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Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's the little things....

 Raku might be the potter's equivalent to velvet Elvis paintings (I happen to love both, thank you very much), but it is sure selling in my studio. The tour was good yesterday, traffic seemed off, but every person that came in bought something. I sold a couple of barns, yay! and most all of my raku is gone. I only have two small barn ornaments left. In hindsight, I should have made more small things. Small is selling. Anything under $50. The $325 barns are a tough sell right now. and quite honestly, I have spent enough time with them, time for them to move on, time for me to move on.....
and who would have guessed, jewelry is selling! I don't claim to be a jeweler. My materials are not the finest quality, just a leather string and findings I get at the local bead store. I don't put a whole lot of time into these, but maybe I should. I would say that 90% of the people that came to my studio the past two weekends bought a pendant or beads. I put my beads out in a tray and offered them for $5,  the pendants were all $10 and yesterday I sat in my studio and made more, because I ran out.
Sitting around in my studio the past two weeks, waiting on tour goers, has given me time for contemplation. What do I really love making?

My first job as a designer right out of school was for a furniture company that made really cheap and not very attractive furniture. They sold the crap out of it. I was just out of design school, carrying around the snob factor that you pick up in school and I thought that I should be designing rooms with Louis XI antiquities.
Ha! Boy did my eyes open quickly. Our top salesperson in Chicago drove a Bentley, stayed at the finest hotels when traveling and once bought me a meal in the Pyramid Room at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas. He told me something that I have never forgotten. I was bitching to him about how ugly our furniture was and how was I supposed to design around it and he said to me, "I sell to the masses and I eat with the classes, there are way more customers out there for this cheap shit than the expensive stuff."

I had the masses visit these past two weekends. It's not that they don't like or do not understand my barn sculptures. They love them and appreciate them, they can't afford them. Hell, I can't afford my work. So, this has me pondering where to go in the new year. The little pieces are great, they represent my aesthetic well and they are affordable for those who would like a larger piece but can't afford one. So maybe I will just make some small barns for awhile. Under $50.

I love to raku fire, sorry all you traditional wood firing potters, but raku rocks my world when I take the pieces out of reduction. I like making beads, they are always fun to make and fun to see what the fire does to them. I love making my barns, but they are starting to feel like they are coming out of a factory, don't like that so much.  Another artist visited yesterday and said something interesting. He said that when he gets tired of something that he really likes, he puts it away for a year or two and then comes back to it. So I'm thinking that's what I'm going to do. Put the barns away for awhile and try something new. I love weaving too, so I'm going to spend some time with that. Maybe wall hangings with raku accents. Who knows? TIme for change..... time to make little things..... I would also like to get back on my wheel. Maybe raku vases? bowls? lots of possibilities....... lots to look forward to in the new year!
Today is the last day of the tour, come on over!
THANKS SO MUCH to all of you that have come by and supported my work, it's been great talking with all of you!!!!!

20 comments:

Michèle Hastings said...

Glad to hear that everyone who came bought something. It doesn't matter how many come through the door, it's all about who opens their wallet!
We too are focusing on items that sell this year. Our goal is to produce them in quantity on a weekly basis and set aside a day of two to be creative and make what we like. Hopefully it will be a happy balance.

... and I agree with you RAKU ROCKS!

Anna M. Branner said...

Watching other potters and their prices I have made a conscious decision to keep my prices at a reasonable level. I do my bigger more expensive items occasionally...but I like that people can afford most of my work. People ARE buying again...but are really thinking through each purchase....

Tracey Broome said...

You guys are so right. Unfortunately I have worked myself into a corner with pricing. Labor intensive pieces selling in galleries doesn't allow me much room to have inexpensive work.... back to the drawing board! maybe a little something for everyone, or just realize my larger work will sell, but slowly, and live with it.... sigh.....

Dennis Allen said...

It's like gateway drugs. The little stuff sells the big stuff.(eventually) and the big stuff sells the little stuff (now) by making people want something of yours.You need both.Terri Kern is in our clay club and makes the most beautiful multi-layered underglazed work you have ever seen.Her pots go for hundreds and thousands and are well worth it.She sprinkles her booth with those pots and sells out of $30 earrings and pendants.

Anna M. Branner said...

What Dennis said. And the most important thing is to be sure you still enjoy making ALL your work. Otherwise why bother? :)

Dennis Allen said...

What Anna said.

Sissy said...

I pay my bills selling affordable houses/dogs/jewelry etc....when bigger stuff sells it always feels like Christmas:)

Tracey Broome said...

I hear ya,! Make it all, sell it all, haha!

beaquilter said...

sounds like the tour is doing great!

Hollis Engley said...

It sounds like it was a good tour, even if the big stuff didn't move. And leaving barns behind for a while is not a bad thing. We all move on. I still get people asking for a certain kind of mug that I haven't made in a couple of years. I tell them that, they buy one of the new ones. Or they move on, too. You have to do what makes you happy and satisfied. But I think you know that.

Vicki said...

So glad to read you had a great weekend Tracey!
Your story about the furniture company and what the salesman said was very interesting.

I had a busy market day yesterday selling my small ceramics.
I make ornaments for Christmas along with pendants and small jewelry items - always great sellers as... they are cheap and cheerful.
They sell, and we get to pay some end-of-year bills.

I've found most people that come to markets have a set budget and want to take home a few little items for pressies etc. So, I oblige and it works out well for all :)
Next year, I intend to add a few bowls and sculpted pieces - animals, birds, people. But, trying to keep the sculpted pieces affordable will be tricky, especially in this economy.

I would love to try raku, as your pieces are always SO beautiful - an inspiration. But, I don't have the facilities or know of anyone who does raku. So, I'll stay with my electric kiln.
I did find however, that a guy selling lovely pots three stalls down came by and snubbed my work as it wasn't "real pottery". I think he considered my pieces lowly.
Shame, because I feel we're all there for a reason and even tho' I said considered his work beautiful, he chose not to give me the time of day. Oh well.
I'm glad that you are so wonderfully friendly and down to earth - not all artists are snobs.

Looking very much forward to new ventures in the new year for us all!

Sarah Regan Snavely said...

Found myself nodding in agreement as I read your post. I have felt the 'factory feeling' too. An indication that it is time to move on. Yes the big work sells the small work so, for me, the big work has to be fun and challenging. And I love raku...

Patricia Griffin Ceramics said...

I truly do understand about the "move on" feeling and often have wondered how some potters manage to make the same thing (or variations) for years on end. On the other hand, I'm sooooo glad I have one of the first barns you did. I love it! (And have loved the others I've seen on your blog.) .... Really glad to hear that the weekend went well, even though it was the smaller items that are selling. I do think the economy is rebounding or perhaps people are just getting used to it and at least buying the smaller items.

Tracey Broome said...

Bea,the tour was good, not great, not as good as last year, but still good. I think I needed more $10 items!
Hollis, so right, breaks are good and I am due one. Good thing I have the new loom for the cold winter months ahead.
Vicki, I am so over the snob factor from some potters. Now, I have a certain snob trait myself when it comes to what I want to buy, but when I see other potters out there selling their work and I don't really care for it, I remember the wise words of my friend Meredith at Whynot Pottery, "that potter is just doing the best they know how". There are lots of us that love clay and we all have different skill levels, but we are doing the best we know how and doing it with love and passion. What is wrong with that!?
The guy tat snubbed your work will be snubbed by someone else one day. But for the one snotty guy, there are many others that will love what you do. We just have to find "our people"!
Sarah, definitely been feeling like a factory around here!
Patricia, I am so happy you have one of my barns and still love it. You got it when the price was reasonable! Selling to galleries has sort of pushed me into a corner with my pricing.... definitely worth exploring more inexpensive items to sell.

Lori Buff said...

Little, affordable, soap dishes paid the entrance fee into one recent show. The owners of them may buy something larger later, that's the hope anyway. But the small pieces grab interest and gain trust.

Tracey Broome said...

I'm still trying to get my head around making work I love and selling work to pay for show fees. Selling art, what a pondering thing....
I sold lots of soap dishes when I did the farmers market, never had any of those folks come back for a larger item, but I have had repeat customers for $300 barns... its a hard one to figure out, isn't it?!

littlewrenpottery.co.uk said...

I feel like I'm the opposite of you! I don't have enough statement pieces in my range. I don't think theres anything wrong with having something to 'wow' your customers with though!

Tracey Broome said...

I want to "wow" their pocketbooks, haha!

handstories said...

i have learned a lot in reading your latest posts, thank you for sharing the whole of it.
and wondering....any chance that you still have that one little barn left?

Tracey Broome said...

Which one little barn?