Pricing Your Pottery

Pricing Your Pottery

One of the hardest parts of selling is knowing what to charge. This approach uses two different calculations, using the most important variables for a potter: time and kiln space.

These factors can vary massively between pieces, making it quite tricky to compare. The example that prompted me to create the spreadsheet was trying to compare the largest bowls I make (relatively quick to make, use significantly more clay and glaze, and take up a large portion of the kiln) to small mugs (exactly the opposite).

In order to make a meaningful comparison, I created a spreadsheet to calculate the potential profit per hour worked and per kiln load. I've expanded on that original document to include a simple pricing suggestion too, and tried to make it as user friendly as possible. This blog post is meant to serve as a companion to the spreadsheet to help explain how to use it, and what I was thinking when I set it up the way I did.

There are now 2 versions of the calculation. The simple one reduces the inputs to the minimum and should be much faster to fill in. The full version breaks the timing into stages so you can be more precise.

Simple Version

Link to UK version (£ and kg)

Link to US version ($ and lbs)

How To Use

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 15.38.40.png

Step 1: Make a copy, or download a copy.

Please don't request permission to edit the master copy. For obvious reasons, it has to stay as it is. Besides, you don't want to fill it in only to have someone else come along and replace all your numbers with theirs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 11.40.04.png

Step 2: Edit the Fixed Costs tab.

  • This has a box for clay, glaze and firing costs. They should be self explanatory unless you use pre-made glazes, in which case you'll have to change it slightly. I suggest putting the price per tub or per litre instead.

  • The Firings and Hours a month are fairly self explanatory. I assumed a ratio of 1 bisque firing to 2 glaze firings as bisque kilns can be packed so much tighter. It's possible to change this if your numbers are wildly different.

  • The Minimum and Desired Salary are the amount (after accounting for clay, glaze, and firing costs) that you'd need or want to have each month to cover all other outgoings.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 11.40.17.png

Step 3: Edit the Pieces tab.

  • This is where you have to do a little work. For any item you want to calculate, fill in the green boxes. To calculate the weight of glaze - weigh a dry piece before you glaze it, glaze it as normal, leave it to dry fully, weigh it again. The difference is the glaze weight. If you can't be bothered, just assume it's a fraction of the clay weight. 10-20% should do it.

  • Next, If you loaded a glaze kiln with just that item, how many could you fit in? This is the measure of kiln displacement.

  • Enter the total time, in minutes, you take to produce one of the item. The 'mins' will appear automatically. Don't type it or the spreadsheet won't recognise the number, and don't change the units unless you revise the calculation. Initially, just estimate these numbers unless you know them already. You can go back and revise them later, but you'll probably be surprised with how close your estimations are.

The spreadsheet will then tell you how much each piece costs to make in material and firing costs, how many you can produce in a full working month and how much you should charge on that basis, how many you can produce in a full month of firings and how much you should charge on that basis.

Neither calculation is a perfect way of pricing, but between them they give a good indication of what you should be charging at a minimum and what mix of items would maximise your profit. Ideally you want a mixture of items that you can make faster than you can fire and items that you can fire faster than you can make, as this would mean neither factor is a bottleneck.

If all of your items are slower to make than they are to fire, it might be worth considering adding some simpler/faster/bigger items to your range. If all of your items are faster to make than to fire, it might be worth getting a bigger kiln or making some more ornate and expensive items.

Obviously this is just a simple tool. If it doesn't account for your situation, change the calculations to suit you. And remember that it's not accounting for anywhere near all the additional costs of selling pottery, so you have to allow for that when using it.


Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 15.38.40.png

Step 1: Make a Copy, or Download a copy.

Please don't request permission to edit the master copy. For obvious reasons, it has to stay as it is. Besides, you don't want to fill it in only to have someone else come along and replace all your numbers with theirs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 11.40.04.png

Step 2: Edit the Fixed Costs tab.

  • This has a box for clay, glaze and firing costs. They should be self explanatory unless you use pre-made glazes, in which case you'll have to change it slightly. I suggest putting the price per tub or per litre instead.

  • The Built-in Postage is there in case you factor a portion of the postage into the price you charge. If not, leave it as zero.

  • The Firings and Hours a month are fairly self explanatory. I assumed a ratio of 1 bisque firing to 2 glaze firings as bisque kilns can be packed so much tighter. It's possible to change this if your numbers are wildly different.

  • The Minimum and Desired Salary are the amount (after accounting for clay, glaze, and firing costs) that you'd need or want to have each month to cover all other outgoings.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 11.40.17.png

Step 3: Edit the Pieces tab.

  • This is where you have to do a little work. For any item you want to calculate, fill in the green boxes. To calculate the weight of glaze - weigh a dry piece before you glaze it, glaze it as normal, leave it to dry fully, weigh it again. The difference is the glaze weight. If you can't be bothered, just assume it's a fraction of the clay weight. 10-20% should do it.

  • Next, If you loaded a glaze kiln with just that item, how many could you fit in? This is the measure of kiln displacement.

  • Enter the time, in minutes, you take for each stage of producing one of the item. The 'mins' will appear automatically. Don't type it or the spreadsheet won't recognise the number, and don't change the units unless you revise the calculation. Initially, just estimate these numbers unless you know them already. You can go back and revise them later, but you'll probably be surprised with how close your estimations are. The headings can be changed to suit your process, and I left some spare ones if you need to add a few more stages.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 16.22.07.png

Step 4: What to Charge.

You've done the hard bit. If you put the numbers in correctly, the spreadsheet will now be telling you what you would have to charge per item to make your minimum and desired salaries. This works by calculating:

  • The cost (cost of clay, glaze, bisque, and glaze firing).

  • The maximum number you could make (left side is hours worked divided by the time it takes to make, right side is how many you can fit in a kiln multiplied by how many firings you do a month (remember, it's 2/3 of the total. 1/3 is the bisque and items get fired twice).

  • How much you'd have to charge per item to cover the cost and meet the monthly salary.

Neither calculation is a perfect way of pricing, but between them they give a good indication of what you should be charging at a minimum and what mix of items would maximise your profit. Ideally you want a mixture of items that you can make faster than you can fire and items that you can fire faster than you can make, as this would mean neither factor is a bottleneck.

If all of your items are slower to make than they are to fire, it might be worth considering adding some simpler/faster/bigger items to your range. If all of your items are faster to make than to fire, it might be worth getting a bigger kiln or making some more ornate and expensive items.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 16.22.15.png

Step 5: Profit from Current Prices.

This is what the original spreadsheet was set up for. If you already have prices, you can enter them into the green box to find out what your maximum monthly salary is for both calculations.


To duplicate the formulae downwards when you've added more items, select a row then use the little square to drag the selection down and duplicate the relevant cells:

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 16.40.09_edited.png
Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 16.40.15.png

Obviously this is just a simple tool. If it doesn't account for your situation, change the calculations to suit you. And remember that it's not accounting for anywhere near all the additional costs of selling pottery, so you have to allow for that when using it.

If you spot any issues with the spreadsheet, please let me know! It's a work in progress.

That's all there is to it! Please try it and let me know how you get on, message me or use the hashtag oldforgecreations (I often miss @mentions on Instagram and there's no way to find them afterwards, but I'll see the tag). Good luck!

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