask gallery prices for. A medium-large mixing bowl for instance can go anywhere from $20 to $75.

...and I do have a 'seconds' shelf in my studio.... :P

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I disagree that you can set the sale price by calculating the cost, time, etc. You can calculate your profits that way, but all other things being equal, do you lower your prices as you get faster at making pots? Do professionals charge less for their work than less experienced potters because they buy raw materials in larger/cheaper quantities and make pots faster? Nope.

You have to figure out what your pots are worth- what people will pay for them, then figure out how to make them fast and cheap enough to make the margins you want. That might mean making lower margins for a few years as you improve your speed AND improve the quality of your work so that it demands higher prices. That's why people usually slowly transition into making pots full time, and have a 'real' job while they are improving their skills.

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Well, I think you're both right. The beginner needs to have some kind of estimate of what their time/materials will have to earn. That number can then be compared with similar items on the market. That's when it gets real. 

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" Those beginner pots I would not have sold, they are "My Memaw took a pottery class and made this" level, but my wife's argument is I would have thrown away 50 bucks already... "

Think of it this way, if you sell four 2# $5 pots, that will buy a 50# box of clay.

The price of clay is the base margin for profit. It's the cheapest part of the equation.

Edited by Rex Johnson

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I had already calculated the cost of making mugs, assuming 20 per bag and 3 trips to the studio required to make one. The cost to make will go up slightly when I get the studio space and a key, but my per hour cost will go down since I can go whenever I want, also not get kicked out at 5 on Sat, and hopefully the per hour creation ratio will improve, right now it's 43 minutes per mug.

Item cost   cost to make  Price for me paid $10hr
25# Bag o clay 16   3.67 10.65
daily drive 6      
batch drive 18      
         
studio month 105      
studio day 13.125      
per 3 day batch 39.375    

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There is also the issue of 'perceived value'. You will generally sell more mugs at $16 that you will at $10. Why? Because people don't always know what makes a good mug or a bad mug, but they know that better art costs more. So if the guy down the street is selling mugs at $18, and you're selling mugs at $10, then the other guy must be a better potter and they should probably buy his work. I've literally seen this happen several times with potter friends of mine, and a photographer. When they raised their prices, they sold more.

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On 6/5/2018 at 6:23 PM, neilestrick said:

You have to figure out what your pots are worth- what people will pay for them, then figure out how to make them fast and cheap enough to make the margins you want. That might mean making lower margins for a few years as you improve your speed AND improve the quality of your work so that it demands higher prices. That's why people usually slowly transition into making pots full time, and have a 'real' job while they are improving their skills.

So true, there is a guy in the studio that drives to Nashville every weekend because no one here will pay 30 bucks for a mug, but they will there.

My wife and I have decided to put the idea of a business on hold and just focus on getting to the point I can feel confident doing the farmer's market and a couple of shows, build up some inventory and take it slow. It's only been 83 days since I first went to the studio after all, and my wife has sold 16 pieces for a total of $150, has sold almost all my planters.

We went to an arts festival last weekend and I got to talk to some potters and see the wares, that was great to be able to compare my current progress to what they are selling. Made me feel a lot better about where I'm at and I plan to visit a few of them at their studios.

Perceived value also goes both ways and I can tell this is going to be a "long row to hoe" for me in regards to "art" and it's value. I am not an artist and have a certain view of it, if I can't perceive the skill, it's not art and has no value to me. I see my pots the same way, I only see value in the skill it took to create it, and right now there isn't much skill, so my mugs are only worth 5 bucks, but, that covers the cost of making it, which makes this a self sustaining endeavor. My personality will always see flaws in every pot, or at least how it could have been better, so I can see that being a barrier for me personally when I get to the point I am going to shows or selling full price somewhere. Right now it's kind of nice just to be able to say I sold something I made out of clay, and be OK with the flaws since  they are selling at a discount price anyway.

 But to me, I still haven't made a pot that would be priced out of my wife's shop, even though she has 50 bucks on one of my bowls and will probably get that for it. Hoping the glazed batch of a dozen or so will be ready tonight and maybe, a few of them will meet my internal quality goal and become actual inventory, maybe.

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4 hours ago, neilestrick said:

There is also the issue of 'perceived value'. You will generally sell more mugs at $16 that you will at $10. Why? Because people don't always know what makes a good mug or a bad mug, but they know that better art costs more. So if the guy down the street is selling mugs at $18, and you're selling mugs at $10, then the other guy must be a better potter and they should probably buy his work. I've literally seen this happen several times with potter friends of mine, and a photographer. When they raised their prices, they sold more.

This is absolutely true and what I've always believed.

In general, peoples nature tells them 'bigger=better'. That's one formula.

However, you may have a slew of $3-$5 items and they might take a comparable amount of effort to produce than, say, slightly larger pieces.

But there's the other factor. Many, and maybe more discerning buyers, will look at the price and think 'Cheap", and they don't want something that's cheap either in price or size.

It makes them actually feel better if they pay a higher price for a piece. Beauty is in the eye (and maybe in the wallet) indeed...

Edited by Rex Johnson

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