Thursday, May 31, 2012
1) Tankards from yesterday, too wet to trim and handle
2) Big piles of reclaimed clay, taking FOREVER to dry right now.
3) Finished and trimmed pieces waiting for the kiln (DRY FASTER!)
4) Some mid size bowls and some pitchers
5) Teapot parts, a few wee bowls and our large serving bowls.
I'm feeling pretty good this week. There has been a lot of busy-ness to attend to, we delivered 3 of 4 wholesale orders and participated in two weekend events. One personally and the other by someone representing us. 3 more orders to complete. All are well on their way. These are all happy things that make me smile! It's inspiring to feel successful, and a successful week like this lends energy to the next challenges. Here's what is going on at Hughes pottery..which by the way pushes 3-4 tons of clay through a 416 sq foot studio space in the basement of our 1200 sq foot house each year. I really want to get the studio into a garage instead of our basement, but that's the next project on the list. I believe dreams can come true, so we'll find a way.
Here's the biggest change we're implementing immediately: We're going to take a mandatory day off every week. Saturdays are now an official non working day. Since I can remember, I haven't taken a regular day off, and I dragged my wife into this habit as well. It's a bad thing. Rest and recuperation are essential to remaining vital, happy and productive. In addition to this, there will be a vacation in the fall, even if it is a stay-cation. I repeat, rest and recuperation are essential to remaining vital, happy and productive.
To aid us in our endeavor to relax, we're reducing our vast array of pieces to something where regular stock can be maintained and won't be accepting special orders that fall outside of our regular production line. This hurts me, I want to please everyone, but there is a good reason. We can't be everything to all people, we can't please everyone. There is enough regularly scheduled work of a standardized size, shape and color that we can't keep up with the requests that inevitably come for slight variations to really personalize. We just can't keep up with it all. It's a wonderful position to be in, yet I am very sorry.
Remember the acronym KISS? Keep it Simple Stupid. It's a great rule. The more complicated a thing becomes,the more difficult it is to maintain. We needed to remember this. When my wife and I started talking about keeping up with the production for individual sales, consignment sales and our wholesale customers, we realized there was just too much. Too many potential forms, too many color combinations. We've reduced this to the essentials, reducing the number of pieces and going from 12 color combinations to 6. I think it is manageable now. Of course the catalog won't remain static. We'll add pieces and colors and retire pieces and colors as time goes by.
In the meantime, clay is wedged and we are ready to produce our pieces in their 6 colorways and be sure there are always sets available on our www.hughespottery.etsy.com sales site. We hope to complete the transition to this new catalog focused production over the next couple months and have our shop fully stocked by fall.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
As much as we try to get ahead, somehow we always end up in a production crunch.
I was so glad to have both Rowan and my son Morgan helping today.
Rowan unloaded the bisc kiln, cleaned and waxed everything, then helped to finish the mugs by adding the necessary medallions, while I pulled handle after handle.
When Morgan showed up he wedged up 450 lbs of clay for the next round of throwing.
We then took a pizza break and gathered ourselves for second shift. I threw 15 plates, 2 large serving bowls and 2 medium serving bowls. Morgan and Rowan mixed up 4
batches of glazes, 75,000 grams of materials mixed..that's impressive. The plan was to load a bisc kiln and a glaze kiln before bed, but we ran out of energy. As a compromise, Rowan sent me for a chocolate milkshake treat for her and she went back and loaded a bisc kiln just before midnight. It was an amazingly productive day.
I still have another 40 mugs to throw to complete all the orders, but that won't take as much time and effort now that the bulk of these are finished. I am looking forward to switching to pieces that don't require handles for a while. Maybe 100 bowls would be nice..yeah..bowls.