Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Dinnerware, Frequently Asked Questions
Thanks for your interest in my dinnerware. I have sold functional tableware for 35 years. I’ve used my own dinnerware set daily for 20+ years, as have many of my early buyers. I use special techniques to compact the particles of clay densely, and test my glazes for durability so the pieces are much stronger than commercial dinnerware. I have many sets to choose from, which are available on LeeWolfePottery.com. Delivery times are included in each listing. Here are the most FAQ’s:
Do you offer a discount for multiple sets/ large orders?
No. As each piece is made individually, one at a time, it doesn’t save me any time to make large quantities, so I offer the best price I can on each piece, regardless of quantity. I make 2X the amount of pieces you order, choose the best ones for you, and sell the less desirable ones on Etsy as dinnerware seconds.
What are seconds?
Seconds don’t function as optimally as first quality pieces, or they do not coordinate as well with my sets. I love the look and philosophy of wabi-sabi, which prizes individuality and peculiarity in functional objects. If plates that wobble a bit, small glaze bubbles, or slightly bowed surfaces don’t bother you, by all means, purchase and enjoy my seconds. You’ll have to watch for them as they become available but as hundreds of people have noted-
“Your seconds are better than most people’s firsts.” Why is that?
I‘ve made pottery for a long time, and sold through top level American Craft galleries, where you are are held to very high standards. Today every hobby potter opens an Etsy shop and sells their work before it has technical integrity. Some of it is alright. Some of it is awful. Here is a comparison:
Why is a foot rim important?
One of the crucial techniques that I use is to add a thrown foot rim to the bottoms of my hand built pieces. This adds stability, making sure that the the wonky nature of organic forms, which I love, does not mean that they rock and wobble in use. It also gives a lift to each piece, so that when they stack the fluid organic edges don’t press against each other, causing tension that will lead to stress cracks and eventual breakage.
You can see how my foot rim affects stacking in this comparison of plates:
in bowls, both my foot rim and consistent curve affect stacking:
What are other advantages to having my dinnerware made by a master artisan?
There are many functional mistakes that fledgling potters make. Here are some to look for:
Bowed plates- Do you see how the plate surface curves upward towards the middle? This will cause sauces and juices to run towards the edge and pool.
Shallow lip- Imagine carrying food from a buffet to the table on a plate with a shallow lip. Food will easily spill. This problem is compounded when the plates also bow upwards in the middle. Do you really want to embarrass your guests this way?
Spotty glazes- Some glazes are intended to have a mixture of translucent and opaque qualities, which gives them visual texture. Drastically uncontrolled, or spotty, glaze application, however, means that the glaze is too thin in places to hold liquids. These pieces will deteriorate with dishwasher cleaning.
foreign materials stuck on- I discount the price for this, and sell them as seconds, pointing out the flaw so that you can decide if that’s something you want to live with or not. Beginners don’t know how to control for this and it occurs so frequently that its just part of their acceptable quality.
Technical ignorance- Crushed glass can be put in the bottom of pottery. It will melt into a beautiful thick layer. However, it has a deep crackle that cannot be cleaned so it is not safe to use these bowls in serving food. This is from a listing that states “This little dish is microwave and dishwasher safe. The glaze is lead-free and is food safe too.”
Sharp edges- The plate on the right is from my Moonshadow collection. Notice the softened edges. On the left, as noted, the sharp edges are uncomfortable to hold and chip easily.
Admittedly, there are subjective lines between what is an original design and therefore intellectual property, and what is an idea that any artisan is entitled to see in someone else’s work and copy. Technical differences are objective. I have tried to stick with these in my comparisons here, and I have not intended to embarrass nor denigrate, but rather to educate and explain my own prices and the decades of experience and continued education I bring to my own work.
I am grateful every day for those who purchase my pottery. I hope it brings you years of daily joy, and a meaningful heirloom to be remembered by in future generations.
click to see:
my dinnerware- full sets
check available seconds