Sunday, June 12, 2016

Art, business and culture...

After several years of trying to convince myself to do so, I **finally**, after a very long hiatus, started listing some of my beads and pottery in my long neglected Etsy shop. Hoarding beads is easy, lots can be squirreled away in a few bowls and boxes. Pottery, on the other hand, takes some serious space to store, so rather than continue to decorate my house in 21st century craft hoarder style it seemed to make sense to give Etsy a try.

My Etsy goals are hardly lofty, I'd just like to start earning enough money with my hobbies to start paying for my hobbies. It would be nice to self fund my supply closet, pay for studios fees and maybe even the occasional class of workshop....and maybe the travel to workshops, like the one I just took in Japan, but that would be more of dream than a goal..LOL Etsy is easy. Take few pictures, write a few descriptions push a few buttons and voile' you are an Etsy seller. Or should I say, an Etsy lister. Listing on Etsy IS easy, getting views and sales not so much.

To get started again I decided to to do some price checking to get an idea what to list pottery bowls for on Etsy. As I'm scrolling down the listings I spy a a bowl... I know that bowl, it's my bowl. Well, not a bowl I made, but one just like my everyday kitchen ware, but in shades of brown, rather than green like mine. This bowl however, was broken and repaired with gold in kintsugi style.

Kintsugi is an traditional Japanese repair method where broken pottery is repaired with with lacquer and gold. While the practice likely has roots in practicality, it also is well known for it's message, that things can be even more broken for having being broken. When I was at John Dix's studio in Japan he had a quite beautiful example of kintsugi on his shelf of sake cups as pictured below.

But this etsy seller? After looking at his page I would say it appeared that he bought lots of thrift store pottery, broke it and repaired it kintsugi style. Not even really good kintsuge; kind of rough seams, and I'm guessing epoxy and gold paint, not lacquer and powdered gold. He had quite the business going, thousands and thousands of sales. Repaired broken junk dishes at $35+ a piece. Sigh. My vision of kintsugi would be that it is a repair one might do to a precious object, say, Grandmas favorite teacup, or a favorite one of a kind pottery bowl. Not something you would do to some cheap broken dishes.... and by cheap, I know, because my green bowl, a different colored twin to this kintsugi piece, is from a set I bought on sale at Shopko for $20 for service for four. Truly nothing special. Hhhmmf... but he's built a very successful business, lots of sales, and judging from the comments lots of satisfied customers who were quite happy to buy into the Zen of things being more beautiful for having being broken. While I have to commend his success, it leaves me wondering about the sales success of my fellow potters, who often have a hard time selling a beautiful handcrafted bowl for $35. I guess there is something to be said for marketing... and the fact that we artists must need to do it a little better...

Ebau Kintsugi

Dish from my cupboard

Kintsugi sake cup fromm John's collection