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Producing Dinner Ware


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#1 Red Rocks

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 10:10 AM

I want to start a new thread on producing dinnerware and use the post I put up from another thread as part of the starting point. I would like to get a discussion going around dinnerware using this simple set of questions as a way to jump-in:
1. How many of you successfully produce and sell dinnerware?
2. What price do you sell a place setting for?
3. Do you see demand going up or down?
4. Do you get pull-through for other pieces because they bought the dinnerware - like serving bowls, pitchers, etc.
5. Are your customers buying for themsevles or for a major gift?
6. Are you using any creative marketing techniques specific to dinnerware?

I hope we can get a lively discussion going on this topic.

#2 Red Rocks

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 10:17 AM

Here is the post from the other thread. It has more to do with producing dinnerware, so I would like to add this to the discussion in the hopes we can share lessons learned from making dinnerware. The topic of plate setters is a good one because I think it does really facilitate a smarter, more efficient way to make plates.

I just finished reading an old thread on Clay Art where there was a very spirited discussion on plate setters. In the end, it appears that the consensus was they make a great deal of sense. In fact, John Baymore had a couple of great posts on the subject that would really be worth reposting here if he is so inclined.

I plan to buy both the round and square Cone 11 setters and so far, Bailey looks like the best place to get them - even though they are all the way on the other side of the country. If any one knows a supplier of the type of plate setters like Bailey sells on the west coast, I would really appreciate the name(s).

Please share any ideas not only on the plate setters but on what you have learned works and what doesn't in regards to producing successful dinnerware.



#3 Chris Campbell

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 10:59 AM

I've only ever made one dinnerware set which I count as two ... first and last! :P

but ... my experience in looking for them, tells me that not many potters are producing reasonably priced dinnerware sets. Or, if they are, they are not marketing them very well.
I've often looked for online for dinnerware and serving pieces to give as wedding gifts and its amazing how few potters promote "Gift Registries" or "Wedding Registries" which I think of as a 'no brainer' marketing wise. Michael Obranovich ( http://www.obranovich.com ) promotes this very well and has landed all of our family/friends weddings. Its easy to order, reasonably priced and has always been shipped on time with no breakage. The brides who received the work as shower gifts added them to their wish list for wedding gifts.

So you might say ...Chris why are you shopping online instead of going to nearby studios/galleries etc etc ... Guilty!!
But ... I don't always have all day to spend looking for the right piece.
Another reason why you should have a great website and sell from it if supporting yourself with your pottery is your goal.

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#4 GEP

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 11:38 AM

1. How many of you successfully produce and sell dinnerware?
I make and sell a lot of dinnerware, though it's still a small percentage of my overall output. I generally bring a stack of dinner plates and salad plates to every show, and sell most of them. Also, some of my galleries order quite a lot of it, I think they must specialize in tableware.

2. What price do you sell a place setting for?

Dinner plate $30, salad plate $22, small 4" square dipping bowl (for sushi) $10.

3. Do you see demand going up or down?

Neither, pretty steady.

4. Do you get pull-through for other pieces because they bought the dinnerware - like serving bowls, pitchers, etc.

Sometimes.

5. Are your customers buying for themsevles or for a major gift?

Usually for themselves.

6. Are you using any creative marketing techniques specific to dinnerware?

Like Chris said, wedding registries are a gold mine. I haven't done one in a few years, but would gladly do more. I say it's "like a wholesale order with no discount." Registries are pretty much guaranteed to sell out. You need to be in a social group where lots of people are getting married. Potters who do registries start with their kids' weddings, then their kids' friends. Then their nephew, then their nephew's friends. Etc.

Teresa Chang does a lot of registries ... check out her website: http://teresachang.com



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#5 Mark C.

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:55 PM

I want to start a new thread on producing dinnerware and use the post I put up from another thread as part of the starting point. I would like to get a discussion going around dinnerware using this simple set of questions as a way to jump-in
How many of you successfully produce and sell dinnerware?

I do and have for over 35 years
What price do you sell a place setting for?
What's in a place setting as that has changed a lot over the years-
The old school was 4 pieces now it mostly 3 pieces and sometimes just two
I add about 15% to piece price to fire them all together to match in my reduction loads. Dinner plates-30$ salad 20$ at galleries from me less
3. Do you see demand going up or down?
I have seen a bit less thru shows and a bit more thru my outlets-People no longer want huge sets as in the distant past.
Often now they get plates then later the mugs or bowls.
At several shows I sell flatware to them then the next year other forms
4. Do you get pull-through for other pieces because they bought the dinnerware - like serving bowls, pitchers, etc.
Always
5. Are your customers buying for themselves or for a major gift?
themselves only a few gifts over 35 years+
6. Are you using any creative marketing techniques specific to dinnerware?
I always have a stack of two color plates in salad and dinner size at all shows-I'm one of the few to do this so yes this marking tool works for me
As to things not asked-if a customer buys dinnerware they usually alway over time add to it. Other orders spin off when friends over use it and want some them selves
Having a stock on had always makes it sell better-having my outlets carry plates sometime produces an order but usually sell what they have on hand more than orders.I only do a few colors now as that is easier to stock for me all the time. I keep a stack of bisqued plates in both sizes ready to fire anytime. This has paid off big over time.
I keep a box of fired plates as well to grab as needed.

Mark
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#6 Red Rocks

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:54 AM

Thanks for all the great responses. I really liked the two web sites, the first for presentation and the beauty of the work and Teresa Chang’s both for the beauty and for her work on the use of a registry as a marketing tool. Her site seems to be slow today, but I can see conceptually how she has it set up. They put a lot of work into the back end of the site to support it but I think well worth the effort.

I think wedding/gift registries are a significant untapped resource and one of the reasons we picked Sedona for building our studio. They have 4000 weddings a year here! As part of our marketing plan, we will build out a registry on our web site as well as network /build relationships with the wedding planners and the concierges at the hotels.

In my research on excellent web sites, I found another one that really leverages a registry concept as well as does a great job of presenting his outstanding work. It is: http://www.waynebates.com/index.html

#7 Red Rocks

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:00 AM

Another inspiration on dinnerware is John Glick. He is a magnificant potter as well as a wonderful writer sharing over the years lessons he has learned. Dinnerware has always been one of his passions and his customers love it so much that at one point he had over a five year backlog on his dinnerware. I am attaching an excellent article he wrote many years ago about producing dinnerware.

Also here is a link to his web site - worth looking at and worth reading the other articles he has posted on his site:

http://www.plumtreep...y.com/articles/

Attached Files



#8 JBaymore

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 12:45 PM

In fact, John Baymore had a couple of great posts on the subject that would really be worth reposting here if he is so inclined.


Red Rocks,

Thanks for the kind words there. :) I'd be glad to ressurect that posting here if you can give me a link to the location for the specific stuff you are talking about above.

I used to be very, very active on the CLAYART listserve..... so there is a lot in the old archives that I wrote "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away". I stopped being very involved there because of the bickering and off-topic crap that was flooding the list.

In fact, I chaired and was on a panel called "Computers in the Studio" at the 1984 (?) Boston NCECA conference in which I talked about the eventual use of online communications for stuff that evolved into things like the old Glazebase location and also Clayart. http://www.johnbaymo...om/page107.html http://www.johnbaymore.com/page80.html

So...... find me the links and I'll re-post it here in this thread.

best,

.........................john
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Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#9 Red Rocks

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:20 PM

John:

Here is the link - you actually have two very good posts here.

http://www.potters.o...bject42438.htm/

Mike

#10 JBaymore

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 12:17 PM

Here (below) are the old CLAYART postings I wrote that Red Rocks is mentioning above. They are from June 2001. I have copied only the written material that I wrote and hence own... since I do not "own" the rights to the other poster's comments in that thread nor which I quoted in my posting. I was responding to comments on the list that someone else made in the first one about the tendency of plates to always warp on plate setters. In the second posting I was clarifying my comments in the first posting and elaborating on them. If you need the full context, please hit the link above to the CLAYART Archives (that link will soon go bad when the CLAYART archives get moved to a new server).

First posting about "plate setters":

Anne,

Hi. I've been using plate setters for about 23 years and have NO problems
with excessive warping. I woodfire stoneware to cone 10-ish and utilize
numerous claybodies. Without plate setters I'd be firing too many
refractories and not enough plates in a load. Plate setters allow nice
loading densities with flat forms.

Nothing inherent in good plate setters that will cause warping......
otherwise industry wouldn't have developed them
. If the setter is
warped...... that is another story.....just like a warped kiln shelf.

Every now and then I chuck a worn out setter. BTW.... a "plate setter" can
simply be a smaller kiln shelf with three short posts set ont top of a
larger kiln shelf in a stack. I use a bunch of 12 inch x 12 inch x 3/8
inch shelves and 2 inch posts to set my rectangular sushi plates on in tall
bungs.

Plate warping, in my experience, seems to stem from throwing or
handbuilding techniques, HANDLING of the pieces in process, drying
unevenness, or warped kiln shelves. Pyroplasticity (getting soft in the
kiln) CAN cause problems ........ but plate setters should support the foot
area enough so that this is not an issue.

Design of a piece CAN affect warping, and design concepts should always
extend to designing for the firing of the pieces. A very pyroplastic body
used to make a plate that is suspended on isolated projecting feet can
easily sag between the feet. This will warp on either a shelf OR a plate
setter.

This is also why things like "bone china" (exceptionally pyroplastic) are
high fired to develop the fluxed body in setters that are more like slump
molds without glaze, and then glaze fired at a lower temp.

Lee Love's and Ron Roy's comments on this were excellent.

Best,

..............john


Second posting:

Hi All.

Got a private email offlist that indicated that I was a little less than
clear with my last post on plate setters. So here is a copy of what I HOPE
is a clarification I have sent to that person....... bet I confused others here too. Sorry about that
.

<Editing out the quotes I included in the original here>
Typically, a handcraft potter just utilizes a "normal" kiln shelf to set
plates on. This might be a 12 x 24 x 3/4 silicon carbide shelf with maybe
three 2" x 2" x 2" posts to support it. This shelf might only hold two 10"
dinner plates plus a couple of small low "fillers". The thermal mass of
this shelf / post combination is about 20 pounds of what will take totally
wasted heat energy to fire up. The same two plates can be placed on
individual plate setters that weigh only about 5 pounds (or less) each.

That is about a HUGE 50 percent savings in the heat energy utilized to fire
the SHELVES and POSTS ....not the ware. If you can "cram" three plates on
the normal shelf using a lot of overhang.... watch warping
.........
this STILL represents at least a 25 percent savings in heat energy.

That is the main reason why someone would use plate setters.

This is also why modern (expensive) shelves like the Crystar and Advancer
are so nice. They are thinner and hence weigh much less than "traditional"
shelves for the same "span", yet are actually stronger than a "traditional"
shelf. Yes... they save a little space to stack more stuff in........
maybe 1/2" of height per shelf used......... but that is incidental to the
heat energy savings.

The big reason to use these if you can is the save your BACK.......... they
are SO thin and light!!!!! A true JOY!

Plate setters ALSO minimize your handling of so many larger kiln
shelves.... and therefore help your back too.

Next......... all of the thermal mass of large "normal" kiln shelves
stacked close together with layer after layer of plates causes a "lag" in
the penetration of the heat energy to the interior of all those shelves.

Cordierite and high alumina shelves are worse in this regard than silicon
carbide due to differences in thermal conductivity figures..... but all
shelves exhibit this tendency. If this isn't taken into account in the
firing schedule, it is possible to have defects and seconds caused by the
fact that the center of the stacking is not at what the witness cones SAY
the reat of the general kiln chamber is at. So not only do you have to
heat all those heavy refractories, you often have to lengthen the
firing...... which utilizes even MORE heat energy.

You can "open up" the height of the stacking on the "normal" shelves to
improve heat transfer by giving the plates a lot more clearance ...... but
that defeats the efficiency purpose even more.

A plate setter exposes the plate all along it's outer periphery to the
radiant heat energy bouncing around the kiln, so it fosters excellent
transfer to the center of each individual plate..... even though the
vertical clearance from one setter to the next is pretty darn
tight.....which saves space in the kiln. Plus...the setter each plate's
foot is sitting on is very thin and lightweight and doesn't take much heat
energy to "heat up". So there is less "thermal lag" in the stack of plates
on setters.

A plate setter can "get away" with being thin because it spans only a very
short horizontal distance and carries very little weight on that span.

They don't sag much because of this and remain flat for a LONG time. The
vertical "legs" line up directly one over the other and in compression can
support a lot of weight.... so they can easily be stacked in tall columns,
usually called "bungs" (after "bungs" of saggers.....haven't got a clue as
to the exact historical derrivation of THAT term
). Sometimes I will
fire "bungs" of plates on setters that are 3 feet tall. These tall stacks
go on the top of the general stacking, along with the other tallest pieces.

Hope this clarifies my last post.

BEst,

.......................john




John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#11 WillowTreePottery

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 07:59 AM

Wedding registries and dinnerware seems to be about all I am doing these days, that and urns. (Wondering what that says about our times?)



Plates range form 30-40 depending on diameter.
Salad or soup bowls 15-20 depending on style

6 in Side plates are 18

Mug is 24.

Cup and saucer is 40.



I am working without plate setters and find this pretty "kiln" consuming, does anyone have recommendations for places that I can purchase good ones for c 10 gas firing?



Kathy

#12 Red Rocks

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 07:40 PM

Wedding registries and dinnerware seems to be about all I am doing these days, that and urns. (Wondering what that says about our times?)



Plates range form 30-40 depending on diameter.
Salad or soup bowls 15-20 depending on style

6 in Side plates are 18

Mug is 24.

Cup and saucer is 40.



I am working without plate setters and find this pretty "kiln" consuming, does anyone have recommendations for places that I can purchase good ones for c 10 gas firing?


Kathy


I am going to let John B, Mark C and any others with direct results answer this question as they seem to have a lot of experience with them. I use to make a boatload of dinnerware, many moons ago and wish I knew about plate setters. They make total sense. Way more efficient for kiln space and I believe they will actually reduce warping because you are setting them on a "smaller shelf" if you will. I hope to close on a property here in Sedona soon and plate setters will definitely be a part of my startup order. For what it’s worth, the research I have done on this subject has me leaning towards buying them from Bailey. I have heard Tacoma Arts and Highwater also carry them. I will be most interested to hear the recommendations we get here.



#13 WillowTreePottery

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 09:46 AM

I will watch the thread tp see what the people experienced in using plate setters say.
Kathy

#14 Mark C.

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 10:47 AM

I'm using advancer shelves and for dinnerware thats two plates on a 12x24 or 3 salad plates on a 12x24.
Not even thinking about setters shelves-as it's already a space saver with these super this shelves-they weigh 9#s empty so its a back saver as noted above.
They make them for electrics and they are spendy but will pay for themselves in time if you fire a lot or if dinnerware is what your are doing.Once you try one you will never go back.
Mark
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#15 WillowTreePottery

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 11:03 PM

I have 2 Advancers and would love to have enough for the whole kiln but since I don't I think plate setters would be a better alternative, I have 20 plates to fire and it is important that at least 12 get into one load for glaze consistency.

#16 Red Rocks

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:49 PM

Since no one jumped in and answered Willow Tree directly, I would say go with the Bailey Plate Setters. I have done a lot of recent research on these and their approach seems to make the most sense. When I get my kiln up and running, they are the ones I plan to buy for both cone 6 and 10 in a gas kiln.

Good luck and keep us posted on how it works out.

#17 Lucille Oka

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 10:44 PM

Mark why is this happening to your posts?? May I make a suggestion? Compose your posts on a 'word program' then copy and paste. Do us this favor so that your posts can read.
John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#18 Mark C.

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 11:12 PM

Lucille
The post above which is terrible looking was done in word then pasted up.

Then I went back in the edit mode of this website to change one word and this mess showed up.
Its not the 1st time this happened .I usually go thru it all and clean it all up but I left this to show what's happening-Its a pain in the butt-to say the least
I have gotten frustrated many times and just let the post go and cancel it all due to frustration.How many time must I log in? Usually 2 times to post two lines.
If I forget to save it all goes away
It will do it on both my macs-I could smart phone this if I wanted to go mad with small keyboard.
I would be happier if the powers that be redid this software to mesh with macs better-I get tired of constantly logging in as it logs me out in about 1 minute.
Its a battle for me that I'm losing slowly.
Mark
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#19 Mark C.

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 11:14 PM

If I where not using advancers I would order the setters from Bailey. I even thought about it when I placed my Bailey order last week but for me with advancers it does not add up.
Mark
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#20 WillowTreePottery

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 07:23 AM

I looked at the Bailey ones. I think I will go with the c 10 ones then I should be able to use them at both mid and hi range firings. thanks




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