Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Real Wages

Following on from my piece about potters’ income, I was fascinated to see a quote by Roger Deakin, offering a somewhat different perspective.

‘The real wages of the potter are in the daily silent appreciations of each of their customers as they pour tea from their teapot, or drink coffee from their mug, or eat dinner off their plate.’
From Notes From Walnut Tree Farm

It is true that the ‘use value’ of tableware is likely to far outweigh any financial cost or worth. As a maker of domestic ware for many years, customers write to me after a gap of twenty years or more asking for replacements for broken pieces. Alas, materials have changed and, try as I do, the results barely match the older wares. However, what was bought for a few pounds many moons ago has consistently given pleasure to the user. This is ‘real worth’. It does not help to pay my bills, nor do I get PLR or any other rights on it, and I like the fact that the pots have been and still are in use.

Rather than thinking ‘real wages’, maybe it would be more helpful to talk of ‘real satisfaction’, an alternative way of describing both the enjoyment of making and the pleasure of using pots.


doug fitch said...

My hand to mouth existence is supplemented by the daily riches bestowed upon me by the countryside. Last week I had a Nuthatch and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker on the little bird table outside my workshop at the same time - extraordinary, maybe not everybody's idea of a great event, but to me that was a special moment and a rich payment indeed.

Ajax said...

By pure coincidence I just read this post while an assortment of Lucie Rie and Hans Coper plates, cups and saucers was being sold at an auction house in the north of england. The sale was viewable live online, and while the lots that fetched the most were inevitably the ones in perfect condition, there was also decent interest in a range of chipped and cracked pieces. What made these particularly special is that they had obviously been used - and no doubt enjoyed - daily by their owners, the artist Kenneth Rowntree and his wife Diana. I like the idea of the Rowntrees, who were friends of many of the leading artists and designers of the day, acquiring these items in the 50s and enjoying their simple yet elegant forms every time they drank from them or ate off them. It puts these pieces in a different context from the galleries where Rie and Coper are generally admired these days.

paul jessop said...

I was talking to one of my customers today who had come along way to see me at my workshop. we were talking about the apparent lack of a credit crunch effect on my work.
when times are hard people are drawn back to the basics of life, they start to appreciate the fact that someone on their door step is making quality items, they feel that they are getting value for their money in a number of ways that buying from a large chain of shops could never provide. I enjoyed the interaction with my customer, and he enjoyed being able to sit down and have a cup of tea with a maker that he admired and respected. I think we both earned our wages today in different ways.