The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There is a moment in the creative process when you know what the end result is going to be no matter what you do.  With ceramics, this moment sometimes comes early (the piece is perfect in every way), but often occurs when you open the kiln; especially when you have taken a chance on a new technique.  A good piece can go bad and/or ugly during the firing, breaking your heart.

Recently I made 60+ round ornaments.  They were perfect, but something went horribly wrong in my glazing process and I ended up with not white ornaments, but varying degrees of what the fashion industry refers to as “oatmeal” color.  Not really white, not really cream and not even close to brown.  So, what’s a girl to do with this many UGLY ornaments?  The original plan was to stamp them, but it just wasn’t working with the oatmeal background.

At this point, the ornaments were written off and I started playing with different crafting techniques.  With nothing to lose, I discovered that I could glitter them up and no one would know that the color underneath was worthy of the dumpster.

I haven’t used this technique on all of them (I don’t have that much time), but the 10 that were completed are awesome.  If they sell, I will make more and, if not, I will experiment with some other techniques.  The ugliness of the pieces gave me a chance to experiment and create something totally new and different.

So, what does this have to do with your business or marketing?  Even the ugly can be turned around and be made to shine.  If something is not working for you, let it go and try something else.  If parts can be salvaged and reworked, all the better.

Now, let’s talk about the Bad.  Even the bad can have redeeming qualities.  I just sold a bowl that I had thrown using paper clay.  It was a #*!@h to throw and trim.  It was so bad I would not have even claimed it to be mine had the kiln master not brought it to me.

The thing we have to remember as artists is that what we might view as “bad,” a customer might see as something they have always wanted.  The flaws in the piece, over exaggerated in your own mind, appear to be the unique quality that attract the person to your art.

Give what you consider “bad” a chance, you might find that it will appeal to someone who otherwise would not have purchased your work.

© 2010 Heather C. Morrow.  All rights reserved

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Heather C. Morrow, owner of Pottery Daily, helps emerging artists express their true value and get paid what they are worth.  Her products and services show you how to make more money, save more time while enjoying the freedom in your art.  For your FREE audio go to

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