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How do you educate your customers about your work. Do you teach him some simple tricks to use when looking at ware?


Long story short, many years ago I had a customer at my home buying several Communion sets. I had set out 25 sets for him to choose from, and we did some changing around of chalices with the plates to match what he saw in the way of pairs. We were having a discussion of why I paired up chalices and patens, and decoration details etc. when he noticed a paten setting by itself.  I had a Paten(plate) set aside that had a beautiful finish with decoration that had come out quite well. He wanted to know why I was not including it in the selection as he thought it was beautiful.  I told him it was a reject, and I was going to use it around the house. He pushed the issue, so I held up the plate with fingers supporting it underneath, rapped it with a wooden dowel. I then did the same with one of the ones in the sale. I asked if he noticed a difference, and after an explanation of cracks, and overtones in sound got him to listen closely again. He could then hear the second sound. I then showed him where the crack was, and he said he would have never seen it unless I had pointed it out. I told him, that it may last years, or a few days, but that the crack was a flaw and I could not sell it. Before packing up the 20 sets purchased, he was happy to check each plate and each chalice to see if he could find a crack I had missed-nada.



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I have not had much experience yet with selling as I'm still in school and don't have the time or resources to really make enough to sell. Though I do believe that educating the customer like this can be only good for our business. It makes the customer feel a lot more confident in their buy and you seem really nice for doing it. Plus it forces people to only sell the best if everyone knows what to look for, Great job!

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Excellent teaching moment.


My wife tells me I over share sometime if a customer asks about some process, or why is this surface ok here but not here. If their eyes glaze, I know I've gone too far :)


I've been asked if this texture (basically crawling) can be used for a dinner set or some such and try to explain why it's not a good idea to have surfaces that can harbor microbes on the eating surface. Usually they act like they get it, sometime not.


Sometimes it's hard to explain why one artists surface treatment is a fault in another application. Or why that raku cup really should not be used to drink your daily coffee.

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A portion of my work consists of vases and boxes that are glazed on the inside while the outside is slip with oxides and underglazes with a final wash of soda ash/water to give it a light sheen. Many customers ask if the work is raku; they are surprised when I tell them, no, that to be functional as a vase, the clay needs to be vitrified, etc. But, the surface opens to the question and that is the opportunity to share some knowledge. For kohiki stretched slip wares (avatar photo), I've prepared a short explanation of the technique that I give to people who ask (in addition to explaining) and include with sales.


I use live flowers in my vases; when people ask about that, it is an opportunity to talk about selecting the right clay for the right purpose, etc. I invite them to pick up a vase and feel the bottom -- look, no dampness or seepage and that vase has had water in it since last weekend when I did another show.


Feeling a pot bottom is important -- post glaze firing all my pot bottoms are smoothed with a diamond sanding block -- look, no kiln wash flakes, nice and smooth to reduce the potential for damaging a wood table top. (I remember going through a potter's selection at a Sugarloaf event a few years back and counting how many pots had chunks of kiln wash attached to the bottoms . . . embarrassing.)


Those little discussions get people thinking about the craftsmanship behind the piece they are holding. And, when they think about that, buying/selling becomes a whole lot easier. If you work invites a question/conversation, you're headed for home plate; not always a guarantee, but you've moved the odds to your favor.

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