mel jacobson on fri 21 jan 05
tony's post just reminded me i was going to
tell the story of the michael and barb wendt's idea of selling/
yes, here it is...`cat litter`.
he has a machine that mills his helmer clay into
tiny balls. (he found the machine at an auction/a few hundred bucks.) he
then sells it as cat litter to anyone that wants to load it up.
(he said he would be happy to help anyone that wanted
to copy his idea.)
cat litter is bentonite, milled.
his price is less than half the retail.
his helmer clay is superior to bentonite as it does
not swell in the stomach of a cat in case they eat it.
everyone that comes to buy cat litter has to
walk through his show room.
they buy a pot, fill their cat litter bucket,
save 10 bucks and out the door. he thinks they spend
the saved money on his pots. what the hell.
and, just because he makes money, no one can say
his quality is lessened. his quality is terrific. he makes
wonderful pots. and, of course, every dime they have comes
from his pottery business.
his second theory is:
his clay is made from his own mine. idaho all the
way. the glaze is from the same mine. idaho all
the way. people send him orders from all over just to
get real idaho pots.
one of the nicest pots on display in mendocino was by
david hendley. a full time potter. for years, the only
money that family had, came from david's pottery.
does he sacrifice quality? no. his quality is terrrrrrific.
that wonderful deep red bowl with purple crystals was the
hit of the show. no one passed that bowl and said.
`production work, not worth much`. i would venture a
guess that david knows as much about glaze calc, clay
and glaze as anyone around....same for paul lewing,
michael wendt. they have to know. diana pancioli is working
the same direction in her new book. `cone six reduction,pass
it forward`.. wait til you see that little gem. she too was
a production potter for years. now a college professor. she
knows pots. no ivory tower in her life.
Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S.A.
web site: my.pclink.com/~melpots
or try: http://www.pclink.com/melpots
David Hendley on fri 21 jan 05
Mel, thank you for the compliments on my bowl in the
all-potters show in Mendocino. Of course I brought it because
I thought it was one of my nicer ones.
I wanted to add that, like Michael Wendt's Idaho pots, my pots
are purty near all-Texan, and I definitely use that as a selling point.
Fortunately, I don't have to own a clay mine, as Blackjack Clay
is located just down the road from me. Their claybody is made
up of 5 different clays, all mined within 20 miles of the facility,
and only the feldspar is "imported".
I use some of the individual clays, mixed with things like wood
ashes, to make many of my slip glazes.
I regularly hear near-by potters tell me "Blackjack clay
doesn't work for me", and they buy a claybody made up of
ingredients shipped all across the country. I just smile. I
wouldn't consider using anything else - I would make it work
for me. It just makes sense.
If I lived in Idaho, I wouldn't consider not using Helmer clay.
Same with my wood kiln. I heat my house and my studio with
wood. There is more scrap wood around here than could ever
be used. I didn't even think about installing a propane tank and
buying gas when I was deciding on a kiln to build.
I have developed processes that are in tune with my location,
and the result is distinctive work that is a reflection of its origin.
Anything you can do to individualize your work, through materials
or process makes for good marketing and selling points, as well
as good work.
And, of course, Tony is also spot on. Creativity is every bit as
important as skill and hard work if you want to make a viable go
of it as a potter. Most people are not looking for "another
handmade mug". Those days are long gone.
Working hard to make sure there is no mug left behind
----- Original Message -----
> his clay is made from his own mine. idaho all the
> way. the glaze is from the same mine. idaho all
> the way. people send him orders from all over just to
> get real idaho pots.
> one of the nicest pots on display in mendocino was by
> david hendley. a full time potter. for years, the only