Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Week of Reflection, 2015

There were many weeks in 2014 that I felt like this tree. 
I think it's telling that I questioned whether I even had time to do a week of reflection this year.

On the other hand, this is the first year that I haven't had to put heating oil on my credit card. My business is in the black! This is largely due to two factors; I've blogged about both before:
  1. A new pricing equation, that starts with how much money I need, divided by how much I can make, to arrive at a per pound price. 
  2. Work more. Work all the time! like this:

That is only a slight exaggeration. It's so nice to be profitable, however slightly, that I hesitate to change anything, but common sense tells me this is not sustainable. That is a blog post for another day, however.

I did make a change to the way I work in 2014, as well: I shifted the balance of my working hours between long-term business activities - blogging, research, networking, social media, and experimentation - and short term ones - teaching, making, and sales events. In short, I spend more time making stuff and trying to sell it, and - surprise! - I make and sell more stuff. I would never delete teaching from the equation, because so much of my joy in clay is sharing what I know; but though I could probably find more teaching opportunities pretty easily, I don't want to shift the balance any further in that direction.

One thing that I am still dead set against is trying to produce what I think will sell: as I've said before, that only results in pots that even I don't like, and I am no better at selling bad pots than good ones. But I do allow myself to sit with a good idea longer. Whereas before when I made mugs, say, I'd make a dozen of the same shape, and then decorate them all differently, now I decorate all twelve the same; then make another twelve for my next decorating idea. I trust the process - and the kiln - to produce variation. I make more pots this way, and I explore ideas more fully.
A board of pots following a single design scheme
I sit with a shape for longer, also; instead of making five casserole dishes and then moving on, I'll make fifteen. Keeping my mind in the same groove makes a smoother work process. I hope this is in part due to my aesthetic maturing: I've reached a point where I am pleased with more pots than not when I unload the kiln. Even as I type that, my mind flags a danger, of the work becoming too rote, but some of my very favorite potters return to decorative schemes repeatedly, and the work does not get stale. Instead the ideas ripen and mature into a fully realized body of work. That is what I am hoping for.

Next up for the Week of Reflection: 2015 goal setting!

1 comment:

ShellHawk said...

Shoji Hamada made most of his work with the same design, over and over. It was never stale; it became a signature!

As to what will sell, *no one* knows what will sell! I did a show in Napa and made a bunch of wine chillers, and not one sold there! I had requests in 2013 for more of my "Boo!" Halloween mugs, and only a few sold this year. You just never know!

And I think you're doing great. I'm still not in the black, and I need to get there this year. Clearly, you're doing it right!