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QotW: Where does one draw the line between deciding what is a second and what is OK to represent your name?

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There has a lot of discussion of late about seconds, and recently yappystudent asked:Q: Where does one draw the line between deciding what is a second and what is OK to represent your name? For that matter, what is a second -perhaps worthy of selling out the back room so to speak albeit with your logo stamped into it forever, and what is junk waiting for the hammer or negative examples shelf? Exemplary work probably speaks for itself, but what about the gray areas below that? A set of rules for these decisions would be helpful. 

Oh the temptations to sell cheap, and make money at the expense of reputation. . . all of us have had it at one time or other. 

Mine came once when I had a perfectly sound paten by looks, really great glaze job, nicely trimmed nice preglaze decoration pressed into the pot when wet. I do a last check on all of my pots. . the ring test. I rap all of them with a light wooden dowel or something else easy on the pot. If it rings it is OK, if it has a double tone or otherwise, it has a hairline crack at sometimes impossible to see. In this case I decided to hold on to it until after I had met with the buyer. He was buying 20 Communion sets for a religious organization. We were talking about quality, and how to tell some things when I brought out the plate and showed him the ring test with the handle of a hammer. He was flabbergasted. . . especially when I used the hammer to break the pot.

All too often, the crack in the bottom, the crawled glaze, or the poor form, or so many other things that go wrong, may not be that bad, but if not up to your norm, then it is bad enough. So when you ask when, if you have to ask, don't keep it. My wife has some of my rejects, that are entirely OK for us to use, but they get recycled out as I get another reject. Lately thankfully there have been very few. As my pots are signed in the green stage, they are all signed. If it is a reject, best to toss it before it comes back to haunt me. And yes, a few have!

As to pieces that are exceptional, put them aside and use them for display, enter juried shows, and make certain you have good photos of them. When you sell, raise the price as this is the ++ line. It always helps to justify that by having them separated from the other pieces in a display of exceptional pieces.

 

best,

Pres

 

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In your question I see two lines, the line between first and second and between second and toss.

There are some standards I think should be relevant to anyone making pottery for sale. For example, if it doesn't work for its intended function or work safely for that function, or if you know it will not be as robust in use as your items typically are (like the interior crack situation you describe), it is tossed (or repurposed as shards for mosaic or something) rather than sold as a second. 

The line between first and second needs to vary by person.  One potter's best ever pot might be a complete embarrassment to a highly, highly proficient potter.   These two will be selling their work at very different price points to account for the great difference in quality. 

That very high quality potter should not even sell as a second something that looks like the work of a far less proficient one.

But the less technically developed potter shouldn't be embarrassed to sell pots that represent his best work in the moment just because he hopes at some point to be, and be considered, highly skilled.  It is very important that pottery is accessible to people across a range of price points, and that purpose is best met when different potters work in different niches.

 

Edited by Gabby

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Seconds are just that pots that have flaws-if that flaw can hurt someone it should be tossed out. I have many a second working in the kitchen.Say a chip and dip used for pot lucks-

I do not take seconds to art shows much. I do have a few local shows I save them for if they are fully functional and are super minor flaws.I tend to put them aside and occasionally I will have a metal shift and toss them all out. But if I get a box full I have will take it to a local show and leave it in the box. I often give these away as well.

If that pot functions and the flaw is safe its second.The main thing is can you live with this pot if say you see it at a friends house. Thats the benchmark for me keeping a second.I like Min said below have to explain the reason as they are minor-and the price is 1/2 off as well.

Edited by Mark C.

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I do sell "seconds" but you have to really look hard to see why they are seconds. I always try and point out why something is a second to a potential customer and 99 out of a 100 times the customer will say "Well that's what gives it character". I smile and think to myself no, you just are pleased to be paying 1/2 price for the pot. ;)

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Eating lunch today brought this thread to mind. These items that I've used myself are seconds, and I didn't really want to sell them, and I thought they'd be good to see how some of these glazes hold up under daily use.  (So far, so good.)

The salad dish I just plain screwed up the glazing on, with parts that are too thin,  and places where the outer glaze snuck into the inside because I wasn't being mindful enough. I can hear all kinds of people, including my mother in law, saying "but it's there's nothing wrong with that!" And compared to when I started making, this piece would have been a great deal better than anything I made then. But if I compare it to what I can make now, it doesn't fly. It doesn't have the crispness I want, and it won't stand up over time the way a properly glazed piece will. If I had planted some succulents in it, it would have flown out of my booth, but I didn't want to do that. Partly because I needed a lunch dish and wanted a tester, but also because it would have involved putting more time and materials into a piece that I could re-make a lot faster.

 

The mug is a second for different reasons. As you can see pretty easily, the glaze crawled. What is maybe less legible is that this form is actually a lot more graceful than it appears in this photo, and has some great flowing slip work that is being  totally obscured because the base glaze I used is more like a bulky cable knit sweater than the light, clingy cardigan I wanted.  This experiment brought me quite close to the results I wanted, so I meant to hold on to it until I got the base glaze right, which I since have. But because it has a nice hand feel and it's a good size, I kept it. I wouldn't sell it because it's an idea that's not worked out properly yet. 

Now, my reasoning works for these pots because they're isolated incidents in failure, so to speak. I can choose to hold onto them because they don't really represent any serious loss of revenue.  If an entire kiln load had gone this way, I would have to take a harder look at how to salvage that many with an economic amount of input. 

image.jpeg

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Yeh, not happy with it toss it.

I put a number of them on fence posts on the roads around here and they vanish.

Planet too depleted to smash stuff which some else had use for.

I do put such. In some and donate to street stalls for various charities.

I made a commemorative book ,2 actually, not happy with one I contacted the client and told her to find another potter. She did.

So months later I dropped off her pot details, my stencils And the cracked book.

Never do this. She then cancelled her order with other potter and she displays my flawed pot in her guesthouse, all for free And to my distaste.

 

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Well, it depends. Are you going for a single sale or a repeat customer?

It’s bad enough when your early ‘good’ work comes back to haunt you ... cannot imagine how horrible it would be to meet a second in the hands of a potter I admire.

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I am getting more and more ruthless with Mr. Hammer.

Except that one time: I let a batch go to a group for an event they were having.  Incense cone burners with their symbol on them.  They weren't flawed, but I would call them 'seconds' because they just did not come up to my own vision for the design of the pieces.  I should have made new ones, but I didn't. The people clearly liked their pieces just fine--but I really didn't and it still haunts me.  

In terms of drawing that line, I have committed myself to "no seconds" for sale or for gifts.  

 

 

Edited by LeeU

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Years ago while in grad school during the Summer, I through over a hundred pieces during the class. It was with a potter that was into raku and he wanted everyone to throw looser shapes. I hated it. I through mostly raku, but quite a few stoneware also. In the end, when all was finished I had about 80 pieces that went on a back porch of our  3 room apartment. The alley was near the porch, and even though closed in to waist high, by the end of the following Winter most of the pieces had . . . .  vanished! Imagine that!  Later in life I have walked into a home and seen an old raku piece setting on a mantle in a favored room. Hmmmm, Is that signed EPRice on the bottom? Now both of us had a secret that we did not share. . he scrarfted it. . . . and I had left out a second. 

Since then I have not left pieces just lay around, as someone will love to have them, if so they should pay for them, and it they pay, I should make certain they are not seconds.

 

best,

Pres

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Well I understand the sentiments expressed by all.

Is it pride, ego or what at play?

Any pot made by the potter is a minute spec on her/his path.

So you are not happy with that spec and you move on....

You value the spec , sell it

You're not happy with it does it matter if some else uses it.

Today  one only has to Google the potter and you can see the pots  of the potter and what ones the potter is happy selling.

So what is at play?

My cupboard is full of mug seconds . Friends ask why that one is a second and I fill them in. We all drink our tea happily.

My cupboard fills. Least used. .op shop. Or fence post. We all like finding treasures 

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For me it is not pride or ego ... it is in my nature. I simply cannot sell a pot I believe to be a ‘second’ at any price.

I have learned that for me ... a ‘second’ is a second before bisque. Nothing in a firing is going to save it. No glaze or decoration is going to do magic. No raku voodoo is going to hide it. So I don’t bisque it. No piece is so precious it cannot be made again.

Set your own standards on what is a second for you, then live with it.

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