This is the pottery fame I hinted about a few weeks ago. I have been featured in Ceramics Monthly!
If you are already a reader of this blog, the article will be familiar to you. The Hourly Earnings Project
was a year-long effort that was recorded on this blog. The editors of Ceramics Monthly asked me to develop it into an article last summer, then patiently waited through the end of the year while I finished collecting my research. It now appears in the current issue, which is their annual "Working Potters" issue (June/July/August 2011).
If you are visiting this blog for the first time, you can read all the raw material that went into the project by clicking the category The Hourly Earnings Project
. And there may be more analysis added to the project going forward, particularly on the subject of online sales, which I plan to venture into later this year.
I have already received so much wonderful feedback about the project. I'm thrilled that working potters find it useful.
If you don't subscribe to Ceramics Monthly
, you can read the article online
, or find it in your local bookstore.
A nest of baby robins hatched right outside my back door. This is how one of them looked moments before fluttering away into the yard. To my eyes, the bird is thinking "should I?" while the siblings are thinking "are you out of your mind?" Those who are self-employed in any field can relate! I watched it land on the ground, then stand there looking lost and overwhelmed, and I said to the bird "you'll get used to it."
I don't really like this part of my job description. Not because it's difficult or unpleasant, because it makes me feel anxious. Will they arrive in one piece at the other end of their trip? This means I can't let anyone else do it for me, because my anxiety would be worse. And think of that poor person whose anxiety would be "if something breaks, will Mea kill me?"
So far this year, I've had two pots broken during shipment, out of over 100 that have been shipped. I guess I can live with that, but I hope there aren't any more. Here are my tips for shipping pottery smartly, after years of learning what works and what doesn't:
1. Don't skimp on the bubble wrap. I try to make the bubble wrap two layers thick around each pot, with extra layers around vulnerable appendages like handles and spouts.
2. Rubber bands keep the bubble wrap securely wrapped. They're easy for me to apply, and easy to unwrap by the person at the receiving end. I started out using stretch wrap, which also removes cleanly for the recipient, but was a horrible inconvenience for me! Then I switched to cold seal bubble wrap, which sticks to itself without fasteners. This was very convenient for me, but I've learned it is a pain to unwrap. I've never used masking tape, scotch tape, or packing tape ... that's just plain rude towards the person who has to wrestle the tape off, and often makes the bubble wrap un-reusable.
3. Peanut pressure. I put three inches of peanuts at the bottom of a box, but otherwise I try to pack as many pots per box as possible. I shove peanuts tightly into all the void spaces. Then I let the box sit overnight at the least. The pots and peanuts will settle during that time. Then I'll add a mound of peanuts to the top of the load, and squeeze the box tops down. The top of the box should be slightly domed. If I shake the box it should be silent. If I drop the box it should make a dull, pillowy thud. The most common cause of breakage is when your pots shift around and hit each other. Peanut pressure holds them still. The second most common cause of breakage is when the box is dented or crushed, and peanut pressure helps to prevent that too.
Two more notes about peanut pressure ... if a packed box sits for a week before shipping, I will unpack it and pack it again. During that time the peanuts will settle too much, and the load will become loose. And whenever possible I have my pickups made on a Monday, to prevent my boxes from sitting in the UPS system over a weekend, which gives the peanuts time to settle.
4. Understand the UPS Dimensional Weight rules. This is why I try to pack my boxes densely. And since I began packing within these guidelines, my shipping costs have gone down by about one-third. In this business, shipping costs are bourn by the recipients, so why do I care? Because I care about making my work a good value for my gallery partners, even more than I don't want to make someone pull tape off of bubble wrap.
Wishing safe travels for all the pots out there on the brown trucks!
I have some pottery fame headed in my direction. It will arrive in my mailbox in a few weeks, and possibly in your mailbox too. Stay tuned!
(To those who know what this is about ... shhhhhhhh!)