I have recently returned from the British craft trade show in Harrogate UK with around 500 stands and a great variety of crafts including ceramics, glass, jewellery, textiles and cards etc the three main exhibitors are jewellery 40%, ceramics 20% and glass 10%. Some time ago there was hardly any ceramics but lots of glass so it fluctuates. Last year was good I had orders from galleries I sell to plus some new ones but this year was passable with the promise of jam tomorrow from some of my regulars but I was pleased to pick up a decent order when I returned. Trade shows are difficult to measure as orders can come throughout the year but when you do a retail show once you drive home that’s business done. I have often thought that if I spent the stand fee on bed & breakfast I could tour around galleries with a lap top and a box of pots and get better sales.
I have often thought of myself as the potter in the community, here to make a bit of what I want but also to accept commissions from the local area. I have been making pots for almost 35 years and when I started my main way of selling was through party plan; basically you turn up(invited!) to a house, display your pots, take orders from the host and friends and go back and make them – simple and low cost selling. Those days are past but going back to the community potter (me) I hardly ever say no so at the moment I have 120 dog bowls drying for an on line dog website. When I say “never say no” a man bought me his mothers favourite lemon squeezer that he broke, he was hoping for me to make an exact replica so he wouldn’t be found out. The pot was in about 50 bits with a frog on the front(don’t ask) I told him I couldn’t imagine what it looked like hoping he would give up but he returned a month later with it glued together – so for his persistence I made him one. I am fairly close to Aylesford pottery which was started by David Leach and Colin Pearson, the lads there take on most requests but I think anything too weird they say call Dave and I do visa versa.
Often when you are turning pots especially if they are a bit on the soft side the turnings stick to the tool. Get a round file and remove the shiny surface from the rear of the tool(the bit the shavings cling to) leaving it scratched, you may need to use a fine carborundum stone afterwards on the front cutting edge.
Pot above – Vase, made oval with sgraffito and roulette decoration plus ash and local clay glaze.