Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Fast Can a Pot maker Pot?

I will soon find out just how quickly I can push the making process. Can I go from wet clay today to glazed pot in 1.5 weeks? Probably not, but I’m ‘gonna give it a go. The 18 mugs I made for a custom order took me from June 6th to the 24th to throw, dry (barely), bisque, glaze and fire again. I was just able to squeak in under the 1 month minimum deadline I usually give for this type of order due to the fact that I had, coincidentally, already thrown 10 mugs on June 3rd and was able to use them for this order. So in reality, I actually started the making 3 days earlier, so that means the whole process took 3 full weeks to complete. The other and more crucial factor was that I had the minimum amount of greenware waiting for bisque to be able to fire a fairly full load of pots in the bisque. I will not fire a load less than that so as not to waste energy, or run the risk of cracked pots. In the end, the planets were all lined up just right for getting things done on time.
Now we come to why I am going to attempt the improbable (if not the impossible). The customer for the mugs picked them up yesterday evening and today she has asked if I had any extras. She needs 2 more, but this time, could the text that was impressed into the mug be raised up on an appliqué? That’s doable, but the kicker is that she wanted to pick them up next Friday (I kyboshed this Friday right away). That is 9 days away, not including today. The other kicker is that I will not be back in the studio until Friday this week, so really, I only have 1 week. I know that will not be a goal I can achieve, so I think I can get away with 2 weeks, she just does not want to wait a month. My only issue once they are complete is how to fire them. I will probably have to use the small test kiln at Ceramics Canada to get them finished on time, at least to bisque. I have more than enough to fill a glaze load, but I will NOT have enough for a reasonably full bisque load.
It's my fault for saying yes, I know, but I am always up for a challenge, just not sure how the clay feels about it. It has been extraordinarily wet here for the past few weeks. 80% humidity in Calgary is pretty rare, but that’s what it was yesterday and the day before that, and the day before that etc. Then there is the 100% humid rain, the rising rivers and ground water seepage. Work that would normally be dry in a few days is still very squishy after a week. I will have to take advantage of the natural drying powers of the sun (if it can keep shining long enough for me to finish this), as well as strategically placed fans. I just have to keep thinking of this as a “marketing opportunity” that may result in future customers. I have said that a lot about similar “marketing opportunities” but then I start to count chickens before they hatch and I usually end up with a basket full of rotten eggs. I am what you would call a pessimistic optimist. I try to always look on the bright side of things, but I know that in the deep dark recesses of my mind, in the pessimistic corner where my alter ego lives, I am thinking of all the ways this could go off the rails. Handles will crack, appliqué’s will start to peel off, glaze will crawl, or pinhole, or they will just plain warp and come out looking slightly rhomboid. But then, maybe I worry too much.

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