Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lesson #1

Don't take things personally.

That, for me, is going to be difficult.

My one and only picture of my display with my lovely sister "tweaking" things. I need to work on my props. We did some serious brainstorming and sketching so the next sale should look a little more professional"

My helpers for the day, soaking up some sun.

Breaking through the barriers! No dogs were allowed so it meant that my daughter, my hubby and Bella had to spend most of the day at the lake! They did take turns walking the dog so that they could peruse the sale as well. Bella was persistant that that she be allowed in!

My sale went well! It started off a little slow and there weren't a jillion people crammed wall to wall, was outdoors and the 'Fort' was a really nice space to hold it. We had lots of space between exhibitors and I was parked right next to a lovely pine tree that smelled wonderful, especially in the morning when it was still dewy! (It felt like I was camping!) I was also right next to a lovely wasp nest, that my sister and daughter discovered shortly after we arrived. A perfect wasp nest, attached to the big wooden post holding up the walls of the fort. Luckily, we weren't bothered by them...not even as we ate our lunch or sipped on our Coke Zero through the day. The day itself was perfect, a little chilly in the morning, but once the sun came out, it was gorgeous...not too hot and even when it a cloud did pass over and it felt a little cooler, it was still quite nice! People strolled the entire day. There seemed to be a lot of the cottage owners "just checking stuff out", but there were also quite a number who trekked from the city and surrounding areas, specifically for the sale.

I received lots of good feed back. Most seemed to appreciate the bright colours and there are a lot of polka dot lovers out there! A lot of people were curious about my spoons and scoops though they seemed to struggle with what to use them for. I've always found that to be the case when selling something. You need to educate them. You need to make suggestions telling them what this piece can be used for! That usually peeks their interest and at this sale and specifically with my spoons and scoops, only then would they pick them up and cup the bowls of the spoons in their hands rubbing them over the smooth glaze (they really do feel so nice) and in the end I sold quite a few...more than I thought I would, though I might have priced them a little low. I'll have to evaluate that for the next sale!

Blue was the colour of the day. Turquoise. Not much interest at all in my orange pieces. In fact, they were all drawn to the blue cupboard. That makes me happy. I'm a blue girl and quite honestly if I could paint everything in turquoise I'd be thrilled! Something else to consider. It's funny that almost everyone that entered my booth would first be drawn to my dark blue (almost navy) bowls with the orange dots, but no one would buy them. The same thing happened at my last sale. Interesting as well, was my lovely green lacey bowl sitting on a little perch and being the VERY first thing people went to, and almost always picked it up! Eventually my sister suggested we move that to another spot, because it is also one of my pricier pieces and she figured that for some, it was enough to turn them on their heels, thinking I my work was too expensive. BTW, that bowl did sell at the end of the a wonderful woman that loved green AND polka dots and for a few minutes she was debating on that green bowl or the big navy bowl, but the green won out!

So the biggest thing I need to overcome is that feeling of rejection when people walk by the booth, without even stopping for a peek. Or when they stroll by and quickly turn their heads in the other direction, hoping you won't see them! Of course I know that not everyone is interested in pottery and certainly not everyone loves contemporary pottery. I'm aware too, that some are just out for the day, stopping in packs to visit with their fellow cottage owners, or that some have just accidently passed by and thought they'd take a peek at what's inside those big wooden walls. Maybe I'm a little greedy. Or maybe I just love being praised! Who doesn't love that! I want them ALL to love my work! This isn't the first time I've struggled with this. I owned a retail shop for years and felt totally deflated when someone would step through the front doors and turn on their heels and leave without even so much as taking a few steps...and I was in a lovely, century old house!

So, to everyone who did stop by and to give me my very much appreciated "pat on the back", a great big thank you. Thank you too, to everyone who bought a little something from me. I hope whatever it is you took home with you, brings you lots of joy!

Quick question. Does the work Ceramics confuse people? Do most see it as the greenware poured from moulds, not hand thrown, not even "handmade" by the potter...the pieces you clean the seams and then glaze? Is it better to call myself a potter than a ceramicist? I like the word ceramics. To me it feel more modern and I did struggle a little as to what to call myself. It struck me at this sale, when my cousin asked me "where I get my pieces from". Hmmm....I'll be curious to see what you have to say! I actually took my sign down because I thought maybe it was confusing people!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post, Brenda! I've only been doing shows for the past year, so I can really relate. It is all a learning experience, and though there are hiccups and bumps, I have found it to be mostly positive so far. Your work is great. Though my "work name" is Mudstar Ceramics, I do call myself a potter. Ceramicist sounds so fancy, and I still feel as if I am a beginner in so many ways. Potter sounds more like what I do: making pots, or potting about. (Sounds suspiciously like puttering about...:) I originally started selling my work to pay for my clay habit. And now that I am making a tiny profit, I have to decide how much I want to put into this: time, money, effort, etc. I did just buy a 10' x 10' outdoor tent, so I guess I'm willing to go a bit further! Congrats on your first solo sale. I'm sure it is just the beginning for you and your happy, lovely work! xo Rae

  2. Thanks Rae! It's always nice to hear about the experiences of other potters and their sales! It'll also be nice to get to the point where I'm making some money at it, even if it's only a small amount! I'm guessing then that you don't find calling yourself Mudstar Ceramics a problem!! That's good to hear! Keep up the potting!

  3. Hi Brenda: I think once someone knows a bit about hand crafted clay items, saying ceramics to describe it is ok. But we've got a whole lot of people out there to educate. So I prefer to say potter...or just artist in clay. My preference anyway. Great to hear about your show, and good to know you had a good day both of weather and sales.
    Barb at Alchemy of Clay

  4. Brenda, I think you should keep your name as Ceramics as that is really want in your heart. You know that if you start changing things to please other people your creativity lessens. If people are confused, you just 'educate' them just as you do with your spoons and scoops. Besides, you are not the only one whose name includes 'Ceramics' rather than 'pottery'. The more people see it the less they will be confused.

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  6. Hi Brenda, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your sale, where was it? I know you had lots of good stuff and it's nice that some went to live with new owners who will love to use their new purchase. M

  7. Hi Brenda, your day sounded very successful on several levels. Your analysis of what people were attracted to and did or didn't then buy is interesting!
    The ceramics versus pottery question is something we have been pondering here too. I call myself a ceramic artist and then blush a little. A friend has done some investigating and apparently people still google pottery more than ceramics. If you google ceramics you can get tangled a bit in industrial stuff or the mass produced. But I think contemporary ceramics is something that the public needs to learn about and personally I prefer it. I wonder with the current vogue for the Handmade if it is worth adding that to a small sign. We know it's obvious but doesn't sound as though everyone does.

  8. What a great day you had. Here in Florida ceramics means pottery made in molds, so I quit using it. Interesting about the colors. blue always seems to be a favorite color glaze for most potters so I've heard. I've had really good luck with greens too.

  9. I started out calling myself a potter and then the trend was towards Ceramic Artist as pots were harder to sell than back in the '80s so there were more sculptural works being made in the '90s. I now find that if I speak to people who go to galleries they know what I mean by ceramic artist, however those that don't will better understand the term 'pottery'. So now most of my sales are at markets under the umbrella of a Pottery Group while my work that is sent off to exhibitions is under Ceramic Artist. So long as you are happy with your work go with the name you are comfortable with. Glad you had good weather and good sales :^)

  10. Brenda
    Love your work.So glad I was able to get away from my booth at the end of the day and purchase the green bowl.I still love the navy and orange.We must keep in touch sounds like we have a lot in common.I also was in retail for many many years.Enjoying not having the store and just doing the shows so much more time to work on ones art and not ordering for the store anyway keep in touch and good luck on the next shows. g.a.s.

  11. Oh I hope this isn't a double post.Computer smart not.
    Hi Brenda,
    I was so glad to have gotten away from my both near the end of the sale in the Fort.Yeas I am the one that bought the green bowl,but darn I so love those dark blue with orange polk a dots!!!I have been reading threw your blog great work you do.We should keep in touch.I to had a retail store for a number of years but now enjoy working on my art and not having to order for the store.Anyway good luck on future sales and keep in touch. g.a.s.

  12. Thanks so much g.a.s! (I really do need to find out your first name!) I hope you're enjoying that big green bowl! I loved it! Just going to check out your blog!!!

  13. Hi Brenda. I felt drawn to your booth at the Fort (I live there, not a cottager). I love your bright colors, polka dots and pastels ... I guess I love it all. We visited your booth twice just to see your beautiful work again. Do you have a shop somewhere? (thx for having business cards available so I can follow your blog)

  14. Thank you so much Karen! I don't have my work in a shop as yet. However, I will be attending Wintergreen and sharing a table with other Emerging Artists. I will also be in S'toon December 7th and 8th at Flock and Gather. The Fort sale was only my second sale so this is all quite new to me!


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