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seconds-sell or smash

updated tue 16 nov 99


CYoung/NCzuchra on mon 15 nov 99

I have an exquisite platter done by a potter whose first quality work I
cannot afford, I did manage to pay for a second and am thrilled to have it.
Only the artist or another potter could see its flaw and the flaw doesn't
negate the idea or execution.

I smash pieces that will fall apart but anything else that I consider "off"
sells as seconds, including pots which leak. I use permanent markers and
write on the bottom: "2nd" and describe the flaw, i.e. leaks, rim crack
etc. This prevents all but the most amazing people from giving the piece
as a gift and does two things for me. One, I recoup a fraction of my time
and materials, and people who cannot afford my first quality work get a
bargain. I want people who enjoy my work and want a piece to do so and if
I have a raku pot with a
crack that precludes it from being a first, I'm not going to argue with a
customer that it has no value if the crack doesn't bother them. I only sell
seconds and pots that are just plain annoying and uncooperative out of my
studio and tell people that they are seconds in case they don't read the
bottom. I would not feel comfortable with a bargain box at a juried art
show because at a show, I want to present my the best efforts.

Many of us wrestle with this problem and I think that each is entitled to
do as one chooses. No one is cheated if you sell a second honestly. The
fact that there are people who are cheap and can afford a first but choose
the second takes nothing from the potter. If a second turns up years later
proudly displayed at a public function and you shudder, how much worse is
that than the pot you thought was the personification of greatness that you
make in your third year. My mother has some butt-ugly pots that I thought
were just great. I'm elated when I see those old dogs and realize that
yes, I am evolving and in 10 years I'll be even better. My choice is to
seek perfection, make an honest effort and earn a living in clay. If I
wait to make the perfect pot I face starvation or work in another field.
Did that, didn't like it. I try to find my own balance point and ignore
those who dictate, its not always easy with clay police lurking everywhere
out there, but in the end, it comes back to satisfying your own conscience.

Candace Young