Saturday, October 6, 2012
We mentioned a couple of weeks back that we have a large wholesale order of 760 pieces that we had to complete in less than a month. Well, we have completed the making of the pieces and are just glazing and firing now.
We are not production potters and have not ever worked on large quantites of the same item for extended periods. Prior to this, we might throw 24 skully shot glasses at a time and then move on to something else. We have been driven by distraction and whimsy.
The first thing we discovered was a need to efficiency of space. As we worked and paths constantly crossed to get this or that, I began to look at our studio space with a critical eye. I realized that we were wasting time by constantly moving from one side of the studio to the other.
One thing we had done was ask areas to multitask in inefficient ways. For instance, above my glaze making area, I had some shipping supplies and things we tuck into packages like business cards and bookmarks. Well, we don't pack over there, so this was a time and space waster. We flip flopped the shipping supplies with glaze colorants, which made much more sense.
I think this will be an ongoing process, but I've learned to pay more attention to how we move in the studio and analyze our space more often. just because we have always done something one way, doesn't mean it is the best way to do it.
A big lesson came in making. This was also a surprise. We realized that in making very large series of items, we could quickly pinpoint where mistakes were being made in both efficiency of movement and craftsmanship. By moving so quickly through making, firing, glazing, and making again, we could be more easily why processes succeeded or failed. This meant that we drastically reduced the number of seconds over the course of the project. It also means that seconds are now reduced from here on out, which means more profit and less waste.
The final lesson came in learning to breathe. Before we got this job, we already had tickets to an Oktoberfest celebration and the National Storytelling Festival. We said from Day One that we would not let this project consume every waking moment for its duration. We committed to down time and days off even if it meant a few late nights or extremely early mornings.
When I was in school, one of my college professors said to me several times, with a rich middle eastern accent, "Lisa! You feel-a bad, you make-a bad clay. Go home!" That become my mantra over the years and let me know when it was time to refuel. If we don't recharge, we make-a bad clay. What we do take energy and passion and in order to mete out energy and passion all day, we have to receive it, too. For us, that meant spending a day tasting countless beers with our friends and a weekend in Jonesborough, TN listening to storytellers at the National Storytelling Festival.