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fwd: pricing. can we talk?

updated thu 8 jul 10


Robert Harris on wed 7 jul 10

I completely agree with Lili. I also think that the great big white
elephant in the room, that nobody dare mention - since it always
brings out fairly nasty art vs craft arguments - is that production
functional pottery is a whole different scene than anything that has
artistic pretensions. I do not want to get into the craft vs art
debate. BUT purely in terms of making a living they are fundamentally

For those of us that make primarily functional pottery there is a real
problem that the public cannot tell the difference (or at least do not
value it) between skilled potters and those that have been doing
evening classes for a couple of years and use standard of the shelf
glazes. -

In this case I would like to exclude $2 million teapots, as they
probably won't be used very often if at all, and possibly even $250
teapots, much as that might offend some of you. As far as I am
concerned if it is too expensive to be used, then it isn't really
functional, it's just a pretty statue in the shape of a teapot.

To throw even more gas on the fire, I have to say (as someone who is
English trained, and brought up to revere BL) that the proliferation
of poorly thrown, heavy and overall "manky" mock japanese/mingei
pottery/chawan (without the cultural backdrop to inform us) has made
the homegrown US consumer unable to differentiate between skilled and
unskilled work.

Like I say I'm really not trying to offend anyone - but I'll be happy
to hear any reasoned disagreements!


On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 5:24 PM, Lili Krakowski wr=
> I am not picking on anyone. =3DA0And I am not advocating anything. =3DA0A=
ugh I think Michael Wendt should refer to Mrs W by name,not just "my wife".
> However. =3DA0We are as secretive and "shy" about pricing as people used =
be about sex.
> The facts are that in the group called "potters" in this country today =
=3DA0(It may be the same in other places, but I'm not there....) a few =3DA=
n their living entirely through clay. =3DA0There are far more who have some=
ther income...whether a partner/spouse/pension/trust fund...and fudge about=
it all.
> I know two full time potters whose wives pay the big bills. =3DA0Nothing =
ong with that. =3DA0Both women are "professionals" doing work they chose, l=
e, and are good at. =3DA0 =3DA0 I know several whose husbands earn a good l=
g, and wife only pays for studio expenses.. =3DA0Nothing wrong with that. =
A good number of potters are retired from teaching jobs....and have the pen=
sions to show for it. =3DA0Many potters teach--part or full time....and tha=
t =3D
is a big chunk of their income. =3DA0Others yet--as I did---have unrelated-=
-clay jobs. =3DA0And on and on.
> Fabienne asked the other day ( Hi there...can anyone =3DA0be as super as =
yce tells us you are? ) about starting to pot full time while supporting a =
2 1/2 year old and sending him to private school.
> If Fabienne already had an established business, an established clientele=
, plus some sort of other wind at her could say "Go for it." =
=3DA0But this sounds like the thinnest ice possible...To start in this econ=
ic climate, with known responsibilities ahead...thin ice, thin ice.
> Then there is talk about pricing. =3DA0And talk and talk and talk....and =
ONE so far has said: "Listen you guys....we are up against countless potte=
rs who do not make a living, do not need to make a living, =3DA0off their p=
s, and sell them at cloud-cuckooland prices...
> Today a woman I am =3DA0very fond of told me that her daughter-- a retire=
d =3D
schoolteacher--has been going to "fairs" and "Farmers' Markets" selling jew=
elry she makes...and sales are great. And there are potters out there who d=
o the same thing...Someone like Bonnie Hellman can do the math...but I am w=
illing to bet that everyone of these "crafts people" undercuts those who
> try to make a complete living of it.
> It all is a vicious circle. =3DA0When I produced more I priced my work at=
he "going =3DA0[gallery/store ] market," =3DA0I was a trained, experienced =
er, I felt my pots were worth =3DA0 more than what newbies and the like wer=
e =3D
asking....and fortunately I had a great "gallery" and =3DA0soon, a followin=
=3DA0But did I support myself at clay? =3DA0No. =3DA0Period. No.
> I have stopped making =3DA0much pottery, and when I do I generally barter=
.Barter has a built in fairness I truly like.
> But we all are up against very unfair competition. =3DA0 No, =3DA0not evi=
l in=3D
tentions, just an unrealistic approach. =3DA0 We have =3DA0newbies =3DA0pro=
udly t=3D
ell us =3DA0they fell in love with clay at some recreational class, have be=
potting just a year and already are selling at local fairs etc. =3DA0We ha=
had people who do the clay equivalent of painting-by-the-numbers and boast=
of their sales.
> We have--as a group--provided "training wheels" for dozens and dozens of =
beginners and hobbyists....and our "reward" has been undercutting of the pr=
ofessional market.
> I am not blaming or accusing or condemning or judging anyone. =3DA0I only=
m saying that a very real aspect of "la condition potiere" is being ignored=
, even when we discuss it.
> We are the professional registered dog breeders who must compete against =
=3DA0those who breed a purebred bitch once a =3DA0year to pay for her vet b=
> Why not discuss that?
> Lili Krakowski
> Be of good courage