Tom Gray

Guest Blogger Tom Gray on Trunk Shows

A couple of weeks ago I asked my friend and fellow potter, Tom Gray, if he would write about his experience doing trunk shows.  I have never done a show like this, which is essentially a show in someone's home.  I think it's a great idea.  Here are Tom's thoughts on doing a trunk show:

Trunk shows are very much like a mini-art show, with a couple of exceptions -- it's far more intimate, and you don't need to drag your display into the gallery or home for the show. As the attendees are invited, they come to the show specifically to meet you, look at your wares, and they will more than likely go home with a few of your pots. I've found that my return on investment exceeds most one day craft shows that I've participated in, and a higher percentage of people buy my work in this type of environment.

Over the last 30 years I've done quite a few trunk shows in art galleries, and more recently, in people's homes. No matter where you show, the basic ideas are pretty much the same.

Set a date.

Decide on a payment agreement with your host...a percentage of sales, pots, etc., something you both can agree upon.

Invite people from a client list if a gallery, or friends, co-workers and family if the show is in a home.

Use existing tables, displays, etc. to exhibit your pots.

Put on a smile, talk to the folks that show up, and sell your pots.

One more thing – people come for the party atmosphere too. At the trunk shows I've done so far, the hostesses and/or gallery owners provided plenty of food and beverages. Allow them to pour their own mimosas, red wine, cider, etc. in one of your handmade cups, and more than likely they will rinse it out when done, buy it and take it home.

Using your network of friends, family members and gallery owners, tap into their networks of friends, family members and clients, and sell more pots. Good luck!

(Tom throwing bowls)

Thanks Tom!  I feel like this is a very good way to show and sell handmade work.  After all we all hope that our pots will find their way to good homes.  What better place to showcase them than in someone's home.  If you've done a trunk show please tell us about your experience in the comments.  And next time your in Seagrove, NC be sure to go by and see Tom Gray at his shop.

Bluebird workhorse

IMG_2045This is the list I'm currently working on.  These pots are for the Carolina Pottery Festival which is Nov. 14th.  here in Shelby.  I'm moving right on through the list thankfully.

I decided about a month ago to forgo mixing clay this fall and winter and use a commercial blend.  It's from Highwater Clays and called Stan's Red.  I had gone through 500 lbs of it back in late summer and liked it a lot.  I'm pretty sure it's named after Stanley Mace Anderson.  My slip and glaze fit it well and I like the color of the bare clay.   I ordered a ton a couple weeks ago, so I'm pretty well stocked.

Below is my little workhorse!  I bought this Bluebird 440 pugmill very early on in my pottery career.  My mentor, Tom Gray, recommended it and I've never regretted spending the money.

IMG_2044I use this guy every day that I throw.  If I need to soften up my clay I just slice it up and put the slices in a bucket of water.  I pull the clay out a slice at a time  and run it through.  Just the extra bit of water on the surface of the slices is usually enough to get the clay just how I like it.  I can also stiffen up clay by putting it in a bucket with fireclay or ball clay and running it through.  (Tom taught me the trick with the water, and I saw Warren Mackenzie doing the trick w. the dry clay).

I use this machine for reclaim too.  All my scraps go in 5 gallon buckets of water.  When it's all good and wet I move the slop to old bisque fired bowls lined with a scrap of sheet.  The clay  sits there until it firms up and then I run that through the mill with some new clay.  No waste!

I'd recommend a pugmill to anyone.  It saves time and money and your wrists.  I hardly wedge anything under 8 lbs.  I just slice the clay off the pug and smack it into a ball.

Back to the list.

Jeff Oestreich Pots

My pal Tom Gray sent me these two cups from his collection last week. They were made by Jeff Oestreich, who lives in Minnesota. Jeff was trained at the Leach Pottery. I'm guessing these were made sometime in the 80's. Jeff is known these days for his soda fired work. I love these two pots and have used them numerous times while visiting Tom. The one on the left is porcelain with incising/combing under a celadon glaze, the one on the right has brushwork over a celadon.
These two pots make a great addition to our collection. Thanks Tom, we'll use them often.

Brad Tucker

Our guest at the Circle show this time was Brad Tucker from Creedmore, NC. I heard Brad's name early on when I started making pots. My mentor, Tom Gray ,told me about him and mentioned that Brad was one of the best pitcher makers around. Well this weekend I finally got one of Brad's jugs. It's a small one but boy it's really wonderful, nice and light with a sharp lip and good balance. Sarah and I put it to use yesterday morning when we used it to pour the maple syrup over our pancakes. I should have broken down and got a bigger one....well I guess I'll just have to make the trip out to Creedmoor soon.

Thanks Brad for coming out and being our guest.