Sunday, February 10, 2013

Packing Work

Here in the studio, we are making large numbers of items that will eventually all be shipped out. One way that we stay organized is packing units ahead of time. This keeps the studio uncluttered and makes shipping time a breeze.

We start by gathering our materials for packing. We use a half inch masking tape, packing tape, bubble wrap, cardboard separators, and labels in this process.

Each piece gets wrapped in bubble wrap that is secured with masking tape. We used to use packing tape for this, but we found it frustrating to open. The masking tape is so much easier on our customers!

The shot glasses are sold in sets of four, so they are bundled together with a cardboard separator keeping them in place. The bundle is held together by either packing tape of plastic wrap. Since I (Lisa) cannot seem to make that stretch wrap work at all, I use packing tape. On the outside of each bundle, we put a label.

Our labels clearly state who we are, what items are inside, and we include a QR code that leads to our website. I make sure to buy permanent labels - the removable ones fall off if exposed to variable temperatures. The square ones are great! I got them from Avery and they are backed with silver so they are opaque. I just run them through my printer when I need them.

We use totes and bins to store the pieces until they are shipped. Each of these bins holds 25 sets of shot glasses. When we pack these to ship out, there is at least 2 inches of peanuts between the items and the side of the box. When there are multiple units in a box, we use sheets of cardboard to separate them from each other. 
We use new, 200 pound test boxes and we stock about 30 different sizes. When we order boxes, we make sure we have a box on hand that will work for any item we ship.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Coming Soon!

Recently, as we worked on one skully cup after another, an image popped into my head. 
The image was not a piece of pottery, but a tool.

I grabbed Alex, gave him an idea of what I needed, and he went to work. The man is a great woodworker, too! Within an hour, he had a prototype tool made. The first one needed some tweaking, but after a couple of tries, we ended up with a tool - a wooden press mold of sorts - that helped us create the first trays for our skully cups. 

I love the pillowy nature of the trays! 
We scaled the tool up to make trays for lowballs and highballs, too. 
These will all be sold for the first time beginning February 10, at 7pm, on

These all came to be as a result of that meditative way of working that we've been talking about. While my hands went through the repetitive task of throwing cups, my mind was free to both wander and wonder, stumbling over the answer to the question of trays.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Production as Meditation

We have made a big shift since our last sale. We have fully embraced production pottery as our primary way of working. This has made us streamline and analyze efficiency of movement, but it has also freed us to be more creative. Wait. What?! How's that so?

When we sit down to work on wholesale orders, we focus on one thing for hours. This time is largely spent relying on muscle memory. While our hands complete the work, our minds are free to wander. This process is so meditative and relaxing that we find our sketchbooks filling with new ideas. These ideas are given time to flesh out while we trust that our hands remember what they are supposed to be doing.

When we sit down to throw 50 - 100 cups at a time, we waste no time. Every moment of that throwing time is spent moving toward our goal. As we work, we tend to get faster and more efficient, so as our output increase, so does the time saved by working in large quantities.

Now, what do we do with that time earned by becoming production machines? We work on things that are just for us. No, not just for us to keep, but we work on things that we do not have to sell to be flush this month. Working in production frees us to create without regard for how something will be received. We can make because we love to make and not because we need to sell.

Then, there is the benefit of all that time spent in a meditative state. We are happy and content. We are doing what we love and making a living doing it. We are focusing on the things that fill us with joy and leaving behind the worries that drag us into angst. Life is good. We are at peace.