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let's look at the positive side (was: pricing. can we talk?)

updated mon 12 jul 10


Fabienne McMillan on fri 9 jul 10

Well there you go, I always get myself in those awkward situations and
just walked in the door after a few years off clayart. :p

Anyway, I've been reading the "Pricing. Can we talk?" thread and found
it interesting. I would guess that there is a some of everything that
was described going on and probably more than the eye can see.

The thread seemed to have been mostly confined, however, to
established potters, from what I'm able to see. I don't see some
recently anointed professional potters posting (i.e. those who
survived the first three grueling years of a new formed business) I
sure would like to hear from those as well and see how they survived
not just recognized how it happens which is only the first step in the
process of making corrections if possible at all; it usually is
dependent on the person, situation, means etc. Send me an email
privately if you prefer not posting your experience on clayart.

I also cannot help to wonder what the 25 years experience potters whom
some of us admire think of those starting now and how they were
perceived by their counterparts 25 years ago. Everyone has to start
somewhere. I also wouldn't be surprised if some of them had started
as hobbyist or some other way that some of us loathe.

So okay, we have heard about some of the ugly side of potting which
could be discouraging to some and to others is just information to
factor into their business plan (me) So now, I am interested in
hearing about the other side of the coin if some of you have the time
to write:

1. Despite the negative aspect of the business, many of you are still
in it, why? I'm assuming that the positive still outweigh the negative
if you're still potting. 2. What made you start the business? Same as
1. or have your reasons for staying in changed?

Thank you for your time,


"We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace." ~
Peggy Tabor Millin

On Jul 7, 2010, at 4:24 PM, Lili Krakowski wrote:

> Fabienne asked the other day ( Hi there...can anyone be as super as
> Joyce 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." But this sounds like the thinnest ice possible...To
> start in this economic climate, with known responsibilities
> ahead...thin ice, thin ice.

Jackson Gray on sat 10 jul 10

Hi Fabienne, and others who might care...

You offered to receive replies off list, but I hope by posting to the
list maybe someone will have thoughts to help me, too. I started taking
pottery classes and workshops in the early 90s, changing the look of my
pots with each new thing I learned. What fun! Because I am a person
who plays by the rules, as soon as I started selling my work I got a
business license and a resale card. I never sold much though and really
feel that I have only been in business about 3-4 years.

I finally settled into one style (with occasional slight diversions) and
a palette of just a half dozen glazes so my look is pretty cohesive
now. I sell mostly at craft shows, primarily the ones that are juried
with 100% handmade goods. The most I have ever paid for a booth fee is
$275.00, usually less than $100. I have a website that I can update
myself, and have put a few things on ETSY, but am really bad at keeping
that updated. I usually spend 6 hours or so in the studio - but not
every day, I spend a lot of time with grandchildren. If a deadline is
approaching I've been know to spend 12-14 hours in the studio, but that
is maybe 6-8 times a year.

I never sell as much as other potters I speak to, certainly nowhere near
the 10x the booth fee that was discussed here a while back. Although I
do have a few dedicated customers who found me at a fair, then visited
my website for additional purchases.

I think my work is good and I am sure to check all my pieces to make
sure or seams, smoothness (where desired), etc. is as it should be. My
shows are often disappointing, though. Although I love the personal
contact with customers, and really enjoy hearing comments about how
great the pieces are, I often pack up almost as much as I brought and
occasionally just hope to cover my booth fee. Sometimes I feel that my
prices are too high for the market, but my hand-built work takes so much
time I don't feel I can make the prices any lower...and sometimes people
comment on how reasonable my prices are - so what does that mean?

The last 2 years, I actually brought in slightly more than I spent.
Certainly not a living, but I am fortunate that my husband earns a
decent living and is very supportive of my path, but it would be nice to
carry a little more of the financial burden.

If any of you feel inspired to look at my work, you may visit my website
at I will try to appreciate your constructive
criticism. I will certainly appreciate your time.


Lis Allison on sun 11 jul 10

On July 10, 2010, you wrote:
>... Because I
>I sell mostly at craft shows, primarily the ones that
> are juried with 100% handmade goods. The most I have ever paid for a
> booth fee is $275.00, usually less than $100. >
> I never sell as much as other potters I speak to, certainly nowhere
> near the 10x the booth fee that was discussed here a while back.

Maybe you are going to the wrong shows?

A small comment: hand-built work can be harder to sell than thrown because
those who are not tuned in to hand-made work are made uncomfortable by
irregular shapes. Not a criticism of the shape, but a fact about
customers. You need to find the right audience.

Speaking of which, I also believe you need to do a show a number of times
so that they can become aware of you and start to trust you. Only then
will they begin to buy. They say you need to 'see' an ad 7 times before
you notice it, something the same applies to selling at shows/stores etc.

I looked at your website and LOVE your mosaic river!

Elisabeth Allison
Pine Ridge Studio
Pottery blog:
Garden blog: