Monday, January 5, 2015

How many pots?

I mentioned previously (twice actually, due to a moment of senility), that after 14 years of potting, I am finally thinking hard about putting on my big girl pottery pants and entering a large craft show next fall. I have spent the intervening time thinking about just how many pots I will need to have for this endeavor and then asking myself just how many do I think I can actually make. Unfortunately, the answer is not coming easily to either of these questions.
Over this past holiday season, I spent quite a bit of time in the studio (8.5 "days" solid - from 9:30 am to 2 or 3 pm). When I say I spent a day in the studio, that seems to average out to about 4 - 6 hours. Some days I need to get other stuff done, like laundry, getting gas, sleeping etc. In this time, I think I managed to make 29 mugs, but then I knocked one off the ware board and I only had 28 to show for it. I made four 5lb casseroles, but then I had to make another lid as I managed to trim right through the first one, so now we are at 3 casseroles until I get the 2nd lid to fit, if at all. I also made some small bowls (17 or so), so the total pots thrown count is at about 47 after taking into account the destruction I wreaked on a few pots. I did fire a bunch of work, but that was made over a period of a month or 2, so I am not counting it as work made during this time. I destroyed a bit of work through negligent handling on my part, like letting the big porcelain bowl dry way too fast and probably not trimming the foot enough (upon inspection it was probably 1/2 an inch thick down there).
The question is, can I actually physically DO it? can I make enough, well enough to get in the show and then will I actually be able to sell it all. That is the other side of the teeter-totter. I could potentially have enough work, but then what if I don't SELL enough? There seems to be a whole lot of uncertainty going on here. I still need to account for the time spent decorating. I do a LOT of detailed sgrafitto on some of my work, but for this show I think I will need to pare it down and really think hard about how much work should be committed to this torture.
I have even taken this question to the level of creating a stock list and estimating how many of each type of pot I could conceivably need to have on hand. I think I got a bit out of control there. The first estimate was in the range of 1800 pots. I revisited the list to see where I should pare my expectations down and it came in at just over 1500. The show that I am really thinking hard about entering takes place over 4 days and each day is approximately 12 hours long, You need enough work to not sell out early, the show organizers probably frown on empty booths, but you don't want to over produce to the point where you are packing up almost as much as you brought with you. I have a feeling my issues will be in making enough, not making too much. I don't think I could actually make that many pots even if I didn't sleep or eat or work at my other jobs. My hands and back can only take so much. I'm only 43, but my right hand is starting to get stiff and achy in the mornings and well, potters know about sore backs, especially if you sit at your wheel instead of standing.
It looks like every moment I have where I am not working elsewhere will be spent at the wheel for the next foreseeable future. I just did the math, and I will need 18.75 hours to make 600 cups. I am by no means a speedy potter, I think that works out to 32 an hour. I have been told that when my instructor was making production pots, he would throw at least a 100 mugs an hour. We can't all be superstars I guess. I can only hope that the pots I DO make are the best pots that I CAN make. 
~~~~~~~THIS JUST IN !~~~~~~~~~~~
I just did a quick guestimate - Starting this week, if I only spend 6 hours in the studio from now until just before the sale, there will be about 282 hours for me to get all this done. I tried to conservatively guess how many of each form I can make in an hour and it looks like I can THROW all that I need in just over 135 hours, leaving 147 hours for everything else. Then I calculated how much time I would need for the carving, knowing that I will need to speed the process up, I guessed at how many pots I could carve in an hour and guess what, I came to 147.17 hours. So, I need to find a couple extra hours a week to fit in trimming, glazing and loading kilns, but it looks like it might just be possible...if my body doesn't fall apart first that is.

Of course, somewhere during this time I will be moving back to my condo, so I will lose some time, but there is the 2 months in the summer where I don't work on Saturdays, so I gain a bunch of hours too...

I have a feeling this is just a bunch of whishful thinking....

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