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About GEP

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    full time potter / past forum moderator

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  • Location
    Silver Spring, MD
  • Interests
    biking, jogging, cooking and eating, veggie gardening, baseball (Orioles)

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  1. I've started thinking about how to handle my own holiday open studio. It is normally on the second weekend of December, which is pretty late in the season. If all the fall shows get cancelled, I could move it to November, and conceivably have it outdoors. I would make it a one day event (instead of two), and set up tables in my back yard and space them far apart so customers can distance themselves. Masks would be required. It would be credit card only, and chip cards only. Customers would have to dip their own card. Apple Pay would also work. I'm torn about checks. I have good customers who always pay by check. I suppose a check isn't as filthy as cash, and hasn't been circulating in the environment for years. Customers could bag their own purchases, or simple carry them away unwrapped. A wrapping/bagging station would be set up for them, again allowing for social distancing. This would be followed by putting the remaining pots online for another "free home delivery" sale for those who did not want to attend the event.
  2. Today, the first of my fall shows decided to cancel. It would have been early October. As of now, I still have two other fall shows. One of them said they will make a final decision in September, and they aren't asking for booth fees until then. I've decided not to apply for any more, doesn't seem worth it. I agree with @DirtRoads, I'd rather the shows be cancelled, than have us all in harm's way. For the artists and the customers.
  3. My second attempt at a self-draining soap dish works! Big thanks to Pres for supplying this suggestion: Having a wall and a lip as two sort-of separate elements allowed me to cut a channel through the wall, but still have enough clay on the lip to pull and shape a spout. Now it allows the water to slide off, but not the soap!
  4. Only one of my summer shows offered a virtual market option. They only asked for $25, and in return you got a link to your existing online store. I thought it was a reasonable price, but still chose not to do it. I agree with @neilestrick that the quality of your own mailing list is the deciding factor. If you have not yet established your own direct marketing channel, then it might be worth signing on to use a show’s collective marketing. If you have a killer mailing list, then you can probably do better on your own. I agree with @liambesaw about buying pottery online that you’ve never seen in person. From the seller point of view, I feel uneasy knowing that expectations from an online photo can be all over the place. I’d rather sell to people who can see it before buying, or who already know my work.
  5. I actually disagree that potters need to do this. I’m sure the “studies” show that lifestyle photos sell, but they are referring to situations where a customer is looking at your store and still needs to decide whether they are going to buy something or not. The lifestyle photo helps them visualize the item in their own house. I think a far better approach is to have your marketing ducks in a row so that people arrive at your store already intending to buy something, and the job of the photos is to help them decide which one. Therefore the photo only needs to be informational, showing size/color/scale, on a non-distracting background. When I do online sales, i use my gradient black to white backdrop. Why? Because it’s right next to my inventory shelves. I have a natural daylight photo stand that takes better looking photos, but it requires carrying pots up a flight a stairs. Not worth it when it comes to online selling, where efficiency really matters! As for marketing ducks in a row, I honestly don’t have a big social media presence. That’s not the secret sauce for me. I’m finding that my online customers come from three sources. 1) customers in cities where I traveled once to do a show, but haven’t returned, 2) fans of my blog, and 3) students of my online school. The blog and the online school are focused on helping people become potters and/or professional potters. In other words, my online presence is small but I connect with people in a more meaningful way, compared to the social media scene. I once had a great conversation with a potter who has a very famous, almost infamous, online presence. I won’t name drop. But I will describe his online presence as “I’m sharing my expertise in order to help other potters,” and he has spent many, many years of consistent effort building this presence. Again, it’s much more substantial than “look at my pretty pictures.” He doesn’t need an online store or a shopping cart. He just mentions that new pots are available, and email requests pour in.
  6. I can report from the limited scale online sale that I had this past weekend ... my goal was to make the packing process as easy as possible, because that’s the part that I really hate to do. I limited the sale to only 40 small pots, mug-sized or smaller. I only had to order two sizes of boxes (9 inch cubed for one pot, and 9x9x16 for two pots), which totally simplified the box sourcing. And because every item was about the same size, I did not have to spend time mapping out the best load fit inside each carton, because the loads were all very similar. In a past online sale, I spent 10 hours packing 35 pots of various sizes, including some that were quite bulky and heavy. This time it only took me 4 hours to pack all 40 of the pots. And it wasn’t mentally exhausting.
  7. I'm still fairly inexperienced at selling online. I did my first "real" online sale this morning (meaning it wasn't just a sale of leftover pots from my open studio, these were pots that I made expressly to sell online). Although it sold out quickly, my overall feeling right now is I miss shows! Online selling is a very different animal than shows. I had to field irate emails from customers who had items in their cart, but didn't pay for them fast enough, and lost out to another customer who paid more quickly. "If I was standing in your art festival booth holding a pot that I intended to buy, would you let another customer buy it first?!?" Yes, I got that note today. And a few more from people telling me my cart "didn't work." I had to explain what an "abandoned cart" is and that this is exactly how it's supposed to work. I did explain how this works in advance a few times before the sale, but I guess you can't expect everyone to read the fine print. So I asked another potter who does a lot of online selling if he still deals with these reactions even though he explains how the cart works on his social media all the time. "Every time" he said. I miss shows. Shows are much more civilized when you can deal with people in person. Online selling is the wild west.
  8. Yes, this is my thinking too, I need to build a short wall on the front of the dish.
  9. If you had skipped the rutile but not the copper, you would have gotten a transparent green. I think you skipped them both. If you have only glazed a few pots with the new batch, you can still add the rutile and copper. Then re-sieve the whole batch. I love listening to audiobooks or baseball games in the studio, but I will turn everything off when measuring glaze materials, so that my brain is not distracted at all. Don't do it when sleepy!
  10. Although the new soap dish does not work on its own, I've found that it does work as a drainboard for the old soap dish. You can see the original saucer for the soap dish on the right, which would just overflow onto the shelf and make a sticky mess. This is a functioning solution for now. I'd still like to design a soap dish that is a one-piece item and functions the same as these two pieces together.
  11. Do you have a photo? I’d like to see how your drain holes are placed. I want to stick to a wheel-thrown solution (don’t have an extruder, don’t want to hand-build it), so I think I will try giving it a short wall around the rim. Maybe make it a little less tilted.
  12. Welp, it turns out my self-draining soap dish doesn’t work. The bars of soap also slide off onto the floor! Back to the drawing board.
  13. She already tried one and thought the grog was "too fine." The suggestions above point towards the next larger grog size.
  14. Thanks for the answers everyone! I was asking this question on behalf of a student of mine who is located outside of the US. Her clay supplier can customize her clay to some extent, including grog size and amount. She is very grateful for the guidance!
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