Sooner or later, I had to price the pots that are upstairs in the new gallery. So I did that this afternoon. Can I actually get $50 for a teabowl? Or $100 for a medium-size pitcher? I have no idea.
I think any of you who do this for a living have been through this business of pricing work. What is a mug worth? $10? $20? $40? Or a cereal bowl? Or a dinner plate? Or the very best anything that you have ever made?
That's the problem I'm dealing with right now. The point of renovating the space over the studio was to have a gallery that will display the very best pots that are coming off my wheel and out of my kiln. I can remember a time not too long ago ... well, maybe 15 years ago ... when I thought long and hard about charging $10 for a mug. And was amazed when someone paid that for it. Today, I put $50 price tags on maybe 20 of what I think are very good teabowls. And everything else took prices that reflect that kind of value - $250 for a wood-fired pitcher, $100 for a vase glazed with Shino pours, $75 for a particularly good slab plate.
I can remember asking a student of mine 12 or 13 years ago to pick up a Phil Rogers teabowl for me when she was in London. She did, a lovely one. Also, shockingly, a $75 one. And now, at the Pucker Gallery in Boston, Phil and Randy Johnston and other such potters are getting $300 for teabowls. So I'm not there yet. Still ... $50 sounds like a lot of money.
But I've felt for a while that the kind of work I was making resulted a few times in each firing in some particularly good pots. The shapes worked just right with the Shinos, better than most of the pots. And shouldn't the best work be priced higher than the normal good work? That's the thought.
But I produce a lot of pots and my shed gallery is a bit of a jumble of clay, even when it's "organized." And the best stuff gets lost among the good stuff. Hence the new space, the good light, the relative isolation of these pots from their sibling pots. At this point, I don't even know who will get up to the new gallery. Access is via our dining room or through the studio. If I'm not on the property, no one gets to the upstair room. Which is fine.
But if I'm here, to whom do I offer a look at the upstairs pots? I don't get that many people dropping by to see pots, even in the summer. We're on an out-of-the-way road outside of town, populated by motorcycle riders and golfers heading to the local course. Some people find us via the website or the blog or the Cape Cod Potters brochure, but not that many. And there are times when I can just tell that my pots are not going to be what they're looking for. So ... do I offer a look upstairs to everyone? Do I wait for a clue from the pot gods that these particular visitors might want to see better work?
I know why we changed that room upstairs and I love seeing the way the pots stand in the light of the room. I don't think it was the wrong thing to do. I just wonder how it's all going to work out.