003 Pottery Goals – MudTalk Podcast

MudTalk Podcast
MudTalk Podcast - Pottery, Ceramics, Business
003 Pottery Goals - MudTalk Podcast

pottery goalsThis episode is all about pottery goals. The goals from others in this episode are over a year old so if your goal was mentioned and you want to give us an update, we would love to hear about it!


My process for setting goals (mentioned in the podcast):



Welcome to the MudTalk Podcast. We’re talking about pottery, ceramics and all things related to clay. Each episode will explore a new topic and we will hear some great comments from people around the globe. My name is Brandon Schwartz, but you can call me Fuzzy. This is episode 3. In which we will talk about pottery goals. The original MudTalk Monday post asked “what is your top pottery goal for the year and how is it going?” And this was way back at the end of January in 2017. I think it would be really interesting to ask the same question, and see how everyone did with their goals for 2017. And how that affected goals for this year. Hopefully, you all reached your goals last year and are ready to set a different or bigger goal for the new year.

This has been one of the most exciting MudTalk Mondays to read through for me. I love to see people out there setting goals and working hard and getting better at something everyday. Seeing people grow gets me excited. So thanks to everyone who has left a response which has encouraged me to grow myself.

As I was reading through the goals I started to see some themes again. So first we’ll hear goals about skills and techniques, then studio or equipment improvements, then goals about selling, marketing and business. There were also a few goals about new or big ideas, and then last I’ll share my favorite goals that were shared. After that, I’ll talk a little bit about setting my own goals and what works for me. There were a lot of responses so I had to do a little more trimming than the previous podcasts. Sorry if your comment didn’t make it in this time.

One note about the names: If I just read off a name, it is most likely an instagram username. That way if you hear a great response you can search and find out more about the person who left it. I’ll try to let you know if a comment is from Facebook and I’ll probably only read the first name and last initial. I just feel like someone’s personal FB account should be allowed a little more privacy. You can always go to the MudTalk Monday post and respond to any of the comments. And again, sorry for the mispronunciations! Now, to the comments!

Goals for improving Skills and Techniques

There were plenty of people who wanted to improve their skills or try a new technique.

A lot of people, including AnitaRobech, Cro.ceramics, Joyful_effort, Sas3sas3 all mentioned throwing bigger or taller

Sas3sas3 Taller!!! Going good… reached almost 30 cm while my 2016 best was about 20 cm

Joyful_effort To throw taller! ⬆️⬆️⬆️

Cro.ceramics Trying to throw higher shapes and hopefully finally making something that i actually want to/can use ☺

Anitarobech My goal is to learn how to throw big vases like my big inspiration #tortuscopenhagen

Zeldalune wants to make a large moon jar

Thordar Greybeard Larger sculptures.

Mudworkspa To get back on the wheel! Had a total knee replacement a month ago, and so far it’s been just handbuilding and maybe one or two throws. I miss throwing, been doing it for about 26 years!!!

Steph_emm_ To try and master twisting a pot… [love] this effect!

A number of people mentioned consistency: Including

Sgrafiato girl who said Better form and a consistent body of work! Practice, practice, practice and good honest critiques are making the difference on this journey!

Vera lucile_ My goal is consistency. I took a boot camp from Tim Sherman to get me started!! Thinner walls !

Wildfire pottery penn Be confident in & consistent with thrown plates. ?

Studio2ceramics To have a consistent rate of production instead of the scramble and wait of 2016.


Pinezenpottery My goal is to refine my aesthetic and attempt to get all these glorious ideas swimming around my brain onto the blank canvas of clay. More consistency in form too. I’m very excited for what lies ahead this year. ?

Ketner I want my work to be mistaken for the work of the best potter at my studio.

Egypt.h.pot Choose a glaze pallette and make them myself.

Ceramics by james Find a style that I like to make and that I like the finished look. Also, I want to learn more about the chemistry side of ceramics. My long term goal, 1-4 years, is to get my work into a gallery on main street park city.

Laurie Landry pottery Get a handle on developing glazes, making test tiles and firing at different cones. So, I’m currently taking Annie Chrietzberg’s glaze class via Skype. The next class I would like to take would be scanning and editing photos.

Studiofavelle I’m such a newbie that what I don’t know / haven’t tried yet could fill a thousand libraries! So I want to learn a lot more. In an ideal wishes-come-true kind of world, I’d like to have my own kiln and my own wheel.

Mhiggins101hotmailcom No more pieces that are destined to end up in the garage/landfill. Practical pieces only, to be used, given away or sold. If I’m not satisfied it gets reclaimed before it gets fired.

Zellar38 To get back to making! Haven’t thrown in a few years…health issues and getting out of debt ( finally out now!)

AnotherSeattleArtist To actually take days off. I chose Sundays. I took one Sunday off this month….but I love my job! It’s hard to do anything else! Also want to go back to mixing 100% of my glazes myself

Octopusceramics To do/make crystalline glazes! I’ve made two so far, they’re being fired right now. I have used a few store bought ones, it’s so cool and fun!! And to set up an online shop…

Laurie.may.From.over.the.bay__ Start my shop & master mould making.

John D. M My top goal for this year is to follow a decades long desire to work with clay. So, last Thursday I had my first wheel throwing lesson. I had trouble with centering the ball, learned that I was putting it on a bat and etc. I also had trouble making the cone and cylinder and other things a total beginner has to learn. I’m pretty good at some other arts and crafts but totally unschooled in pottery. More lessons follow the second this week. I plan to get really messy again and enjoy myself completely. This year I’d like to be able to make a vase that would not look like a beginner did the work.

Martha H Being OBEDIENT to throwing daily. It’s going slow. (back issues) I am finding if I dedicate to a consistent time like an appointment is becomes easier.

Equipment/Studio Improvements

Some have goals of improving their equipment or studios to increase efficiency or production.

RosemaryJacks To get my new Studio up and running and then to start teaching some classes.

Mychelle91 Get a kiln in the house!

I am Abstar Get my garage converted by June!

AshnWeeks To get my own kiln and start producing pots on my own! Right now I am using the kiln I used in high school. My mentor generously lets me use hers, but my goal is to save up for my own!

Keep it local bc Get a wheel. Keep pushing hard with practice

Bobbie141 To get a kiln .. Left my classes .. Cause they kept losing my pieces .. I miss my hands in the clay .. Soooo much !!! On it … But it’s overwhelming which one to get !!!

TheRealSheal My goal for this year is complete the studio build so I finally have somewhere to put a kiln!

Boooodude Build an anagama kiln

Snipps To learn more about running a kiln and glazing and get my studio up and running

CavanCreations To get my studio finished so I can start making and firing again. ?

Business, Marketing, Selling

Some more experienced potters or those that have improved their skills to a certain point are setting goals for marketing and selling their pots and growing their business.

PotteryByAnna My first exhibition as a soul potter sculptor with a friend who does oil pastel drawings. So far so good but scary !!

TheClayRabbit To speed up my sculptures and to get my work in at least two more galleries, oh and to TRY and have confidence in my work…..?

Ferguson_pottery add teapots back into the collection and connect with 4 new galleries by the end of the year

KleeseStamps To have a consistent and cohesive body of work to sell in at least three art shows this year and to get my mugs into a few indie coffee shops!!

Tania_akm To start my pottery business!

PinkHousePottery Just stepped down from full time ‘other’ work to launch a career in ceramics. So thirty years on from teaching pottery and wood turning am back at my first love – launching our local market stall and on line shop with Pink House Pottery in March. Wake with both excitement and anxiety!!

FrothAndSubstancePottery To go from part time Potter (hello 4 am!!) To full time (less J.O.B) and to make the time for personal creations and ideas (95% of my current business is custom orders) ????❤☕ thank you Potter friends.. you are all so inspiring!

Pathwaypottery Do better at marketing myself! Continue to try new things, find my style.

BlackberryCreekPottery To build a better inventory so that I’m not always behind and to work on my camera skills

CasaPangea make my own blue glaze and create a homepage to sell my art

ClayworksCafeAndGallery Marketing!!!! Starting with a how to workshop in march. Adding to #myetsystore

JkeeranCeramics To get into ceramics exhibitions for the first time, and it’s going well. I’ve been accepted to all of the ceramic exhibitions, including some prestigious ones, I’ve entered into. It tells me I’m making good work and am on the right path! ?

ClayByLaura My top goal is to try to duplicate the areas where my pottery sales are strong including craft gallery and private home opportunities. Additionally, I’d like to improve my on-line presence and focus on PR targets. It’s an ongoing process!

M.E.Pifano My goal is to exhibit and sell my work despite a crashing economy in my country ?? Hopefully someone beyond the borders will connect with what I do and the love I put into my pieces… Best of luck to you all this year! ✌?

EmTeePotDesigns To get bigger, neater, more creative and get exposure to sell my pieces.

LisaValley Photograph work and publish a gallery on my website. Going to #NCECA this year, going to be a sponge and absorb all I can learn!

NatashaMakesCeramics Sell my first piece!

LaurieAndWilliam Increase inventory of ‘standards’, as well as devote serious time on exploration of new ideas

PettyPottery_nc Get myself settled in my new studio space after moving to Charlotte and acquiring a kiln so I can be completely autonomous. Work hard to increase my sales this year from last years sales.

Aileen A My top goal for my pottery would be to get my work out in an art gallery in a competition and the way I am going to achieve this is by entering as many pottery competition that I can

Something New / Big Idea

There were a few goals to pursue something new or get started on a big idea.

ClaysAndGlaze I want to open my studio cafe and give the opportunity for special needs people, all disabilities, all ages and cultures to get involved in ceramics.

Alison.skate.pots My goal includes having one private lesson per month for 2017, and to set up a “homeless pots” fundation (foundation with more fun) – where potters can donate the pots that are unlikely to sell – flaws in the glaze, shape not quite consistent with others, an experimental piece, etc – and find them new homes, whilst all proceeds will be donated to charities that support the needs of humans doing it tough on the street.

GnomeTown Use my sculpture to shift the paradigm in the US and #endracism#killhate. Also, make a bunch of solidarity #resist fists.


ZygoteBlum Make significantly less, but better work.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Zygote’s work but it is pretty fantastic already. But I like the goal of making less work. It seems counterintuitive at first. I feel like I’m always trying to find extra time to make more work. But of course making better work is an ongoing goal as well. And often, you need to spend some extra time to make better work.

ZeaLaura To try some different techniques, step out of my comfort zone and take risks because you never know what you can create when you push yourself!

I like this goal because I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. Like podcasting!

Anniebilities_pottery Go big or go home.. want to throw 25 lbs by the summer

I like this goal because it is short, specific, attainable and has a time limit.

So, there you have it. Do you have a goal that is similar to one that was already mentioned? How is it going? One thing that I thought about while reading through all these comments was… is there a correlation between the type of goal and where that potter is in their clay journey? For example, if you set a goal to improve your technique or learn something new, are you more likely to have less experience as a potter? Improving your studio or buying equipment is a big commitment so I feel like a potter with that kind of goal has a little more experience. And if you are making goals for selling pots you may be further along in your clay journey? If you have any feedback I would love to hear from you.

I don’t know about you, but I love goals. I have read articles that say you shouldn’t focus on goals. Instead you should set up systems or processes or habits which are more likely to make you successful. I can see the point but I feel like if you just set up these systems or habits without something to shoot for then how do you know what kind of system to set up or how well it is working? But it goes the other way too. If you just set a goal and don’t make a plan or system to work towards it, it’s not going to happen. And really, every person is different. You have to figure out what motivates you. What works best for you.

Setting good goals gives me a clear picture of what I want. Starting with that helps me figure out a plan to achieve the goal. At the beginning of 2017 I put together a blog post on the Pottery Making Blog called Your Best Pottery Year. I tried to include what works for me and other goal setting advice I have learned along the way. So I’ll share a brief summary of what you can find there. So here are six and a half steps to setting and achieving your pottery goals.

  1. Define What You Want – you can make a whole list of what you want. Make more pots, sell more pots, get into gallery shows, try 6 new techniques, create a website, etc.
  2. Break it Down, make it a smart goal – you can google smart goals because there are a lot of variations and lots of reasoning… but I usually go with goals that are: specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and time-based. So look at your list and consider each goal. Let’s take “sell more pots” as an example. How many more specifically? By when? Where? Do you want to actually sell more pots or make more money? Will you have to change your inventory or schedule or process? If you plan to double your sales is it actually possible to make double the pots or spend twice as much time or money promoting, etc?
  3. Prioritize – I like to make one goal my primary goal. That is the first thing I’m going to work on every day. It makes my decision process much more clear when I have certain must-do things each day or each week and then work in the things that I would like to do around the most important things.
  4. Write Down Your Goal – studies show that you are much more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down and post it somewhere visible.
  5. Make a Plan

This is where the processes and systems come in.

Figure out what you need and gather resources if necessary. Then break it down into single actions – if you’re  selling pots you might start with some big steps like ‘research sales events’ and ‘apply to events’. But these can be broken down into even smaller steps. So research sales events could mean ‘compile a list of annual shows within driving distance, look up the list of vendors from previous years,  see what kind of products the vendors are selling, see how previous customers feel about the event,  determine which shows would be a good fit for you, prepare application photos, apply to the shows, etc. Or maybe you want to sell more pots online so you can break it down into: pick pots to sell online, take photos of pots, measure pots, write descriptions, list in shop, share on social media, etc. Next, schedule everything – set deadlines, work backwards to fill in your schedule, limit your time for each step, then do the first step… right now.

And finally,

  1. Stick to the Plan

There are some things that can help you stay the course. You may consider things like setting up some accountability, avoiding distractions, learning to say no to other things, taking breaks and staying healthy to avoid burnout and wearing yourself down.

So there are 6 steps to get you started but here’s a small addition I’m making. First of all, don’t forget to celebrate the wins, even if they’re small. Those small wins can build momentum. And second, don’t be afraid to alter the plan if needed. I was recently working on a project and I was putting a lot of time into it but it just wasn’t working. I could have kept going and put even more time and effort into it. Eventually, I’m sure I would have come up with a decent result. But I decided to change my process and start over. That sounds like it would have been a huge defeat. But I felt… relieved, almost happy because I realized the new way I was going to do it was going to give me a better result and it may even save me some time and frustration in the end. So don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you go.

And that is the basic process I use to achieve my goals. To get a little more detail you can check out the full article at Pottery Making Info.com. I’ll have a direct link in the show notes.

So… you are no doubt asking, what is my top goal for the year? Well, let me tell you.

For a few years now, I’ve been thinking about how I can set up a site to serve the clay community in a bigger and better way than potterymakinginfo.com currently does. And this is the year I’m making it happen. I want to make it easy for other potters to create, promote and sell digital products and information. So during 2017 I’ve been in contact with other potters, working on my own ideas, and setting up the site. Now that we are into 2018, I’m working on getting the word out, creating more content and looking for more potters that want to join the team.

The new site is called Expert Clay and it will let anyone offer online courses, video workshops, ebooks, articles, podcasts  and other digital files.

If that sounds interesting to you, go to expertclay.com and you can find out how to share your own expertise… or learn from other clay experts.

And I sincerely hope you are on track to achieve your goals and live the clay life that you are hoping for. In episode 4 we’ll talk about what you think about as you start making a pot. So until then, keep setting and achieving those goals… and stay muddy.

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