How to Organize a Pottery Craft Show and Sale

I have been a member of the Colorado Potters Guild since 2008. It’s been wonderful to be connected to other potters in Colorado. Founded in 1965, the Colorado Potters Guild is the oldest clay co-op in Colorado that thrives on shared responsibilities and volunteers to make the organization run smoothly. I manage the guild’s website and social media activity on a year round basis. It’s something that I enjoy doing and a way that I contribute best to the guild’s success.

We have other members who serve on our board. Everyone has a skill that contributes to our success including accounting, marketing, legal, construction, kiln operation and maintenance, purchasing and more.

Organize a pottery craft show and sale
Organize a pottery craft show and sale

Pottery Sale

We also host two pottery sales a year in the spring and fall. This year, I volunteered to be the chair of our Spring Sale to learn the skills needed to organize a pottery craft show and sale. While, our show can almost run itself, I want a fuller picture of everything that is involved to put on a sale  – all the moving parts. 

I also have some ideas that I want to try to make the experience a bit more fun for our customers. Ultimately, I’m interested in organizing a pop up sale in Fort Collins or other cities in Colorado in the future and feel like this experience is going to be helpful.

Colorado Potters Guild Sale
Colorado Potters Guild Sale

How to organize a pottery craft show and sale:

Aka – all the moving parts

  • Communication with the members. As the chair, my job is to make sure that all of the jobs for the show are filled, that the venue is paid, and that I communicated with our members. Also, if something doesn’t go well, the buck stops with me. Eeek!
  • Venue rental. The Colorado Potters Guild is located in an old creamery that is far too small to host thousands of shoppers. We have a long standing contract with a local church that leases a large room that holds 37 potters work and there is plenty of parking. The Potters Guild also has use of their kitchen, and another room for our treasurers to work securely in private.
  • Post card invitation and poster design and purchase.
  • Coordinate with the business that handles the mailing of our cards. Additionally, we clean our mailing list after each show to account for people who have moved or are no longer interested in attending our sales.
  • E-vite design and scheduled mailing. 
  • Marketing efforts including print, online, social media, radio and our email newsletter. We have a team of roughly 4 members dedicated to show marketing.
  • Show photography. Every show, we have a dedicated team of photographers that take photos of pots that we use for the website and future marketing efforts.
  • Show set up. Since we’ve been in the same venue for a long time, we have a map that helps speed up set up with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers. Set up takes approximately 1.5 hours.
  • Opening night refreshments. We serve baked goods and a light punch on opening night. Members sign up to bring baked items and the refreshment team staff the welcome table.
  • Moving truck rental to transport our set up supplies including table cloths, risers, shelving, boxes, bags, wrapping material etc. to the venue and back.
  • Show staffing. Everyone works opening night and 2 additional 4-5 hour shifts over the course of 3 days. Members work as cashiers, pot wrappers, floor staff, help pot carriers, pot guards, accounting and staff the jewelry table.
  • Show Breakdown. After the show ends on Saturday at 5pm, everyone collects their pots, inventories remaining pots against sales records and helps to pack up the guild’s supplies in the truck.
  • Treasury/financial bookkeeping. Since we do this sale as a group, everyone receives a standardized inventory sheet that the show treasurers use to cross reference as they keep track of sales. The treasurers also pay show expenses, reconcile sales and pay potters.
  • Signage placement on days of show. We have a crew that places signs near the venue of our sale. We have to be in compliance with the city’s zoning ordinances for signs.
  • Post show wrap up. Two weeks after our show, we meet at a members house for an amazing pot luck. At the pot luck, we have a show recap meeting and choose a new chair for the next show.

Final thoughts:

I’m sure I’m forgetting a thing or two, but the main point is that there is a lot that goes into how to organize a pottery craft show and sale on a larger scale.  Organizing a smaller pop up sale in the future will still require some of the same planning and organizing steps as a larger one, but hopefully with less moving parts. The items of consideration also work with other types of crafts and art – not just pottery. 

Colorado Potters Guild Spring 2017 Sale Info:

Where & When: 

First Plymouth Congregational Church
3501 South Colorado Boulevard
Englewood, CO  80113
(Hampden + Colorado Blvd)

May 4 – 4:00 – 8:00 PM (Opening reception)
May 5 – 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
May 6 – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Colorado Potters Guild Interview Repost

Cindy Guajardo - Handmade Soda Fired Pottery Bottle
Cindy Guajardo – Soda Fired Bottle

Please introduce yourself:

My name is Cindy Guajardo and I’m an artist/potter living in Fort Collins, CO. I also manage the Colorado Potters Guild website and social media channels. Chances are that if you’ve messaged the guild through our website, I’m the one that responds to your general query.

How many years have you been a member of the Colorado Potters Guild?

I joined the Colorado Potters Guild in 2008 at the same time as Penny Woolsey and Wendy Kochar.

What does it mean to you to be a member of the Colorado Potters Guild?

When I applied to be a member of the guild, I was a recent ceramics graduate and had been taking classes at the Art Students League in Denver to bridge the gap between school and real life. I had set up a home studio in my garage, but missed the interaction and community of being in a group with like minded and clay focused people.

For me, the Colorado Potters Guild is a wonderful community of people from all walks of life who share a love of all things related to clay. I still work solo at home most days, but enjoy firing at the guild on occasion, learning from other members, coming together for our biannual sales (shameless plug – our next sale is May 4-6, 2017) and eating really well at our pot lucks. In short, the guild keeps me connected to other creative clay artists in Colorado.

Cindy Guajardo - Handmade Soda Fired Pottery Planters
Cindy Guajardo – Soda Fired Planters

How many years have your been working with clay?

Short answer: 15 years

Long answer: I always describe myself as a late bloomer. I worked for United Airlines for almost 17 years and attended college part time while working towards a BFA in studio art. I was about half way through my art degree in 1997 when I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. At the time, I had planned to take a beginning ceramics class, but the instructor discouraged me because of the danger of working with potentially harmful chemicals while pregnant. I was disappointed, because I just knew that I would love clay. I ended up taking a leave of absence from school until my daughter was about 4 years old and in preschool. In 2002, the first class I signed up for was Ceramics 101 and the rest is history.

Do you have a formal education in clay/art or how did you acquire your skills?

Yes, I earned a BA in Studio Art with a concentration in ceramics and a minor in art history from the University of Southern Maine in 2004. The head of the ceramics department at the time was Ray Chen – a fantastic sculptor who is currently the director of Fine Art at the New England Institute of Education in Falmouth, ME.

I have also taken classes with Mary Cay at the Art Students League of Denver and numerous in person and online workshops with Annie Chrietzberg, Diana Fayt and others.

Cindy Guajardo - Sketch to Pot using illustrations to make patterns on pottery
Cindy Guajardo – Sketch to Pot

How do you work (techniques/glazing/firing methods)?

In addition to making pottery, I enjoy dabbling in 2D work like printmaking, painting and drawing. In 2015, I took a series of illustration classes from Lilla Rogers, an artist and director of an art licensing agency, with the thought that I’d like to dip my toes into the commercial art world. At the end of the courses, I didn’t take that path, but the exercises did spark a new graphic direction in my work. In fact, my work changed so much that visitors to our shows asked if I was a new member because they didn’t recognize my work.

Since taking this class I keep a sketchbook and often use some of the icons in my work because I like to add an illustrative touch to my pottery. To translate 2D imagery to a clay surface I employ techniques like sgraffito and slip inlay – I typically hand build my forms for a more organic feel, but also use a pottery wheel. I have also narrowed down my color palette to make my work more cohesive. At home, I glaze fire my work in an electric kiln in oxidation – but about 6 times a year, I enjoy firing in the guild’s soda kiln with a group of women who share similar desired outcomes firing wise.

What does “being creative” mean to you?

I’m not often content to make the same thing over and over, so for me, being creative is a continued desire to improve both technically, but also to push myself to explore new ideas and forms. I think this is why making illustrative work is so appealing to me right now because it keeps my “canvases” fresh.

Currently, I’m exploring sculptural aspects of ceramics and plan on expanding my offerings beyond functional pottery. Scaling up is both a creative and technical challenge for me.

Cindy Guajardo - Handmade Pottery Mugs
Cindy Guajardo – Illustrated Pottery Mugs

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

Because I am a self employed artist, my schedule is my own – like many people, I can get sucked into internet rabbit holes or otherwise waste time. In the past couple of years, I have had to set limits on my internet browsing and to schedule studio time. I treat my ceramic practice like a job.

Typically, Monday – Friday, I allow myself one hour to peruse the internet while I drink my coffee. This allows me to wake up and to catch up with friends, read the news and research a potential glaze or new making methods. After this, I get to work in my studio. My system is not glamorous and involves referring to my planner that I map out daily/weekly and monthly depending on what time of the year it is. I definitely work in cycles and the items I work on in the studio depend on what events are on the horizon. Unless I have a show or other major deadline, I work Monday – Friday so that I can spend time with my family on the weekends.

I allow time for creative exploration which often sparks new ideas and directions in my work. I also listen to podcasts while I work to keep my mind active. Favorites are Tales of a Red Clay Rambler, The Potters Cast, The Moth Radio Hour and more.

How do you overcome obstacles or difficulties working in clay?

Clay is a demanding medium and it can be humbling when things don’t turn out. Bad firings, rushed work, cracked handles, glaze mishaps and ideas that don’t turn out the way that they look in my head make me want to quit some days. During this time, I take a break and do something else. I try to take daily hour long walks with my dog which always clears my mind, I’ll switch to a different medium like painting or drawing, I’ll do administrative tasks like working on my website or book keeping and more to just switch the gears in my brain.

Clay is very process driven which is something that engaged me in the beginning – it’s very much about problem solving which keeps me interested in the medium. By taking breaks, it gives me time to approach the challenges differently. I also brainstorm with other clay people if something is really stumping me. Asking for help can be difficult, but it offers an opportunity to hear about different approaches. Are some of my ideas bad? Yes, but ultimately, overcoming obstacles is about not quitting, just rethinking.

Cindy Guajardo - Illustrated Pottery Dishes
Cindy Guajardo – Illustrated Pottery Dishes

Do you pursue any themes in your art work?

After taking the illustration class that I mentioned above, I have started pursuing more themes in my work. In addition to art, I also have a background in landscape design so I tend to favor plant and animal/bird life in my work, in addition to patterns.

In a sense, I enjoy creating little drawings on my functional pottery. I have a “ground” and an “above ground” area. The ground is often a pattern like stripes, lines, dots, arcs, chevron, or herringbone. The above ground area is flora, fauna and sometimes other things like little homes.

My sculptural work is literal, yet stylized translations of plants, birds and rocks.

Who or what inspires you?

So many activities inspire me – being outdoors, gardening, listening to podcasts, going to the movies, drawing, looking at other art, traveling, cooking all spark ideas.

As to specific artists, I tend to admire a lot of ceramic work that is very painterly and graphic like the work of Craig Underhill, Brenda Holzke, Andrew Ludick, Louise Gelderblom and others. There really are so, so many more….

Cindy Guajardo - Sculptural Ceramic Components
Cindy Guajardo – Ceramic Sculptural Components for Ceramic Totem

Where do you see your work progressing over the next year?

I plan to continue to explore sculptural work and to scale up in size. My immediate goal is to make some prototype stacked sculptures that I plan to install in my garden. I’d also like to work on more ceramic wall art.

Where can people find your work? (websites/social media/galleries?)

I’m all over the place including:

My artist page

Link to original interview.

Group Show and Community Outreach

As many of you know, I’m a member of the Colorado Potters Guild located in Denver, CO. We’re the oldest pottery co-op in Colorado and we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2015.

Last year, one of our members, Penny Woolsey, was invited to teach advanced ceramics at the Denver School of the Arts (DSA). DSA is an arts focused secondary magnet school in north east Denver. DSA has been a good partner to the Colorado Potters Guild and offered to host a group show highlighting ceramic work made by our members. Students are exposed to a range of ceramic work made in their community by both professional and passionate hobbyists and will be writing about an artist as part of their class module. The show runs through April 11, 2017 with an artist’s reception on March 9th from 7:00-8:00 pm..

The following photos are from the show courtesy of Penny Woolsey.

Speaking of community liaisons, in 2015, the Colorado Potters Guild partnered with South High School in Denver and purchased a new pottery wheel for the school, offered mini in-class workshops and we continue to feature their work at our biannual shows. One of the guild’s missions is to promote the ceramic arts in our larger community and it feels wonderful to further ceramic arts in a younger generation. Let’s face it, modern industrial manufacturing has made handmade items a luxury and not a necessity – though this could be argued. 

“Craft is a language of material, provenance and making.”

The above quote is taken from “What is the role and value of crafts today” by Teleri Lloyd-Jones, Assistant Editor of Crafts Magazine. 

In my studio, I listen to a variety of podcasts – some practical, some highlighting ceramic arts, others are business oriented or educational, and even podcasts that are spiritual in nature pique my interest. With my hands in clay, it’s easier these days for me to listen than to read and I tend to choose one of my favorites based on my mood. Last week, I listened to an episode of the Potter’s Cast hosted by Paul Blais featuring Merle Lambeth

Merle is a member of the San Diego Potters Guild and the Clay Artists of San Diego. The latter organization has a community based outreach program that really has me thinking more about how the Colorado Potters Guild and my own practice can be a force of greater good in my community. It’s a fantastic episode for people who are interested in stepping outside of their studios to further their craft and arts education in general. This really needs its own post – stay tuned


1st Dabble Class on the Books!

I taught my first Dabble class at River North Workshop in Denver, CO this past Saturday afternoon. The day before on Friday, I was just a twinge nervous…I haven’t taught a class in person since 2009 and was feeling rusty.

Everyone is hard at work in clay class!
Everyone is hard at work in clay class!

On Saturday morning I slept in later than intended, and I still hadn’t packed my tools and supplies needed for my class. I had informally gathered everything that I would need the previous week and since I also teach the very same class online, I used my handy dandy tools + supply list that I created for this class, to check off everything. I’m happy to say that I didn’t forget a thing. If anything, I was over prepared! That’s not a bad thing.

Ceramicscapes Clay Class
Ceramicscapes Clay Class at River North Workshop

Two weeks prior to the class date, my class was at capacity. 8 students is the maximum amount that River North Workshop can accommodate and is actually a really nice size. I was able to demo each step and was available to students that needed help. These ladies rocked it! 

My next Dabble class is on December 3, 2016 from 12:30-2:30 PM – I’m going to be demonstrating how to make personalized handmade ceramic ornaments – just in time for Christmas!

Post Election Ennui…

Hi friends, 

I’ve debated whether or not to post any political commentary on my ceramic page, but feel I must speak out. I’m disappointed in the election results. I had hoped to see Hillary Clinton elected to our nation’s highest office, but alas, it is not to be. 

If anything, the shock of election night has fueled my desire to become more involved in my community. But, where do I start? The arts is an obvious choice and also a political act. I found this interesting article, Creativity and Freedom of Speech by Peter Istrate of Moxel, on LinkedIn (also the source of the graphic above) that resonates with me. 

Freedom of expression or freedom of speech is a necessary condition for achieving many other fundamental human rights.

I am going to actively search out opportunities in the arts to become more engaged and to encourage people to use their unique voices to empower themselves and others in an increasingly divided world. 

For others who are finding it difficult to digest the election results, here are a few words of wisdom that might help you cope in the coming days, months and years taken from the Buddhist concept of shenpa, or “biting the hook”. The objective is to refrain from biting the hook when confronted with difficult situations.

Don’t bite the hook by:

  1. Reminding yourself that generosity is a gesture of power.
  2. Remembering that nothing is ever, ever as good as you hope or as bad as you fear.
  3. Reestablishing dominion over your world.
  4. Expressing your love for your brothers and sisters.
  5. Finally, this: feel what you feel.

Like the graphic above, I am choosing to look for opportunity in disappointment. I will also voice my opinions respectfully, even when others don’t and will not wallow in despair. 

Today, I return to the studio to get muddy and have an attitude adjustment!