Saturday, 21 July 2012

18. Customers Know What They Want.

Hello Potters and Friends,

Well, I'm back, and raring to go!! And about time too, I hear you cry.
Alan and I had a great holiday in rural France in June, and the Warwickshire Open Studio fortnight has just finished. So, after quite a long absence from my basement, I'm pleased to be up to my elbows in clay-slop again.
So first, the Open Studios; a great success for all of us. I had a varied amount of pots so it was interesting to see what people liked most.

I'm not sure if it was a good idea to use a black cloth for this display, even though most of the pots were white. Most of what I sold was presented in other parts of the studio.

My daughter, Rosie, at our private view.

But looking back over the event, it's good to take stock of what was most popular.

Without a doubt, the grab jugs won hands down.

I find that jugs are always popular, but these handleless ones - used for cream in the 1930's - just caught everyone's attention. 
Also, the large bowls that I've been hand-building for some time never lose their appeal.

They're about 12 inches in diameter, with roughly sprayed glazes over copper oxide. But the comments are mostly about the ragged, ripped edge.
Cups and mugs are another good seller but I obviously didn't make enough as I have to add another 12 to my commission list.

Some artists don't like taking on commissions, but I have to say that I enjoy being forced to think along lines that have certain constraints. I find that it brings out new ideas that I wouldn't have considered.

Here are a couple of examples....

Stage 1 of kitchen utensil pots. 8 inches high, 5 inches diameter.

No, never would I have thought of this without being asked. Nothing too big, ethnic look, white glaze with maybe a touch of oxide. 
How I enjoyed making these. I rolled out the clay, then wrapped it around a tube - any cylinder shaped object covered with newspaper to prevent sticking will do - gave them a bottom, decorated with slip, a couple of holes and marked with the end of a chopstick. They could also be vases, and why not?

Cups, after being turned.

I was asked to make some cups a bit taller than I have previously. I had to re-think my usual bellied shape, and I wanted to avoid making them look like any ordinary cylinder.
After a good hour of drawing I came up with this and I'm really pleased so far. Please God, don't let me ruin them all with a terrible handle.

Now, here's something I could never have anticipated!!

Miniature Salt Pots.

I displayed some of my small test pots along the back of a shelf to show how I test glazes and oxides before using them on the proper pots. Before you could say 'Pass the condiments, please" there was a sudden rush to buy them and even to ask me to make a whole bunch more to be used as salt dishes. Brilliant. Objects that I no longer had a use for, turned out to be much needed vessels for the table. 

But all this production this week has filled my damp cupboard to bursting point. So, off to the shops I went, never mind the clay-splattered trousers, and picked up this little 4 drawer beauty for less than £20.

It's perfect for smallish pots, and takes up very little space in my crowded workshop.

In my next post I'm going to talk about that very difficult do we price our work.
I'll try to explain my thinking - which Alan claims is a total mystery!!!! 

Happy potting folks.