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the 50/$50 plan

updated thu 24 dec 09


tony clennell on wed 23 dec 09

I didn't decide to make work under $50 I just decided not to make it
all- for my wood kiln. The wood kiln is idle and people ask if I'm
excited about having a firing. No! I am making my money outta my gas
kiln. The wood kiln in this economy offered too much risk, too little
control , took too much time and provided very little profit. I was
embarassed when Ron Meyers visited me that I had no wood fire to show
him. I know that is what he likes to look at in our showroom.
I have my calendar plugged in till June. Teaching at Sheridan and
workshops from now till then in Toronto, SC, Calgary and Italy. The
winter is the hardest of times. I have them covered. If I had an
unsold inventory of big pots I'd make small pots. I never ever ever
have big pots to spare so I'm taking Jan to try to get some ahead.
They sell slower but turn heads.
Mel's 50 mile theory He's right it is possible to make a living on
pots with a regional reputation. My aunt and uncle did it for 47
years. Jimmie and Selma Clennell- Anyone out there ever heard of
them? 7 of 10 of my class mates from Georgian College have made good
livings for over 30 years on regional reps. they are living proof of
the 50 mile theory.
Mel has more going for him than his neigbours of 50 miles. He has 3000
of us sitting on his deck each morning with our coffee and computers.
Do you think he got to test Amaco glazes cause his neigbour wrote
Amaco to say he is a master of colour? Nope, he has 3000 potters on
his deck each morning. The Amaco crew are not fools. Do think the 50
mile radius is the best channel of distribution for a new book on
kilns? Nope but 3000 potters reading each day is a good start. At my
grad show in Logan, Utah I sold not one single pot! The lowest priced
pot was $300. A wedding gift in Logan is $20-$30. I brought the pots
all home- blew a tire in Detroit under all the weight. I have sold
them all except 2 that I'm saving for a show. Two sold for $1400. I
have customers that have bought here year after year and want to see
my progress and are buying up not down. If my prices go down they will
be pissed.
We self published our 3 DVD's. I would run around trying to sell them
at Nceca. If I sold 30 I would be happy. I have probably sold 3 out of
our shop in all those years. Acers took over distribution this past
jan and have sold over 700. That means I did 700 mini workshops across
the country since Jan. And the beauty is the work is all done- I don't
have to make, glaze or fire them. The DVD has brought me workshops
that the good neighbours of Niagara wouldn't.
I would hate to stay at home all the time and just make pots. I like
people and so for me getting out of the 50 mile radius is my plan.
Make my pottery life provide me with the travel and new friends.
As for the $50 pot. I only have so many pots in these hands. I ask
Sheila every morning what I should make. She says make what you want!
I do that and then I ask her again the next morning and she says the
same thing. If I'm selling everything I make I don't need to adjust
prices. I don't think lowering my prices would amount to a hill of
PS This one was so long I think I'll rename myself Primalpotter.

Workshop Feb 5,6,7 Mudbucket Pottery
Myrtle Beach, SC
Workshop Feb 13th
Tucker's Pottery Supply-Lies, lies and more lies