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I'd like to up my game and break into "making more than the cost of the table", so I'm here for some advice. I've signed up for the application to a few small holiday fairs, and as a ceramic student I've got maybe $100 if I can get someone to loan me some money.

I've been doing my school's "get rid of it before you go home" fair for a few years, but I haven't done anything at those other than put the stuff on the table and say hi to everyone who passes.

 

Questions

  • What kind of work sells well?

  • What kind of setup can I throw together in 3 weeks?

  • I've got some "eh it'll do" work (last year) and some "hey that's good!" (this year). Pricing advice? 

 

the fairs are at my school and a coffee shop, I’m not expecting big spenders, just your general artsy holiday crowd.  

studio turn around is about two weeks from bone dry to glaze fire, so small and quick is good.


 

supplies I have

  • freebie card reader from Paypal

  • sign saying I have said card reader and can take X card

  • car (SUV and I can fold the back seats down)  

  • old work that isn't terrible (images on request)

  • one of those utility shopping carts

  • Permission to use school materials (glazes etc) as long as I’m not working on “to sell” work during class (private studio time is fine. “Make More Work!” Is the school motto)

 

stuff I can beg/borrow

  • my dad who has a wood shop and is willing to help me make things if they aren't very complicated (my skill level, not his.)

  • Possibly an assistant (my brother. Not lots of help, but some.)

  • Maybe stuff from the house if I can promise to bring it back in one piece.

 

limits

  • the fairs I signed up for sell 4 foot and 8 foot tables. no booths here.

  • I’m moving next year to a masters program, and I’m not sure they have a ceramic studio near there (I'll look but I'm not hopeful). I'd rather not make anything huge and/or costly and then have to store it in the meantime.  

 

thank you in advance for your time and help. 

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You don't need much for an indoor show with a table. Get something nice to cover the table with, and some shelving or risers to get some of the work up off the table and provide some visual interest. Wood crates work nicely, or even just some wood blocks. In addition to the supplies on your list, also get some paper (newspaper) to wrap things in and some bags. You can get a pack of plastic grocery bags at Office Max pretty cheap. You'll also need some way to transport all your pots safely.

At the holidays, people are looking for gifts, but nothing too expensive. Small pots are easy to gift. Mugs and cups are a sure thing, and small bowls and small plates are also things that people will buy singles or small sets of. Small lidded jars can also work well. Basically anything that could be given in an office gift exchange, teacher gifts, etc.

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When I do a “table show” and the show provides the table, all of the rest of my display and my pots can fit on one cart load. In other words, you don’t need much! Keep it simple. I agree with the advice to create some various height levels on your table, with shelves or risers. You work has a lot of neutral colors (which is nice) so make sure your table cloth is quieter than your pots. No bright colors or loud patterns. A white tablecloth is never a bad choice. Make boxed corners with your table cloth rather than letting the extra fabric drag on the ground (search youtube for “boxed corner tablecloth” instructions).

Honestly, I would leave Ms. Naked at home. She will distract from the functional pottery and make some people uncomfortable. Save that piece for a different type of event. 

Your list of existing items looks good. Keep making things along those lines, ie small giftable items. Other items to consider are small dishes, small bowls, soap dishes, tea light holders. 

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This time of year you can't go too wrong with Christmas ornaments or mugs. 

If shows aren't going to be something you're doing a lot of, I wouldn't go too nuts in terms of building displays or spending money on it at this point. Others have already made good suggestions. 

I'd add a cash apron to your list of supplies, along with a $50 float. An apron is more secure because your money is always on you, and they're compact, which can be an important consideration if you just have a table space. Some sort of dollar store price stickers are handy, too. Business cards are a nice-to-have, if you think you might want to do this more in the future.

Some of your pricing will depend on where you are, but as a rule it's a good starting point to figure out what the going rate in your area is for various pots, and put yourself in line with that. You won't make too many sales if you're asking way more than the going rate, and it isn't professional to undercut prices. I believe even if you're only ever going to do a show or two, you should still behave professionally, because it does matter. It protects you and your reputation, and it's a courtesy to your customers and your peers.

 

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5 hours ago, Stephen said:

curious on the birdhouses. In Texas we couldn't have pottery birdhouses because of the heat (would turn into an oven) are they intended to be for show?

I’m in New England and apparently pottery bird houses were popular in the colonial era. Mine are mostly decorative. 

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Lots of great ideas here.  For transporting, get free boxes at the liquor store.  Like the birch stump idea for individual pedestals for your bird houses.  A solid dark color cloth works well as a table cover...check your local thrift stores or Mom's linen closet.  Best of luck with your shows!!!!

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19 hours ago, merryrogue said:

I’m in New England and apparently pottery bird houses were popular in the colonial era. Mine are mostly decorative. 

gottcha and I'm sure in your area in a shaded area they might be fine to even use for real. Good luck with your show!

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My rule for transporting things to and from shows is to never use anything that isn't waterproof. That means no cardboard boxes. This is a big deal when you do outdoor shows, but even for indoor shows you never know when you might get stuck carrying things in the rain or snow.

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For transporting, I favor plastic milk crates, (the sturdy ones, not the flimsy ones) with inflexible sides. They are lightweight, stack securely, are built to carry weight and can be used as shelf supports, too. Pots can be packed a little more closely because the sides won't flex. I wrap with brown paper bags which crumple enough for padding. Crates can be lined with trash can liners if wet weather threatens. They're just the right size to lift when full of heavy pots. 

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On 11/12/2018 at 9:43 AM, Rae Reich said:

I favor plastic milk crates

I have to laugh. I had well over 50 of them at one point, each righteously stolen from behind various establishiments late at night, most with a "Property of...(and) Misuse Punishable by Law" notice printed on them. They made up a wall of bookshelves, next to the large Con Ed cable spool I stole to use for a table.  

So, where and how, pray tell, are you getting yours?  :P

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9 hours ago, LeeU said:

I have to laugh. I had well over 50 of them at one point, each righteously stolen from behind various establishiments late at night, most with a "Property of...(and) Misuse Punishable by Law" notice printed on them. They made up a wall of bookshelves, next to the large Con Ed cable spool I stole to use for a table.  

So, where and how, pray tell, are you getting yours?  :P

each righteously stolen from behind various establishments late at night  :P  Some reconfiscated by a Milk Co executive with no fine ;)

Edited by Rae Reich

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