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Friday, April 26, 2013

I sold pendants

 This is the last of my Shakori posts. It was a great week, this has been a slow week back to the land of normal.
I added up all of my sales, transferred money from propay to my account and while sales were ok and I had great fun, total sales would be bleak for someone trying to make a living doing this. I covered expenses, gave Wes money for her house, and had some to spare that will pay for shows and supplies, but I'm not running out to Nordstrom's to buy a cute outfit anytime soon.

I basically sold pendants......  and small heart dishes and some ornaments. I usually sell a barn or two, so I brought some, also brought them back home. My largest sale to one person was for $50 and that was three pendants that were $20 each and he asked for a deal. Ohhhhh those people that think they are at a yard sale! But I gave him one because he asked nicely and was genuinely interested in my work.

 I had some really beautiful work in my tent. Everyone said so, and said how they wished they had some money. I wished they had some money too, so they could give it to me.


My neighbor kindly brought the most beautiful draperies for her henna tent. You can't tell by this photo but they sort of looked like Indian saris and they were the exact colors of my Rick's turquoise glazed vases. A perfect backdrop.

Speaking of my neighbor. Remember I mentioned in my post after the Hillsborough show that I always seem to manage to be next to the "it" tent? Happened again. This time it was Rosemary and she is the most remarkable face painter/henna artist I have ever seen at a festival. She sat down on her stool Thursday evening and started painting and except for two lunches I saw her throw down behind her tent in about two seconds,  and one phone call, I never saw her leave her stool. There was a line at her tent for four days, her prices started at $15. Gerry and I figure she must have made around $5000.
For painting a temporary snake, fairy, tiger, henna pattern, blah blah..... on a small child's face.....
sigh........ just shoot me now. I had something to offer for $15 that would be a permanent token of a good time at Shakori, but no, people chose to pay for paint on their child's face, then come into my tent saying they wished they had some money.

This is getting old, I'm getting weary of this, I can tell you that. I love these kind of shows, they are fun, the people are interesting, but I can't keep making work to sit on the shelves in my studio. It's no fun.
I love making these barns. But if it's over $30, it ain't selling. And.... to put the proverbial cherry on top, the day I got home from Shakori, I had an email from another gallery wanting to send some things back.

I probably should just pretend to be cheerful and say, oh yeah, life is great, sales are great, and live in a chair of bowlys, but I'm trying to figure out where I want to go from here. I like making pendants and if they are gonna sell I'll keep making them, but where is the challenge in that, the discovery, the excitement of something new and wonderful? I love making barns, but the shelves are full, no more shall I make. I don't want to apply for exhibitions and emerging artists competitions, and put myself through judgings and juries anymore, been there done that, hated it. The CDCG show was a waste of time and money. So where does that leave me? Etsy, holiday sales, outdoor festivals..... I'm right back where I started.

The other thing I find happening is I have sort of lost my love for the whole clay thing. I still love pottery itself, but I no longer get a head rush when someone says the name Michael Cardew or Shoji Hamada, like I used to. I no longer get a heart flutter when I see a clay book in a used bookstore. I don't care about shino glaze recipes. The crush is over, I'm afraid. I still love raku, but read again on the same blog another mention of it being the black velvet painting of the pottery snobbery world. This is another thing that pisses me off. Get off the dang high and mightyness of this clay thing. The people out there buying pottery don't give a shit, they just buy what they think is pretty and will match their blue curtains.

Of course there are the truly enlightened clay buyers, I know, and the truly gifted clay makers. But I am neither. I can't afford to be a collector and I am too lazy to put in the time to make the perfect wood fired yunomi. Much less try and find someone to buy said yunomi or work to get the press so that people think I am the shit and rush to buy anything with my name on it. It's a game I'm not interested in at this point.

I was shopping for props on Wednesday and ended up at an antique mall near Seagrove. There was soooo much Seagrove pottery in there for sale.  Beautiful traditional old time pottery, wish I could fill a room with all of it. Then I stopped in a Goodwill store nearby, and saw a beautiful wood fired mug on the shelf for $4. It sort of makes me feel foolish for having a $150 price tag on one of my barns. But the market set that price for me a few years ago, and now the market is poor.

At this point I feel like a plane up in the air in a holding pattern, circling the airport until there is a place to land. I have no idea right now where to land. I seem to be thinking of larger raku vases.... put some black velvet pottery out there for those who are less informed of the traditions of Leach and Hamada, those that just like pretty turquoise.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not writing this from a place of sadness and despair. I am really happy right now, I'm working in the theater, building a set next week, loving that, love shopping for props, making props, and I just had a fun show for four days, sold a few things. I'm just trying to figure out how to not waste money with this clay business. Keep it simple I suppose, make inexpensive items and try to find more venues for selling. And then there is the weaving thing that I have yet to figure out.....

When my pal Susan read my Tarot cards, nothing came up on my clay side, it was a black hole. But the cards exploded on the fiber side. But those are baby steps right now, I am so far away from making any money from weaving.

Like many of you, I took a class at a local studio, clay seduced me, and the obsession bug bit me hard. But why the obsession? A good friend of mine talks about the discovery of clay being the thing she loves, and I think it has been the same for me. The learning, the process. But the making a living part of it sucks for me. I don't like that part one tiny little bit. I just like the making....  the selling is putting a big old damper on my clay party right now! So the plan is, if I have to sell, which is necessary in order to make more, I am going to sell where I am at least having a good time. I am on the downhill side of my life now and times a wasting. What I want more than anything these days is to surround myself with people that have joy for life, music in their souls. I want to walk through aisles and aisles of antiques, I want to stand in a field of sheep, I want to eat farm grown vegetables, I want to walk in the woods,

and like Lucinda said in her song, I want to watch the ocean bend.........
life is short, we need to do some living!

14 comments:

Lori Buff said...

I'm often telling potters "If you're going to be miserable why not get a job that pays well." I think you have the right idea, you're actually more likely to sell pottery if you're enjoying yourself. I think you went to this event with the right idea and it looks like you had a great time.

June Perry said...

Tracey, do you have your work at American folk art in Asheville?

http://amerifolk.com/

If not, I think it might be a good pairing for you and the gallery.

Sounds like you are going through a pottery dark night of the soul. So you either need to pull away for a bit and do some of those things you mentioned; and passion will return; or maybe you've saturated that and there's a new journey with your weaving. Or maybe you can combine some of the weaving with your pottery or jewelry.

Tracey Broome said...

Hi Lori, yeah selling pottery is not for the faint of heart, you gotta love something about it if you are going to participate!

June, re the Folk art store? I did go in there last year, she was a total snot to me, barley acknowledged that I was standing there and actually breathing! It was really uncomfortable and I will never go in there again....
I thought my work would be great in there, guess not.
Definitely at some sort of crossroads right now, just waiting it out, seeing what comes along. Fiber and clay have a place together, just no sparks quite yet.... great observations, thanks for that! I do feel a bit saturated at the moment.....

beaquilter said...

Hang in there..... I have no clue about the clay world, but I just do what I love. For me it's not a money maker, really.... If I make any $ I buy fabric for more quilts :-) and often I give them away, I love doing that! Now since I'm going to do the CCAG tour, it will be a first where I'm labeled as an ARTIST.... otherwise I haven't sold any big ticket items, at the few craft shows I've been to, I've sold stuff less than $20....
If I was at shakori I'd much rather spend $ on a tangible item vs painting on my face! goodness...

Dennis Allen said...

My nemesis is the "stuff on a stick yard art". A couple of years ago I was next to a guy who had crap stuck to tobacco sticks for $10. Not only was he the big seller, he won best booth. So many people complained that he didn't even get in the next year! There is no accounting for taste or lack thereof. I saw a post on Facebook a few weeks ago that said "Find what you really love and do it nights and weekends for the rest of your life". Many a wonderful hobby has been ruined by trying to make a living from it.If you want to make money the pendants are probably the way to go. Add pins, magnets, and your pig necklaces. It won't be fun or feed your soul but painting all those faces probably loses it's charm too. As for me I'm about to start the year off by taking way too many pots to our club show but I'm pricing them like I don't want to take them home.

Melissa Rohrer said...

I know what you mean about seeing people who don't think twice about spending money on things that don't last. I have gotten the hagglers too. Do they haggle with their doctors or accountants? Geez.
Those raku vases look great. People like raku, don't worry about the anti raku snobs.

Susan Wells said...

far away or close, at least right now weaving is your friend. You are the next IT booth.

June Perry said...

That's a bummer Tracey. That's the first place I thought of for you. Maybe she was having a bad day. Did you have an appointment? Some gallery owners don't look kindly to people just showing up.
You might try again; but this time, send her a cd with photos of your work and prices. You can do the same with a lot of other galleries that you find on line that sell folk type art works. Even quality antique shops may be a good place for you work. Those folk art collectors would love your houses.

Tracey Broome said...

Hey Bea, better get ready, the tour goers like to visit the new artists!
Dennis, yeah, I think I'll just make pig necklaces, that should hold my interest for awhile, hahaha! who knows what the answer is.... shit on a stick I guess....
Melissa, I don't know where people get the idea you can haggle with someone selling their art, it drives me nuts, mostly I didn't give in to it, I had lots of guys wanting to barter for vegetables...
Susan, doubtful that I will be the It booth, but thanks for the vote!
June, yeah, I went in there, introduced myself, asked if I could send some info or make an appointment and she was a total snob, said she only dealt with "certain artists", mostly wanted local potters, blah blah and barely made eye contact as she got busy with other things.. it was a rude and not pleasant encounter, won't go back, that's for sure. I was even dressed nice, haha! She made me feel very awkward.

June Perry said...

That a crock Tracey. She needs some manners. McKenzie Smith, a friend of mine has his work in her gallery and he lives in Florida.

If she didn't think you work would fit she certainly could have been well mannered and pleasant. She either had a super bad day, or she's very rude and not very smart to ever treat any artist badly. You never know when you may need that or other artists. As I said - not very business saavy.

Hollis Engley said...

I think that circling plane will find its runway sooner or later, Tracey. You're so good at so many things, you could hardly NOT find the right runway. And you may do several more things with your life. I did that over several decades. Me, I'm still chasing Shoji ...

Sandy miller said...

Think Hollise has a point. As life moves on I feel pretty lucky that I have a few choices; gardening, weaving or pots. I guess I still get to be creative and not sit at a desk...... Although there are many days I long for a regular paycheck every two weeks.
As for snotty gallery owners...... Screw 'Em and move on. Yup, leaves a bad taste in your mouth and ya keep burping it up for too long but for every crappy gallery owner there is a good or great one that will promote your work. A gallery owner gave me great advise years ago and I found it works. Make a post card of the work you want to sell through galleries. On the back write three categories; Love your work contact me right away, love your work but not right now, hate your work and never contact me again. Make sure the postcard has a stamp on it! Write a cover letter and ask the gallery owner to check the appropriate box and put it back in the mail. Some galleries have contacted me instead of sending the card back and others have hated my stuff and it's OK! But at least I didn't waste time driving over or even lugging pots around. Any Hoo, just something to think about, works for clay, weaving or any other medium.
Off to stay centered in a wonky world........ Peace out :)

Joy said...

I'm kind of with Dennis...put some 'shit on a stick' and make it happen for some moola. Then do what you love in secret. And then the comment about the postcard idea is a good one. I wouldn't be too good at meeting or taking shit off a snoot either. It would show all over my face that I knew what they were really made of. Take time for yourself. Do that Zen walk and draw in the sand. Something will come of it.

willtheyeatvegan said...

I love your sculpture - don't give up on your clay art. Times are tough - come North to where the money is still flowing freely on art for one or two shows. Might be too late for this one: https://www.nhcrafts.org/ - I've heard potters say they make $20k there. There are more on the Cape filled with NYC money tourists - spending more than $20 a pop. A beer will cost you $8 for a draft. It's a giant country we live in - if the money isn't coming to you - go to the money.