A sharing of ideas, techniques, successes and failures in the volatile world of pottery and family life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meandering Through the Mire

So, again, I got stopped in my tracks when I let the dogs out this morning!  God's color pallet never ceases to amaze me.  Not to mention it's gotten up to 57 degrees for the past 2 days.  That makes me very happy!

Come on Spring!!!

But I digress.  I really wanted to share my latest "mini-me" banks.  I've been making larger animal banks for a while starting with 3 lbs of clay.  At Christmas I got a custom order for 3 smaller banks and decided to make some for my shop as well.  So, using half the clay of the big ones I made up these babies.
Penguin, ladybug, snail, owl & lion.
Unfortunately, I can't charge half the price.  The clay is the least of my expenses.  It takes less time to throw the main forms but the detail work and glazing are just as time consuming.

I struggle with pricing all the time, as I think most artisans do.  Putting a value on material and time is pretty easy.  But putting a value on your creativity and experience is so abstract and subjective.  To clarify my point I did a search on Etsy for handmade mugs and found prices ranging from $2 to $12,000 (yes, I double checked the number of zeros).  I'm pretty sure self-confidence is the driving factor here in both cases.  One undervalued and the other just a wee bit inflated.  I'm sure you can figure out which one had 200+ sales and which one had none.  =/

How do you evaluate your competition?  If someone is selling something comparable to what you sell and they're charging much less or way more than you, do you adjust your prices?  Up or down?  Or can you justify them and be confident enough to keep them where they are?  Just curious to see just how conservative I am.

It's a challenge finding that happy medium.  I know I can't make a mug for $2 and I'm pretty sure no one would spend an excessive amount (I can't even bring myself to type that number again!) on anything I've made.  When I priced my first birdhouse for a studio show I was embarrassed to charge anything!  Even at the prices I'm asking now some people balk.  I've gotten past the phase of second guessing my prices.  Enough people can see the time and creativity that goes into a piece to keep me in business.  It's not quantity (though that would be awesome!) but quality craftsmanship that's taking me to my target audience.  So I'll bypass the "price it to sell" marketing strategy and plug away where I am.  I'm comfortable somewhere between having low self esteem and being an ego maniac.

Well, this post went in a completely different direction than I intended but, like I said, pricing is something I struggle with.  I guess what it boils down to is realizing and defining your own worth without getting arrogant about it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lion - Take Three

I ended up scrapping the last lion I made.  He just wasn't talking to me.  I was talking to him, as I do all of my critters, but he didn't have much to say. So I started again from scratch.  I had pictures of various lions, real and not so real, to inspire me.

This, of course, is my favorite:

I didn't go for the red bow but I like the ringlet curls.  So this is what I came up with.  What do you think?

These are his buddies...

On a completely unrelated note, this is what I woke up to yesterday morning...

Oooooo pretty!

However, as the saying goes:  "Red in the morning shepherds' warning..." and it snowed and rained the rest of the day.  =(

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The "Other" Kids

Since I gave time to the dogs I feel it's only fair to give the boys some time, too. ;-D

These are our prides and joys - The Monsters

This is from 2 Christmas' ago when Santa put these wax mustaches in all of their stockings.  That Santa!  What a jokester!

Of course, they've inherited our very dry sarcasm and "Monty Python" style sense of humors.  They're all unbearably handsome, incredibly smart (which their grades don't always reflect!) and tower over their 5'10" parents.  They were born 2 years apart from each other and get along most of the time.  Mostly.  To paraphrase something I read by Dr. Mike Bradley when asked how to stop siblings from fighting.  His response was to have them 4+ years apart.  Wow!  Really?  Now he tells me!  (BTW I highly respect his analysis of the teenager's mind.)  However, if we had spaced them 4 years apart my youngest would be only 11 and we'd be that much further away from moving down south, which is currently in our 4 year plan book.

There's nothing like a teenager to demonstrate how much plucking your heartstrings can take!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Out of the Mud and into the Furr

I thought I'd introduce some of our household today.

We have The Boys (our teenaged offspring and a nephew) and The Kids (our dogs).  We're lab lovers and rescue lovers.  So our current pack consists of:

Madeline Anastasia (because her initials had to spell out MAN in order to offset any possibility of estrogen overtaking the testosterone in the house!) - a 6 yr old yellow Lab mix.

Princess Maddie, aka Maddie Moo, Moo Moo
At 4 months old she developed a growth in her lower jaw that was diagnosed as cancer and we were told she'd be gone within the next couple of months.  Six years later, she's still with us and has some teeth that grew in crooked (Snaggle Teeth) but we think she's beautiful, especially when she smiles!

Oliver Twist - a 4 yr old black Lab Beagle mix.

Oliver, aka Ollie, Wallie, Ollie Pops

Oliver started out life being called Malcolm but was quickly renamed when he would pick up his food dish after being fed and walk around with it very reminiscent of Oliver Twist.  He has half a tail.  Out of all of the litter mates that I saw when I picked him out only one of them had a full tail (I'm always drawn to the underdogs).  We were told his mom was a pure bred black Lab and, after examining him, our vet determined his dad was probably a Beagle because the tail defect is typical of that breed.  I'm sorry to report that Oliver has a problem.  He's a tennis ball junkie!  I don't let him bring them into the house because they get so slobbery and gross so he'll sit at the back door looking longingly at them on the deck.  He needs help.

Then there's Franklin:

Franklin, aka Frankie, Franklinstein, Froo Froo, Yittlest Putch, Spankie
Frankie's not a Lab.  He's a 2 yr old long haired Chihuahua with a Rottweiler's ego, a cat's voice and mismatched eyes.  He came part and parcel with my nephew when he moved in with us and we've become very attached to them both.  The first time he visited he was dealing with a Jesus complex.  I guess he'd never seen a pool before and didn't realize it wasn't a solid surface so he walked right in.  After I fished him out he shook off and walked back in again.  I think that's when he realized that only Jesus can walk on water.  Not Chihuahuas.  We've never had tiny dogs so it's been very amusing watching the big dogs interacting with him.  Frank and Oliver have their daily wrestle where Oliver will have Frank's whole head in his mouth (it is the same size as a tennis ball!) then lay down to let Frank jump all over him.  Who needs TV when there are dogs in the house!  =D

Score one for the Chihuahua!