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Sarah J

Pricing For Beginner's Piece

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Hi everyone,

 

I have enjoyed perusing this rich forum and feel very grateful to find this community. I am a 30-something beginner pottery student at my local community college (there's a long story about how I got here).

 

My professor selected a few pieces for a student art show, including a vase I made using coil construction and experimenting with engobe/glaze/sgraffito.

 

The submission form asks me to list a price. I've never participated in a show, and I have no idea how to price my work. I've browsed a few of the other posts on this forum, but the ones I've read don't seem to apply 100% to a beginner. Does anyone have advice on how a beginner should go about pricing for a show? Should I just list "Not for sale?"

 

On one hand, I'm a little shy about putting any "price" on my vase at all--while I do like how certain aspects of my vase turned out, it is, to me, beginner's work and I feel it's apparent when I look at my piece. I have deep respect for this craft and want to view my work with honest eyes.

 

On the other hand, there is something about my piece that appealed to my professor (and to others who commented on it) that maybe I don't see. Also, I do want to take part in this student show because I want to become more immersed in the local pottery/ceramics community. 

 

I hope my question is not too vague. If it is, please let me know. Any thoughts would be much appreciated! Thank you!

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Perhaps price per pound by the wet weight of the clay used. I am reading "The Potter's Professional Handbook" by Steven Branfman. He tells a story about a potter who did this. The book was published in 1999 and the potter's price per pound was $22.00. If you don't know how much clay was used he suggests using 1.6 times the dry weight.

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One aspect that might influence your decision would be ... Where do the profits from the sale of the work go?

If say, you get half and the school gets half then think of it as contributing to your school's future.

 

If it's for 100% profit to you ... then you just have to consider if you want that piece out in the world with your name on it. Is it worth the $40-$50 you might feel comfortable charging?

 

You are 100% correct ... it is your opinion that counts when considering the sale of your work. You are most likely correct in your judgement of the piece.

 

Good luck with your pottery future! : - )

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If your prof thinks your piece is of show calibre and you are okay with parting with it then I would go back to the prof and ask for some instruction on pricing. I would guess he/she would suggest looking at comparable work selling in a similar type setting. Perhaps your prof has past show pictures / prices so you could get a better idea of your local market. I would look at it as a learning opportunity.

 

Good luck and welcome to the forums  :)

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Were I in your position, I would make the decision based on whether or not I wanted to keep the piece.  If not, keep the price low.  If you do want to keep it, put a ridiculously high price on it.

 

I know that folks say you shouldn't let your less-than-good beginner work out into the world.  I would respond that any potter who sticks to the craft for enough years will eventually be embarrassed by his or her novice work, even if they thought it was wonderful at the time.  I once saw a Voulkos casserole that wasn't so very good.

 

So it probably doesn't matter, in the long run.  I think what does matter is that you put out the best work you are capable of doing, at the time you do it, and give the bad stuff to the hammer.

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Welcome to the forum Sarah J! If this is the first time you are pricing a piece of your work, there really is no wrong answer. If I was in your shoes, I would follow Min's advice which is to talk to your professor, and/or talk to your classmates. Try to get an overall sense of what other pieces will be in the show, and how they will be priced.

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I am terrible at selling work. I make hundreds of pieces that are all different and never know what to price them at. I will offer the following guides for unique works:

-- the price, provided it is "within reason" won't discourage or encourage a sale.

-- don't consider the hours spent.

-- don't change prices based on a commission existing or not. Assume (or pretend) there is a 50% commission when you price your work. That is right, you only get half the sticker price.

 

Systems such as pricing by the height are also reasonable and logical with pottery. A better 6" piece is less than an okay 9" piece (sigh).

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when I was starting to sell, the price was $2 per pound and .50 for attachments. Clay at the time was not in a box and was much cheaper.

It still is a starting point if you figure what you are paying per pound/time/ equipment, firing costs, etc. This also creates an objective approach to your work.

 

Marcia

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My head feels like it is going to explode!! No wonder potters are poor.

 

Price by weight? Price by height?

Going by size and weight, the Mona Lisa is worth less that the black velvet art for sale at the gas station.

 

Far better to price by comparable work ... be it in the show, on in your local department store or online websites.

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I agree with you Chris. Pricing by weight has to be a nonsense. Looking at my early pieces, they weigh a ton, but look not that wonderful. My latest pieces look excellent but weigh considerably less than the old ones. So does it make sense to price them by weight? I don't think so. Pricing by comparable work has to be the only realistic way. In effect, what the market will support. So I'd say ask your professor for guidance and look at local shops, online, wherever work like yours is being sold.

 

Girts

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I agree that pricing by comparable work is the best idea for the working potter, though maybe less applicable for a student like the original poster.

 

However, determining "comparable worth" is an esthetic and pragmatic minefield.

 

How many of us are really able to look at our own work without bias?

 

Not me.  After all, I make what I make because I like it better than making something else.

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Price by economics not emotional feelings. Create a price point, let demand judge if the price point is accurate. Increase price if bought quickly, decrease price if not bought and your sure your getting eyes on the objects. 

 

In this case with a single object and your not sure how to price it, just pick a price that would make you happy to sell it and that you feel would benefit yourself to sell one of your prized first pieces. If it doesn't sell it isn't the end of the world and you have a nice pot to keep to remember your work. If it does sell and you priced it worth it, you can be happy and do a little dance and make more things like it knowing it went for a good price. 

 

These are just my opinions.

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Do you want to sell it is the first question? I had the same thing happen. Student show half bagger bowls $60.00. Art faculty bought them up. I loved those bowls; the glaze superb. I did not think they would be bought. When asked if I wanted to sell I caved and said yes(my bad). Today a bowl of its quality I would not sell for less than $250. If I had to do it all again would put a $1,000 price tag and not worry how egotistical I looked.

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Hi, everyone,

 

Wow, thank you all so much for your feedback. I didn't expect so many responses! I apologize for not being able to respond to each of you individually--I'm running out the door to go out of town.

 

All the points you make are great food for thought and some things I didn't consider, such as whether I want to keep it.

 

I ended up marking the piece not for sale. I realized that I do want to keep my piece, partly because I like it and largely because I wouldn't feel comfortable with it being out in the world with my name attached to it (as some of you brought up). As for pricing, it seems like there isn't any one "formula," so to speak. I do like the suggestion of checking comparable work and for testing one's market. 

 

All things I'll consider moving forward....it's going to be a long (great) journey.  Thank you all again!!

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