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.


  1. yes, pricing is a huge dilemma! i have struggled with that for years when i made jewelry & now as an artist. i have compared prices of similar pieces, keeping mine in the middle; but you hit the nail on the head... it's about quality! From now on i will be focusing on the quality of my work & more confident in my prices. thanks foir the great post! :)

    1. You're most welcome, Diane. It's good to bat around thoughts with like minded people.

  2. I try to take all the factors into consideration. Materials, time and creativity and, yes, what the competition charges. That gets me in the ballpark and then I just tweak the price until I'm happy with it. I try not to compare my work with other shops. I know how I work and I'm happy with my sales. I've even started increasing some prices a little. Go with your heart and you can't go wrong.

    $12,000 for a mug, seriously?! That must be some mug!

    1. I know, Julie. It was a cool mug but really? Hence, the lack of sales.

  3. Your work is very cute, I can't wait to see them in your store!