The economic downturns are part of studio life. A conversation with Ken Sedberry evoked the comment that "we have gone through several of these episodes and you've just got to hold on and ride it out." This has been basically true for the previous events in my career also, but the extremely inflated cost of fuel has affected all other areas such as food, health care, and heating.
When fuel cost went up before, I was able to go to home fuel oil and fire my work, but now that cost is higher than the propane I had normally used for my reduction kiln. Kent at Fork Mountain Pottery has burners that use cooking oil or reclaimed oil to fire his work, he says it smells like bar-b-que when he fires and it makes him hungry. wood burners can be very thankful that there are a lot of sources for that fuel.
Fuel cost has over doubled the pass year, and the fact is you will not get to double your product price. In retrospect, I have had to use bartering in the sale of items in my gallery and since fewer buyers are stopping to even look at the work, exposure becomes a major hurdle for creating demand for your work. The national average for food has risen something like 18%, feels like more. A vast majority of us will not be able to attach that rise to our product, in fact I think we will be lowering our prices to attract buyers.
Some studios give a discount for coming to their studio gallery, others have grouped together and formed pottery markets, which are located in one location, so buyers only have to come to one place to look at a large selection of work. I would love to hear from folks about alternative methods.
I'm going to stop here, because of the subject matter I want to pursue: Doing road shows, wholesaling, and galleries.