The Mud-Pie Dilemma Revisited

The Mud-Pie Dilemma is the much-loved book for all of us baby-boomer potters.Written by John Nance, it chronicles pottery legends Tom and Elaine Coleman and their struggle to earn a living selling pots back in the 1970s. After observing the couple for a number of months, the author concluded that their effort to put together a showing of the best pots of their career netted them a sub-minimum wage for the endeavor. But the photos of the pots in the back of the book are to die for and this text was a true inspiration for me when I started making pots for a living over thirty years ago. Fortunately, Tom and Elaine are far more financially successful now, and their work continues to boggle the mind.

With slow sales in the Wallyware line, I’ve taken on a mud-pie dilemma of my own. I agreed to throw fifty pots in a collaborative show with Noah Van Sciver, cartoonist nonpareil, really nice guy and my oldest daughter’s boyfriend. We’ve got a show lined up at the Earthwood Gallery in Boulder and the opening night is March 6th. Noah has been working on the pots for a couple of days now, and he should have them finished sometime next week. There are some really nice graphics getting painted on these pots. I was amazed that the very first thing he did in the studio was to decorate the two most ambitious pots of the series: a pair of vases. He knocked them out in a relatively short period of time and they are lovely. So it’s going to be a fun show and we are in the process of trying to peddle our situation to various media outlets. It is a really sweet story: the potter/caroonist dad and the cartoonist boyfriend working together in the studio with the Brian Jonestown Massacre blaring in the background. Ahhh… the lives of a struggling artists!

But the finances of this gig are not going to be the best. I think we’re going to beat Tom and Elaine Coleman in the profit margin category, but not by much. That’s the problem with taking your time and doing your best work. It doesn’t always pay off very well financially. But the pots are going to be cool… way cool!
Note: This series is now for sale in our online store!

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