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pricing3 / fast teapots

updated sat 30 mar 02


John Baymore on thu 28 mar 02


Hi. Catching up on CLAYART.

While I'm certain that mel is omitting every little detail of the
production sequence of a teapot....birth to death....... let's call it
"artistic licence"....... I think he is making his real point quite
clearly. I don't think articulating every detail of production was his
intent..... the general concept was.

Also........ mel-san has "tucked in his hip pocket" the skills of a
thrower/pot maker which were honed by an apprenticeship in a Japanese
pottery setting..... a country where eye-hand skill development is stress=
to a level that most Westerners don't quite "get". mel-san has also been=

making pots longer than most on this list. He's pretty good .

When I was in Japan I was ASTOUNDED by the hand skills routinely exhibite=
by even the most humble deshi (apprentice). Amazing what you can gain by=

throwing thousands of the same form...... the success of each of those
forms being judged by a very critical eye.

One and a half hours, minimum, and this _doesn't_ include the extra
time for kiln loading and unloading or waxing and glazing. Teapots
are demanding!

For a reasonably skilled thrower (not an expert), throwing the body of a
teapot form (you have made before) should take no longer than 4-5 minutes=

or so. A lid and a spout take maybe a couple minutes each, off the hump.=

Assuming a pulled handle, maybe another 4-5 minutes, max. Cutting and
assembling and clean up and a bit of nit picking...... let's give that a
whopping 15 minutes....and that is being kinda' generous. Add 5 for
wedging and other sundry tasks. So basically 30 minutes for ALL the wet
making work..... at the most. =

I'd bet mel-san is far faster when he is in production (not demonstration=
mode. =

(Aside.... those of us who do workshop demonstrations tend to "talk" our
way through making things in that kind of setting....... and all that
focusing on the workshop participants tends to really slow things down fr=
what is done in the studio. Many people have their only impressions of t=
typical "speed" of making from those types of settings..... which can oft=
be misleading.) =

Yes... you need to add a few minutes for other handling here and there,
loading into and out of kilns, and so on. Maybe another 5 minutes for

All told........ i'd estimate probably a max. of 40 minutes of direct
handling for a simple teapot form with simple embelishments and simple
glazing techniques by someone who is good...... but not really a "master
potter". Master potter....... reduce the time.

(See the sequence of Minigawa-san in the B+W Mashiko Village Pottery vide=
..... you can get it at Branfman's Potter's Shop....... as she paints the=

landscape pattern on the traditional Mashiko dobin for an example of real=
well honed handcraft skills.) =

I think one important point that comes out of all this is realizing that
there are $65 teapots....... and there are $650 teapots.....and there are=

$6500 teapots ......... and there are $65,000 teapots (only by Volkous
). The market for each type is distinct, different, and pretty finite=
. =

Due to economic demographics, there is less broad a market for $6500
teapots than there is for $65 teapots. So you pick a niche' and market t=
that niche'. You'll have a tough time selling $65,000 teapots to a $65
market...... and also just as tough a time (actually harder) selling $65
teapots to the $65,000 crowd. Cracking into the $6500 teapot market is
also a lot tougher than getting established in the $65 teapot market. =

Plus...... you also have to decide if you want LOTS of people to get a
chance to experience your teapots..... or if you are satisfied with fewer=

people having them. This conundrum bridges economic and philosophical

Oh..... and if you are planning on selling $65 teapots........ you better=

not require $6500 teapot techniques or labor time frames to produce
them.... or you are fighting a REAL losing game . Arti's "starving
artist" idea comes to mind here .

Comparing the labor that goes into the type of piece that I think mayor m=
is describing to, say, a Pete Pinnel handbuilt teapot with all that
elaborate surface enbelishment he does...... and you kinda' have oranges
and grapefruit . I have more sculptural teapot forms with lots of
surface embellishment that take me 10 labor hours to complete.... and I
also have ones that are done in well less than an hour. Priced
accordingly.... and marketed differently. (Diversification .)

BTW........ as a throwing exercise with my ADVANCED classes at the NH
Institute os Art, we often do thrown teapots with time limits ....startin=
at 10 minutes and going DOWN in time from there....ususally eventually
getting down to 3-4 minutes. That is from a ball of clay sitting on the
wheelhead to fully assembled. No.... they usually are not really fully
"finished" pieces...... but they DO get made. Some ARE fully functional
and really nice pieces. ALL are great learning experiences. Try
it.....but not if you are still struggling to pull a decent cylinder out =
1 pound of clay. In that case....... keep pulling basic cylinders first
until that is truly second nature. =

Anyway...... my two cents.



John Baymore
River Bend Pottery
22 Riverbend Way
Wilton, NH 03086 USA

603-654-2752 (s)
800-900-1110 (s)

"DATES SET: Earth, Water, and Fire Noborigama Woodfiring Workshop Augu=
16-25, 2002"

iandol on fri 29 mar 02

Small teapots should be priced higher than large teapots

Think about it !