You must step out of your own skin and look at each work with a cold eye.
You must decide whether to sell it or keep it; shelve it or smash it. The decision has to be made before it goes from your hand to the market place or into your archive-that collection you're saving for your thesis show, one man show, your new sales collection, your retrospective.
It's easy to fall in love with your own work. After all, this sum of your expression and skill distilled into one statement. This love affair can last a long time--sometimes years. One way I ameliorate this dilemma is to photograph my work as much as I can. Even if I sell a piece, I can always go back and review the form through images. I find it easier sell things I really loved if I can keep the picture.
I recently photographed one of these teapots for entry into a show. It is a repeat of one that had sold for an installation in Seattle some years ago. I decided to duplicate it. Look what happened when I did.
(Please excuse the rather old, battered slide. Thank heavens I can take digital images.)
What a difference a few years make.
The newer pot has a better handle line and negative space. The old pot, a better body line.
The old pot has a better spout and more interesting legs.
The newer pot has a better glaze.
The old pot sits lightly on the surface as if it had just come to rest there. The new pot looks like it is sitting very solidly on the table.
The older pot has more 'life' and spontaneity. The new pot looks more 'put together' and 'of one piece.'
I like the faint line that subtlety divides the body of the new pot.
I like them both, each in their own way. And I suspect if I did another one, even though the form is limited to a few design elements, the new pot would have it's own personality as well.
P.S. "Considerations for Critiquing Claywork" by Lana Wilson, with additional contributions by Hayne Bayless, is an excellent article in the July/August issue of Clay Times.