During a recent meeting with a local store here in Billings, I was showing one of my colanders and an employee said, “Oh I would love to have something like that, but it would never last in my house. It would just get broken.”
I’ve had a number of similar conversations. I think that the “preciousness” of handmade work keeps some people from making a purchase, because they have a desire to preserve the item, which negates the purpose of functional artwork.
I truly believe that using unique, handmade items in daily life improves the experience of living. I don’t want my clients to worry about whether or not they will leave a mug on the roof of their car and drive away or drop a bowl on their floor. That stuff happens.
So, I’ve decided to implement a new policy.
You break it. I replace it.
I’ll make you a deal. If you accidently break a 504 Square Feet piece of pottery, I will replace it for free. Well, almost for free. If you send me the broken pieces and tell me the story of its life, I will make a replacement piece for you. Did it live on the counter, hang on the wall or have a place in your cabinet? Did you purchase it yourself or receive it as a gift? Who gave it to you and what was the occasion? Tell me about a time or two when you used the item. How did it break?
Why would I do this? I don’t want you to buy a mass-produced, cheaply-made bowl from Wal-Mart just because it’s inexpensive when you’d prefer to have a piece of artwork. You’ll have to replace that cheap mass-produced item a dozen times over during your lifetime anyway.
Now the fine print: Clients will be responsible for shipping costs (if you can’t come by the studio to pick up the replacement in person). Also, I may use the story you tell me in my marketing materials (I will keep the stories anonymous). Making the replacement will need to fit into my workload schedule, so I can’t guarantee a replacement immediately. I will provide a comparable replacement, but depending on the clays and glazes I am using at the time it may not look just like the original. Also, if I feel like the policy is being abused I reserve the right to cancel the policy for an individual (I don’t ever anticipate this happening, but I thought it should be said).
I offer this guarantee not only because I believe in the quality of the work, but because I want others to feel the same personal satisfaction that I feel in owning and using unique, functional works of art every day without having to worry about the loss if it breaks.