Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Cost of pots


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Karen B

Karen B

    Potter 1981-present

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 187 posts
  • LocationMassachusetts

Posted 28 August 2012 - 06:54 AM

I would greatly appreciate help as I have been basically winging it when it comes to pricing my pottery as I
don't know the cost. I fire twice electric, cone 04 and 6. I glaze from large batches I mixed from bulk materials.
I buy clay in bulk.

Could someone help me with a method or formula to figure out my cost per pot?
I remember that in some studios, they price costs for students at a certain price per square inch.
So I'm guessing this is based on some formula to figure costs. Thank you.


#2 Marcia Selsor

Marcia Selsor

    Professor Emerita, Montana State University-Billings

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,064 posts
  • Locationwhere Texas, Matamoros, Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico come together.

Posted 28 August 2012 - 08:05 AM

Karen,
Here are some Precise numbers will vary greatly because of potential variables like:
type of clay vary in costs significantly, quantities purchased, shipping,
electricity: varies significantly in price per KWH
glaze costs, purchasing chemicals, shipping or pick up?
your hourly wage to produced the pieces, are you slow or fast?
How much time, hours per week do you do bookkeeping or pr?
Getting pots to market: selling at fairs? cost overhead
Selling to shops? their %
Mea had an excellent breakdown last year, if you go back and look at her blog.


Marcia

#3 neilestrick

neilestrick

    Neil Estrick

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,794 posts
  • LocationGrayslake, IL

Posted 28 August 2012 - 08:57 AM

I am of the opinion that unless you are using a process that for whatever reason is very expensive to do, like super long firings or lots of lusters or whatever, then the cost of making your pots doesn't really affect the retail price of your pots. The cost of clay is low- less than 50 cents for a mug. The cost per pot for firing is low- a few cents per pot if you load your kiln right. The cost of glazes is low- a few cents per pot. Whenever this conversation comes up, someone inevitably creates a formula that takes into account the time it took them to make the pot, the cost of raw materials, and their overhead costs. Using such a formula ends up with a retail price that is higher for those who buy clay at higher prices, have high overhead and work slowly, and lower for those that buy in bulk and work quickly. That just doesn't make sense.

Pricing is all about the market. There is a price that people are willing to pay, and you have to find it. So start with similar prices to other artists where you are selling and go from there.
Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#4 Marcia Selsor

Marcia Selsor

    Professor Emerita, Montana State University-Billings

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,064 posts
  • Locationwhere Texas, Matamoros, Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico come together.

Posted 28 August 2012 - 09:15 AM

Neil brings up good points. Is it cost or is it pricing?


Neil,
I think you need to consider those of us who must ship a min. of 300 miles for supplies.
Also, my current location has cheap electricity at 9.5 cent kwh compared to very high rates in Ca. It is 50% cheaper than what I was paying in Montana even off hours.

I think those costs can influence the product costs which is what she was asking. Actually she was asking both.. her cost and pricing.
I agree charge what the market will bear.
Look up Mea's blog on her figuring her pay through several months or longer of fully documenting everything.
Look under "Business" forum.

Marcia

#5 JBaymore

JBaymore

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,018 posts
  • LocationWilton, NH USA

Posted 28 August 2012 - 09:41 AM

There is a price that people are willing to pay, and you have to find it.


And that category of "people" is not a fixed and homogeneous group.

Some "people" shop at Walmart and would not (nor could afford to) buy a handcrafted mug if it cost more than about $5.00. And other "people" buy stuff at Nordstroms....and would not really flinch at a nice $100 mug. And other "people" shop at major galleries like the Pucker in Boston and invest in $1000 yunomis that they actually use day-to-day (Japanese style tea cups).

So this subject is actually very, very complex. One aspect, out of many, is called "market positioning". WHO are you trying to sell your work to? If you try to sell a Kia to the BMW crowd......... it won't work. If you try to sell a BMW to the Kia crowd...... it also won't work. Know your work...... know your market.

Kia quality work will not command BMW prices. So you can't just suddenly say, "Hey... I'll go for the high end". The product itself has to be there to go that route. So you really have to invest in the development of the product if you try to position to the high end market segment.

But at the core of it.... you HAVE to know that you are covering your real expenses. Many a business has gone under because of not pricing appropriately. If your real costs are $5.00 for a product, and you are selling huge numbers of that product at $4.99.... the more you make and sell...... the more you lose.

As has been accurately said.... clay, and glaze and even firing fuel are basically pretty cheap in the big picture. The real costs lie in two categories ....... overhead and labor.

The really BIG factor in handcraft is the LABOR. Labor, labor, labor. Remember that a totally unskilled burger flipper at McDonalds gets about $10.00 an hour these days. A skilled craftsman like a good carpenter gets something on the order of $40.00 or more an hour. Good car mechanics charge almost $100 an hour. Plumbers get more than brain surgeons. Once you are skilled at your craft/art...... you should be charging for that skill.

Part of the "production study" for your costs is to figure out if your business model is actually even VIABLE. If you are very slow in your production, and say make one mug in one hour........ then you better know that you have to charge WAY more than the person who cranks out mugs at a rate of 20 per hour. If you try to "price what others are charging" in general for mugs.... you'll be working for basically nothing.

If you are willing (or able) to work for little pay per hour... then the big stuff is stuff like depreciation on equipment, rent/mortgage on studio space, heat and hot water, insurance, shipping and so on are your real issues to understand.

If this is a part time pursuit, and you are not depending on it for real income... then you have a HUGE latitude in what you charge. Because you are not in it to "make money". But for the pros.... this is important stuff to look at.

I'll second the reference to the stuff MEA has put together in the Business Forums Section. Worth a read.

best,


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

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#6 Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell

    clay stained since 1988

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,283 posts
  • LocationRaleigh, NC

Posted 28 August 2012 - 10:43 AM

Pricing is difficult. I agree that for potters cost of materials is very low and utilities prices may vary ... but costs are still low.
The most expensive thing in your studio is you, your time and your costs are heavily impacted by your efficiency.
BUT ... does higher efficiency impact pricing?
I know an excellent potter who can crank out thousands of objects that are still high priced because he is an excellent potter ... so being able to make more of them does not necessarily bring the price down. There is also the potter who creates one vase a month say ... all carved and curved and glazed ... but if its ugly or the colors are bad or just heavy and clunky ... no high price.
I recommend that you hit the craft shows and galleries to find work comparable to yours in both skill and form and note what price they are asking and if they are selling at that price. Remember that the gallery pieces will only net the potter 50%. With those prices in mind calculate if you could clear your costs and make a living in that price range. Then if your work sells quickly, raise the price. If it doesn't, then get back working on your skills to become better. At the beginning the market place will tell you more than you might want to know! :D

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
http://www.ccpottery.com/

https://www.facebook...88317932?ref=hl

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#7 sawing

sawing

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 51 posts
  • LocationAnn Arbor, MI

Posted 28 August 2012 - 01:46 PM

I recommend that you hit the craft shows and galleries to find work comparable to yours in both skill and form and note what price they are asking and if they are selling at that price. Remember that the gallery pieces will only net the potter 50%. With those prices in mind calculate if you could clear your costs and make a living in that price range. Then if your work sells quickly, raise the price. If it doesn't, then get back working on your skills to become better. At the beginning the market place will tell you more than you might want to know! :D


This makes so much sense to me. Even though I am just starting out, my costs are roughly the same as those of very experienced potters. My work, however, is not the same. Regional influences also need to be taken into consideration. Because I live in Ann Arbor (don't hate me) I have to be realistic about what other potters in my area are making/selling/charging.

#8 neilestrick

neilestrick

    Neil Estrick

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,794 posts
  • LocationGrayslake, IL

Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:04 PM

Make sure you don't underprice your work. There is this thing called Perceived Value, which means if you price them too low, people will perceive that they are of lower quality than higher priced pieces. I've had several students fall into that hole. They figured their work wasn't as good as everyone else's, so they priced it low. Once they raised prices, they sold more. I think if your work is of very good quality, enough so that people can easily recognize the quality, then it's not as big a problem. But if your work is not recognizably better than the next guy, you have to price is high enough to convince people of its quality. That's not to say it needs to be higher than the next guy, but similar.
Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#9 Mark C.

Mark C.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,049 posts
  • LocationNear Arcata Ca-redwood rain forest

Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:54 PM

As an old timer in the pottery business I can say that costs at least for me can be hard to track except on the yearly tax prep. That is to say once a year I figure all expenses in the previous year and subtract income and wala thats what's left over=profit.
For me to figure a lifetime of materials purchased in massive quantities is pointless .
The expense side is easy to keep track of these days but I am still using things bought in the 70-80-before computer bookkeeping. What things you ask could you still have?
3,000 #s of potash feldspar- 1 ton Colemanite-more smaller amount of just about all glaze materials-like 30# of cobalt Carb. Stuff I bought as potters went out of business-I bought it all-from cones to bricks.
These expenses where long ago accounted for but now it costs less to make pots as I tap into this over the past 30+ years
Electricity and natural gas per year is also easy but figuring out true costs for pots is just not worth it as my time has biggest value now and crunching numbers for me is just something the Government makes me do once a year and thats enough-actually once yo much.
The price you sell your work for is multi facetted and depends on so many factors
The clay supplier for me is over 14 hour drive away-I buy all materials at the 12 ton price break and pay a per ton cost to truck it up-usually I put a huge order in of all the potters I can find and do this once a year. Its always in the mid fall as the clay is less hard from summer heat/dryness at plant.I always try to buy as low as I can weather its the 10 shelve price break or the 12 ton price break if you buy low and hoard/stockpile it works well over time.Potters around these parts know i have it whatever it may be -from bricks to wax.
Factoring your price also come from the market-what folks are willing to pay-one learns this over time.
I suggest you look see what others are pricing work for.
Figuring my production cost to get to the price of a mug is beyond nuts for me. All I need to know is I;m making money when its all said and done.
Mea figured it all once and I am still amazed she did that. Read that article.
Mark
Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#10 yedrow

yedrow

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 405 posts

Posted 28 August 2012 - 09:56 PM

There are a lot of good points being made here. Neil made a good point; the cost of material/power isn't that significant compared to the value of the object. Chris made offered an excellent suggestion; go to shows and see what comparable work is selling for. John made a good point too; the value of a piece of work is subjective. For instance, I sell a utensile holder for about $28, and a pie plate for about $35. The utensile holder is more difficult to make, takes longer, and uses more clay. I sell a mug for $22. The mug is more complicated than either but takes less than half the amount of clay/glaze/electricity.

Another important point is the effect you can have on perceived value by positioning your high selling ware (mugs, pie plates, utensile holders, etc) among larger more involved and much more expensive work (that may only rarely sell). If you have an involved $200 bowl displayed with your more mundane ware, it raises everything's value. And, density matters. If your work is displayed well it will sell better than if it is displayed poorly. A dense display offers more options.

Ultimately, the value of your work is the most you can get out of it and not a penny less. The only way I know to find that is comparing your work to comparable work and trial and error. Also, I forgot who said it, but if you undercharge for your work it will be perceived as being of lesser value and can lower the value of work you have that may compare to the undervalued piece.

Joel.

#11 Karen B

Karen B

    Potter 1981-present

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 187 posts
  • LocationMassachusetts

Posted 29 August 2012 - 07:03 AM

Neil brings up good points. Is it cost or is it pricing?


Neil,
I think you need to consider those of us who must ship a min. of 300 miles for supplies.
Also, my current location has cheap electricity at 9.5 cent kwh compared to very high rates in Ca. It is 50% cheaper than what I was paying in Montana even off hours.

I think those costs can influence the product costs which is what she was asking. Actually she was asking both.. her cost and pricing.
I agree charge what the market will bear.
Look up Mea's blog on her figuring her pay through several months or longer of fully documenting everything.
Look under "Business" forum.

Marcia


Thanks Marcia for the suggestion. It is cost I am working on. Mea brings up other cost issues I hadn't been aware of.

#12 Karen B

Karen B

    Potter 1981-present

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 187 posts
  • LocationMassachusetts

Posted 29 August 2012 - 07:07 AM

As an old timer in the pottery business I can say that costs at least for me can be hard to track except on the yearly tax prep. That is to say once a year I figure all expenses in the previous year and subtract income and wala thats what's left over=profit.
For me to figure a lifetime of materials purchased in massive quantities is pointless .
The expense side is easy to keep track of these days but I am still using things bought in the 70-80-before computer bookkeeping. What things you ask could you still have?
3,000 #s of potash feldspar- 1 ton Colemanite-more smaller amount of just about all glaze materials-like 30# of cobalt Carb. Stuff I bought as potters went out of business-I bought it all-from cones to bricks.
These expenses where long ago accounted for but now it costs less to make pots as I tap into this over the past 30+ years
Electricity and natural gas per year is also easy but figuring out true costs for pots is just not worth it as my time has biggest value now and crunching numbers for me is just something the Government makes me do once a year and thats enough-actually once yo much.
The price you sell your work for is multi facetted and depends on so many factors
The clay supplier for me is over 14 hour drive away-I buy all materials at the 12 ton price break and pay a per ton cost to truck it up-usually I put a huge order in of all the potters I can find and do this once a year. Its always in the mid fall as the clay is less hard from summer heat/dryness at plant.I always try to buy as low as I can weather its the 10 shelve price break or the 12 ton price break if you buy low and hoard/stockpile it works well over time.Potters around these parts know i have it whatever it may be -from bricks to wax.
Factoring your price also come from the market-what folks are willing to pay-one learns this over time.
I suggest you look see what others are pricing work for.
Figuring my production cost to get to the price of a mug is beyond nuts for me. All I need to know is I;m making money when its all said and done.
Mea figured it all once and I am still amazed she did that. Read that article.
Mark


Very interesting Mark, I have similar issues with bulk items that I have purchased more than a decade ago. But after reading some of Mea's blogs, I am aware of other issues regarding costs. Thank you for your story.

#13 Karen B

Karen B

    Potter 1981-present

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 187 posts
  • LocationMassachusetts

Posted 29 August 2012 - 07:16 AM

Thanks for all your insight. I value it.

#14 DAY

DAY

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 160 posts

Posted 29 August 2012 - 08:03 AM

Wow; lots of good info on this topic!
I have been "at this" craft for a quarter century now, and still paying the bills and having fun. I consider myself a Tradesman, and price my hourly wages at those of a plumber or an electrician. Their cost of the wires or pipes at Lowes is similar to my clay costs- nil.

Their skill (the house doesn't burn down, the pipes don't leak) leads to a good reputation that, in turn, leads to steady work. And so it is with potters.

#15 Riorose

Riorose

    Rosemary

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 84 posts
  • LocationCascais, Portugal

Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:56 AM


I recommend that you hit the craft shows and galleries to find work comparable to yours in both skill and form and note what price they are asking and if they are selling at that price. Remember that the gallery pieces will only net the potter 50%. With those prices in mind calculate if you could clear your costs and make a living in that price range. Then if your work sells quickly, raise the price. If it doesn't, then get back working on your skills to become better. At the beginning the market place will tell you more than you might want to know! :D


This makes so much sense to me. Even though I am just starting out, my costs are roughly the same as those of very experienced potters. My work, however, is not the same. Regional influences also need to be taken into consideration. Because I live in Ann Arbor (don't hate me) I have to be realistic about what other potters in my area are making/selling/charging.



#16 Riorose

Riorose

    Rosemary

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 84 posts
  • LocationCascais, Portugal

Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:58 AM

So, why would someone hate you because you live in Ann Arbor? You will have a new pottery neighbor soon and I just wondered what you mean by that.

#17 neilestrick

neilestrick

    Neil Estrick

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,794 posts
  • LocationGrayslake, IL

Posted 29 August 2012 - 02:38 PM

So, why would someone hate you because you live in Ann Arbor? You will have a new pottery neighbor soon and I just wondered what you mean by that.


So many reasons.....Just kidding.Posted Image I took it to mean we're all jealous. Which I am. And I've never even been there! But it sounds perfect on paper.
Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#18 sawing

sawing

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 51 posts
  • LocationAnn Arbor, MI

Posted 29 August 2012 - 06:13 PM

Some people are jealous because they want to live near the A2 Art Fair, and some hate the A2 Art Fair! Either way. :) Riorose, are you moving to the Ann Arbor area?

#19 sawing

sawing

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 51 posts
  • LocationAnn Arbor, MI

Posted 29 August 2012 - 06:24 PM

And I've never even been there! But it sounds perfect on paper.


Let's just say that there is plenty to offer if you are a potter here! I have to drive a whole three minutes to get to my supply store.

#20 Prancing Pony Pottery

Prancing Pony Pottery

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • LocationVA

Posted 30 August 2012 - 12:52 PM

As a beginning potter, this is a question that I have been working with for a while now and I have learned that it can be sometimes daunting to price your own work.

As had already been stated, know your market. Before my life in clay, I was in advertising and did a fair amount of market research. Are you making functional everyday pottery or high-end pieces that are very involved? (And please do not think that i am implying that functional everyday pieces should be cheap!)

In finding market prices, the one place that I really take with a grain of salt is Etsy. While I only pay attention to jewelry, knitting and pottery on there, all three have the same thing in common: many shop owners cut their prices in order to compete without regard for their time or the market's overall health. One item that I researched recently was a yarn bowl. Etsy prices ranged from $14 to $268. As a potter who also knits, I was floored at both the low and the high-end prices.

There is a bit of hit or miss involved with pricing, but if you listen to your customer and observes pottery prices in your market, you will begin to get an idea of a solid pricing structure for you.

Best of luck!
 
www.prancingponypottery.com




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users