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Stephen

Going Price Of Mugs

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rayaldridge, that was a great post.

 

That lack of love will show, and sales will suffer.

 

 

This is 100% true. There have been times in my past where I came up with a new design and "this is going to sell great" was my primary motivation. Every single time, those items have been a bust. Consciously or subconsciously, pottery customers can sense your intentions. In other words, do not underestimate the intelligence of a pottery fan. 

 

For those of us who rely on sales for our income, it's still a little one-sided to say "make only what you want." I see it as a venn diagram. One circle represents "things I want to make" and the other represents "things that sell" and I am charged with figuring out what falls into the overlap area, because both categories are equally important. I have found, for myself and from what I see in other successful potters, is that if you develop an overall visual style that is very appealing, there are many many items that fall into that overlap area of the venn diagram. But just like the previous paragraph, the style must be something you authentically love. Don't fake it, it won't work!

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I love the process of making pottery and certainly want to be the very best I can be at my craft. Pottery has a rich history all its own and is not art to me.

 

As a small studio potter it seems perfectly natural to make items that sell well because unlike art that is often just made for its own sake and is often not about commerce, hand made pottery is hand fashioned by a studio potter much like it was hundreds of years ago, to be both esthetically appreciated and functional in nature to be used in my customers daily lives. Besides an attractive soap dish with a nice crackle glaze dresses up a countertop and adds a touch of class to a bathroom or kitchen and its fun to be part of helping someone do that to a part of their lives.    

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...Glad to have come across this thread (and I read the whole thing! :D ).

I too am, let's say, evaluating what to charge for my work.

 

A little background. I pretty much put myself through college as a potter.

A stretch from about 1973 through 1981, I was either a student, a potter, or both.

I did the craft faire circuit for many years and made a living.

On the mug price reference, we we're happy to get $2.50 - $4.50 for a mug!

Frankly I'm shocked (and should know better) the new normal is $35. That's great to hear!

 

As fate would have it, I was drawn into the world of making a living in graphics and CAD drafting.

It's been only in the past 6 years that I built a clay studio out back of the house under the stars.

The process of clay started as therapy, now it's becoming something else. Call it finding a body of work.

Up until recently I've been giving away everything I've made, Xmas, birthdays, all gifts.

 

If I can give any advice at all to a beginner, it is this,  sell what you feel is worthy of selling.

 

My biggest challenge is that I need to find someone else to sell these pieces, I just want to make this stuff.

..oh, and I don't want to make mugs... :D

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Holy mackeral, I am late to this show! :)

Mugs...

Well, when I first started, my mugs were pretty ugly, but had nice illustrations, and I sold them for $10-$15 because I was really insecure starting out (like we ALL ARE!! ^_^). This was about six years ago. Now, my work goes from $30-$150, depending on the size, glaze quality, and visual aesthetic of the illustration. I'm actually going to raise my prices a little, due to it being so dang difficult for me to throw anymore, but like this awesomely encouraging forum has said to my pouty guinea butt, "Quality over quantity!" ^_^

Giselle, I LOVE your work. ♥ It's so very sweet and homey, perfect for gifts!!

Crazypotterlady, you are so undercharging. Omg. Your work makes me weep!

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Anybody out there make hand built mugs?  Mugs are such a big seller at our gallery that I feel like i should get in on it but I don't throw.  I have watched a number of demos on doing them and there is the extruder.   Just wonder if anyone had any luck with them.  rakuku.

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Anybody out there make hand built mugs?  Mugs are such a big seller at our gallery that I feel like i should get in on it but I don't throw.  I have watched a number of demos on doing them and there is the extruder.   Just wonder if anyone had any luck with them.  rakuku.

 

I don't make them, but I have seen some beautiful hand built ones, plenty that I would have bought on the spot at a show.

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Sarah Pike, who did the teapots on the cover of Pottery Making Illustrated 2 (?) issues ago handbuilds everything. I have a mug of hers. It's the teacup size, and I think I paid $40 ish CDN from her last Christmas. As far as I can tell, she has no trouble getting rid of them. They are as nice in person as they are in pictures.

http://www.sarahpikepottery.com/pots/yunomi-and-mugs/

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Yum Yum. I was looking at handbuilt mugs, and I remembered this artist someone posted a while back. I am not sure if this particular mug is hand built, but he handbuilds a lot of his work. http://akirasatake.com/kohiki-shop/o7rl8utpqeuflls3fma29vucnk0x6m

 

I think I might be buying one of these for my birthday!

 

EDIT: actually looking at the inside picture, pretty certain that is a hand built mug. 

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Yum Yum. I was looking at handbuilt mugs, and I remembered this artist someone posted a while back. I am not sure if this particular mug is hand built, but he handbuilds a lot of his work. http://akirasatake.com/kohiki-shop/o7rl8utpqeuflls3fma29vucnk0x6m

 

I think I might be buying one of these for my birthday!

 

EDIT: actually looking at the inside picture, pretty certain that is a hand built mug.

Yep . . . hand-built from a slab. All of Akira's kohiki slip work is hand built from slabs. And I love my mug. Liner glaze is a shino, although sometimes he will use a persimmon/ohata red.

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thanks bciske for the link. the akira stuff is awesome. makes me feel like a third grader.  whats the outside linear pattern made with?   rack

 

I'll start a new thread on this as we are headed down a different direction than the cost of mugs.  Will get the post up soon. 

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yes and no, the way this discussion has headed I think exemplifies the range of forms used for mugs. The more complex the higher the price. I hear it said often that time doesn't dictate price. I somewhat disagree when it comes to pottery in many instances. The extra time more often than not means a lot more complex finishing. A foot, detailed carving etc takes a lot more time and commands more dollars. I think our $22 price is probably about right for a well thrown mug with a really nice glaze finish and the mug hand detailed after glazing.  Every thing beyond that is going to take more time and cost more. I must admit though I just don't see our customers spending north of $50 for a mug but then again we haven't ask them 2 so who knows.

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I don't exactly know, but I think $50 dollars for a beautiful crafted mug/cup is an extremely cheap price. I know we have changed discussions from above, but I am going to probably buy one of those mugs in the link that I posted above. I have been looking for a beautiful cup/mug to buy that is in my price range.

 

So for me, $50 is a steal for the craftsmanship/talent that went into that mug. I can't wait to hold it. I will probably order one this weekend, trying to decide which one I want to get. 

 

I think if your audience is impulse driven, then yea, anything more than $30-40 dollars is going to drive their impulse close to 0, depending on the class of people viewing your work. However if your selling to customers who are looking for what you provide, I think $50 dollar mugs are extremely affordable. This is just my opinion, I don't have much research to back it up besides my own spending habits. I rarely impulse buy anything, so super low price points don't benefit the sellers in my particular spending habits.

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The mugs I love the most are generally the insanely detailed ones like these https://www.etsy.com/transaction/90667969?It's sold but I think they sell for around $60. I think it's well worth it, I just can't spend that on a mug personally.

 

This is simpler but still lovely and more affordable https://www.etsy.com/listing/220677815/rustic-modern-coffee-cup-bronze-and-ice

This potter sells these for around $20 https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1010641547?

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Guest JBaymore

I think it's well worth it, I just can't spend that on a mug personally.

 

We often get sidetracked in our pricing because we look at the price for our own work from the point of view of if WE were going to buy it.  In many cases, our own "financial situation" does not really match the viable market for the kind of work we produce.  So we can tend to underprice....... based on our own circumstances. 

 

In a lot of cases... it is strange to say...... we cannot afford our own work.

 

The widespread misunderstanding of the whole "Mingei" idea that Leach and Hamada were talking about did a lot of damage to the valuation of ceramics in the USA.  Leach and Hamada had a profound impact on American ceramics because of their high profile in the 50' and 60's and their workshops and writings.  However, neither Hamada nor Leach were actual Mingei potters themselves.  They were heavily educated, well traveled, and sold their work for relatively high prices.  Even the "production work" coming out of their respective studios was a bit high priced compared to true Mingei work.  As artists, they borrowed heavily from Mingei concepts and aesthetic values.... and produced studio art pottery.

 

best,

 

....................john

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Oldlady: I do want to try something like it, I love to use sgraffito. Emulation, not imitation, of course. I hate making copies even of my own work.

 

John: I hadn't heard of Mingei so I looked it up. I agree with you; Leach and Hamada could hardly be described as "unknown craftsmen". I'm glad to have an explanation for the pricing divide that to my eyes is very marked between this generation and that generation of potters. There are exceptions, of course. You would expect it would be the 30- and 40-year potters that sell the most expensive work, yet the opposite is often the case. The ones in their 20's and 30's (therefore far less experienced) mostly sell their work for considerably higher prices. Since I spend a lot of time on Etsy I've seen many successful pottery businesses run by relatively new potters (<10 years), who sell their mugs for $40-$60. Looking at the work on their mugs, I believe it's not greed but an honest value of the time that went into making the item. I've wondered why so many potters sell their work so very cheaply. One potter in our area sells mugs for $8 and though that's the lowest price I've found, I've seen many others from $10-$15, which I think is very low for a handmade mug.

 

Before anyone takes offense, I'm not suggesting the work of younger artists has more actual value. I think everyone's time and handiwork has great value and no price can be put on the time and love pottery experts put into their work.

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and if you are going to work in the higher end of price points and your work can command those price points I have to wonder if pushing the envelope on functional ware is the way to go, at least at art fairs.

 

At art shows I think a lot of the buys are impulse to a point and pure art pieces seem to be the way to go for the higher price points. We easily get $50-$100 for vases and into triple digits for hand painted artwork but I think most functional ware would just languish with just the occasional buyer who appreciates the more complex pot. Obviously if you sell half as many at twice the price you are much better off but I don't see it going like that. I see the $50-$60 mug, $150 mixing bowl, $400 platters etc.. selling at a fraction of the pace that more moderately priced, less ornate pots (such as $20-$30 mugs, $60 mixing bows & $100 platters) sell and that's what builds the show totals. If you are not trying to make a living and sell 20-30 expensive pieces at a 2-3 day show I am sure if feels very satisfying. Chances are you pay your bills with the day job and produce lower quantities of your high-end work in your spare time. It's more about the pot than the process and you can do whatever you want to the pot and just charge more.

 

I think full time career potter versus part time artist really is a game changer on pricing unless you really have a reputation to keep that register ringing.

 

Mea Rhea sells at I think some of the most prestigious shows in the country and she topped hers out at one size (large) and $35. I think everyone here will agree that Mea's pricing is very likely to be well thought out and her skill level puts her toward the top in ability and she is a full time potter so I have to give her approach a lot of weight.

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giselle, you have to understand the background of the person doing the pricing.  it depends on what reference point he/she uses.  i have a very hard time because i remember that a Snickers bar was 5 cents.  i cannot understand the calmly accepting younger generation s who think $1 is reasonable for that Snickers bar today.

 

allowance used to be a dollar and kept kids happy. today...............  i don't even know how families buy meat to put on the table.    i have a really hard time pricing because of this and because i rarely shop for anything in department stores i do not see price points there.  

 

i need to get out more.

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...most of the mugs linked to in this thread, though very nicely executed, I wouldn't drink out of.

I think potters sometimes loose focus on the functionality. That said, maybe it doesn't matter.

 

But for actual utilitarian ware, I think it's important.

Otherwise it's just artsy craftsy fun stuff.

 

There's probably less than a half dozen mugs I've made over the years I'd actually drink out of.

But I'm picky. My favorite mug at home for morning coffee is a plain ol' U.S. Steel plain white coffee mug that belong to my father in law.

Go figure...

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Guest JBaymore

There is a lot to be thought about as one looks at potential target market and also what is known as price positioning.  And about assessing the available market or the target market.

 

It you do not have the ability to even reach higher end buyers... then making $1000 cups is going to an exercise in utter futility no matter HOW wonderful they are.  Conversely... higher end buyers likely will not be seriously looking at BUYING $10 mugs.  Simply because the artist does not think enough of their own work to price it appropriately.  So they will assume it is 'junk' from their point of view.

 

And if they even bothered to stop and look at them... and found them being something they would consider owning...... they likely would tell you right up front that you are absurdly underpricing........ and encourage you to raise the prices (thereby also raising the value of the $10 investment they just made ;) .) 

 

Matching the work to the venue and the market is key.  And pricing consistency.

 

best,

 

........................john

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^ The venue plays a very important part in higher prices.   Galleries and juried art shows serve as a screening process.  I would imagine only the "better" work gets through.    Remember Mea saying about some shows where the exhibitors were selling art with a capital A ... something to that effect.  I would think that most exhibitors at those shows are also in some nice galleries.   If you have any retail or gallery accounts, you would be locked in to full retail prices at any show.  No worthwhile retail outlet is going to keep a line where the maker is selling to the public at the "wholesale" price.

 

My business is run on margins.  I have to get a certain amount or I am not doing it.   I want 2x markup over COGS and labor.  This has turned out to be a right profitable little business where I can pay the family children better wages than any job they can get in this county.   And I pay my long time employee and my brother's office manager's mother a decent amount (my family is big on loyalty).  It has a great ROI, low inventory carrying cost, and product differentiation can be achieved easily.  It's a very doable destination business so you do not have to pay top dollar for retail location.   Could I get more?   Hmmm a little more, but I have to get people to drive to Edinburg, MS.   Located 12 miles from a really small town and 10 miles from no where.  If I wanted to invest in a better location I could easily double my price. 

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Guest JBaymore

 No worthwhile retail outlet is going to keep a line where the maker is selling to the public at the "wholesale" price.

 

A mistake too many people make.

 

The sort of "standard" way to look at this is that when you are MAKING pots.... you are a potter.

 

When you are SELLING pots... you are a retailer.

 

The Retailer BUYS the pots from the Potter at wholesale.  The potter should be happy with the price that he/she got paid for the work and well cover the costs, labor, overhead, and a profit factor. 

 

Then the Retailer adds the appropriate markup to the wholesale price they paid for the work they are now selling to cover the costs, labor, overhead, and profit involved in RETAILING them (and craft fairs and such ARE closely akin to retailing and DO have similar expenses to cover).

 

best,

 

.................john

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This is an old post, but it remains relevant.  I charge by the # of fluid ounces the mug/vessel contains:  1-8oz $15; 8-12oz $20; 12-16oz $25; 16-20oz $30.  (with occasional $5 off sales).

The pricing theory is pretty obvious.  The more ounces, the larger the vessel.  The larger the vessel the more clay/glaze needed, plus fewer per kiln load.   Note:  I also use color coded price labels:  Yellow, Pink, Green, Orange (attached to bottom of each mug).  A tabletop sign indicates pricing for each coded color.  This allows me to easily change prices when needed without have to change labels.

Edited by GOlds

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