Friday, January 4, 2013

turtles and the trouble with small

My customer's request was for two turtles but I made six, partly to make sure I remembered how to form them properly and partly just to cover the possibility of something going wrong which tends to happen more often than not when someone makes a special request.  Six doesn't seem like many, but the reason I stopped making these turtles several years ago had to do with time- very time consuming to make, and because they are small (larger size turtle is about six and one half inches long) people think they should be cheap.  The larger size took 3 hours each.  I didn't keep close track of the smaller size.  They may have taken slightly less time, maybe by 15 or 20 minutes because the shells were a little easier to handle.  That 3 hours is only what you see done in the pictures so far.  It does not include bisque firing, sanding, rubbing in the iron oxide, brushing on wax resist, glazing, or glaze firing.  So that's why only six turtles were made.  Several years ago I charged twenty or twenty-five dollars for the smaller turtles, knowing the price was low for the time involved.  The look of shock on people's faces when they saw the price sticker became tiresome, to say the least.  And that's the trouble with small- the expectation is small price.  I don't know what I'll do about the price yet.  Eventually, even at a higher price, they'll sell, but I don't know if I can take the shocked looks along the way.

Turtle parts
Newly assembled and propped.  Details still to be added.
A (flock? school?, herd?) of mostly finished greenware turtles.


  1. Preaching to the choir here! I wish every person that walked into my studio or show booth would just take one pottery class. I charged $28 for those little barn ornaments I made and they were a huge pain, worth way more in time.... nobody gets that though except another clay artist. I love these turtles, I could see them raku fired, yum! or wood fired :)

    1. Yep, and you can probably tell when someone with clay experience walks into your booth.
      All those firing suggestions are giving me kiln envy. I could see them soda fired too.

  2. wow, these are great Melissa! hope you post pictures of the finished turtles... like the detail on them already.

  3. Love these little turtles, they are so cute... Also looking forward to seeing them finished.

  4. I love the way they all look together, like they are heading somewhere.

    Like Tracey, I have to say you are preaching to the choir. When I was at a clay workshop a few years ago, no one found my prices out of line. In fact, I had some orders. The question that makes me see blood is "What"s it for?" (It's a whistle, #@**, hold it, toot it, enjoy it!)

  5. Hi Amy and Gabi, Thanks, I'll be sure to post the finished pictures.

    Smartcat, Isn't it a wonder what a little clay education can do?


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