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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
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#56660 21 Century Customer... Perpetual Replacement Of Pottery

Posted by GEP on 15 April 2014 - 09:19 AM

I treat these situations similar to Mark ... within a reasonable amount of time, and given the right circumstances, I will give a free replacement pot. Overall my policy is to have no policy, every case and every customer will be judged individually. My responses will range from "I promise to make this right" to "go away."

I think the 12 year old baking dish most definitely did not require a replacement. There's plenty of ways the owner could have mishandled it during 12 years. I would have offered a discount on a new one too, It think that was a fair solution. I don't know, if I had other customers in my booth, and I sensed that someone might make a scene, I might have given her a new baker too. Just to resolve it as quickly as possible. An angry scene only hurts you, no matter who is right or wrong. The only thing I would have done differently is, when handing her the new baker, say "I hope this resolves the matter. Please never buy my pottery again."

On the other hand, the mug that cracked within one year would get its day in "pottery court." Probably replaced. Although she would have to send the cracked one back first so I could see what happened to it. Did it crack when boiling water was poured in, or did somebody drop it?

I used to make an item that consisted of three parts. One of the parts was delicate and small. On three occasions, customers brought back the fragile part broken. I gave them replacements on the house. One of them started crying. Another one handed me a plate of brownies a few days later. The third one returned to my booth an hour later and bought a $250 platter. So this type of customer service can benefit you in some circumstances. I will add that I stopped making that item, due to its durability flaws.

I recently had an online customer who, although he had bought a good quantity of work, it became clear to me that he did not understand what he was buying, in ways similar to the customer who thinks a 12 year old pot should be replaced. I finally told him "this is your last order." (This is one of the reasons I closed my online store.) My point here is that sometimes it is appropriate and necessary to tell a customer their business is not welcome anymore.

I would speculate this attitude is growing because of the growth of online selling, not because of LL Bean. Online selling implies things are supposed to be convenient, and customers get served while they sit on their couches. LL Bean and REI have had their generous return policies for decades. Actually REI dramatically scaled back its return policy last year, because they finally realized customers were abusing the policy.

#56303 Wheel Issues

Posted by GEP on 08 April 2014 - 10:19 AM

This is all hindsight so you probably cannot take this advice now. But in the future when you receive a delivery in a damaged box, you need to address it immediately. If it came by UPS, the driver is required to stick around while you inspect the contents of the package. You can officially tell the driver that you think the contents may be damaged. The report goes into the UPS system. Then contact the seller right away to let them know it was delivered in a damaged box. That way, if you determine that the wheel is toast, the seller has a clear path for getting reimbursed by UPS.


I think your best option now is to locate a Shimpo repairman who can visit you in person.

#56215 What Is Your Strongest Concern In Making Your Work?

Posted by GEP on 07 April 2014 - 08:31 AM

My first concern is function. I do not want adequate performers, I want to make pots that excel at their jobs.

#55904 Thanks Mea!

Posted by GEP on 01 April 2014 - 01:55 PM

You're welcome Chantay!




EDIT: for anyone who wants the instructions for building an inexpensive photo booth:



#54854 Trimming A Foot For Bowls

Posted by GEP on 17 March 2014 - 09:34 AM

When I trim a foot ring, I also like to measure the pot thickness with a needle tool first. I find this is a big time saver. I measure in three places: the outer edge of the foot ring, the inner edge of the foot ring, and the middle of the floor. Once I know these measurements, then I trim straight to the right answer. No hesitating or guessing, and no trimming through the pot.


A lot of the pots I make in multiples do not have foot rings, for those pots I skip the needle tool. Instead I eyeball the shape of the interior, then trim the exterior to match the shape of the interior. (my point is ... foot rings are not required, unless you want them.)


Anyhow, whether I'm measuring with a needle tool or not, I always gauge the "dentability," i.e. when the wall is the correct thickness, it can be dented with a press of your finger. I taught my students "when it's right you should be able to do this" then I'd make a big dent in the pot with my thumb. When everyone stopped gasping, I'd invite them all to dent my pot, so they know how it should feel. Then I explain how to check for dentability without making a visible dent ... press until you feel the wall begin to give, then stop, it will bounce back. I will also make sure to say "if you press and it still feels like a solid object, keep trimming."


This is similar to what others are saying above, teach potters that pots can be ruined and life goes on. It just means you get to make another one.

#54492 Artist Statement

Posted by GEP on 12 March 2014 - 09:49 AM



Here are my various versions of my statement, for show applications that restrict the length:


50 characters or less (this one also works for 5 words or less)

Functional pottery, modern Asian rustic.


100 characters or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F, modern Asian rustic.


20 words or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F. Modern Asian rustic, with Korean and Maryland roots.

#53649 Business Forum F. A. Q. Listing

Posted by GEP on 28 February 2014 - 05:49 PM

This FAQ listing will be updated periodically. If you have any suggestions for threads that should be added here, send me a PM.



#53579 Wholesale Crafts Dot Com

Posted by GEP on 27 February 2014 - 04:58 PM

Congrats Brian!


ACRE is one of the newest organizations producing these types of shows, but I believe their Las Vegas show is now the best craft trade show on the west coast. Having said that, ALL of the craft trade shows are still struggling to recover from the recession. ACRE shows are doing "ok" just like all the others. Every artist I know who has worked with ACRE says nothing but positive things about the organization.


I'm glad they have provided you with a mentor. There is a learning curve dealing with wholesale galleries. The good news is, the culture of wholesale is very favorable for artists. Especially in the post-recession world ... the only galleries still standing are the highly-enlightened ones, i.e. the ones who treat their artists with much respect.


If I had to give you one tip ... bring a printed pricelist to the show. Preferably with color photos of your items. About 100 qty. This makes a huge difference to buyers! They have to look at hundreds of booths, they can't possibly remember what they saw in your booth unless you give them a printed version. When I was doing trade shows I was shocked to see how many artists did not understand this. One year ... the potter across from me noticed my nicely printed pricelist. For the first three days of the show, she had a very slow show. For the last day of the show, she brought her own pricelists, and had her best day of the show by far.


One more small tip ... sometimes buyers will ask you "What is your best selling item?" Make sure you know the answer to that. It means a lot to the buyer.

#52983 Your Labour Cost?

Posted by GEP on 20 February 2014 - 01:22 PM

We likely all need to put a bit more effort in looking out for the good of the FIELD as we approach what we do.  Like in most everything, our actions have impacts that go far beyond only ourselves.


The further I get in my pottery business, the less I am convinced this is true. Pottery customers are not one collective entity, operating under the same influences. And they do not view potters as one collective and comparable entity. Each customer views each potter as an individual, and are perfectly capable of judging us as individuals.


These days at most of my shows, my functional pottery is the most expensive. I used to get queasy when I saw beautifully-made mugs being sold for $18, wondering if this would affect the sale of my $35 mugs. Over time, I've realized it does not. Pottery buyers do not want the "cheapest" mug, they want the mug they like the most. Now I do not worry about what others are charging, I worry about making the most appealing mugs I can make.


Just like I am not competing with the $18 mug maker, I am also not competing with the $300 yunomi maker. Or vice versa. Now that is a completely different world with a totally different population!


What really matters are your own decisions and actions, which only affect yourself.


I am ok with anyone disagreeing with this. These are my thoughts based on my experiences and observations.

#52618 Top U.s. Cities For Clay Artists

Posted by GEP on 15 February 2014 - 11:37 AM

I'm going to add a "pro city" entry here :-). I live just outside of DC, and find that a big city has tons of advantages for a working artist. There are so many opportunities here, great art festivals, craft galleries, places to teach. And not to mention there are lots and lots of art-savvy, educated, and affluent people who like to buy art. When I need a hotel room for a show, that is the exception not the rule. This has saved me lots of moolah over the years. Plus when I get to sleep in my own bed during a show, it feels like another day at work, rather than a big ordeal.

Full disclosure, I actually do more shows in neighboring Baltimore than DC. I openly admit that Baltimore is more artistically-advanced. As I collect names for my email list, I notice Baltimore attracts event-goers from DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania etc. DC events have lots of great customers but they are much more local. Go figure.

(My theory is thst those who don't live in DC see the city as some kind of gated community, and outsiders are not welcome. It's not true!)

DC missed the top ten in the rankings due to its high cost of living. I am old enough to have bought a house here before the housing bubble, which is how I am able to live affordably here. This doesn't help anyone who is looking for a place to relocate. But this is another area where Baltimore has DC beat ... there are lots of affordable neighborhoods in Baltimore, and in the towns between Baltimore and DC.

I read the article provided by Paul as "top ten cities where you can find a job in the arts" so my take here is a little different in that I am weighing factors that are beneficial to a self-employed artist.

Like Mark, I have invested many years and lots of effort building a customer base here, and I can't imagine moving away from it.

#52277 Favourite Colour Palette?

Posted by GEP on 12 February 2014 - 10:04 AM

I chose a palette of earth tones, and committed wholeheartedly. I guess I'm not trying to please every pottery customer, just the ones who like the same earth tones as me.

#52204 Another Discussion About Consignment/wholesale

Posted by GEP on 11 February 2014 - 11:00 AM

Thank you John, Pres, Mea. I appreciate, as always, the advice and knowledge on this forum. The mill a small business, just starting. However, it has great potential for growth. Is it appropriate to re-negotiate terms/price at a later date if there is more custom work involved?

Yes, if the mill is a small but growing business, it is absolutely appropriate to renegotiate terms as their prospects change and grow. But make sure to bring it up now, so they are aware that your expectations will change if their business grows. "These are the terms I can agree to now, but can we revisit these terms in 6 months? And if there will be more custom work involved, please do not assume these terms apply, we'll need to talk about it."

#51892 In Five Words Describe What Drew You To Clay | February 6, 2014

Posted by GEP on 07 February 2014 - 10:29 AM

Makes my brain light up.

#51037 Hobby Potter Teaching Others.

Posted by GEP on 26 January 2014 - 11:26 AM

flowerdry, based on your photos and your description of the situation, I think you have more than enough to offer. My only questions are: do you have genuine enthusiasm and good people skills? If yes, then go for it.

In my early years of discovering pottery, I had lots of teachers including a college-degree-holding potter with poor people skills, and an enthusiastic self-taught hobbyist with good teaching skills, and I found much more value in the latter. Although I have far surpassed her as a potter, I have a special place in my heart, and regard her with great respect and gratitude for showing me the first steps.

#51034 Ceramic Certificate Programs

Posted by GEP on 26 January 2014 - 11:05 AM

This is not out west either, but Hood College in Frederick MD offers a ceramics certificate that can be completed in on year (in addition to their BA and MFA programs).