What About White on White Pottery?

So I’ve written on my blog about blue pots selling well.  Now I want to talk about white pots not selling well.  This pasta bowl pictured below has sat in my studio for about three years.  It is so subtle… white on white glazing, with hints of pinks and greens… so, so subtle. This and other white on white pots just do not sell for me.  Well, last week I was about to put it on my discontinued shelf and sell it for half the price, but could not bring myself to do it, I just figured it will serve the family better in the kitchen rather than giving it away!

I remember being at a show many years ago with Andy Shaw.  People were just walking past his booth, it was filled with white on white pattern pots.  (If you have never seen Andy’s pots take a look at his website, he does gorgeous work!) Well I suggested to Andy to get some color like an apple or something.  He went to a local store and picked up tomatoes.  He put them in some of the pots, and the next day people were stopping at his booth! What is it about color that draws people right in?

I think maybe white on white requires too much work from the customer.  They have to take the time, come up close, pick up the pot, patiently examine it.  Where as the blue pot, shouts here I am, look at me!  Yet when you bring that white pot home, your food tends to look a lot better than it does in the blue pot.  Sometimes I think the only people who truly understand white on white pottery are chefs, and potters! 

So here is my beautiful white on white bowl, in my kitchen, with my lunch in it!  I’m enjoying it!

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10 thoughts on “What About White on White Pottery?

  1. You are so right about white on white requiring more of the customer! It is so quiet. I work in unglazed porcelain and am very aware of this. My pots are too quiet to be with other glazed pots. They get lost! But I keep making them.
    Great post. I enjoy your blog and your beautiful colorful glazed pots!

  2. You are so on target with this post! It hits me just in between my two Summer studio sales, and I am directly experiencing this issue yet again. Pots I absolutely adore have languished on my display shelves for even longer than your white on white pots. It breaks my heart sometimes that these pots can’t seem to find good homes…. You get to the point where all the labor that went into making it, and the ‘true’ value of the pot take a back seat to the need to simply move the pots on to a different life. When they are only taking up space on your shelves, and customers walk right by them consistently they feel entirely neglected and under appreciated. You almost begin to believe its their fault. But its not. Its like you said, and folks just don’t even understand how to look at them. Kind of like weeds.

    I just saw Catherine White’s post that ended with this quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” Sounds like too many of my pots, unfortunately….

  3. A good chef will tell you that food looks best on a pure white plate but you will only find them in restaurants, not in people’s homes. I think they can’t see them in the store or your booth. I’ll bet you get LOTS of complements on this white bowl from your friends who see it in use. I used to own a set of white dishes, they got complements all the time, the table looked elegant and the food looked great.

  4. I love white pottery, if I made functional pots, I would only make white! Your bowl is lovely. A friend of mine once said to me after hearing me complain about my tea bowls not selling that I wasn’t ready to let them go, and she was right, I put them in my cupboard and we use them all the time and love them. Maybe the bowl knew it should stay with you :)
    I have given up trying to understand the general buying public, they are so uneducated when it comes to art and yet our schools continue to cut funding…. people are never going to know any better if they aren’t exposed properly!

  5. Last year there was a lot of white pottery in magazines.. Martha Stewart, Country Living, etc. It was always put together with two or more white pieces, as though the single white piece couldn’t hold it’s own.

    If I’m shopping for pottery, I’m looking for something that makes me feel inspired and eager to use it. White makes me feel calm, but it also feels like a clean canvas.. and many people are not up for the challenge of bringing that canvas to life. When food is served on white, presentation is everything. So, a white piece does require something from it’s owner.

  6. Oh, such great comments from all of you! Thank you!
    Tracy I so agree with you about the funding cuts… art education just isn’t a priority… just too bad… the senses are just becoming more and more dulled. So many people just can’t relate to the subtle, the quiet, that comes through the quiet life, or that comes through education in the busy modern techno world. Oh, so much could be said about this. I just hope I am doing my kids justice. They are so much a part of the busy world, with TV, cell phones, texting, facebook… instant, instant everything. We live in the country, we walk, we stop and look at nature, and of course they are surrounded by art. But, sometimes I wonder if it is sinking in with two teenage boys. Time will tell!

  7. White on white pottery is like that shy friend we all have…just as lovely as all our other friends, but it may have taken just a little longer to appreciate.

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