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LorrieMud

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About LorrieMud

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    http://www.lennymud.etsy.com

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    Haddonfield New Jersey
  1. I think it is going to be difficult for Amazon to try to position itself as a juried, one of a kind only, completely handmade site and then serve a customer base that is used to getting their products in two days. My experience is that "instant shipping" and "traditional methods of making" don't usually cuddle up together- so I worry that some novices will find themselves in a difficult situation if they encounter volume for the first time. Many people mistakenly feel that Etsy relaxed its outsourcing and manufacturing TOUs because it meant more money for them. As someone who is friends with many administrators and has been on Etsy for so long I can say 100% that that is not the main reason these rules were changed which have many handmade purists up in arms. The main reason the changes were made is that Etsy became an arbitrator or tastemaker for a design aesthetic. Large companies used Etsy as a "think tank" of sorts and it became standard practice for a small business to find their work in Target, Urban Outfitters, Gap, etc. There are several articles online about this. These small businesses could not afford attornies to defend copyrite lawsuits, etc. and many watched helplessly as the small businesses that they spent years building and the products they innovated were undermined and ruined by big businesses. Allowing Etsy artists to outsource aspects of their production meant that these companies could afford to wholesale to places like West Elm or Whole Foods--and to grow their business as large as they wanted withot imposing a ceiling that only made them fodder for bigger fish. I ran a symposium in Brooklyn a few years ago entitled "The Greedy Crafter". The thrust for the discussion was: do you believe artists can make lots of money without compromising their integrity? Very heated and interesting debate. Handmade has always competed against mass produced. The mistake many artists and makers make (in my humble opinion) is making the assumption that "truely handmade" is a comelling enough aspect for the majority of people that they will base their buying decisions only on that one thing. Yes- responsible consumers exist, but the majority of buyers consider several different aspects of a product before parting with their money. As a maker who straddles the world of mass production and made in China in my day job and also does individual works in my spare time, I am in a unique position to see where the niches are that handmade artists can play in that mass produced items cannot. At te end of the day- it comes down to what you have put into your own work- and not at all about what someone else (an individual or a ginormous corporation) are doing. Innovate- adapt- delight- surprise- and the repeat. This is an awesome place to have this discussion and I so appreciate you allowing me to contribute my 2 cents. Loved your quote Mea and so agree with you Chris. Sorry for being so verbose!!!
  2. I think that some of your comments (Mark) definitely do apply to my own work and I do not expect to participate in juried art shows with the type of work I sell on a mass scale. But i do disagree with the statement that slipcast pieces are always easy to produce/ less expensive. Check out this etsy shop: revisionsdesigns (if you want to check out any of the etsy shops in this thread just type the shop name no spaces dot etsy dot com) She slipcasts porcelain antique bottles. A set of replicas of vintage pharmacy bottles retails for $189 and i could certainly see those and other pieces in a juried art fair. I think the most awesome thing is when people of the mud are open to learning ANY aspect of ceramics and don't dismiss some techniques as being "too commercial", "easier" or anything that labels them as inferior because they do not meet a personal definition of pottery. I personally was asked to leave the Pottery/MUD team on Etsy once my shop became successful as they felt I was not "Muddy" enough because I used slipcasting or jiggered techniques (along with handbuilt and wheelthrown.) This was hurtful-- young chiccas in their 20s who were using cookie cutters and rubber stamps were considered more of a "true potter" than I was. I liken the discussion to an ongoing one I have observed with jewler friends- who think the jewelry maker who puts a pendant (which may be beautifully made fused glass or metal shopped etc) onto commercial chain is less than an artist than they are. All artists who are business people as well can benefit from an analysis of ways to make work more efficiently. (I wrote that last paragraph not meaning it to refer to anything or anyone in this thread--just sharing experience elsewhere;) Lorrie
  3. No worries Joseph! Thanks so much for your kind words. June and July are traditionally the slowest months on Etsy but the stats are still interesting. For example, check out dgordon. She's currently the top 3rd pottery seller- selling mainly handbuilt ringholders. Many sellers cummulative sales don't reflect what their day to day revenue is. If you click the blue sales number and sort the results by line instead of grid you can actually see specifics of what each shop sells per day. Looks like dgordon sells an average of 8- 13 pieces a day at an average of $20.00 each. Sellers like her also sell larger bulk orders that are not shown in sales history- so she may get large wedding favor orders that do not show up as they are special listings. Another shop, Say your piece, also sells an average of 8-15 pieces per day handbuilt only, with price per sale averaging around 16. The Etsy shop The brick kiln sells an average of 10 pieces a day handbuilt only at $70 each. The shop Miss Pottery sells an average of 4-5 pieces a day, with mugs at $30.00 each. Clarey Clayworks sells an average of 8 handbuilt only pieces a day currently, at an average price of $49 per handbuilt dish. Dariellesclayart sells an average of 8 pieces per day at an average price point of $20 each. Claylicious sells an average of 6 wheelthrown or handbuilt pieces a day at an average price point of $30 per piece. I could go on but if anyone is interested in really looking through what potters are making on Etsy and what is elling, just visit craftcount dot com and view top selers by category- if you click on pottery and ceramics it will sho you results for 169 of the busiest ceramic shops on Etsy. I know most of the potters mentioned above- having been on teams and at events with them. Some generalizations I would make are that smaller items at lower price points do sell well and seem to be easier to manage from a shipping standpoint. Mugs used to be a great category for most potters but Pinterest and the dawn of the DIY sharpie a dollar store mug era have really changed that-- you now see beautiful stoneware pieces placed side by side in search results with commercial mugs that someone has used an oil based sharpie on. I'm not a fan of that change but the nature of e-commerce is that you must adapt to survive. The shop that used to be the top shop and that many of us used to aspire to be like when we first started was Palomasnest. They now do the bulk of their business on their own website instead of Etsy but they remain a great example of how the marriage of an aesthetic and an online presence can create trends and change design tastes. Their small handbuilt dishes are $54.00 each. I think if you go through the stats shop by shop you'll see that for many many potters who do not do Etsy full time, that the average revenue is likely $150 per day gross. For most of them, that is just one of several revenue streams that include other online venues and websites and wholesale gigs. Etsy has a wholesale division that assists sellers who want to reach an audience of buyers. That said, Amazon announced recently that they will be launching a juried handmade only marketplace as an aspect of their site soon. Many Etsy sellers are applying to be part of that venue as they expect the revenue opportunities to be even greater through that host. I am an introvert with bad knees, so for me-online selling is the perfect way for me to sell large amounts of work without having to schlep a tent or chat with someone about their high school ceramics class (LOL) . But I have tons of friends who love traveling to shows and really enjoy the interactions with customers who purchase their work--and they get great pleasure from in person, hand on revenue streams like teaching, etc.
  4. Ugh. I agree with you that the implication that you are the one at fault here instead of just describing the incident as an accident is a deal breaker of sorts for me too. As an online seller claims of breakage are a part of my daily life. Because I believe we see that which we look for, I choose to believe that the majority of customers are honest, and not out to "get one over on me". However, I admit to be irked when I get the email months after an item was received and used and the writer claims that they "did nothing but handwash it and treat it with care, but the handle just broke while I was looking at it" when clearly they had an accident with the item. If a customer is willing to admit they dropped it, put it in a broiler, knocked it off the counter, or accepts responsibility in any way for a mishap I always meet them half way - in some cases even more if I know that purchasing a replacement would consitutue a financial hardship for them and they are really wrecked about the loss. It's a great feeling to surprise and delight a customer with generosity. That said- when they infer that I am in some way to blame for their own clumsiness- or state as one customer recenetly did- that my mug should not have broken because the ones they have from the dollar store are in perfect condition- it can be irksome. I would probably reply and ask the writer if 1) offering condolences was enough and 2) if she would consider taking responsibility for the safe delivery of her own items in the future rather than entrusting it to an excited six year old. Or maybe wrapping the six year old in bubble. Sorry if that sounded unkind. If I'm going to hell I hope I'll get a chance to try raku.
  5. I have heard this more than once, unfortunately-- although I started laughing at it after about the third time: "Oh, pottery. I did that is High School. I was pretty good . ( insert 20 min. description of first bowl thrown on wheel here.) Gave it up, you know, to focus on something where you could make money."
  6. Lurker here- just thought I'd post to offer what I hope is encouragement. At the risk of sounding yuckily braggy-- I started a pottery business in the 1980's and when I sold it to a large giftware company seven years ago, it was worth eight million dollars. My business was a hybrid of pottery & ceramics, and I continue to keep a finger in a variety of muddy pies: I wheelthrow pieces that are slipcast by major ceramic companies, I design tabletop and functional giftware for large corporations, I run an etsy shop in my spare time... I could go on. Mostly i just want to assure you that it is possible to make not only a "living," but a really good living at pottery. When I first started out I did much of what Terry describes doing above. I hit a point in my life where I experienced both great financial hardship and also discovered a deep and abiding addiction for clay. Failure was not an option for me. I started selling my clunky imperfect items on a blanket on a sidewalk in Brooklyn. I had to sell enough of my items to feed myself, pay for my housing, and to be able to afford to make MORE stuff. What this experience did for me is prevent me from lapsing into any sort of self indulgence. For example, I certainly could not afford to make large artistic pieces that a gallery may/may not want to buy. I HAD to make things people wanted: even if that meant not always making what I wanted. I had to be responsive in the development of my products- I had to be disciplined in the use of my time, materials, etc. Think for a moment if every thing you had was taken away from you and all you had was six bags of clay and the ability to turn them into something that would allow you to live. That is how it was for me: I learned to never name the well that I wouldn't drink from. I think another thing that was instrumental in my success is that I learned to love the business aspect as much as the making aspect-- and to bring creativity and curiosity to those aspects as well. I met so many talented amazing artists on my journey- but many of them detested the marketing & selling aspect involved in making a living from their work. Building a business from the ground up can be so exciting if you are passionate about it. One of my favorite quotes has always been: "There are many who are far more talented than I am, but few more determined to succeed." Like anything you dream about, or wish for, hard work is required. But know that what the future may/may not look like is entirely dependent upon what you want it to look like!! You can have ANYTHING you want-you just can't have everything.
  7. I have taught beginners wheel classes for almost twenty years. One of my favorite things to tell students when they first start is that within the ten week course they may not master centering perfectly, but they will probably learn how to throw better off center. It's meant as a joke, but I think there is some truth to it.... Happy New Year!
  8. One of the lowest moments in my career was overhearing another ceramics professor and his class-- I had been in the glaze room and he was unaware that I was on the premise- he had his whole class gathered around a table and on top of it were several pieces that he was holding up and absolutely RIPPING apart as examples of poor craftsmanship, terrible technique, spouts that were awful, unacceptable handles, etc.... I listened from the back as he went on and then finally realized that the items he was showing his class were mine. I never confronted him about that moment, and I tried to direct the hurt feelings I had towards growing and developing. It was an AHA moment for me because I realized that some of the aspects he was criticising were techniques I was experiementing with and truly finding my own unique voice with- had I taken his critique to heart I may have had a much harder time discovering my own style and unique way of doing things. The drummer who marches to the beat of his own drum is going to hear that he/she is not playing the proper notes in relation to the rest of the band.
  9. Here's a tent weight tip for anyone who doe snot want to schlep weights but is worried about wind. Plastic gallon jugs work as great weights when you fill them with water (if venue has a source).You can zip tie them through their handles to your tent poles. End of the day- empty out the water and they are light as air.
  10. When I used to throw in a very dark clay (almost black) I would keep a bowl of white slip beside the wheel and after trimming would take a brush and stroke it across the bottom- then use a pencil to carve a signature through that. Another great white underglaze to use is Gare's Polar Bear- one coat shows up well against any dark color--and they also sell these un-cloggable writer bottles so you could just keep that handy and nearby.
  11. If you like the Amaco, you will love Gare's Dazzling Diamond Dip-- it is tinted blue so you can easily see where it has been applied-- very reliable, well behaved clear.
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