search  current discussion  categories  business - pricing 

more on pottery pricing

updated sat 30 sep 00


Dave Finkelnburg on tue 26 sep 00

First, I want to acknowledge all the help you've been to me through
ClayArt on a lot of problems. Thanks! I hope things are going well for
you! :-)
Yes, on this subject we are basically in agreement.
I'd state my thoughts this way. Study the market to price pots. Mel's
approach is excellent! It won't take one long to judge whether their prices
are above, below or near the market price for that pottery.
Study the cost of production to decide whether to keep producing a
particular item. If the market is at or below one's cost of production, it
sure doesn't seem sensible to keep producing, does it? In your case, based
on cost, it sounds like making mugs is better business than making teapots
for you. It's about the same here. I figure I'll start selling teapots
when I have time I don't know what to do with! :-)
If one can price above their cost to produce, and the product sells,
that seems to me proof that one is at or below the going market.
A sound business strategy is to get as close as is reasonably possible
to the market price for your wares without pricing above the market and
losing business. To accomplish this, forget totally production cost. It
doesn't matter in this question. Focus only on what customers are willing
to pay.
This is, naturally, oversimplified. Pricing can be pretty complex.
Like you say, don't forget what it cost you to make something. If you do,
you may keep making losers. :-(
Good pricing!
Dave Finkelnburg

-----Original Message-----
From: Cindy Strnad
Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 1:53 PM
Subject: Re: Market-based pricing

>Hi, Dave.
>I agree with setting your price as high as the market will bear. With some
>high-labor items such as tea pots, however, I think many potters who set
>price at as high as they feel the market will bear end up working for, as
>Gayle put it, less than 3rd world wages. I actually make a lot more money
>per hour on a mug, all things considered, than I make on a very highly
>priced sculptural pot. That's why it's important to have an idea of the
>of making the item.
>$65 retail for a teapot you spent several hours on isn't very good money
>once you consider *all* the costs. Especially so if you're selling that
>teapot wholesale. You get $32.50. So let's figure you spent a total of 3
>hours on the pot--a little over $10/hr for you, before you deduct your
>overhead. Pretty soon, you're working for less than minimum wage. Still
>better than 3rd world wages, absolutely, but probably not enough to care
>your family the way you'd like to.

Charles on wed 27 sep 00

Hmmmm...OK pricing of pots, I price most of my teapots around $65.00. I feel
I am being well compensated because once I decide on a design, even an in
depth design where I may cut and alter the pots, each one is going to take
me no more than 10-15 minutes a piece to put together. You have to have a
system that works FOR you. On the other hand...while I was still in school,
my teachers were all making teapots for the big galleries. Chris Staley
$800.00 each, cups to match at $40.00 a piece. Chuck Aydlette meticulously
Majolica-glazed teapots, incredible designs , he spent a solid week glazing
the things...sold his teapots for $1200.00 of course these folks didn't
make more than a dozen of these in a year and their costs were much higher.
In the end I suspect they get more fame, but about the same money. Those
university teaching positions make a nice nest egg.



June Perry on thu 28 sep 00

Dear Charles;

Years ago, during a workshop at Big Creek, Karen Karnes said that although
her pots were going for thousands, she wasn't making any more money. At that
higher price, rarefied atmosphere you cut down on your market considerably.
The only saving grace is that it gives you more time which, for an aging,
aching, artist, may be a good thing.
The group of collectors willing to pay those prices is pretty small and my
guess is that they aren't buying too many of the same potters work in most
A couple of years after that workshop Karen was taking orders on some
functional pieces. One wonders if she just missed throwing or if Garth Clark
wasn't selling enough of her high priced work, or????
Personally, I prefer to buy the works of the up and coming rather than the
wholly arrived. :-) There is so much talent out there it's hard to choose!
Scanning Ebay periodically, I am amazed at how much money people will spend
on a name alone and totally avoid some other gorgeous work. I see some
Harding Black or Owens simple little pots goingfor $500 or mass produced art
pottery going at outrageous prices and yet a Tom Coleman, to die for, teabowl
which I won the bid on, only selling for $35. It does make me scratch my
head; but I can't complain -- their loss was my gain.


Charles on fri 29 sep 00

I agree completely...I know what the market has done to those who sell their
work so high and to such a small group of collectors, but what really
bothers me is the fact that this is the kind of life we as students were
pointed at. It is simply not sustainable for the large numbers of students
we had coming through. I really had to get over some predjudices that I
absorbed while at school. Our focus was always on creativity, never on
technical skills. I guess it was assumed that we would pick that up as we
threw ourselves silly over the 4 years in college. I can't say there was a
bias against production pottery...but I suppose there was on a certain
level. Production pottery was fine with the condition that the potter took
their time to make each pots design special and beyond what a minimally
trained person could do. I am still trying to sort it all out, but I know
that I don't want to ever end up selling in a high end gallery. I want my
pots used by people on a daily basis. But I still have that urge to make
each design really special and unique to me. Art pottery done production on the edge. I guess I'll just make my pots and let other
people worry about what they are and how much I am under/overcharging, so
long as my bills get paid.

I read Terry's article on pricing, very informative and it makes a lot of
sense. I think I am starting to charge above break even now...used to give
it all away. Now I am figuring in the profit too.

Anyone on the list selling in the high end market? I'd love to hear what you
have to say on the prcing structures and more importantly what you have left
after all the people take their cuts.


Visit my webpage...

----- Original Message -----
From: June Perry
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2000 10:53 AM
Subject: Re: More on pottery pricing

> Dear Charles;
> Years ago, during a workshop at Big Creek, Karen Karnes said that although
> her pots were going for thousands, she wasn't making any more money.