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So, right after Christmas, I get a call asking me to make 60 mugs for a conference.It's a teachers conference starting today. They wanted to give two matching mugs for each speaker.

I have dealt with this man over the years, and he is very reliable with payment.

Here's the problem;  we were all still in holiday mode. I had just gotten back from Cuba. Steve, my firing partner had just gotten back from Arizona.

I did have about the right number of pots bisqued, but no way could we fill a 40 cubic ft. kiln in such a short turn around time.

Three potters jumped on our wheels in an attempt to fill a kiln load in time to get this order out.

I made 12 collanders-5lbs each with saucers, another run of mugs, medium bowls.We got another potter that we show with to bring pots. We got a student from the pottery co-op.We got that baby loaded.

Then one burner would not light. Not ever. Call the plumber. We lost a day there.

So he picked up the pots Monday evening, hot out of the kiln. He took 65 mugs,a jug, two plates,a big bowl,a Majolica jar I had lying around,two large mugs, and two beakers.

I feel a bit violated, as my studio is now bereft of work. I did not get a chance to look at most of those pieces.

Do you have a pottery sale horror story? This one actually turned out well. Let's hear yours.

Tom.

 

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A tad of pressure on ya there... 

 

We have been making different mugs and such for friends in the work place.. This one guy plays music and wants a music theme mug "large in size" ... He is the type of person who always expects the worse and cant seem to see anything positive at times.. Well we made the first mug and the glaze just didn't look great, turned a off color... Second mug was going into the bisque load and it broke in my hands and im still wondering how it happened LOL... so I guess ill make a 3rd and see what happens next... I told Cindy to talk to him and tell him to start thinking positive so I can get it done without mishap...

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Omfg YES, I have a horror story!

HAUGHHH

So, this gal has/had/whatever a boyfriend who was a demolition derby racer. She wanted me to make a big cookie jar based on the car he drove in the arena. Not only was this a colossal pain in my guinea bum, I only had three weeks to do it. I worked myself to the bone to finish that dang thing--it was really an elaborate project. I had a few days to spare, even!

 

AND MY KILN UNDER-FIRED IT

 

The black slip was this sickly rotten vegetation dark green, and the white underglaze turned light green!! Omg. I freaked out so bad. So, I put it back into my kiln, doing a voodoo dance and sacrificing rice to the kiln gods. Two days before Xmas Eve, I pulled that beast out of a right bloody hot kiln--and everything was fixed! It arrived to the gal's house ON XMAS EVE AT 4:45PM.

 

I had never been so frazzled in my life, haha! :D

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A tad of pressure on ya there... 

 

We have been making different mugs and such for friends in the work place.. This one guy plays music and wants a music theme mug "large in size" ... He is the type of person who always expects the worse and cant seem to see anything positive at times.. Well we made the first mug and the glaze just didn't look great, turned a off color... Second mug was going into the bisque load and it broke in my hands and im still wondering how it happened LOL... so I guess ill make a 3rd and see what happens next... I told Cindy to talk to him and tell him to start thinking positive so I can get it done without mishap...

Crusty;

If it's an order, I always make four. I just had a large casserole order to replace a broken one. Got the shape right. Made four. Three cracked in the bisque. Got the fourth one out today. the lid is stuck on, but at least it didn't crack.

TJR.

 

It's always the orders that get you , Tom. Sounds like your babies left the nest a little early!

Just go and make some of  your classy teapots and post hthem so we can all be inspired!

3o deg C today, balmy

Minus 19 c here. That's minus 2.2 for the Americans. i am starting to wonder why I chose to be born here.

T.

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I have sold many a pot right from a glaze kiln and never got to know them-OH well I made more.

( i am starting to wonder why I chose to be born here.)

the question should read why did I stay?

 

As far a special orders-I do not do them anymore-one of my better decisions-I wish I had done it a few decades ago.

If you make an order its the one that will go south in the kiln-always Crusty-make at least 4-nothing like 3 dog bowls with the pets name on them to sell later.

Now I take a break after the Holiday mode as you say Tom

No amount of $ will make me get going early on my time off.Now as for an after holiday order-I always have boxes of mugs ready to roll for my outlets-I may take a break but they keep selling and I need to supply so I backstock lots of work always-this is a key business point for me.

TJR you have full time job so go easy on yourself.

Mark

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I have sold many a pot right from a glaze kiln and never got to know them-OH well I made more.

( i am starting to wonder why I chose to be born here.)

the question should read why did I stay?

 

As far a special orders-I do not do them anymore-one of my better decisions-I wish I had done it a few decades ago.

If you make an order its the one that will go south in the kiln-always Crusty-make at least 4-nothing like 3 dog bowls with the pets name on them to sell later.

Now I take a break after the Holiday mode as you say Tom

No amount of $ will make me get going early on my time off.Now as for an after holiday order-I always have boxes of mugs ready to roll for my outlets-I may take a break but they keep selling and I need to supply so I backstock lots of work always-this is a key business point for me.

TJR you have full time job so go easy on yourself.

Mark

Mark;

Good advice as always. got the head cold now, so took a sick day yesterday.We have a national holiday on Monday, Feb.16. Here it is called Louis Riel Day after a Che Guevera like Metis hero. It was discovered that many Canadians like to commit suicide in Feb. because of the long winters. I might move to the west coast one of these years.

T.

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I got a call in Jan. for 60 mugs & just after got a doctor wanting to do surgery with 4-6 week recovery with another surgery following, yikes! So I stalled the first surgery for a month & got to work. The mugs got glazed yesterday & will decorate today & fire Sunday.

 

I watch for a little warmer weather as the kiln is in my unheated garage. If they don't all fit I have a small window to do it in April where I can fire more pots that I' ve been frantically throw to fill the next load. Luckily the customer doesn't want the full order til June at the latest.

Joy

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I make raku sculptures of people's dogs.  did two near christmas for a lady out of town based on emailed pictures. one of the dogs had only a stub of a tail but picture did not show back end and even though she told me this, i somehow forgot and made a tail and shipped it to her. the second dog broke in shipping. I had her return the dog with a tail, I "docked" it with a pair of pliers, filed it and sanded it into a stub and then refired and sent ti back.  she didn't want me to redo the broken one. thankfully raku stuff is essentially like bisqueware and i was able to fix it.  but I don't think I am going to do these orders any more.  too much work. rakuku

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...... My horror story involves an urn .... Except after a couple weeks the family could not agree on who got the ashes,so asked me to make three identical ones that had a spot for a candle to burn .... after the decision to split the ashes NOTHING went right ... forgiving clay warped, items cracked in the kiln, underglaze colors went wonky ... I was beginning to believe in angry ghosts so I called the lady to ask ( in a round about way ) how they all got along ... Oh fine she says.

I made 6 of them and on the final day had three decent ones but, when I put the candles in to test, ALL of the flames guttered out.

Must admit that by that point I just laughed ... Then fixed them so the candles burned.

Delivered them.

Hmmmmm .... About three days later I get the call ... They are an inch or so too short, could I make three more?

I asked her to return them, kept my 50% deposit, gave them back the rest $$$ and fired them as clients.

Took the urns to my back yard with a sledge hammer and mashed them to dust.

Months later I met someone who knew them and found out they feuded and fought all the time .... none of them got along.

I think I had guessed that already.

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Wrong color wrong size I thought it would be this or that cracked in the bisque cracked in greenstate cracked in glaze fire warped ran blew up customer died wedding is off

changed mind earthquake lost load cost to much I'll take a few more exactly like this can you do this how much for this to match.

 

You know after 40 plus years of this you learn to say NO pretty quick.

All the above have happend to me.

Tom we are having a heat wave mid 70's past few days soon the fog will come.

mark

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Wrong color wrong size I thiought it would be this or that cracked in the bisque cracked in greenstate cracked in glaze fire warped ran blew up customer died

changed mind earthquake lost load cost to much I'll take a few more exactly like this can you do this how much for this to match.

 

You know after 40 plus years of this you learn to say NO pretty quick.

All the above have happend to me.

Tom we are having a heat wave mid 70's past few days soon the fog will come.

mark

YES indeed .... live and learn.

NO is my 'go to' reply on ALL custom order requests now .... if I am tempted my good friend just says "urns" and I quickly go to default "NO".

 

Not to say that others should not do custom orders ... some people are really good at them. There is a formula and if you follow it you will have happy customers ... at least that is what they say, I have no proof of it personally!

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Mark;

O.K. I didn't mention this one. I also had an order for a casserole dish hanging over my head from the summer. Finally made four of them. Three of them cracked in the bisque. Fourth one made it out of the kiln alright. I am now done with special orders.

Learned my lesson.

T.

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Custom orders give me hemerrhoids, but sadly, at this point, they are my lifeline. I'm too broke to advertise much, and work very slowly. I have so many ideas floating around in my guinea head, but custom orders always suffocate them...it's miserable. I hope someday soon that I can just live off my normal pieces!! ;.;

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Custom orders give me hemerrhoids, but sadly, at this point, they are my lifeline. I'm too broke to advertise much, and work very slowly. I have so many ideas floating around in my guinea head, but custom orders always suffocate them...it's miserable. I hope someday soon that I can just live off my normal pieces!! ;.;

I am hoping to one day just live off love, but it doesn't seem to be working. My wife expects me to have a job.

t.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Custom orders give me hemerrhoids, but sadly, at this point, they are my lifeline. I'm too broke to advertise much, and work very slowly. I have so many ideas floating around in my guinea head, but custom orders always suffocate them...it's miserable. I hope someday soon that I can just live off my normal pieces!! ;.;

I am hoping to one day just live off love, but it doesn't seem to be working. My wife expects me to have a job.

t.

 

 

It's tough isn't it. This pottery thing has to work for me. lol

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Music Man got his Music Mug- 3rd time is a charm lol... If its got shiny glaze on it,, its for sale.. If not, sorry I don't do orders anymore....

 

Cindy has a couple people "really good friends" wanting their names on a mug... I told her I would throw the mug but im done after the handle goes on LOL...

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It used to be customers where dying to come out to the studio and pick up custome workk and look around. Then a decade or more they started to get to busy with stuff? Now all they do I think is look at thier phones.

Having finished orders piling up  in was my 1st sign things had changed.

Once I stopped doing custom work my mind felt a great lift of spirit-In the geater sence all my work is custom work just not someones elses idea of what they want.

 

I'm sure custom work still works well for many I have just worked away from that model.

TJR one tip I can add is when this really got to me I just phoned folks who had not come to get the pots and said I would take them to next sale and thats what I did for the ones who never showed..It felt great to sell that order at a show.

Mark

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It used to be customers where dying to come out to the studio and pick up custome workk and look around. Then a decade or more they started to get to busy with stuff? Now all they do I think is look at thier phones.

Having finished orders piling up  in was my 1st sign things had changed.

Once I stopped doing custom work my mind felt a great lift of spirit-In the geater sence all my work is custom work just not someones elses idea of what they want.

 

I'm sure custom work still works well for many I have just worked away from that model.

TJR one tip I can add is when this really got to me I just phoned folks who had not come to get the pots and said I would take them to next sale and thats what I did for the ones who never showed..It felt great to sell that order at a show.

Mark

Mark;

You always have great advice. I have learned my lesson on these custom orders. If it's something like; "Make me 60 mugs, I am down." But not if it's 60 mugs, but not in THAT colour, or that shape.At least I have their deposit. I guess they didn't need this pot that badly.

TJR

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Thanks for this thread!  I don't know how I missed the original post.  I think I was getting ready for a show.   I just feel like I suck at custom orders.  I am trying to learn how to say no.  Sometimes someone has an idea of something that I want to try.  But mostly it's just random stuff that I have to try and figure out how to make. (butter bells, mugs with lids and tea strainers attached, bird houses)  And then there is the whole issue of shape, size, color, etc.  Last fall one of my neighbors stopped by my booth at a fair.  She looked at all my stuff and then said "I will have to come over to your house and see what you can make me for Christmas gifts!"  I said, "you should come over and see what I have for sale!"  Then she continued on...."do you make anything with horses on it?"  "no, I don't" I said.   "I have a picture of a horse, I will bring it over!" she said.    I said, "If you find a stamp that has a horse on it, buy it, bring it over, and I will make you a mug or a bowl with that stamp!"  "where would I find a stamp like that?" she asked.  "I don't know!"  I replied! 

 

She did not come over.  But I really struggle with custom orders.  I have started using Mark's strategy on a few things.   "I will have it at this craft fair, if you want to pick it up.  Otherwise I will sell it!"    I have tried using the phrase "that is not my skill set"  and sometimes that works.  Or more bluntly...."I don't want to make that."  But it's hard. 

 

Roberta 

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Roberta ... In my opinion you handled that the right way ... She was obviously not listening to your answers so you put some of the commitment back on her. I recently re-learned the lesson of simply saying "Sorry No" without excuses or explanation. You would think a hard learned lesson like that would stick, huh?

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roberta, you almost have it.  if you suggest that the person receiving the gift would appreciate it more if the giver made it herself........................... 

 

i have had 20 or so people say they wanted to make something and as soon as i offer them the opportunity, they have some excuse or another.

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