Sunday, September 27, 2009

Handmade. pass it on....

So I've been reading this guys blog for a few months (Arthur Halversen) and recently saw that upon starting his Facebook Fan page and asking friends to further invite their own friends and build up his fan base,  he was challenged by a well meaning friend as to WHY he (the friend) should care about promoting  handmade? Sure, his buddy Arthur is a potter and so he's to do what most of us do when a friend invites us to a fan page-- click a button on his or her computer screen-- become a fan or shhh... sometimes ignore.

Anyway, their discussion came down to the hot topic amongst many pottery blogs already-- the idea of Educating people about handmade and craft. Now Gabe and I are not usually big fans of that approach, but what struck me here was that further into this discussion, Arthur's friend recommended a marketing guru- Seth Godin. If you are trying to sell your art/craft and have 17 minutes to spare watch this clip.  This guy talks about starting a movement within your tribes, your curent circles. And telling your story everyday, so its more genuine and realistic. Sites like Facebook are created on this concept so why not jump in and use it?

Arthur and friends were inspired to start the following, and we at Old Cat Died thinks it is a splendid idea! Its called Operation C.U.P. (Citizens using pottery) and it is about getting pottery into the hands of people that don’t normally use handmade ceramics. All you need to do to participate is get a handmade cup this holiday season for a best friend.

I probably drink out of handmade cups 99% of the time but probably 90% of my friends do not.

So here's what I am thinking, from Now until the end of 2009, OCD will give you a big 5 bucks off any of our own mugs/cups  from our Etsy shop that you buy specifically for this cause.  Mention C.U.P. in the memo to seller and we will make sure we refund you the dough.  Get those handmade wares out there!

Here are some of my fave Etsy shops as well:


Mcescobar1 said...

Great write up! As Arthur's "well meaning friend" I'm really glad that both you and he connected with the message. I'm also glad you enjoyed the seth godin video. He has inspired me in many ways and its great to pass his message along.

I'm really trying to challenge Arthur (and maybe you) to talk about the experience of pottery. Whats its like to drink tea or coffee out of a hand made cup.

I know nothing about pottery but Arthur's idea does sound neat. Telling me more about the experience, might just get me more interested.

I'm listening, delight me. :)

Gabe Sealey-Morris said...

Arthur's post came along at just the right time for us; we had been talking a lot lately about what handmade vs manufactured really means, about what to do with unsold or unwanted wares, and how to get people outside of the circle of potters and collectors (people like our families and friends) to appreciate what we do.

I tend to get theoretical very quickly, being an academic. But theory only takes you so far. Eventually you have to do something practical, and simply getting handmade work into the hands of someone who doesn't care about handmade is something practical - quixotic, maybe, but practicable.

Here's what it's like to drink out of a handmade cup - a handmade cup, compared to a manufactured cup, is automatically flawed. You could say it's imperfect, you could say it's more organic, you could say it's unique, but it's also flawed. Most of the highly prized aspects of handmade are flaws, technically speaking, whether it's a crazed accent that catches the light in interesting ways or a mouth out of round or an uneven foot. Many potters make these flaws intentionally to add tactile or visual interest.

Drinking from a manufactured cup is supposed to be unconscious. If you become aware of a manufactured cup as you're drinking it, there's a problem with it. It is designed to be a perfected drinking vessel, with nothing to it but drinking.

That's why the flaws of a handmade cup make it a different experience. You have to explore the cup, get to know it. You have to find the most comfortable place for your lips, the most comfortable place for your fingers. It may not be perfectly balanced - you have to find the balance. You find the little ridge from a tool that feels good on your thumb, or the rough spot on a smooth rim that wakes up your mouth.

Psychologically, a handmade cup has intimacy because it has a human history. It was made by someone, not a machine, and it was given to you by someone or bought by you from someone, not just off of a shelf in Ikea or Target. Those humans become part of the cup's meaning and value. They are part of what you get to know.

Most of the time, we're not willing to spend time with a vessel to get to know it. We want to drink out of it. But there's something impoverishing about pure functionality. A styrofoam cup works just as well as a handmade ceramic mug. But you do not invest a styrofoam cup with meaning. It is disposable. It is made to be disposed of. It is, therefore, dead. We live too much of our lives with dead objects. So, we want to get living objects in the hands of those who have been desensitized by dead objects.

Mcescobar1 said...

Ok to me handmade vs manufactured means experience vs commodity. To sum up what you said: Handmade pottery has an experience to them which you would never find by something mass produced.

I think THAT'S the story you want to tell people everyday on your blog, site, fan page, whatever.

In a world where you can find ANY cup you could ever want online what people really want is a unique experience. The more you can bring the experience to life through pictures, videos, audio or text, the more people can relate to what you are saying.

Talking theory doesn't draw you in the same way. I don't really care about what kinds of clay or glaze you use, unless it has a direct impact on the experience. Does one type of glaze convey a certain emotion?

Just by reading your comments here I am already getting an idea of the emotions connected to handmade pottery and I can relate to that. Keep telling the story of experience everyday and it will help broaden the appeal of what you are doing.

Arthur Halvorsen said...

In my collection of handmade cups (I have about 20?) I can tell you the story behind each and everyone of them as if they were my adopted children. I can tell you where they cam from or who gave them to me. Who I bought them from. What drink I love to drink from it. For instance My Burnadette Curran giraffe tumbler that I got in Demerast NJ, I drink my morning OJ out of it everyday. The Jennifer Allen tea cup my sister gave me for Christmas last year is one of my favs to drink tea from in the winter time. Kari Radasch gave me an espresso cup and saucer for help her out at Craft Boston last year. the list goes on and on. For me these stories behind my collection is just as important as the everyday use of them. Cups in the ceramic world to me are not just a vehicle to use as a transporter of liquid to the body, but rather they say something about the collector as well. Why did I choose one over the other? Clearly I was drawn to one over the other for various amounts of reasons, and that's is THE cup that I chose to bring home with me, or even be chosen for me. I love when someone gives me a cup, cause every time I use it I then think about that person and all the good times I had with that person.

Nelson de Witt said...

Ok Author how about this. You have 20 cups so what about doing a post or video about each one and why its special?

If you do a post every weekday thats a whole month of content that brings to life the experience of each cup. Then ask people to share thoughts about their favorite potter.

I think that could be great!