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The 3 pottery posts I've shared on facebook over the weekend have led to people asking me if they can buy the work.  I want to sell my work, because I'm making a lot, but this part is new to me. I've been throwing for only a few years, built my home studio last summer, and mostly gift my work to my friends and family. 

Honestly, naming a price and telling someone makes me want to barf. Did this happen to other people when they started selling their work? Does it go away? Is this just imposter syndrome now applied to pottery? Ahhhhhh!

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Imposter syndrome has been known to all of us, I think. I still get it. You have to be very careful not to compare yourself to others. There lies madness. Keep your head down and keep making the things. 
 

But maybe that feeling in your stomach is excitement! Congratulations! You sold a thing after making the thing! It’s ok to feel good about that. And it’s necessary to celebrate your wins if you want to keep going. 
 

Don’t be afraid to charge fair value for what you make, and make sure there’s money in there for shipping. 

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18 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

Imposter syndrome has been known to all of us, I think. I still get it. You have to be very careful not to compare yourself to others. There lies madness. Keep your head down and keep making the things. 
 

But maybe that feeling in your stomach is excitement! Congratulations! You sold a thing after making the thing! It’s ok to feel good about that. And it’s necessary to celebrate your wins if you want to keep going. 
 

Don’t be afraid to charge fair value for what you make, and make sure there’s money in there for shipping. 

Thanks Callie, I had a sibling (who has purchased more pottery than anyone I know) help me price things out quickly because I don't seem to be capable of setting those initial fair market values! 

What's remarkable is that I used to do this for a friend who makes these beautiful silk scarves and routinely under charges. I didn't understand. Now I have all the understanding. 

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I started giving it as gifts to family. They seemed to like it. I was going to college and could compare my work to  multiple classes of other student. I visited a lot of galleries. I was making a lot of work. And comparatively my work eventually seemed on par with the work i was seeing for sale. The school allowed students to sell at some events on campus. But pricing is hard.  And then someone told me a pricing strategy...if someone were to run your bowl over with a car how much money would it take to not have you feel so bad about it. Weirdly the the amounts that i came up with pretty much added up to the price the galleries were charging for similar work. 
 

i never felt bad when selling work, certainly not feeling like i would barf. I started selling when i thought the work was ready, good enough...Now for those items i was giving away early on...how i wish i could get them back

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Bloody Hell, I feel that way with Bonsai Pots. Don't know how you Mug Makers do it!

I've found 2 basic philosphies.

The "appropriate" math. "Appropriate" because I see people who simply suck at what they do, and are slow, charging for that time and miseducation. Unfortunately, this is the $90 mug camp.

And the Leach Philosophy. Sell Local, at prices local folks can afford.

I found auctions a great way to find out what the people are willing to pay. No guessing then! (Just up em a bit later)

Gain Confidence by smashing things.

Sorce

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I would price what the market will pay and you can sometimes figure that out by surfing around and seeing what similar pots are selling for. Try to find a half a dozen and zero in on the middle/high side and see if your pots will sell at that. You can't just re-order so I think its important to only try to sell good pots for as much as you can. You say you make a lot and since you are new you might want to do a gut check and make sure that the pots you sell are pro quality. Don't talk yourself into a bad pot going out. If you have any question in your mind if a pot is good I would toss it because it really should be crystal to you that its a good pot and is product. Right now maybe a lot of pots get tossed and that's OK, just cull them out and only sell the good ones, that's your inventory. No one ever sees the bad. If you make pottery in any numbers then the next logical step is to sell your good stuff and toss the rest. Over time you will be tossing less and less so don't fret about it.   

Giving away pottery only works for so long and then you really have kind of taxed that. People can get overrun with your pottery and even get in an uncomfortable situation that even though they like your work they start feeling like they are becoming your personal gallery and start feeling pressured a bit. 

Congrads on the sales!

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6 hours ago, Sorcery said:

Bloody Hell, I feel that way with Bonsai Pots. Don't know how you Mug Makers do it!

I've found 2 basic philosphies.

The "appropriate" math. "Appropriate" because I see people who simply suck at what they do, and are slow, charging for that time and miseducation. Unfortunately, this is the $90 mug camp.

And the Leach Philosophy. Sell Local, at prices local folks can afford.

I found auctions a great way to find out what the people are willing to pay. No guessing then! (Just up em a bit later)

Gain Confidence by smashing things.

Sorce

I like both keeping things affordable, and at local prices. There are some really lovely potters in town who talk about keeping it real, while not undervaluing your work, and I've found that helpful. I've seen a lot of newbies charging that 90 rate for a mug because that's how they'll earn a profit, and I'm like, no, just because it takes you an hour to throw a mug does not mean you can price it that way! I did underprice something recently (a pretty platter that turned out quite nice) and my sister / sales coach told me that if I ever did that again she'd buy them all from me and resell them herself. So lesson learned there... 

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4 hours ago, Stephen said:

I would price what the market will pay and you can sometimes figure that out by surfing around and seeing what similar pots are selling for. Try to find a half a dozen and zero in on the middle/high side and see if your pots will sell at that. You can't just re-order so I think its important to only try to sell good pots for as much as you can. You say you make a lot and since you are new you might want to do a gut check and make sure that the pots you sell are pro quality. Don't talk yourself into a bad pot going out. If you have any question in your mind if a pot is good I would toss it because it really should be crystal to you that its a good pot and is product. Right now maybe a lot of pots get tossed and that's OK, just cull them out and only sell the good ones, that's your inventory. No one ever sees the bad. If you make pottery in any numbers then the next logical step is to sell your good stuff and toss the rest. Over time you will be tossing less and less so don't fret about it.   

Giving away pottery only works for so long and then you really have kind of taxed that. People can get overrun with your pottery and even get in an uncomfortable situation that even though they like your work they start feeling like they are becoming your personal gallery and start feeling pressured a bit. 

Congrads on the sales!

So this is actually my major hang up - I have people look at my work, and ask to buy it, and yet I still don't think it's 'pro-quality'. A few months back a friend fell in love with 2 of my bowls. They were super experimental and had funky cuts on the rim, and I never would have planned to sell them, but she wrote me a note about how her heart had fallen from them both (using her native french, it was very lovely) and while she expected I wanted to keep them to remember the technique, if I'd consider selling she'd adore them. Well, so, I did, because she had love for those little weird bowls. (And I kept the note).  My sister has pulled 2 mugs from my smashy pile, that I put there because the glaze didn't do exactly what I'd wanted it to do, but they were actually still good, but they didn't match what I expected in my mind's eye. So I am really struggling with my own perception in this. And yes, I'm a recovering perfectionist who has crap at art in highschool so focused on science. 

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Try to sell your pieces in person. This changed my mind from ever judging glaze results. I, like you and nearly every other potter, have a "look" you think should come out of the kiln. When it doesn't we are disappointed. But, I guarantee, there is a person who will come along and love what you have done. This has happened more than occasional. If you think it is ugly there is someone who thinks it is equally beautiful. People will buy that funky stuff because it is original and one-of-a-kind. Unique is what they seek. Smile as you wrap their purchase and stuff your pockets full. Success makes all of your second guessing go away.

Try not to guess what the buying public thinks about your glaze results. The mob is fickle.

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Seriously though

Actual helpful criteria for pricing within your own scope of production.

1  size  cubic inches required in kiln.  I know what I want from a complete load, so I can figure average square inches (or whatever)

2 degree of difficulty  If you made 4 and one is sell-able,  let's add a few dollars for the cause.  Maybe it will get better after you have made a few more.

3  Amount of labor.  If it's a 12 step process, it should be priced higher than

4 It's ok to have low priced pots that are dunk and go.

5 Gifts from the fire.  Sometimes (especially shinos) it just works out killer.  Add money.

Got any more?

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I hear "price per inch" in Bonsai a lot. Ridiculous IMO.

I know what OP is feeling, and it sure ain't math!

Sounds Jokey, but investigating broken stuff is a huge confidence builder. I dropped a thin walled pot a foot onto the concrete the other day and it survived. That was a boost.

I make little knick Knacks to fill kiln corners and give those away with purchases all the time. Every pot I've sold directly has had a free companion. It makes up for any doubt I have, and I imagine is delightful for the customer.

One thing I realized the other day, the backwards math that is....

It's easier to make a hundred pieces than it is to make one.

I reckon you have to work a while to get this feeling. Seeing one pot not come out the way you wished a few times. Where, if you make 6, one is bound for perfect, 600 and the number goes up!

When you get into this idea, and start making more, and more, and are able to repeat things exactly.....all of a sudden your efficiency goes up so high, your prices can come down.

I reckon that's the real point where this feeling gets a little easier. 

Reckon that's why I appreciate the Leach Philosophy. It's balanced. Sustainable. Efficient. Honest.

Sorce

 

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17 hours ago, Juliagoolia said:

My sister has pulled 2 mugs from my smashy pile, that I put there because the glaze didn't do exactly what I'd wanted it to do, but they were actually still good, but they didn't match what I expected in my mind's eye. So I am really struggling with my own perception in this.

Maybe your thing is more art than functional. If this is just for fun with a sale every so often then you can do things however you want but If the mugs were good not sure I understand why you would smash them. I totally get why you might not make them again but good mugs are good mugs and people all have different taste. We have a one-off rack that always gets cleaned out first. People that like pottery seem to love to go through them and the unusual glaze looks that didn't hit the mark to repeat always seem to be coveted by someone and that's cool too . 

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34 minutes ago, Stephen said:

Maybe your thing is more art than functional. If this is just for fun with a sale every so often then you can do things however you want but If the mugs were good not sure I understand why you would smash them. I totally get why you might not make them again but good mugs are good mugs and people all have different taste. We have a one-off rack that always gets cleaned out first. People that like pottery seem to love to go through them and the unusual glaze looks that didn't hit the mark to repeat always seem to be coveted by someone and that's cool too . 

Yes, there's really no reason to smash some of the things I want to smash - they are functional, they look cool, they just arent' what I expected.  I actually have a pile of 'glaze fails' that I put aside (there were not actual obvious flaws like crazing or crawling, they just didn't look the way I wanted them too). I came back to them 2 months later and I was like, hey, these look really cool! I actual liked them once I removed my expectation. 

Heeeeeey... is this going to become some sneaky 'growth' opportunity for my brain?

 

Also, my husband does mosaics, so he really doesn't mind because he loves the broken bits. Like if it's a plate, he'll hover over me asking me if I like it or not, because the plates are his favorite.

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I just had an experience with the daughter of a friend (the daughter is also a friend) who called and told me that she had some friends over for dinner last week and she had used a chip & dip bowl that we had given her for  a wedding present about 5 years ago and her friends "just fell in love with the piece" and could I possibly make another that she would purchase for her friend. The thing here is that I didn't make the first bowl...It was something I got from someone else but didn't really like the glaze so I re-gifted it to this gal. The upside is that it was the design of the piece rather than the glaze that her friend liked. The downside was that I had never made one of these chip & dip bowls before...soooo, I said OK and the price would be $50 with my choice of glaze. She said "Sounds great!"  I checked out some YouTube videos, saw a technique that I liked and went about making one. It turned out great and is now drying on the wareboard as we speak. I'll do some minor trimming on it today or tomorrow and bisque fire it this weekend... The pricing thing wasn't too difficult. I decided what was  reasonable and what I thought she could afford to pay and priced it accordingly.

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Answering the original OP question I never want to or like to Barf. I have to be really really sick before that happens. If I do barf I want to stop as soon as possible.

I cannot think of any clay situation  that induced this except for one an that was in the 80s when I opened a filter pressed bag of clay the color of baby poop that had poo in it and reaked.

That clay was sandstone buff made by Qulye Kilns and they leave the filter pressed pugs out to dry sometimes and a dog must have taken a well you get the idea and they did not notice as it was the same color.

Edited by Mark C.
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7 hours ago, Juliagoolia said:

 I came back to them 2 months later and I was like, hey, these look really cool! I actual liked them once I removed my expectation. 

This is a known phenomenon! We called it”The Two Month Rule” and it was part of my wood firing classes. Nobody was allowed to pass judgment on their pots until two months later, because of exactly what you’re talking about. When you first see the pot, your mind is clouded by your expectations. It takes two months to forget what the expectations were. It’s amazing how much perceptions and feelings change. 

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1 hour ago, GEP said:

This is a known phenomenon! We called it”The Two Month Rule” and it was part of my wood firing classes. Nobody was allowed to pass judgment on their pots until two months later, because of exactly what you’re talking about. When you first see the pot, your mind is clouded by your expectations. It takes two months to forget what the expectations were. It’s amazing how much perceptions and feelings change. 

Awesome! I'm going to make this a new standard process for my bins of 'to smash' or 'to reglaze'. From now on, storing on a shelf for 2 months before they get smashed on the patio.

Except for the pots I accidentally glaze closed. That's immediate. Smashy smashy.

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"When you first see the pot, your mind is clouded by your expectations. It takes two months to forget what the expectations were. It’s amazing how much perceptions and feelings change. "

Yep.

Am finding it really helps to use (I call it "drive") a piece for a while; from there, it can go either way.

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