At Ainsdale Pottery lockdown started very well indeed, as I suspect it did for many other makers as the weather was suburb, it was a pleasure to be outside and in my case the clay slabs dried very quickly so I was able to build the pots very efficiently. The big problem only really became obvious after the whole process of building, firing, glazing, firing again and assessing the results was complete - where could I sell my work? Shops shut, galleries closed, exhibitions cancelled. Fortunately the summer allowed at least one exhibition to take place, but that only showed 2D works so no pots. The opening of the shops before Christmas was excellent for my sales and for many other makers, but the further lockdown since effectively stopped all further sales.
That is where the website, Facebook and Instagram pages came in. I have had an Ainsdale Pottery website for many years showing my pots, drawings and photography but it has only really every worked as a 'showcase' and a library of my work, I have only sold a few items and I have never really tried to do more. But with the closure of all other sales outlets these have become far more important in common with all things retail. I have certainly been more attentive to Facebook and started to use Instagram more effectively and my son, who is my 'webmaster' has created several new sections on the website, most noticeably a 'shop' where it is as easy to but an item as it is to buy things on most other websites.
He has also given me two new sections for cards and coasters. I have used the increased time that lockdown has provided for us all to look at other ways to make use of my drawings and greetings cards and coaster are the two that have become moderately successful. I don't make pots during the winter months as it is impossible to dry the slabs need to build my work, so I concentrate on drawing. I work in pencil, pen and pastel and prefer to work at quite a large scale, but I sketch all the time in reasonably small sketchbooks. I have filled may of these over the years and many more this year. It is just not practical to continue to work at large scale so it is these much smaller sketches that I have looked to make use of in making my cards and coasters. Sales cannot be described as spectacular but I am happy with what has been achieved given the lack of personal shopping opportunities.
All the proceeds from my most recent sales have been donated to the Pahar Trust Nepal for their 30 for 30 campaign, a challenge to provide nursery classroom or libraries for 30 poor rural school in Nepal. I set out to sell 30 pots but later added the drawings, cards and coaster into the mix as well. I am almost at my self-imposed target but am hoping for just a few more sales to get the funds a little higher.
Cheers Chris Hughes