Mass Produce Homemade Pottery
September 11, 2010 9:47 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in creating a serving dish (bowl) that I think would sell rather well... If i make a prototype and want to mass produce it and say sell on how would I do this?

I have a team of people that I could get together to make this happen the only question that i really have is that is it worth it to mass produce on a small scale... and if so where would one look to get pottery or ceramics mass produced?
posted by matthelm to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
You would have to find a different venue. From their FAQ:

All items listed in the handmade Categories must be made by the Etsy seller; we do not allow reselling of handmade goods. Mass-produced items — though they may be technically made by hand in some cases — are not in the spirit of Etsy and may not be listed in the handmade Categories.
posted by kmennie at 9:54 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Etsy is not for mass produced items.
posted by dfriedman at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2010

I have no idea what you mean by "mass produce on a small scale" -- how many is that? 200? 10,000? That ranges from doable by one person in a small studio to something you might want to outsource.

Ceramic items can be made in bulk by slipcasting into a plaster mold. It is easy to make a single mold, and a common thing to see in a ceramics class or studio. I've visited a business that has about 10,000 or 20,000 square feet in molds, greenware, glazed, and fired items. I'm not sure if they do custom orders as far as shapes go. Don't recall the name of it at the moment, I'll see if I can track it down.

It seems this can't be the sort of info you are looking for though, if you have a team of people to work on the project -- any potter would know about slipcasting.

You sell them on a website that isn't Etsy. If you have a web designer on your team they should be able to figure out how to do that, or you can hire someone.
posted by yohko at 10:19 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, it seems etsy is out, but that's only part of your concept (the distribution part.)

Assuming you figure out how to sell it, making it is the other part.

I personally am not familiar with manufacturers who do this sort of thing, but I did work in a commercial pottery years ago and know some of the old techniques.

Casting and jiggering are two production techniques for larger volumes. Casting uses liquified clay (slip) and plaster molds. Production is limited by the number of molds.

Jiggering uses more solid clay (but not as solid as that used for turning) and uses a rotating mold. An interior blade is lowered into the rotating mold and presses the clay into the mold form. Plates are normally jiggered, as are bowls. Slip molding is not usually done unless you are doing something oddly shaped or where you want to have decorative surface features.

Based on years of manufacturing things in general, my sense is that the entire process would be skewed somewhat towards capital and energy costs, not labor. I think it would take a day to find a pottery willing to produce for you. Volume is everything in product cost, though. If you are looking at millions of units, it's one thing, but for a few thousand, you'd have a lot more outfits willing to take a look.

Good luck. If you have any specific questions relating to making stuff, feel free to memail.
posted by FauxScot at 10:21 AM on September 11, 2010

You'd probably need to get a prototype made, then show it around to stores that might stock such an item. Based on those orders, get it made in China, India, Italy, where ever and sell it. List of manufacturers.

Or you could design it, patent it, and try to sell the design to an existing company.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:26 AM on September 11, 2010

Thank you everyone so far!!! Most of my questions have been answered ;-) I did not know that about Etsy, but it makes sense... What I do like is the idea of making a mold...if i can do that and make to order then that might be just fine... my dream is to get this product selling a lot, but I guess making a very small amount 1st (say 10) and seeing what the demand is etc will tell me about making more etc... I was probably jumping the gun with this question...just excited to get this product made and see how people react.... thanks again for your help and if i do have more questions I will be back here!

posted by matthelm at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2010

I believe you can sell cast objects on Etsy as part of a co-op effort, although some sellers have blurred the line as to what that really means. Here is the Etsy description of an acceptable collective.

This shop quite obviously has more than one piece of the same object, so I'd assume that they are making multiple copies of one piece.

Your idea of "mass-produced" might actually be mass produced, or maybe you just want to make a lot of them in a way that allows them to still be sellable on Etsy. There are a lot of ceramics on Etsy, and I think you can probably read through the rules and figure out whether or not it's worth it to fit into the guidelines.
posted by redsparkler at 11:07 AM on September 11, 2010

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