How to display pottery on Etsy

How to display pottery on Etsy

If you have started an online shop, perhaps with Etsy or one of the other online stores, you will have found that photographing your work takes a lot of time. Not only that, but you can also end up with frankly indifferent results. It’s a challenge for all craftspeople to demonstrate the beauty of their work in a medium where touch is not allowed. If you ask yourself how to display pottery on Etsy then, simply put, a picture really is worth a thousand words, but it also has to replace those thousands of nerve endings that the non-virtual world calls ‘touch’.

Displaying your work is always going to be a challenge, whether in-person at a craft-fair or online, clearly you want work to look at its absolute best. Take a look at other crafts-peoples’ work online… do you think it is all being showcased in the best way possible? The short answer to this is of course, no – there are always ways to improve the presentation of our own work.

Take a look at my photograph above. It shows a one-off ceramic ‘Labrador’ jug that I threw on the potter’s wheel here in Kent, it is one of a series of images that I have uploaded to my Etsy shop at to help me promote and sell it. There were a number of things I wanted to show a potential buyer of this jug, it’s worth running through them here as they could help establish a template for your own photography…

1. The shape and size (scale) of the jug – I’ve used my hand and some fruit to help show this

2. The overall design and attractiveness of the design and illustration

3. Detail of design and wording

4. The 3D-ness of the jug – I want people to understand how it might feel or appear in real life – tilting the top of the jug towards the camera gives a sense of the roundness of the rim

5. Texture, shine, materials used (there is clearly a reflective shine to the glaze, whilst the lower part of the jug shows the natural bare clay surface)

6. Theme and style – the use of rustic wood as a baseboard and shadowed lighting adds some rustic feel that complements the craftness of the pottery

Other photography

I use other photographs to better show the piece’s details and overall shape (close-ups and straight-on images).

Somehow, we need to present our work in such a way that it is super-enticing and yet super-true to the piece.  As I say, it is a challenge, but with practice work really does become (more) perfect!

Good luck with all your photography and your work.

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at


Track your deliveries via Royal Mail and USPS

Track your deliveries via Royal Mail and USPS

If you are making pottery or other crafts in the UK, it may be useful to find out more about sending and delivering your work, not just to other addresses in the UK but to other countries abroad. A case in point here would be the USA, where there are many avid collectors of ceramics and it is so useful to be able to track your deliveries via Royal Mail and USPS.

You won’t want to skimp when it comes to deliveries. You’ve taken a lot of time and trouble to produce your crafts so you don’t want it damaged on going missing due to poor delivery. You want peace of mind for yourself and importantly, your customer, that your work will be delivered in the same great condition as when it left you.

I love our local Post Office for sending my own parcels and for deliveries abroad I use the excellent Royal Mail International Tracked and Signed service, perfect for parcels with maximum dimensions of WxDxH of up to 90cms (no side linger than 60cm) and a maximum weight of 2kg. When using Royal Mail International Tracked and Signed service at the Post Office, your parcel will be weighed and a special postage label will be adhered to its front or top face. A custom’s declaration will also be required – this is a small white sticker that the Post Office will have and on which the contents, type of goods, weight and value and sender’s signature must be written (I keep a number of these stickers at home so I can pre-fill and save time in the Post Office).

Once your parcel has been accepted and paid for at the Post Office you will be given a receipt and certificate of posting that contains a tracking reference consisting of letters and numbers. With this reference, you can track the delivery journey of your parcel on the Royal Mail website (just tap ‘Royal Mail track and trace’ into Google). From there you can see when your parcel leaves the UK.

The Royal Mail Track and Trace website also allows you to track your parcel once it arrives at a processing facility in the States. At this stage the website will show a button ‘Continue tracking’ and clicking on this transfers you to the delivery partner, USPS’s website. There you may continuing tracking your parcel, from the main processing facility, to a regional distribution centre and then out for final delivery. On the USPS Tracking you and your customer may choose to receive text or email updates of the stage the parcel is at – very reassuring.

Good luck with all your deliveries and your work.

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at

Gifts for Labrador lovers

Gifts for Labrador lovers

As a designer and potter, I’ve found over the years that I get fixated on particular ideas or themes, none more so than that of my Black Labrador, Uly.  I have found Uly to be a great and constant source of inspiration for my original pottery designs. Every one of my creations is an original, thrown on my potter’s wheel (though sometimes I sculpt my work too), I then illustrate them individually by hand and apply ceramic slips or glazes for colour and design. They really do make the perfect gifts for Labrador lovers, simply because they are so unique.

I’ve been drawing and designing all of my life. At school it was always my passion and so a career in graphic design and illustration was a natural direction to take. My interest on ceramics and pottery was also fired-up in childhood, I threw my first pot aged 9 and went on to do clay sculpture ay secondary school. Ceramics is such a wide ranging art, it has allowed me to combine making, sculpting and illustration talents alongside the more technical skills of glaze chemistry and kiln firing. My Labrador ceramics are some of the results of my years of practice.

Most of my Labrador pottery is based on the life and times (sometimes imaginary) of my own Black Labrador. I found having a dog to be a real joy, especially working from home as I do. Never a dull moment, Uly is always here to add some excitement, we aim to go for a good walk almost every day – to the woods or up on the beautiful North Downs – there is really plenty of choice in this part of Kent.

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at

Selling pottery online can be really worthwhile in many ways

Selling pottery online can be really worthwhile in many ways, says Simon Olley who sells his handmade beautiful dog-themed ceramics online at
Selling pottery online

Selling pottery online can be really worthwhile in many ways. I started selling my pottery online in 2017 and I would say above all else, persistence is needed to get results. Presentation, of course, is key to showcasing work online, and getting to grips with photography is just one of the skills I’ve had to hone. It has helped that I have a background in design – I run a small graphic design business with my wife where recent projects have included, for example, a new website for Rochester Cathedral. However, as creative potters or crafters, all of us should have a good eye and that’s what is needed to ensure online work looks as stunning as possible.

It’s the appeal and perhaps uniqueness of work that achieves sales. One still needs to find customers though, because for every beautiful work of craftsmanship put into an online shop, there will be a hundred (or a hundred thousand) wonderful pieces by other artisans to compete with.

My technique to sell online is detailed in my six simple steps:

1. Products (ideally with a USP – Unique Selling Point)

2. A unique brand

3. Online shopfront (and a way to take payments)

4. Fulfilment (packing, sending to home and abroad)

5. Customers

6. Marketing

I say, six simple steps, but of course there is a lot involved in each of these steps – lots to get to grips with. Notheless, I believe these provide a really good basis to starting to sell handmade products online. I’m not showing you how to become a millionaire, simply that if you make crafts and are interested to reach a wider, possibly worldwide audience, then this could be a good way to start.

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at

Sending pottery and ceramics by post

Sending pottery and ceramics by post – Olley Pottery handmade and decorated stoneware Labrador jug made in Kent
Sending pottery and ceramics by post

I handmake pottery with a dog/Labrador/gundog theme, quite a lot is sent to places such as the United States, for this reason I had to investigate the best ways to safely send my work abroad.  I got to know my local Post Office, picking up leaflets on delivery methods, package sizes, weights and prices. I felt more confident about sending pottery and ceramics by post once I knew what could be achieved, what the cost would be and that I could pack and deliver my orders securely.

Packing: I’ve found 5, 6 and 10-inch boxes most useful and I like to double-box. I wrap and pack my pottery item into a close fitting box, then put that into another larger box with shock-absorbent packing between the two. Items must never touch (eg. a teapot and its lid).

Sending to UK:  Royal Mail 1st or 2nd signed-for is great for smaller work and includes compensation of up to £50. A 6-inch cubic box nicely takes a ceramic mug and weighing under 1kg costs just £3.95 sent 2nd class signed-for. More valuable items may need Royal Mail Special Delivery, the guaranteed next day service being good value for packages up to 2kg at just £11, including £500 compensation. I’ve found Royal Mail is also great for larger, heavier items sent within the UK.

Sending abroad: Royal Mail International Tracked and Signed allows me and my customers to track worldwide deliveries, taking less than 10 working days to the USA. Parcels can have a WxHxD total of up to 90cm and weight up to 2kg. With careful packing you can get small and medium-sized ceramics within these restrictions at a delivery price of between £13 and £22. Larger or heavier than this and the likes of DHL is required who offer (for an extra fee) insured worldwide deliveries of ceramics. With moderately priced items I’ve found other countries’ import duties to be inconsequential, although if due it will be the buyer who pays them.

Please note the prices and details above were correct as at January 2019, please check at your Post Office for current prices, here is a link to Royal Mail’s price finder.

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at

Olley Pottery on selling original ceramics online with Etsy

Olley Pottery is selling original ceramics online with Etsy - this image shows a dresser with a display of Olley Pottery's original work

Exhibiting work locally

Many craftsmen and women start by exhibiting work locally in exhibitions or shops and galleries, but at some point start to think about the wider world. Selling on the internet represents huge excitement but challenges too. There’s lots of e-commerce platforms out there to help sell online, but in my experience none are quite as user-friendly as Etsy.

Selling original ceramics online with Etsy

For me, selling original ceramics online with Etsy has been brilliant; it enables me to put my work in front of an international audience making sales and sending my work to Europe, Asia, the United States and beyond. In order to do this it helps to be pretty organised; to photograph and display work effectively, to market it and when a sale arrives, to pack the work up really securely (I always double-box my work) and send it quickly to the customer.

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at

The village of Kemsing

Kemsing – a Kentish village

Uly and I live in the Kent village of Kemsing, situated at the foot of the North Downs on the route of the Pilgrim’s Way.

We are lucky, there are so many fabulous walks on our doorstep or within a very short drive. The north Kent coast is not far away either and you’ll find names such as Whitstable (famous for its oysters) and Chatham (ancient ship building town where King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I had their fleets deigned and built). Rochester Cathedral and Castle are half an hour away. Canterbury, and its cathedral, has been the destination of so many pilgrims along the centuries and is about one hour’s drive away from us.

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at

Olley and Uly

Dog names should be simple…

But there is sometimes totally understandable confusion over the names of me and my dog. If you are one of the people who has got our names mixed around, do not worry, you are not alone!

To set the record straight, my surname is Olley (though it wasn’t my first surname – I was adopted as a baby).

My Black Labrador’s name is Uly. It wasn’t quite his first name either (he was adopted by me aged 6 months).

Uly’s first name was Ulysees, given to him by his French owner who lived in our village. When I bought him at 6 months as his owner’s circumstances changed I quickly decided that the name Ulysees was too much of a mouthful to be calling out over the fields (especially with French style pronunciation which sounds like “Oo-leece”. So it was shorted to Uly. We pronounce it English style, which means something like “You-lee”. French style would be “Oo-lee” (which is also acceptable).

Uly’s Kennel Club name is Bok Bouncer. I believe Bok (or Bjork) is Swedish for Birch (as in the tree – the breeder has Swedish connections). Bouncer is self-explanatory I think 🙂

You can browse and purchase Simon’s ceramics in his online Etsy shop at