terry sullivan on sun 24 jul 05
Well there are mugs and then there are mugs.
There are mugs that are beautiful to behold but not so wonerful to hold
or even drink from.
So I have some mugs, handled or not, that are truely beautiful to behold
but not so in the drinking.
Then I have some mugs made by unknown potters that are lovely to look at
and wonderful to hold.
Those I use every day for my tea and coffee. They fit well in the hand,
have just the right balence, and are soft on the lip.
I don't drink from my Tom Colman tea bowl. It is beautifull to behold
but not to drink from. In the morning I reach for my shino handled mug
that fits just right in my hand with perfect balence and touch. One is a
delight to the eye and one is a delight to the hand and lip.
Some evenings I pour a shot of good boubon into my little Tony Clennel
shot cup and enjoy sips along with a good micro brew amber ale. Every
sip I apriciate that little shot cup wood fired in Tonys kiln.
So it is truely different strokes for different folks. One persons
favorite mug doesn't fit anothers hand.
I'm a three finger mug person and I want the balence to be just so for
me. A mug that I think is very well done might not fit my hand so it is
not for me.
My favorite tea/coffee mug cost about $15 at David Cuzicks studio sale
many years ago. Daveid invites many other ceramists to show and sell at
his studio sales and this was one of those. I love it and take care
when washing it so as to preserve it. My Tom Colman tea cup cost ten
times that but I don't drink out of it. Not because it cost more, but
because it doesn't work for me in that way. It works for me because it
is beautiful. I often take it down from the shelf to admire.
Personaly I think the making of a "perfect" mug is one of the most
challenging in functional ceramics and one of the things most potters
don't do well. Yes, their mugs look great, but in actual use they fail.
Either the handle is to small or doesn't feel right, or the balence is
off, or the lip isn't pleasing to the lip, or whatever.
The mug is a very personal item to the user. You pick it up with your
hand and raise it to your mouth.
That is a very intimate body contact. Doesn't matter how beautiful it
is if the hand doesn't fit well in the handle or the rim is not right
with the human lip, or the balence is off when filled with liquad.
Just my thoughts.....
Nottingham Center for the Arts
San Marcos, CA.
Reply personaly to: email@example.com
Craig Clark on sun 24 jul 05
Just my buck fifty on this one.....$40/mug does sound a bit high to
me. At least that would be the case in this area. I can walk into one of
the best pottery shops in the city and get a really nice mug for less
than twenty bucks. David Hendley makes these somewhat labor intensive
mugs which I believe he sells for $25. I sell mine, when I make them,
for between $12 and $20 dollars.
My favorite cup, which was recently broken, was made by a highly
skilled production potter in Austin. Dynamite form, dynamite glaze,
really felt nice in the hand (with or without coffe in it.) I paid the
guy $12 bucks for it out at the Texas Clay Festival in Gruene last year.
I spoke to him about his mugs and he said that he has become very adept
at making them. That would seem to be the
key.....practice,practice,practice as my old piano teacher used to say.
Now this doesn't mean that I don't think that people ought not get
what they are able for their work. I'm just saying that I've seen, and
own, first rate work that I didn't pony up forty bucks for. It's not
that I won't pay more money for pottery because I certainley do and have
done that. It's just that there is a limit for me with this particular item.
As long as there are folks out there who are willing, and able, to
pay, go for whatever the market will bear. I'll always have my little
bowls and my funky mugs for those that can't pay quite as much though.
Wishing that I hadn't gotten used to fifty degree nights
Craig Dunn Clark
619 East 11 1/2 st
Houston, Texas 77008
pdp1@EARTHLINK.NET on sun 24 jul 05
Call me sentimental...naive...
But in my imagination, an able and dedicated Potter should be able to line
up those Wareboards with certainly 50 handled Mugs in-a-day.
Do this for four days, then, say, one half day, more or less to bisque,
since one can do other things at the same time...so, call that a half day
And then one half day to glaze everyone, being 200 Mugs getting glazed.
And, call it a half day to fire, in effect...
So, 200 Mugs, 5-1/2 days.
Even at $20.00 apiece, that is $4,000.00 for five-and-a-half days work. One
could say, a Week's Work.
Granted, one must abide one's overhead and expenses for things.
At $40.00 apiece, that is $8,000.00...
Okay, so say it costs four hundred bucks to-do-the-show over in the next
county...seller's fee, gas for the drive, food, whatever.
Ten Mugs does that...
Overhead for that week of making them, who knows, another 'ten' mugs?
That leaves 180 Mugs remaining at $40.00 apiece for profit.
So, call me sentmental, but that sounds like a pretty profitable occupation
to me, if...IF one can sell them...through whatever venues aside from that
of doing a 'Show'.
If some of these boys and girls can only throw and handle say five or six
mugs a-day, then all their imploring or remonstrations and hand wringing
about it is what we get to hear them yammering on about...
Sounds like a Snow Job...to me...
Or, that the Tail is wagging the Dog...
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Saultman"
For years I have come away from an art fair with several mugs that
represented a fresh style, new glaze or a unique handle treatment.
This year at the Ann Arbor Art Fair the selections were few and alas
the $20.00 mug was nowhere to be found. The lowest price for a mug was
$35.00. Steven Hill's mugs were beautiful and $40.00. $40.00 for a
But that is buying a mug from a famous potter. When I commented to one
of the exhibiting potters about the escalated price of mugs at the fair
they broke into the, "It costs a lot of money to make pots and takes a
lot of time. A potter has to recoup their investment and cover their
travel...besides I don't like to do mugs— they are a lot of work for
little return" I'm sure you've heard the line before.
Has the economy reached such a point that a mug has to be sold for
$35.00? I see single porcelain bowls priced at $35.00. Maybe the art
fair pottery trade has sidled up to the jewelry folks. But I fear that
such pricing is leaving a lot of people going home with nothing in
their shopping bag. Of course the person buying a pinwheel on a stick
is not our customer perhaps, but art pottery has always been a more
friendly accessible medium than say sheet-metal sculpture or even blown
glass. Yet nobody blinks at a blown glass mug for $35.00 if you can
In the end my commentary is on the sad disappearance of the $20.00 mug.
I came away from the Ann Arbor Art Fair with a hand painted 6" tile and
a small 3" stoneware coaster each for $20.00. They will end up lost in
a small cupboard somewhere but I ponied up a few dollars to my fellow
potters and felt that I had done all my budget could bear.
In a world where there are no nickel candy bars, a gallon of gas is
$2.50 and you can't even put a real quarter ion a slot machine it
stands to reason that the $20.00 mug would have to be next.
By the way, can you spare $7.00 so I could buy a cup of coffee? Here,
put it in my $40.00 mug.
clennell on sun 24 jul 05
Sour Cherry Pottery
> Hi Dan,
> Call me sentimental...naive...
> But in my imagination, an able and dedicated Potter should be able to line
> up those Wareboards with certainly 50 handled Mugs in-a-day.
> Do this for four days, then, say, one half day, more or less to bisque,
> since one can do other things at the same time...so, call that a half day
> And then one half day to glaze everyone, being 200 Mugs getting glazed.
> And, call it a half day to fire, in effect...
> So, 200 Mugs, 5-1/2 days.
> Even at $20.00 apiece, that is $4,000.00 for five-and-a-half days work. One
> could say, a Week's Work.
> Granted, one must abide one's overhead and expenses for things.
> At $40.00 apiece, that is $8,000.00...
> Okay, so say it costs four hundred bucks to-do-the-show over in the next
> county...seller's fee, gas for the drive, food, whatever.
> Ten Mugs does that...
> Overhead for that week of making them, who knows, another 'ten' mugs?
> That leaves 180 Mugs remaining at $40.00 apiece for profit.
> So, call me sentmental, but that sounds like a pretty profitable occupation
> to me, if...IF one can sell them...through whatever venues aside from that
> of doing a 'Show'.
> If some of these boys and girls can only throw and handle say five or six
> mugs a-day, then all their imploring or remonstrations and hand wringing
> about it is what we get to hear them yammering on about...
> Sounds like a Snow Job...to me...
> Or, that the Tail is wagging the Dog...
> Las Vegas
>Phil: Last time I bought a Bison tool it was $55 US. Bend a bit of tungsten
carbide , turn a few handles and i figure using your economics you ought to
be a millionaire. Why aren't you? Your analogy of a week of pot making lets
us all know you have never been a potter. I had a guy watch me make mugs one
day and figured I was making $750 a hour. Throwing, trimming and handling
make up about 10-15% of what we do in our studios.
How do you justify $55 for a trimming tool? Let me guess- there are
countless hours involved! Same for the mug maker. The snow is deep in the
deserts of Nevada.