I recently ran into a client who couldn’t stop talking about how much she is loving using her MMclay pottery. She explained how much daily joy it brings her and the importance and connection it has brought to each of her family meals. She had the realization that every artist I know strives to bring to their clients: an everyday object made with human hands can bring a moment of connection and importance. It can’t help but slow us down as we admire and appreciate the power and the details of its unique handmade beauty.
It can take several years to become a potter with enough expertise to make a dinnerware set that is well made and a pleasure to use. Pricing handmade pottery is another skill. Well designed mass-produced dinnerware is affordable and accessible to anyone wanting to set a lovely table. This has shaped our idea of what functional dinnerware should cost, while diminishing the inherent value of handmade plates, bowls, and mugs. Many of us have no idea what it takes to create a plate on the potter's wheel, much less a bowl that’s made to go with it. The many hours and skill it takes to make said plate and matching bowl means that handmade dinnerware is expensive and can be seen as an unattainable luxury item. Artisans constantly face the challenge of pricing their handmade pieces competitively.
Many of our daily luxuries are fleeting; a pricey dinner, an expensive item of clothing we only wear a few times, and any number of “treats” we purchase, only to be forgotten about once the experience has worn off. In the eloquent words of my artist friend Whitney Smith, “The beauty and the joy that a handmade piece of pottery provides can become a daily ritual, one that increases in value as our appreciation for this beautiful item deepens over time.”
It helps to frame it this way in my mind as I price my own dinnerware for sale.
I am overjoyed when people walking through the door of my shop immediately recognize the tremendous amount of skill, time and dedication that goes into crafting a well made functional piece of pottery. When they purchase a piece and become one of my customers, the connection between us will remain intact as long as the piece of pottery does as well. I feel honored by this connection, and I hope my customers do too.
Recently my super talented filmmaker friend Luke Tate of Pocket Pictures and I made this quirky short film to reveal the arduous yet rewarding process of making a cup (my favorite thing to make!). The purpose behind it is to entertain but also to shed a little light on how much work is involved in making pottery and to bring understanding to the connection that comes from the maker’s hands to yours.
Here is to recognizing value in everything that brings us joy.
You can find more information about Whitney Smith’s work @whitneysmith_pottery or visit her beautiful website at www.whitneysmithpottery.com