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Too many glazes, forms, clay bodies?


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Just a small backstory for those that do not know…I have been a potter for decades but just in the last year or two started it as a full time job. So far it’s going great really BUT…

Just curious as to some opinions on here. I feel like I am well outside the “creative” zone. What I mean is I do not have an exact body of work, it is changing daily and I personally feel it’s all over the map in just about every aspect. That is great and all but I also know it somewhat butts heads with most artist success etc.

The basics are I am having fun…I have gone from porcelain only to having 4 clay bodies in the studio and more on the way to test. The reason for that is I really used to hate glazing and now I am obsessed and the different outcomes on clay has me nerding out haha. Along side that I feel like I am adding a bucket of glaze a day versus the wisdom of only having a handful.

Same applies to too many forms…this one is probably the biggest as it actually interrupts my process on what I need to make or should be making to sell to build solid inventory (outside like mugs which always need to be made).

now I have been fortunate enough so far that people have liked and received pretty much everything I have thrown at them but I feel the need to ask for advice and hone this down a ton, or does this approach actually work ok for some people? 

I suppose I am doing it because, well, it’s fun and what I like doing but I also know that is not always   how you should be approaching it from a business and artist standpoint.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

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@MorganYou don't say much about this "full time job"! I consider myself retired now, and doing more pottery than I have in years, just because I have the time. Do I need the money? Just enough to keep the pottery from hitting the family budget. Do I need to sell? Not really, but I do. Do I have a set style or format. . . somewhat as I am all about texture on the thrown forms and about form on the handbuilt ones. I like to have fun with the pots, and when working with a form for a week or two, will have several iterations that follow the same idea, but then the next time I return to the form it may be completely different. It just happens. I am using one white clay now, but working with a brown slip over that clay. . . sometimes. I will run out of the white soon and move over to a hazelnut brown clay. Things change, its all fun, about the clay, the feel and the finished product. If they sell they sell and most do, if not they get gifted. All good.

 

best,

Pres

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As far as the full time job, i am working more and harder than any job in my life, I am basically selling out at every market I attend, in quite a few prominent  galleries and cannot keep up with demand. I have all but ignored online sales so far as it goes so far locally fast enough. All wonderful problems to have. So I suppose it’s full time in the sense that I do it to make my living pay the bills and then some and it has been going very well from a financial aspect…relatively speaking for ceramics :)

I suppose that adds to the question…maybe I could keep up and be doing better if I was a bit more honed in/disciplined on my body of work, glazes etc…

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1 minute ago, Morgan said:

 

I suppose that adds to the question…maybe I could keep up and be doing better if I was a bit more honed in/disciplined on my body of work, glazes etc…

Maybe not, as sometimes honing in is a natural process, not to be forced. If you can't keep up with the work you will hone in eventually, it is just natural to have to do that. However, often when you have a lot of pieces with your name on them that represent a lot of diversity, choices sell, especially when looking at higher end work.

 

best,

Pres

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My personal preference is to limit my materials, but that’s so I avoid overwhelm. But I think something worth asking yourself is which do you value more? Making the variety, or increasing your quantity? From the conversation to this point, I think you might know the answer to this already. 

I would personally suggest that if your developing body of work ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

For everyone who has ever said you *should* do a thing because it won’t work, there is someone out there breaking that rule either inadvertently or on purpose, and completely killing it. 

If you’re selling out in person and can’t keep your galleries stocked, you probably don’t need to add online sales venue to your already full plate. If you’re overwhelmed trying to keep everyone supplied, you could be due for a price increase.

It sounds to me like the question is not should you narrow down the variety of what you make, but if you need to restrict the quantity.

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Narrow down the form list and your clay bodies as well-4 is to many.

Everyone has different limits on what works

for me it all porcelain and about 15 glazes

I love to glaze and fire and most hate those things-I call them mud potters as they love to throw-for me clay is the canvas for glazes and reduction firing is always different outcomes and after 48 years plus this keeps me motivated

I am norrowing my line down this year as we speak-I have offered about 35 forms (7 mugs  sizes and shapes for example)

I want that list down. My outlet line is limited but my at art show line has been huge and is coming down now .One I give up shows that line will be much smaller.

all this will take discipline and thats not always FUN as you said.

I have turned down all custom work for a decade and online sales as well as I do not need them. I like shows (people as customers). I could do wholesale only but its boring . This will be one of my best years money wise with the local market on but I have run out of certian forms over and over and until I limit that number of forms this looks to be the case looking forward.Price has not made any difference.

I suggest a limited form list and do that list well

same with clay bodies and glazes

-its easier on you

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Ya I agree and thank you for the responses.

I think it is just engrained in me that having over x glazes is too much along with limiting your body of work. Maybe I am just in that having fun exploring stage still and it will most likely hone itself in. And your right variety sells…still blows my mind how many times I almost leave certain pieces at home thinking who would want that…of coarse those are the first things to sell!

price increase is certainly something on my mind but I personally feel they are already a bit high or I should say in the mainland they would be for sure. I am in a very very unique market where it’s always tourists and for quite a few of them price is not a thought in their head…they just walk up with a piece and a credit card. Then again some scoff at a 40-45 dollar mug. That said materials and being in a potter in Hawaii is absurdly expensive for materials, electricity etc.

anyway thanks all I think I am just overthinking it.

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I have a potter friend on Molokai and everything costs a bunch to get it there materials wise. Price of pots is very high as it has to be. Tourist market is a contsnt supply of new buyers without a care about what it costs.Great place to be

Edited by Mark C.
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I'm at one clay body and 3 glazes (all different colors of the same glaze). But I decorate with underglazes so I don't need a lot of glazes. I was only using about 6 underglaze colors, but have since expanded to about a dozen or more. It's still a pretty simple pallet, though. I think that having fewer materials helps you to focus your techniques into a consistent style. I get that it's fun to try a lot of different things, but I think that from a business standpoint, consistency and a definite style that people associate with you are important for bringing in return customers. 

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Totally agree Neil…which was the genesis for making a topic about it. I am going to give it some time and see what evolves naturally but I totally agree as well and want my body of work recognizable and associated with me very easily. 

I see your work and it’s automatic that is a Neil ware, and that is something invaluable.
 

working with galleries has actually helped that with specific asks of what I make, sets, collections etc but the markets of tourists are what get me going in every direction as they don’t frankly care who the artist is per se, they just want xyz that they got in Kauai.

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I see this as a balance between manufacturing, marketing and creativity.  If you set it as a 3 point graph, you might find personal success anywhere between the 3.  If you judge by monetary success, you're probably leaning towards manufacture.  Works for some.  For me, it's all about the opportunity to be creative.  I'm down to 2 wholesale accounts only and plan to do no further retail.  My pots are constantly changing, new ideas in every load.  That's what works for me.

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On 8/1/2021 at 2:17 PM, Morgan said:

As far as the full time job, i am working more and harder than any job in my life,

 

No truer statement has ever been said..but it also the difference of doing for yourself as opposed to others. Owning both your successes and mistakes is the reason your statement is so true.

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On 8/1/2021 at 4:54 PM, Morgan said:

I think I am just overthinking it

I'll second that emotion (or rather the emotion that comes with overthinking).  I was quite relieved when I learned in art school that "Less Is More" is a thing.  

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On 8/2/2021 at 5:30 AM, Mark C. said:

Nothing like a mug that says Kaui on it-I'm sure you could sell them by the thousands

Depending on the audience I broke down and finally made a “made in Kauai” stamp as it gave me chills on how tacky it felt. Unreal how much that stamp alone sells a mug haha.

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Wipe the letters in cobalt on a porcelain mug  and mark up the price more than regular mugs-you will see them fly out the shops I guarantee it.Seen it with Molokai mugs by a friend on that Island

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