Hi,

In this post I'm going to be discussing the time and value I place on the time it takes to create an original piece of pottery. In the first part of this post I hope to help other potters out with the most daunting piece of creating and selling work, placing a value on a piece of pottery.

(Disclosure, I work as an accountant, so this post is very numbers orientated)

The first thing in my opinion you must do as a potter hoping to sell your work is to place a value on your time. With this crucial number, it will make pricing your work a lot easier. In developing this amount, there are three things I would like for you to consider: the length of time you have been practicing the art, the amount of time on average you spend working on pieces of pottery, and the time outside of creating a piece of work you spend designing the piece.

First, the length of time you have been practicing the art of making pottery, for instance, if you are relatively new to the art, don't price your work at art fair prices. The same goes for if you have been practicing for decades, don't price your work like it was meant for a High School art fair. You have made the investment in learning the craft, so don't sell yourself short. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, the longer you practice your craft, the better you will get at it, and the more you should charge for it. This holds true for most, and is a good general assessment of your work, but if for instance you are creating great work and have only been working at the craft for a short period, don't be afraid to price your time at a higher value.

Next, this is the easiest step, measure how many hours a week you spend working on creating work. This is the time from which you enter your studio, to the time you leave. Make sure to be accurate with your times in the studio, and as the weeks progress you will be able to develop an average amount of time you spend weekly in the studio.

Lastly, the length of time outside of creating the piece designing the creation needs to be factored in the price of the piece. Now, most likely, not every piece of work you create is going to be designed from scratch, a lot of your work is going to be of a style you have created that can be applied to multiple pieces. Think about, on average, how many hours a week you spend on designing new work and styles for your art. Even though you are not actually working on a piece of art at the time physically, you are still spending your time to create a great piece of work and this needs to be factored in.

Now that we have all these different factors in place, here comes the fun part, factoring a number to place on your time. I generally take the amount of hours I spend designing new work and divide it by the hours working with clay in the studio. For instance, say I spend 2 hours designing new work a week on average and 10 hours a week on working with clay. I would take the number 2 and divide it by 10, this would equal 0.2. This number basically mean that for every hour you spend in the studio working on clay you should factor in an additional 0.2 hours that it took to design your work. In this example, my number would be 1.2. The hardest part now is creating an hourly rate at which you will work at, we find this number by looking at the first step and evaluating ourselves, and placing a number on our skill level. In this case, say we value our time, based on our skill level, at 15 dollars an hour. Taking the number 15 and multiplying it by 1.2, we get our hourly rate of 18 dollars an hour.

We now have a rate at which we can develop a price for a certain type of piece of pottery. In this example, say we are working to determine how much we should charge for a bowl measuring 6" in diameter. First, we need to know how many of these bowls we can make in an hour, so spend an hour making only these sized bowls and see how many you can make. In this example, we made 6 bowls in the hour allotted. Dividing the hourly rate of 18 by the number of bowls made, 6, we see that each bowl thrown should be currently valued at $3 a piece so far. If you trim the bottoms of your bowl, repeat the exercise, spending an hour trimming only bowls. In this example, say we can trim 12 bowls an hour. We would then take the same hourly rate of 18, and divide it by 12, the number of bowls trimmed, and we would see that we need to add another $1.50 to each bowl. If extra design work is applied to the bowl, repeat the process again to figure the amount that needs to be added for decorations.

At this point in the example, we have a piece of unfired, thrown, and trimmed bowl valued at $4.50. Once fired, the bowl will need to be glazed, measure how many bowls you can glaze in an hour, in this example we can glaze 6 bowls per hour. Using the same math as before, we have added $3 more of value to the bowl, so the total amount of time valued in one bowl would be $7.50.

So far, we have assessed that for each 6" diameter bowl, we should charge $7.50 for our time, this is not including the cost of materials, which would then need to be added to the amount.

I hope you have gotten some insight on the pricing of your time in this blog, my method of pricing my time is by means definitive, but I hope this will inspire you to think more about the value of your time.

Thanks for reading!

Mark Barta