Mea Rhee attaches hang tags to her pottery with wire or glue dots.
Selling Your Ware with Hang Tags
Reader Response: A pointer on storing kiln wash
Recent Q&As: How to test a thermocouple; choosing a kiln for metal clay
A Kiln Story: The Nest in the Peephole
News: Announcing More Paragon Kiln Videos
SELLING YOUR WARE WITH HANG TAGS
By Mea Rhee
(An excerpt from Good Elephant Pottery / goodelephant.com)
I actually thought for a long time whether I should write about this on my blog. I consider this such a powerful tool for selling my pottery, I almost didn't want to share it. My secret is ... Hangtags.
I spent 2007 and 2008 at the ACC Wholesale show. I did ok there, my business was still developing so I made some rookie mistakes. After shipping my work to these galleries, it felt like I would never hear from them again. My work must be dying out there. I knew I was good at selling my own pots when I was standing right next to them. If only I could travel with them to these galleries to be their salesperson! This is where the idea of hangtags began.
Now I send the pots out into the world with a little salesperson attached. All of my pottery designs contain a great deal of thought, but most of that is invisible to a customer. The hangtags help to reveal my thoughts. They tell you that the pot has a name, and sometimes a sentence or two about them. But overall, I think the most important thing that a hangtag says is, "The person who made this pot is really proud of it."
Again, I know it works because after I started using hangtags in 2009, not only did my wholesale sales grow by a lot, that was also when galleries began re-ordering from me. I also began doing this for my pots at art festivals, and while all the other artists were moaning about poor sales, all of my show sales remained steady or improved during the worst of the recession.
Hangtags are a little bit time-consuming. Earlier this year I tried to figure out which hangtags I need, and how many, for an entire year. Then I spent about 3 hours designing, printing, and painstakingly cutting them. I predict I'll need to do this again in the fall, in a smaller quantity. It also takes some time to attach them to each pot, which I do with wire or glue dots.
I think my most effective hangtag is:
Enormous Coffee Mug
For serious coffee freaks, you know who you are.
I regularly see people read the tag, smile, then say "I'll take it."
Loraine Tomon of Spring, Texas wrote, “I mix up my kiln wash 5-to-1 as recommended. If I don’t use it all and have to store it, I put it in a plastic double zip lock bag.
“The next time I use it," Loraine continued, "instead of having the sediment at the bottom of the bucket and having trouble stirring it, it is easier to manipulate the contents of the zip lock bag with fingers to get it to mix into solution. Obviously you have to be careful not to exert too much pressure that would part the zipper.”
Ron Gates of Temple, Texas recently re-subscribed to the newsletter. He wrote, “Thanks, Arnold, for putting me back on the subscription list for the Paragon Kiln Pointers. It's like welcoming back an old friend.”
Q. My controller flashed the TC 2 error message. I tried loading the kiln to see if it could still fire, and the error messages FAIL and TC 2 flashed. Is this a thermocouple issue?
A. According to the error messages, your thermocouple has burned out. To verify this, unplug the kiln. Remove the four screws from the corners of the controller, and pull the controller from the switch box. Remove the two wires from the bottom of the back of the controller. Place a thin, bent paperclip where the wires were connected. If the controller reads room temperature, the thermocouple is, indeed, burned out.
Q. Will the display show room temperature without the kiln being plugged in if I do your paperclip trick?
A. When you plug the kiln back in and the controller receives power, IdLE and room temperature should alternate in the display. If the controller shows room temperature instead of TC 2 / FAIL, then the thermocouple should be replaced.
Q. I have an opportunity to buy used a switch-operated firebrick kiln for metal clay. The kiln has no computer programmer. What is your opinion?
A. It is possible, though not easy, to fire metal clay without a digital controller. In addition to the kiln, you will need a pyrometer so that you can check the temperature of the kiln.
If you were going to fire enameling, then a manual kiln would be fine. It is easier to fire enameling with a digital kiln, but since the firing time is so short, enameling with a manual kiln is fairly easy, too. However, I don't recommend a manual kiln for metal clay. This is because of the long holding periods.
A KILN STORY: THE NEST IN THE PEEPHOLE
Gerry Klein of Omaha, Nebraska wrote, “Ten years ago I left the kiln lid open for less than a day. I took things out of the kiln in the morning and my hands were full. I forgot to go back and close the lid. I reloaded the kiln in the afternoon.
"Several hours after starting the kiln I smelled a strange odor," Gerry wrote. "I went down to check on it, and there was smoke around it and some brown goo running out of the peep hole. I quickly unplugged the kiln. When I checked it I realized that in the short time the kiln was open, mice had build a nest in the peep hole space with lavender seeds they pulled out of a scented microwave pillow wrap. Luckily there were no mice in the nest, just the seeds. I was really careful to always shut the lid after that experience!”
"Miss a meal if you have to, but don't miss a book." —Jim Rohn
NEWS: ANNOUNCING MORE PARAGON KILN VIDEOS
We have just loaded seven new videos to paragonweb.com and Youtube. The BlueBird, F-120, and F-240 videos are revisions that have replaced the original videos.
P016 Paragon BlueBird Bead Annealing Kilns (5 min 16 sec)
P017 Paragon F-120 Lamp Working Kiln (2 min 59 sec)
P018 The Paragon F-240 Lamp Working Kiln (3 min 11 sec)
P035 Paragon F-500 Lamp Working Kiln (4 min 5 sec)
P037 Paragon F-130 Lamp Working Kiln (3 min 47 sec)
P036 The Paragon Clamshell Glass Fusing Kilns (5 min 5 sec)
M039 How to Change the BlueBird Roof Elements (7 min 19 sec)
In even small ways, you can raise the value of the kiln-fired pieces that you sell. Recently my daughter-in-law purchased a 2” square raku tile during a trip to Florida. The tile was packaged in a gift box with tissue paper. Inside the box was a poem printed on a beautiful card. Thank you, Mea, for sharing your hangtag idea.
With best wishes,
Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd., Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com / www.facebook.com/paragonkilns
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