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Member Since 08 Aug 2013
Offline Last Active Nov 23 2015 05:11 PM

#73393 What Do You Call Yourself? Artist,potter,ceramist,sculptor,hobbyist,wanna Be?

Posted by MikeFaul on 15 January 2015 - 01:54 PM




I was tempted to answer with "Ann",but I thought someone would beat me to the sarcasm. As far as ceramics, I don't call myself anything, don't do enough to have a title.


In truth, I wasn't trying to be sarcastic... I have just given up on titles. At Potter's Fire we purposely assign weird titles to people like "Clay Boss", "Customer Experience Tsar", and "Chief Everything Officer". It's our way of saying, "Don't take yourself too seriously..." I may promote one of my folks to "Chief Cat Herder", cause getting the studio team to turn in their time sheets is like herding cats. I knew a lady who had the title "Dot Connector", loved that one!

#73310 What Do You Call Yourself? Artist,potter,ceramist,sculptor,hobbyist,wanna Be?

Posted by MikeFaul on 14 January 2015 - 10:07 AM


#71744 Cut-Off Date For Christmas Custom Orders

Posted by MikeFaul on 12 December 2014 - 11:16 AM

shippers get REAL rough with packages about this time of year.
I never have shipping breakage issues except at the holidays-as they are so rough on my double boxed pots.
I have a web page that is deticated just to this subject

The last note is I already have 16 retail sales days in Dec and taking time out to ship a spoonrest is not what I plan on doing . I focus on my sales which are more large volume sales-getting hundreds of customers their christmas gifts directly from my booth in time for the 25th under a tree.This month (dec)is always a huge mounth for me as its my 35th year of running my own pottery booth in Town just for holiday sales.
One last note on last minute shipping. Often the shipper get overwhelmed and schedules drag a few extra days-I know this from past experience(last year a woman talked me into a last minute shipment across country in a snow storm)It made it on the 24th just barely.

 Why we double box as well, a package sent to a customer was returned in this condition... And, the pot survived!

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#48840 What Kind Of Kiln Shelves To Use?

Posted by MikeFaul on 29 December 2013 - 01:17 PM

However, if you have one part of the shelf touching a powered up element,...........  AND you then stand on a damp concrete floor in your bare feet......... and you then touch some part of the shelf .. ......... there is a path to ground possible......... through the shelf, through your body and then to the floor.  Then we get into the potential resistacne equations to see if the current flow will be enugh to stop your heart, or just give you a major league ZAP.






Hmmm... perhaps the concrete floor should be dampened with salt water while an electrical cord, wires bare at one end and divided, one end in your month and the other held under your arm pit is plugged into the wall while you cluck like a chicken...


Bet that would make your feathers fly...



#48494 Non-functional Pottery at shows - how to get the point across?

Posted by MikeFaul on 23 December 2013 - 01:44 PM

......she likes to just say "hi, let me know if there is anything I can help you with, or if you have any questions...."

Unfortunately that phrase (or its close relatives) is the first thng that any formal sales training you get teaches you to NOT use when dealing with customers. It invites the answer "Thank you.... but I'm just looking". And the psychology of that answer is that it moves the person further away from making a purchase. This is not my "opinion"..... but what is taught in countless professional sales courses.You want to first engage the potental customer with questions that they can easily answer, and lead slowly them toward questions that have suggested altrernate answers that relate to your work. Such as "Do you think the red one or the blue one works better"? Eventually you will work toward what are known as "trial closing" questions. Such as "Would the larger bowl or the smaller bowl fit better in your cabinet"? Two easy choices ... leading toward a commitment. The harder thing for them to say then is something like "neither"... or I don't want either of them".Then to the "closing questions"......... "Do you want me to put that in a box or a bag"? Note that BOTH answers there comit the person to buying.Get a book on salesmanship or take a class.best,..............john

I know this is an old post, but it caught my eye... Most people don't realize the power of asking questions, and most sales people don't ask enough. They are especially great if your shy, because the other person does all the talking. Ask more open ended questions, than close ended (yes, no, red, blue, 6, 7) at first, once they start talking filter in the closed ended questions.
Ask visualization questions like, which will "look" better? How do you set your table for...? These get people seeing your wares in a specific context and use. Imagine your best lasagna in this pot with the smell waiting through the house!

There was a study done years a go that showed when you ask a lot of questions you know so much more about your customer, that's sort of obvious, but the study showed customers who were asked a lot of the right kind of questions felt like they had a great conversation and rated the sales experience much more positive than those who received a speech. Because customers font understand the technical aspects of our work, the will glaze over if you try go explain it all to the, it's really not all that important to most, to some it is, but not to most. They want a pie plate to make pie, the idea it wax fireclay at cone x is largely an inside baseball discussion. Will it stain from blueberries? Can I put it in the oven? How do I clean it? These are the issues the baker faces, not so much is it fully vitrified...

#48342 $$#x%!&(* Caught The Flu And Let My Bowls Dry Before Trimmi...

Posted by MikeFaul on 20 December 2013 - 07:12 PM

  Holes in the lids? How does this fir with water tight?

The holes are on the rim outside the boundary of the gasket, we use them to put a padlock on the bins and lock the lids closed. When we store stacked bins outside in the shed it keeps curious minds from getting into trouble. If someone really wanted in they'll get in, but it does serve to deter the curious, just not the determined.

#48334 Another Pricing Topic

Posted by MikeFaul on 20 December 2013 - 05:21 PM

In a personal show situation ... Be it a home show or a craft fair ... You are much better off throwing in a small thank you piece instead. One potter I know makes little cheese spreaders, another makes tea bag holders, another makes a little thank you ornament. Fills the kiln spaces easily, made very quickly ... Everybody likes getting something free. A way of giving people a deal without compromising your worth or your relationship with your galleries.


We did this for the last 8 weeks, we made a mess of small cups, maybe 100 or so, and glazed them up in 4 different schemes. Anyone who came into the studio received a free cup. One day I gave a lady a cup and she stood in the front yard grinning and crying. I went out to see if she was OK, she gave me a big hug and said it was a beautiful gift and it made her week. She came back in today and purchased two platters for gifts. 

#48290 $$#x%!&(* Caught The Flu And Let My Bowls Dry Before Trimmi...

Posted by MikeFaul on 20 December 2013 - 10:08 AM

If you have a damp box, now is the time.  Make sure the damp box plaster is wet, then spritz your bowls and put them inside.  Hopefully they will reabsorb moisture from the wet plaster and rehydrate.  They key will be to rehydrate slowly and evenly. 


We found a quick way to make these... The Container Store sell water tight trunks, sealed with a nice gasket. We poured a 1.5" thick plaster slab in the bottom, cleaned it all up real nice after the plaster set up, spray water on the plaster so that it remains saturated, but not overly so such that water is displaced from the plaster. If it pools on the plaster it's saturated, just wipe up the pool before placing your wares inside.


Place your dry wares into the bin, seal it, forget it, in a week's time it's like trimming butter. Same principle that Chris mentions above, only a nice sealed container you can use over and over again. And, they are designed to stack too, they sort of interlock. We've stacked them 6 high no problem, and put them on mover's dollies so they can be repositioned to different stations as needed. And, they have holes on the lids for locks, when it's not freezing we can push them out of the studio and into a shed on the deck.



#48213 How Many Hours A Day Do You Work?

Posted by MikeFaul on 19 December 2013 - 09:23 AM

I'm pretty similar to Mark...


4:30AM Up and out of bed

5:00 AM Bring my bride coffee in bed (Yes, every morning...)

5:05 AM Pray & Journal

7:30 Leave for Studio, stop for coffee on the way

8:00 Set Daily Goals

9:00 Quick Meeting w/ Team Review Daily Goals

9:15 Clay, Glaze, or Business depending on Daily Goals

12:00 Lunch

12:30 Back to work...

6:30      Leave the studio

7:00ish Dinner

9:00 Back to sleepy house... That's on weeknights, on weekends I'm allowed to stay up until 10:00!  :)

#47760 So, She Came Into My Booth, And That's When The Trouble Started

Posted by MikeFaul on 13 December 2013 - 09:07 AM

I do not have any "rules" for people who own my work.  It may sound awful, but I will sell to a racist, a bigot, rich, poor, black, white, any nationality as long as they pay.  I am not a social activist, I am a potter who wants to sell. If they are wearing a gun, no problem, if they are loud, no problem, if they are quite and meek...again no problem.   I just want to sell. 


Two guys came in the studio a couple of weeks ago. They mulled around, and left as they were out walking their dog and didn't have time to stay. When they left one of the potters said "They are our perfect customer, they are the nicest gay couple in town and they have money!" I was put off by this, and asked the team, " Why is it when a husband and wife come in no one says "They are a wonderful heterosexual couple?" I simply don't care what they do, wear, believe, are, or are not beyond those wants and needs our wares and talents can address... And, I know, that should I start I'll loose more business than I'll ever gain. I haven't yet found a place where prejudice and performance mix...
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#47590 So, She Came Into My Booth, And That's When The Trouble Started

Posted by MikeFaul on 11 December 2013 - 05:49 AM

UGH ... The worst part is she is still out there shopping!!


"Shoperzilla", coming soon to a craft show near you! Perhaps we should post wanted posters!?! Or, would that be "Not Wanted" posters?  :rolleyes:


Made me think of a guy who sat next to me at my first wheel class... We were struggling to learn how to center clay, all of our cylinders were different size, different shape, different thicknesses, but all were rather wonky and weird, no two were the same, so we called them "art"! And, that evolved into a running joke about a reality TV Show entitled "The Great American Potters". The show featured the wacky and frustrating moments of learning to be a potter and bring your wares to market... I think this craft show experience must have been a scene from episode 10!

#47538 So, She Came Into My Booth, And That's When The Trouble Started

Posted by MikeFaul on 10 December 2013 - 06:45 PM

I just remembered I had this guy at our booth this past weekend. He was looking at our cappuccino mugs, in particular a color scheme we call Mocha. It has a dark espresso brown glaze on the rim and a Cocoa colored body. Both glazes are rather beautiful, but if hold the spray gun just right and for exactly the right amount of time, I get a beautiful oxford grey line where the two glazes overlap. I can get this affect on about 8 out of 10 pots. I was down to two pots sporting this look, but on one the grey line was about 1/8th of inch higher on the form than the other. And one was about maybe an 1/8th of an inch larger in diameter than the other. He wanted a perfect match, and was rather concerned the two mugs were "so different"...


I explained about the nature of "hand made", but he was insistent... I would really like them to be precisely the same... Logic would not win the day. So, I knew this had nothing to do with the difference between the mugs, it was him. So, I told him about my three favorite cups for my morning French Press... All by a potter named David Voll, who's work I love. Every cup is slightly different. I explained that's the fun of it for me, noticing the difference and appreciating what made each of those three cups unique and different. I told him that while all of David's work was of the same shape and generally the same size, each gave me it's own special pleasure that the other two could not. And sometimes I would look forward to a drip, smear, or feel of finger ridge I knew belonged to one cup, but not the other two. In short, I told him it was OK to enjoy the differences... He purchased both mugs.

#47441 Packaging Up Purchases At Art Fairs

Posted by MikeFaul on 09 December 2013 - 04:55 PM

I'm a huge believer in the idea that Packaging provides the sizzle that makes the product sing... I can't see asking someone to spend $40 on a coffee mug and then throwing it into a plastic bag. I wanted a packaging solution that feels and looks as organic as the wares I place inside it. But, then I'm picky.


We plan to place our wares inside of thick walled Kraft paper boxes, which have black bands around them and a sticker with our logo on the band. A palm card, also printed on kraft paper card stock will go in the box with care instructions and an explanation of our breakage guarantee.  A business card, also black on kraft paper card stock, goes into the box as well. Wares are separated by cushioned sheets (stacked bowls), crinkled kraft paper shreds and bubble wrap surround the wares to the walls of the box. Before the box is sealed we'll be adding a "Thank You" tile we made in the shop to the box. We plan to change the design and message on the Thank You tile periodically just for fun.


Boxes carried out go into a kraft paper bags and a black sticker with our logo goes on the bag. It's all part of our brand image, and it sells as much as anyone on the team. We tested this yesterday at a show, and it worked out well and the only kraft bags with black stickers in the show came from Potter's Fire...


When we ship a gift we gift wrap the box, in Kraft paper with a black ribbon, except during holidays, then we replace the standard black ribbon with blue or red burlap ribbon according to the customer's choice, we charge extra for gift wrapping, shipping, and handling. 


I'm looking into custom clam shell boxes made of wood as well. We've been looking at a small business up north, a retired Air Force Officer stated it. This box would be finished as a display case and designed to be opened with a prized piece of barware on display. The nice thing about working with this lady is we can buy small quantities. We also built wooden crates that look like old munitions crates that we use to carry sets of product. These are filled with crinkled kraft paper shreds to mimic old straw packing material.

#45142 Dealing With "do You Make This Smaller....?"

Posted by MikeFaul on 05 November 2013 - 03:17 PM

We had a lady come into our studio a couple of weeks back for a town Art Crawl. We were serving goodies, wine, cheese, punch, etc. We had a new three pot fountain we were finishing up on display. A really nice piece. It includes a large bottle form, about 24" tall, a large vase form (about 26" tall), and a large bowl form (about 18 inches in diameter). Each form sits on a base inside a pond. We provide the mini pond, container, all of the plumbing, and we make the pots and bases. It's really a nice piece of work.


So, this lady starts to ask what goes into making a piece like that? So we talk about throwing the forms on the week, glazing, and such. She asked about how much time goes into those steps. And, I ask if she was interested in making a purchase. She said maybe, how much does it cost? I told her we planed to sell the fountain for $3,975. She about collapsed on the studio floor, gasped and said that was outrageous; she didn't think we deserved that sort of price. I must be insane to ask for that amount of money. She said I would be the highest paid, on an hourly basis, potter in the history of the world. To which I replied... I don't get paid by the hour, but by the beauty I bring to your home. She was not a buyer, she would not have bought at $397, or $3.97... She was a wanna be. Someone enamored with the world of creative people but couldn't believe their value was equal to hers in the corporate world. I don't think I could have sold her a coffee cup.


The next night at out grand opening I was discussing the same piece with another woman. She asked about the price of the fountain. Again I replied $3,975.00 She asked if she could get a customized version? Something slightly larger? Yes, but that will cost more... How much? Not sure, we'll need to agree on the design, but there will also be a design fee, would you be willing to work with me on the design? Yes she says... Do we install? Yes... But, installation would be additional. That makes sense she says...


So, I asked here about where she would want it placed, next to her front door... What's the color of the trim around the door... the color of the door? Is the door a double or single entry? Does she see it on the left or right side? on the walk or in the garden? Does she like the sound of falling water? And, eventually... when can we meet to work out the details of the design... Next week of course... She's a customer, a very very good customer. 


Everyone has a target market that can afford, and is interested in their work. The trick is to find that target market and make them very happy by solving their problems and fulfilling their desires. Qualify non buyers out with price, if someone walks on price they should shop at a box store, not at a gallery, studio, or art show. And, you should celebrate when the walk, you just moved one step closer to finding those who will pay your price by learning who won't pay your price.


A buyer in my target market will not be afraid of price, and will engage in a visualization dialogue. Note the questions I asked after price. They are designed to get the person to see the item in use in their life at their home. This isn't by accident. When a person "sees", "feels", and "hears" it in their life they are 10 times more like to part with their money and be a happy customer. Now go back to the first person who didn't "think" we deserved the price we were asking. Art, gifts, luxury items, are usually purchased with the heart not the head. She was thinking herself right out of that purchase. 


Just a thought, or two, or three, or maybe that was rant?

#44987 Fyi Re: Purloined Intellectual Porperty

Posted by MikeFaul on 01 November 2013 - 02:29 PM

Even if they totally ripped off every detail line for line, she still needs the money to fight them ... sad but true. Large corporations have to regularly challenge their imitators in order to keep their copyrights in place. Thus the horrible line between needing to have images available so people can see your work and knowing someone could be using them against you.
However the line can be fuzzy. I remember one artist complaining loudly of being copied ... she was making work from her Sunday comic pages ... Hmmmm, aren't those comics someone else's work?

This is so true... I had someone steel a great deal from me not too long ago. It was about $50K worth of work product (unrelated to ceramics), with collection costs and add ons the number ran up to $65K in no time. We turned it over to collectors and they threatened to sue us! Really!?! As it turns out they could have sued, and counter sued any suit we brought to collect the funds. Not only that, if we won in court, we still had to collect. Since they were an LLC, they could declare bankruptcy and shut down. When we talked to our attorney he said there has been a rash of these situations, companies steeling from other companies, especially from small businesses. He said you not only need the cash to prevail in your suit, but defend against the counter suit. And, even then we may never see a dime of the money.


It turns out these types would run up AR's, walk, and if you went after them they shut down, formed a new LLC, and operated under the new LLC and you have no recourse against the new LLC or the principals... 


Our attorney told us that unless we looked to gain at least $100K it probably wasn't worth the heartache of trying to go after the money. I had to let 4 people go over that... So not only did I loose a ton of money, but four people lost their jobs... And four of my sub contractors took a hit too...


We did stop them from using our work product with cease and desist letters, but even that took 90 days, and we had IP protections on that property in our contracts. Never saw a dime of that money.