John Baymore on sat 17 may 97
.......I imagine it would be hard to get any work done if people
all the time to buy or just to visit, but some very famous potters
are said to have never turn any visitor away, like Hamada for example,
even if he had to work into the night to finish up. I was disappointed
last year when I called up and asked if I could visit Peter Volkous's
studio in Oakland. .......
When I was in Japan last fall I found that for the vast majority, the
Japanese potters went out of their way to welcome visitors any time they
could. Much time was spent in serving o-cha (green tea) and talking. I
understand that there is sort of an unspoken "code" that happens in Japan
in this type of situation. Generally speaking, if you accept the
invitation to have tea (which is ALWAYS made), you have indicated to your
host the seriousness of your intention to purchase work. If you refuse,
you are "just looking"! Nice system...... lets you know "up front".
It often could take 30 minutes to an hour in "visiting" with a serious
customer (and a pot of tea and a few sweets) to sell a single piece. In
discussing the time spent on visitors with a few of them, Japanese potters
often commented that taking care of studio guests was simply part of good
marketing...... and besides it was the polite thing to do. It was implicit
in the context of their answer .......... How could you NOT do it?
The (generally) higher prices that handcrafted pottery commands in Japan
allows this lavish amount of the contemporary potter's time to be spent on
such efforts. Good handmade yunomi (very small day-to-day tea cups)
typically sold in Mashiko for about the Yen equiv. of $30.00 -40.00. A
Shimaoka one sells for at least $1000.00. It is simply another line item
in the "cost of sales" on the retailing side of the business (as opposed to
the "manufacturing side").
I bet if you add a single zero to the price of all of your pots, you will
feel much more generous in spending time with studio visitors who might buy
The Japanese potters seemed to build this type of time into their work
life. It seemed to be looked at as just part of "the job". They appeared,
as a rule, to put in very long hours....... up in the 5 AM range and to
bed in the midnight range, most of the time 6 days a week. Pots were made
early and late in the day. Meeting with pottery visitors was the "rule of
the day" during the midday period.
This seemed true of the craftspeople working in other media that I met
That general approach has been something I already practiced intuitively.
For the last 20 years here in Wilton, I have always made a point to take
plenty of time with studio visitors whenever possible. Sometimes it seemed
frustrating....... particularly when some pots were calling. But in the
long run it has been worth it, I think. I have met many nice people that
way, have developed many loyal pot-buying clients, got some good feedback
on my work, have lined up many workshops to teach and kilns to build, and
have had some great conversations.
Do I ever "say no"? Of course. Sometimes something else just HAS to take
priority. For example, firings of my noborigama take my full concentration
(a lot of "eggs in one basket" ), and only occasional selected people
are usually invited to be around....... not only because it would distract
ME, but because I won't be able to devote appropriate time to THEM. But
whenever I can, I will take the time.
Could I make more pots if I didn't meet so long with people? Yup. Would I
have the same "quality of life". Nope. I enjoy the connection with the
people who buy my work. And with other fellow potters.
This is certainly an issue that each person has to make a decision on for
River Bend Pottery
22 Rivebend Way
Wilton, NH 03086 USA
"Coming up on this studio's 20th Anniversary this fall!"
Michael R. Wardell on sun 13 jul 97
We are taking a trip from Philadelphia to Omaha via Chicago the last two
weeks of July. We have plenty of time going out, and would be interested
in visiting some potters/studios on the way. Does anyone have any
suggestions? Please reply to my email, as I don't seem to be getting my
clayart messages right now.
Michael and Lorrie Wardell
Pfeiffer, Dan R (Dan) on mon 10 jan 05
Back from a week on the road to Texas and back and very impressed with the
friendly and open reception we got from the three studios we had a chance to
visit. I always feel like I am imposing on there time as I am sure there are
other things they need to do then answer question and show beginners around
there studio. There has not been one we did not learn something from even in
a quick walk through.
We are still working on the layout of our studio, even while using what we
have, and it is always interesting to see how others have solved common
problems, not to mention lots of good advice. We are still working on how to
make 100 mugs in one day! That's ~4.5 min's to weigh,wedge and through a
mug, now break for lunch that's a 9 hour day, not to bad. I can do one in
about 10 min's so there is some hope I will get that fast. :) But then that
are all handles to make,,,,,, maybe a nice sake bowl should do.
Dan & Laurel In Elkmont Al