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ingeborg's tile crisis

updated tue 11 oct 05


Lili Krakowski on sun 9 oct 05

Dear Ingeborg, I do admire you, as I always do people who let their
enthusiasm carry them away. I also love a quote from Wm James that he
admired people who bite off more than they can chew and then proceed to chew

Ok. You suggested to tried and true customers that they decorate with
tiles. So far so good.

You say you have made tiles such as the ones you would make for "them". You
know therefore how much clay you use, what the time involved is, how may you
can get in how much kiln space. If I forgot something else you need for
your calculations put it in. Sit down with your calculator and figure it

Look at web pages and such, go to galleries and see what others are charging
for handmade tiles. I seem to remember between $15 and $25, but that means
nothing as I do not know the details....check it out, ask others.

Now then. You are like a girl who has bought a prom dress before even being
asked to the prom, and asks her mother how do I decide which guy to go with?
You just sent out a mailing to how many people already? Two hundred? If
ten percent " bite" then you have twenty orders. If they order 20 tiles
each you have to make 400 tiles. I doubt they will expect immediate
delivery, so giving it three months, you have to make 134 GOOD tiles a
month, or maybe 150 in case some come out badly. Not as terrifying as all

There is no reason you cannot tell people they will have to wait. EVERYONE
DOES IT. I can hardly get a haircut in June because the shop is booked
solid for proms, weddings, graduations. Dressmakers, tailors,
caterers--lots of people who are in high demand at times will say sorry not
right now. Even surgeons put one off and say I can only do this two, three
months down the road because we are booked solid.

Take a deep breath. Have a nice slug of gin. Relax. It will all turn out

Lili Krakowski

Be of good courage

Ingeborg Foco on mon 10 oct 05

Dear Lili,

I really have made lots of tiles in the past. Talking about this has caused
me to reminisce fondly. Too bad I didn't have a digital camera back then.
Twenty five years ago I started making floor tiles for our new home. I had
a little gas kiln that came with no directions and I spent many hours of
frustration making 6 x6 cone 10 tiles. We lived with sub floors for a
couple of years and if I recall, I made 2 extra for every one I actually
used. The floor was beautiful and I moved on to my next tile job. Upstairs
bathroom (shower ceiling and counter top)I did in cone 10 glazed with Mt
Saint Helens ash since it had blown its top and ash all over us. I am by
now getting better and don't have so much waste. I next covered a 48" front
door with high relief raku tiles. Came out nice and people would tap it
thinking it was metal until the copper turned dark:).

Next job was a tile counter in the greenhouse/solarium. The east door was
badly weathered and needed to be replaced. Instead, I tiled it with thin
tiles painted with a bamboo design. Let's see, now the master bath shower
which was a shower room as in LARGEI: tiled the floor, ceiling and of course
walls and made little knobbies to hang our towels and painted a fern garden
design on the tiles. I believe I did the powder room counter and walls
next. That was done with lily pads and frogs. Then came the fireplace which
separated the living room and dining room and had a see thru fire box. I
did the field tiles floor to ceiling and then did a relief mural on the
living room side. On the dining room side I did a food scene you know
French bread, bottle of wine, lobsters etc. Then we sold the place. Now
here we are, new location, new/old house and I've just finished the kitchen
backsplash and another fireplace floor to ceiling. It does sound like I am
bragging....I'm not trying to but I pretty much have the technical stuff much as one can get clay down.

Pricing, I am still thinking about and that is always hard for me. I
wouldn't do a tile job for $25 per square foot; there is just too much work
involved. If I can't make decent monies, I simply won't do it. I am
thinking and by the time I get back into the shop on Wed I had better have
something figured out.

I sent out 400 letters but I think your estimate of 10% biting is quite
high. Waiting is something people are used to in SW Florida. We have been
waiting to have the pool remodeled since June. He said one month, and guess
what we are still waiting. I usually tell people it takes time and give
myself ample time and then I finish the order sooner. It makes them
pleased. I also work best under pressure.

I guess I really like tiles. Did my logo on my building -in low fire tiles
and boy was that a learning curve! Chris was kind enough to put it on her
web site which, eludes me at this point. I think it was light one candle or
something like that. Don't know if it is still shown.

My main thing is that I feel I constantly have to come up with new things to
keep people interested and increase my income. Property taxes on my shop are
horrendous and could go up an additional $1000 this year if they get their
way. Do you know how many mugs you have to make to make up that increase?

Anyhow, I am rambling because today is my day off (gallery is closed on Mon
& Tues) and I get to go to town to see the eye doctor who will do surgery
one eye (next one in two weeks) This is not the vanity type of surgery and
I sure hope the Boy Doctor knows what he is doing. He is very cute but
jeeez he looks like my son and I would Never have my son do surgery on my



the Potter's Workshop & Gallery
P.O. Box 510
3058 Stringfellow Road
St. James City, Florida 33956