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designing your own economy

updated tue 19 jul 05


clennell on fri 15 jul 05

Sour Cherry Pottery

> Hay Crew,
> Donno if I qualify to comment since I've been out of the loop for so long
> when it comes to selling pots but as I prepair to have a go at it again I'm
> trying to avoid trepidation. That is a lot easier now since I'm having much
> less fear of financial insecurity even though I have less than a grand to
> my name and live at 100% below the governments poverty level.

Gary: If it is any consolation to you my old aunt and uncle made a living
from their pots for 50 years at what was considered the poverty level. they
lived rich lives with good food, travel, books, art and worked into late
life. I don't think working potters have ever made tons of cash. If you're
showing a big profit it's time to hire a better accountant.
Sheila and I are comfortable but we have diversified our life- it's not just
making pots! We don't them to make up our whole existence. We made and
marketed two videos, i write, I teach at Sheridan, Sheila at Mohawk, I do
workshops, Sheila does cane handle workshops, we jury, we do the odd show,
we are in exhibitions, we have a fulltime showroom, some wholesale, we have
a studio Christmas house opening. I'm sure i've missed something. None of
them pay any better than the other but Sheila's line to me when I can't
think of which one to do more of is "What do you want to do?" I really don't
want to make pots day in a day out all by myself. I like diversity and
people and I guess that's how my life has fallen into place.
Nothing fell into place actually, it was carefully designed that way.
P>S Have y'all gone and hurt Lee? Hope he's OK and working harder on pots
and less on computers.

Tony and Sheila Clennell
Sour Cherry Pottery
4545 King Street
Beamsville, Ontario

Lee Love on sat 16 jul 05

> Lee? Hope he's OK and working harder on pots
>and less on computers.
Hey Tony! I got several things that came up: sending pots to America,
getting ready to fire, getting the place in some kind of shape for a
reporter from Tokyo Shimbun who is going to do a photo article on my
workshop, and also getting ready for a large group visiting later in
the summer (want to make some handouts for the Hamada Museum and maybe
one to explain the actual meaning of "Mingei Spirit". I am also moving
the email lists I host from Yahoo Groups to Google Groups (I run a half
dozen lists, the oldest one Akita-G, started May 9, 1999 a photo sharing
list for Akita dog owners. My oldest clay list was started April 13,
2000) Not writing much, even on the lists I host.

Yes, I am pretty busy, so I am just getting a list of
topics/authors from ClayArt. Actually, it looks like the best way to
read the list! It is like turning the AM radio off and just listening
to the CDs that you really want to hear. ;-) Hey, maybe the iPod is
a better analogy? :-)

Jean is making me take tomorrow off. So maybe I can write more
then. Actually, the "Lifestyles" topic is of interest to me. The
Mingei that Hamada and Leach tried to share, which is more important
today than ever, is primarily about Lifestyle. As the robots replace
the young people on the assembly line and mechanization does all the
work on the farm, the great majority of people who find the greatest
satisfaction in working with their hands will have no place to work.
Craftsman can be the way they find satisfaction in the world.

Lee Love

in Mashiko, Japan My Photo Logs

"We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."

-- Prospero The Tempest

Dori Grandstrand on mon 18 jul 05

Do you mean that you intentionally designed the variety into your pottery/life from the very beginning? Was there a time when the production aspect had to come first (building a solid financial base), then the variety as your business is developed?
--- Dori, Sultanarts
-------------- Original message --------------

> Sour Cherry Pottery
> ... I really don't want to make pots day in a day out all by myself. I like diversity and people and I guess that's how my life has fallen into place.
> Nothing fell into place actually, it was carefully designed that way.
> cheers,
> Tony

Vince Pitelka on mon 18 jul 05

Tony makes a very good point. One of the most important things for any
aspiring artist/potter to do is to realistically consider the desired
lifestyle, and then work towards that goal with foresight and planning.
There is so much to consider, and the size of your bank account is just a
part of it. There are so many different things that can bring satisfaction
and fulfillment, and they must all be considered. Tony and Sheila Clennell,
and David and Karen Hendley, are excellent examples - they have built a
lifestyle that provides an income and brings true satisfaction.

When I made the transition from mechanic/welder to studio potter in the late
1970s, I relished the chance to make pots full-time, to be my own boss in
the studio, to control my own present and future. But at the same time I
needed to get up to speed quick in order to support my family - my existing
"economy" drove all the choices, instead of the other way around. In order
to make the transition to being a self-supporting potter, I was open to any
market that would allow me to accomplish that goal. For a number of
reasons, the market that opened up to me was primarily wholesale, supplying
hand-thrown stoneware tableware and kitchen accessories to galleries, gift
shops, and gourmet kitchen stores through Northern California and Southern
Oregon. You can see a few examples of the work I did at

- be sure to paste in the whole link - the work is what I consider
conservative but competent. I didn't take many risks, because I didn't
think I could afford to. For me, that was a mistake, and after a while the
work seemed old and stagnant. That came as a considerable shock, because I
knew I loved being a potter and making pots. I realized that I couldn't
just keep making the same old stuff, so I started courting galleries that
would give me more flexibility to change and evolve. Some of that work is
on my website on the right-hand side of the Railroad Stoneware page and the
left-hand side of the Slip Ware page. This was a major learning experience,
because my enthusiasm for studio work was completely renewed. It was that
experience that inspired me to make some even bigger changes - that's when
my wife and I headed off to grad school.

There's a moral to all this. No matter the desired lifestyle, you must
somehow "design your own economy" in such a way that there is variety and
excitement in your professional life. There must be sources of inspiration
that fuel growth and change and an ongoing enthusiasm for the studio. You
gotta be willing to take risks and make mistakes, and learn from those risks
and mistakes. That has to be built into your "economy" in order for it to
sustain itself long-term.
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft, Tennessee Technological University
Smithville TN 37166, 615/597-6801 x111,