Sunday, March 10, 2013

Things About Being A Potter #1

This is the first post in a new series explaining some things non-potters might not know about being a potter. 

#1 Being a potter isn't all about throwing pots

People often ask questions about how long it takes to throw a mug and it's really hard to answer without explaining that throwing may only take 5 minutes, but completing a mug can often take several weeks or months.

Throwing is the most familiar thing we do and lots of people think that's where the majority of our time is spent.  In reality, there are many other tasks that go into creating a piece of pottery both before and after throwing.  Like -

Clay prep - mixing or buying ready made
Cutting and weighing clay portions
Wedging clay (like kneading to align clay particles and prevent cracking)
Trimming foot/bottom
Making and attaching a handle
Slow drying to prevent cracking 
Kiln washing shelves
Bisque firing
Waxing pot bottoms
Mixing glazes
Glazing pots
Glaze firing
Cleaning shelves
Cleaning pots after firing
Cleaning the mess I made in the studio doing all the above tasks
And a collection of other "being a business" tasks.  

When I have a special order to make a mug, I also have to make enough other pottery to fill the kiln for both the bisque and glaze firings.  Sometimes that can be well over 100 pieces before I can fire that mug.

All said and done, throwing is by far my most enjoyable part of being a potter and I don't think I'm alone.

Have a great week.     


Lori Buff said...

Good stuff. At the art festival this weekend I was asked "how long does it take to throw a pot?" I said "After the 30 years of experience?" and then proceded to tell them most of what you wrote here.

DirtKicker Pottery said...

makes me want to raise my prices.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Haha, yep, i get that too, and answer honestly that I can make a cup shape in a minute and a half BUT glazing, trimming, decorating, loading the kiln etc is a half hour maybe.... plus my 30 years of experience, like Lori says! People also think it is EASY. I love the customers who have tried pottery and know the reality, as I say, it takes awhile to learn, just like rocket science and brain surgery...