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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Only Days Remaining

There are only a few days remaining before I have to deliver pottery to Elliot who will taking it to The Bay Area Renaissance Faire.

I've had all kind of trouble with kilns the last few weeks, an overfiring occurred that I thought we had fixed, then we had another one. This ruined a lot of the pottery I had made to go to the Bay Area Fair, so I'm running shorter than I wanted to. It also ruined a lot of the shelves so I spent some time grinding them down and Ro rewashed them.
The Pitchers that stuck

I think we lost the top element and I know we had the wrong thermocouple in it, so Ro traded out the top thermcouple in the kiln, and also put in a witness cone so hopefully we can watch it and makes sure it fires properly.

If it works ok for the bisc I might try another glaze fire in it, but I am pretty sure we also lost the top I think it is going to put us even more behind than I already am. This is very upsetting since I won't have another chance to send stock down without making the trip myself, so I, or hopefully we might end up taking a trip to either Florida or Mississippi next month.. I am against doing this because it'll be very expensive, but I have also made a commitment to provide the stock, so I am willing to do it.

regular round mug surrounded by xl ones
pile of cleaned shelves
xl mugs
So my last effort at production that made it into the bisc kiln was these giant round mugs. You can see in the picture how much larger they are than our 16-18oz size. These usually end up holding 28-32 oz depending on how much I have stretched out the bellies.

I finished out today by throwing rice bowls, apple bakers and 2 boards full of soup mug bowls. Even though they won't be ready to go to Florida, production is still a huge priority. I need to get enough to keep the Etsy store stocked and possibly enough for a few small SCA events. It never ends.

monsters surrounding the regular one

These are all in the last bisc too

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Glazing Day

 Today was a day of mostly glazing, although I did throw some goblet parts earlier. We've had 2 bisc kilns come out recently so it was time to get busy and glaze.

Ro spent some time this morning mixing up some glazes to top off the buckets while I did the goblet throwing, then she waxed the bottoms of the pieces and I got started with the glazing. We're going to have 2 glaze kilns going at the same time. It should be nice and roasty toasty in the studio tomorrow. I anticipate the goblets will be ready to trim and assemble early in the day.

I am hoping to get to throw a few more goblets in various sizes tomorrow, then get started on more mugs and tankards. I want another bisc in on Tuesday night, maybe even two with more pieces to go to Florida on Sunday. Last minute rushing upsets me, but I don't want to drive down to restock in 3-4 weeks, so I have to make this count.

Ro is finishing some medallions for the top shelf and should be up any minute. Hell of a day. Lots of work done, but I could do without this kind of intensity.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hand Crafted As seen in Wal Mart

How do you feel about this?

As far as factory work, I think it's pretty nice...

"Special glazing technique makes every piece unique"

On one hand I am pleased to see industry is trying so hard to make appealing glazes, and they are..there are some damn nice glazes on some of these factory pieces.

On the other hand it's upsetting that they can be made in China (and I don't knock those Chinese workers either, they work hard and have great skills) and then they're shipped here and are sold for only $3 each.

How do you respond to these?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trouble keeping it up

I am having trouble keeping it up. My stock. So much on the throwing list these days, hell, just so much on the list. Here's the state of progress in the Hughes Pottery Studio.

I just got 2000lbs of clay on Monday, a big thanks to Morgan and Troy for unloading it and hauling it into the basement. It takes them 15 minutes, it would take me hours. This should keep me going for the next two months, if I am really productive, one month.

It used to be that I had stock ready to go to Florida in January and at this time of year I was getting ready for April and May. Since I started selling so steadily on Etsy it has been harder and harder to keep stock for the other venues. As you see, I am always making, but somehow I never have enough, and no matter how many I sell it seems I am still always a dollar short too.

. My last throwing goal was for Birka, now I need to have work ready to go to Tampa to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival on the 20th and finish up a bunch of special orders. I am feeling a little bit doubtful that I'll get everything done that I wanted to, but hell, I'm throwing as much as I can.

So right now, I have 77 bisc mugs to glaze for Webster's. 30 mugs thrown for Cafe Lemont. A set of 3 plates for a special order, a Garlic Keeper for a special order. I threw 16 round mugs. I trimmed and handled 16 soup mugs today and Rowan put Oak Leaves and Acorns on 7 soup mugs and 2 Lidded Pitchers. It was a pretty productive day over all.

Tomorrow Cristin comes at 11 and I'll have her wedging for me. I need to throw more butter keepers and goblets, then make as many mugs and tankards as I can over the weekend.

OH Yeah, and I have that tooth extraction scheduled for Friday morning at 9. I should be in good shape to work so hard.

I wanted 300 pieces to go to Tampa. I am not sure if I will have it or not. Worry, Worry Worry.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Covered Pitchers

Quite a week. I finished up 77 mugs for Webster's Coffee Shop, complete with special W medallions. The order was for 100, but I already delivered 25. So this will close that order.
 I have an order now for Cafe Lemont, 50 smaller 12 oz mugs, which I'll be getting started on tomorrow. I had hoped to start today, but the lidded pitchers I mentioned in the title took all day. They're as complicated as teapots to put together, but I got them done.  There are 6 total, I changed them as I went because I am still trying to work out what I really want them to look like. It was fun and they turned out well, but I need to do a few dozen more to really have them figured out. If you want to see the rest, the're on my picture uploads from today on my Hughes Pottery Facebook page.

Now I'm going to go spend some time with my lovely wife who has been visiting her parents for a week. I missed her a lot. G'night!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birka and the cold facts of business

Hi! I missed you all!

This is a panorama shot of the exhibition hall, there were a lot of merchants, I'm guessing 700-1000 people attended the event. It went pretty well overall, but just barely passed Rowan's test for profitability. At about an hour before pack down she agreed it went well enough to come back for another year, but it was a close call, after all it was an expensive event.

Personally, I think it's worth it to go out to this event for the break in our winter routine and the networking and visiting with friends, but the bills have to be paid and it helped, but not very much.
Here is the approximate breakdown:

Table Fees $80
Gasoline up and back $175

Hotel and Hotel Parking $309
Meals out $150
Total Cost $704
 4 days away from production.
and $25/day in trade for dog care.
After paying the expenses, we came away with about $700 for the bills. Truly, it was barely worth the 4 days monetarily. I could have produced another 2K worth of pots to be sold online without losing nearly 50% to sell it.

to truly make this event pay for us we needed another $500 in sales.

But what we got...

A break in our routine
to see beautiful snowy new England
to visit with Devon and Joe on the way up and
to visit, hang out and network with other folks we only see a couple times a year
to distribute more business cards to our customers who will then visit us the rest of the year in a time of pottery weddings, birthdays and stuff.

It's hard to count the overall value, but overall I feel good about it, besides, I did relax a a lovely hotel with my lovely wife, even if it was only 1 night of relaxation, it was worth it.