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Creating A Workshop

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Looking for a little guidance on setting up workshop and how to determine how to price it.  My clay supplier will host and provide material/supplies, and in exchange take a portion of the registration fees to cover their costs. 


Planning on a weekend event, sat/sun. Doing Obvara, Pit and saggar firings, throwing demos and applying terra sigg,  I know the applying sigg is simple, but it is one of the most common questions I get. 


 I've developed a decent list of potential attendees, probably 3x the number I can realistically fit in the space, and I understand most of those will never sign up, but believe there are several others in the area that i'm fairly certain will sign up, they sign up for everything.  My clay supplier says they have gotten several requests for a workshop from us, so they have a list of names as well.


Just not sure on the cost and any advice from the seasoned workshop presenters would be appreciated. I have done a couple short workshops on obvara alone that have gone okay, decent attendance, may have been set up a little to long, too many just kept pulling out more and more pieces to be fired.






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I wouldn't call myself a "seasoned" workshop presenter, but I would work backwards from the going rate that students are willing to pay for a 2 day workshop that involves participation. If you have a "they sign up for everything" portion of the audience, maybe you could quietly inquire to one of them how much they typically pay for a similar workshop? From there, decide how many people you need to generate enough revenue to make this worthwhile for you and the host.


Just hypothetically, if the going rate is $150/person, then 10 students would generate $1500. Is that enough?


Again, I rarely give workshops, but when I do I want to make $450/day net. So for 2 days I would like to make $900 net. That's my personal benchmark, you are free to choose your own.


I also see the potential for you to offer two different tiers: one for participation in the firings, and one for observation-only both days. The participation option should have a clear boundary, i.e. a limit to the number of students and number of pots. And put a firm foot down if anyone tries to bring more. The observation-only option is only limited by the amount of space in the classroom.

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I agree with Mea. Work up a budget. if you are including meals, costs etc. For instance, if you need to fly the presenter in, put them in a motel or host them,  pay for advertising, pay their fee etc. Since you are doing it, that reduces the expenses greatly. 

If you have local groups who are interested, that could be an easy main target guaranteeing 25 people. When I doing alternative firing workshops, usually people bring their bisque ware and we prepare and fire only. When I was in Italy, I taught a class over 2 weekends making pieces and demonstrating on one weekend in Rome and firing in the country the following weekend. I got paid and the organization got paid. I had about 9 participants. Lots of fun and excitement about new processes and results. I don't know what they charged.

When I teach in places that provide housing and meals for a week, it is more expensive than when it is a potluck and people bring their kilns.

So, think about the size group you can handle...based of number of kilns, number of process and how many firings. 

Here are some extreme variations of how workshops can go.. 


For the Potters Council workshop in Edina a few years ago we had a huge pit they made for Sumi's pit firing including fabricating a manifold that gets buried in the pit. Then we had three raku kilns for obvara, foil saggar, and horse hair.

There were 4 presenters and about 100 participants who brought work for all the processes. That was in Edina, Minnesota with many people accessible to the site.


At Dan Bailey's Raku Masters workshop on NC (high population of ceramic enthusiast) we had 5 presenters, and 150 participants who watched only.. Plus presenters have longer 30-45 minute presentations. Presenters included Steve Branfman. Linda and Charlie Riggs and myself. Lunches were included.


In Scotland I had about 30 participants for 2 days of firing saggars, foil and obvara. This was for the Scottish Potters Association,and we had about 7 kilns brought in by the potters. We were in a remote part of Scotland on Loch Love. We had some great potluck food.


So: develop a budget for the minimum number of participants. 10 or 12. And figure how many firings you can feasibly do. Maintain a limit of number pieces and size  if you need to. 4-5 for each process and be sure you can accommodate everyone. Limit the number of people so you don't disappoint participants.

Determine what you need for your fee and remember to include planning  and prepping as part of your reimbursement, but be reasonable.I know you're in Sioux Falls, so you may have a good size population to draw from. Consider where you'll be advertising. Local Art Centers? Organizations? Are you advertising out of the area?


Use the supplier's resources as much as you can. mailing lists, customer base, etc.



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Thanks ladies for the advice.  My wife and I have been discussing a schedule and looking at supply costs, trying to decide what to what processes to include, what questions do we get asked the most. etc..  We have one handout already prepared from the Obvara workshops we have done, it would just need to be expanded for the other firings.  


Did not think of having an observer price point, I have never seen that in any of the workshops I've looked at. We talked about a student rate, and/or possibly co-artist/spouse rate.


thanks again,



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