This year I have made my living as a potter for 35 years, to celebrate this I have made and donated 100 limited edition mugs to sell on behalf of Mary’s Meals, a charity that feeds children in poverty stricken countries. I had them all made by March and fully expected to be selling them throughout the year. I promoted them through Craft and Design, Ceramic review, Facebook and my website and email contacts. I then had them for sale on my stand at two Potfest events. Much to my surprise by the time I finished Potfest in the Pens in early August I had sold the lot raising a total of £1419.
Much of my 35 potting years has been making tableware along with garden pots and one offs, my aim is to make work that most people can afford and not add an “art value” on top of the craftsman made piece. In the eighties I had a tableware range of over 50 items in three glazes but the demand dropped slowly until I was selling more one off pots. Coming forward I redesigned the range, made it smaller and in one glaze which sold steadily through the recession but now there seems to be a surge in sales so i have to ask “Is tableware the new rock and roll”? Probably not but people will always like a pot they can use over one that collects dust, it’s called added value.
At Potfest in August there was a focus on tableware as we were asked to design a set of bowls (pictured above) suitable for dipping bread into oil. I was pleased to have won a huge hamper from the sponsor and the opportunity of making bowls for their company.
All potters work and sell in different ways, I have several galleries(posh shops) that I sell to, the odd customer from the internet but most of my work is sold through craft and potters fairs. I do odd shows through the year but at Christmas I have around six within a month and a half so there is little time to get down the workshop to replace stock. It’s now August and i am busy making for the Christmas trade but the question is, “What should I make”?
I have a list of every item I make, I have a rough idea of how much money I will take at each show. I have a list of all the pots I make on the PC and I print one off for each show, it’s then a matter of entering an amount to make in one column and the value in another, obviously you will have pots that are popular so you need to make more of them. Once your list is complete add up the total. I aim to make 40% more than I think I will sell so that the table isn’t empty on the last day. The great thing about pottery is that is doesn’t go off and has no sell by date so better to come home with stock than run out.