It’s quite an honor to be featured on the Standard Ceramic website. Thanks to Jan Grice for her hard work and patience (part of the interview was done when I had all but lost my voice due to a cold), and of course thanks to the owner of Standard Ceramic, Jim Turnbull. Click here to read the feature.
One of my pet peeves is being solicited for pottery donations. It’s often from friends of mine, though more often from complete strangers. I do give them the benefit of the doubt that they mean no disrespect. In fact, I think that many people would insinuate that it’s a compliment. But one thing is for certain, I’m almost never asked for a donation by another potter.
A fellow potter knows how much goes into every single piece. How much work goes into the preparation, the making, the firing, the transporting, the cleaning. How much time must be dedicated to the craft, and how much time must be sacrificed by way of declining social invitations, waking up early, staying up late, or simply going in to the studio when you could be relaxing.
A fellow potter knows the heartache of a bad firing, where an entire kiln load is wasted. Even the loss of a single piece can be disheartening, though it’s to be expected occasionally. But it’s not just the firing, in the pottery making process failure is always looming. You can make a catastrophic mistake at any point, or have your pottery fail by no fault of your own. You can be completely successful and have the finished piece slip out of your grasp while you inspect your work.
If you want to be a great writer, you have to read great books. If you want to be a good potter, you have to experience good pottery. So I believe that if you want to be successful at sales, you have to be an experienced customer.
I’m very grateful for what I’ve learned through purchasing things from other craftspeople, especially with regard to packaging. I’ve been especially inspired by Mitsuko Siegrist. Her use of craft paper, string, and other elements makes it seem like each order is actually a gift from a friend.
I’m also inspired by contemporary Japanese packaging, specifically the kind used for wagashi (Japanese sweets). In America, when you buy a snack cake, you’ll typically get a plastic wrapper with gaudy printing. In Japan you’re likely to peel a paper wrapper from a tastefully printed box, which in turn contains carefully wrapped confections. Opening the package is an experience. Whenever I can, I attempt to emulate that experience with my packaging.
I also try to impart a personal touch with each order by sending a short hand-written note. I genuinely appreciate hearing from my customers, so I imagine that they, too, enjoy the interaction.
Teapots are the most difficult form that I make on a regular basis. And one that I’ve certainly not mastered. Of these four, only the kyusu on the far left pours absolutely perfectly. But all of them are functional, comfortable to hold, and pleasing to the eye (in my humble opinion).
For those unfamiliar, a guinomi (which essentially means “one gulp cup” in Japanese) is a bit bigger than the sake cups you might be used to using at the sushi restaurant. They’re often collected as works of art.
Here in the US, they’re not as widely known, hence these have been in my Etsy store for some time. So, I’ve decided to have a little clearance sale in hopes that these might find a good home. All four of these were fired in a wood kiln, two were fired in a wood kiln in which salt was added.
Most of us have been there before… You attempt to make a small modification or fix a tiny problem, then you open a whole can of worms. This has proven to be the case this morning, and now my website is deserving of an old-school animated under construction gif.
But as is often the case, this will likely result in overall improvement. So while I would have preferred to spend the next few nights in the studio, instead I’ll be at the computer. (Either way, I have a good reason to put off doing the laundry for one more night.)