Last Friday, the ceramics studio I belong to participated in Madison’s twice-a-year “Gallery Night,” where studios and shops throughout the city host artists and their work. About 7 Midwest Clay Project members participated. We covered the large work tables with brown paper, and I had about half a table to display my pieces. I had so much work that I ended up placing a dozen pieces on another table. You can see from the photo a shelf that the studio provided, and I brought along an old peach crate that I added shelves to, where I displayed cups and mugs. I also had homemade business cards available with my website and email, and a sheet of information about Potters for Peace, to which I donate 10% of all my ceramic sales.
This was my very first ceramics show and sale. My only other art show was long ago – a solo painting show when I graduated college. Although I hoped to sell at least one piece at Gallery Night, I went into it figuring I wouldn’t sell anything. I’d heard from past participants that it wasn’t a big sales night – that most people only browse. So mostly I hoped to learn about setting up a display and hosting a gallery night. It was the first warm night of the year in Madison, Wisconsin, and the studio was crowded practically all night. And I sold about 10 pieces!
What I learned:
- Seeing all my work together was interesting. Most of the pieces I make are decorated – either carved or slip inlay or trailing slip or colored shapes. That tells me that I enjoy the decorating or design process of ceramics.
- People like to pick up and touch the pieces. Selling my work via my website might not be the best venue. Although I attempt to show pictures from all angles and describe the pieces clearly on my site, the physicality or tactile quality one gets from actually picking up and feeling the pieces is important.
- It takes a lot of work to participate in a show. Cleaning, adding price tags, wrapping carefully, hauling heavy boxes to the car and then in to the gallery, unwrapping, displaying, schmoozing and dragging out the (normally hidden) extrovert Rachel, and then wrapping and hauling most of the pieces back home.
- People like free food and wine!
- Potters are great folks to hang out with! Most of the participating members stayed throughout the night, and several other members stopped in and hung out for awhile. It was a great night!