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selling work/long

updated thu 6 jul 00


Joyce Lee on tue 4 jul 00

About a dozen of you have asked me why I'm choosing not to sell my pots;
then a recent post concerning small pots displayed in a Coca-Cola
wooden crate, which display I also chose not to sell, triggered a few
more such questions. It occurs to me that there might be enough
interested others for me to stop and figure out for myself why I've
opted for such a stance. By the way, I understand curiosity and am NOT
offended by your questions. I love that aspect of Clayart where if
somebody puts it out there, we can feel free to question it.

I DID sell my pots earlier ... went into sales prematurely, in my
opinion, in response to friends' flattery. That first big Christmas
show, I sold out... think it was about $4,000 in two days. Maybe only a
third of my pots were worth buying, but I had underpriced them out of
ignorance, which for bargain hunters seemed to be a real enticement,
based on their comments. It wouldn't have enticed ME, but I soon learned
that I couldn't use myself as a standard when dealing with "the public."
My own standards weren't necessarily higher nor lower, just different.
The better pots went first, of course, but they all did sell. AND I
still miss some of those original, special pots ... pots where I didn't
know enough to strive for craftsmanship so I really put myself into them
... I don't even know where they wound up, and didn't realize at that
time that I should take pictures of my work.... didn't think of them as
my "work," anyhow. I just was thrilled that somebody would want
something I'd made with my own hands, not having attempted to be any
sort of craftsperson for longer than two weeks duration prior to that
time. The next year I was primarily attuned to making lots of pots
speedily. Anxious to get in there and SELL.... because that's what
potters DO, right? And I so longed to be a Potter! I wasn't ready for
such production and, some of you will remember, I ruined many shelves as
well as pots ... expensive shelves. I then discovered ITC, which helped
with the shelves, but I carted off to the dump truckloads of that year's
product of dented/dunted/abused/messily glazed/uninspired pots as a
result of my glazing carelessly, loading poorly and firing haphazardly,
among other sins against art/craft..... all the time I was decrying my
lack of artistic vision, and obvious inability to even "settle" for
simply being a "good" craftsperson. In addition, I felt I was becoming
a major time-waster by spending hours upon hours trying to make enough
pots for the Big Sales, and rushing through the process to the point
that there almost wasn't a Process; the Rushing was all that remained
... finally, after personally connecting with gurus and claybuds who in
essence told me to Slow Up, Take It Easy, Go With The Flow, Calm Dowm,
Cool It, Listen&Learn .... followed by introductions to "The Artist's
Way" (a story in itself) and "The Unknown Craftsman," I said never
again! So now every load is still an experiment for me ... some pots
are pretty good ... most have some flaw that I consider to be serious
..... but then that's what it's about ... experimenting...... moving in
new directions constantly..... not all directions are by any means artsy
or even unusual...... just new for me. Eventually I'll probably sell
but only when I'm ready ... and probably from my studio from stock on
hand, not by commission. I'm retired and made my living over a period
of decades working long, long hours ...... many days from 6:30 a.m. on
the job to after 10/11 at night with maybe a chance to visit with #1
Support Person at dinner... worked many weekends. Oddly enough, I loved
the job, but NOW is time for play, and play for me is the opportunity to
learn new skills and new understandings. So I don't want the pressure of
sales ... I do give pots for various charity prizes etc and sometimes
sell from my UglyPotSpot to flower gardneners for a couple of dollars.
Not Selling My Pots is no big loss to the world, believe me! I sometimes
give boxes full of pots to the local charity thrift shop....
and occasionally a friend pressures me to sell her/him a pot for a gift
to a mutual friend ...... that's it. Sold a lovely
copperred/copperpurple white stoneware recently for a friend's
birthday... it was a large bowl that I meant to be a plate but the walls
kept going too high for a plate..... had a wide rim..... looked like an
oversized upsidedown top hat ... a short, wide, very oversized top
hat... really an intriguing pot for the right person. But most of my
pots are still rather conventional. I'm trying to move away from that
and use some of the traditional skills I've learned in the past four
years, but discover once again the naive quality my pots had in the
beginning. I didn't appreciate them at all then; now I do. I thought of
them disparagingly as "student pots," having been required to attend
years of student shows; later I recalled that some of those student
shows displayed incredibly fascinating, humorous, touching and original
works. Decided that I was on target with my judgment but way off in my
interpretation. I have a huge, fat pitcher from my earlier days, one
that offers a new definition for "heavy," that I tried to shino but it
only developed a glossy dark brown look ... one that's too unwieldy for
dispensing any kind of liquid... not even a good doorstop, but it makes
me smile when I see it where it totally dominates a whole bookcase
shelf. Glad nobody bought it. There are a few others like that, but the
majority of my "innocent" pots no longer reside in the desert ... hate
that I'll never see them again. So that's why I no longer sell my pots.

In the Mojave

Karen Fisher on wed 5 jul 00

i especially liked the part about the 'very fat pitcher giving a new
definition to heavy.' i have an early mug that i call my
'crime-stopper'--definitely could be used as a lethal weapon, giving new
meaning to 'he was mugged.'

Karen Fisher