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"free pots?" pricing

updated thu 21 mar 02


Lee Love on wed 20 mar 02

----- Original Message -----
From: "mel jacobson"

> living in minnesota, the land of free pots.
> i stand on the highway and have a sign...`free pots`
> no one stops. they honk however.

I've never found the "free pots" store in Minnesota. Closest I got was
at Good Will where I've found expensive pots, penny on the dollar. My Akita
Taiko used a fine Randy Johnston Noborigama fired bowl for a food bowl for a
long time. When that broke, I started making the "Akita Sized" dog bowls/tea
ceremony water discard bowls. These have gone to the Akita National Specialty
and have earned money for rescue and health issues for the Akita dog. I've
also found an Oestrich yunomi that still had the dirt from the african violets
that were planted in it on the inside.

A friend of mine found a Leach pot at an antique store in Red Wing, at
the old pottery factory warehouse shopping center. It was cheap.
Come to think of it, I do know of some "free" pots and "near free" pots
in Minnesota:

My Australian Sempai (elder brother apprentice), and his wife just
had a new baby boy. My son's daughter isn't a year old yet. But when my son
and his wife sent Warren MacKenzie a birth announcement, they received their
baby's "first stoneware cup and bowl", in return. I thought this was a great
idea and put a baby cup and bowl in the November noborigama for my Sempai's new
baby boy. Haven't been over to their house since the baby was born to deliver
them yet.

The "near free" pots I know of (and I've spoken of here before) are at
Warren MacKenzie's studio sales shop. He has a low shelf where little cups
and bowls are priced at one and two dollars a piece. A sign on the shelf asks
the adults to leave these pots for the children, so they can pick & choose and
buy on their own.

Now think about it, how are these "free" and "near free" pots going to
effect these little lives? People complain about low prices in Minnesota
without realizing how large a market they have because of the education of the
public a few important people have done there.

The other side of the coin is the quality of the work. If the
work is good enough, you can name your price. Today at the workshop, people
from Seibu department store came to pick work for Sensei's exhibition in Tokyo
and Utsunomiya. They chose about 210 pieces (coffee sets, etc, counted as
one piece), for each store.
I was walking up and down the Oya Stone path with $30,000.00
pots in my hands. When Sensei had his show that started in the Twin Cities,
went to New York and then to D.C., we had to send more pots because just about
all of his pots sold in Minneapolis. The land of "free pots" didn't keep folks
from putting down big money for them.

Someone said it well: We each need to find our own way about pots and
prices. I have greatly varying examples to draw upon in my stable of mentors,
teachers and senseis. Here in Mashiko, the prices on most of the work make
Minnesota prices seem high, especially at the Spring and Fall pottery festivals
where cheap rules the day. You can tell that some folks just bang out stuff
in their garage to make spending money at the fairs. But the best pottery
work can still get more money than you'd spend on a brand new SUV, for a single

Lee In Mashiko, Japan

"We can only wait here, where we are in the world, obedient to its processes,
patient in its taking away, faithful to its returns. And as much as we may
know, and all that we deserve of earthly paradise will come to us."
Wendell Berry , Full Quote: