In the world of clay once we leave the month of August, it is officially CHRISTMAS! I know, I know....I remember the days when the big department stores would celebrate every holiday season and not put the Christmas decorations out until AFTER Thanksgiving. But of course, those days are long gone.
Now it seems that by the end of September, beginning of October it is CHRISTMAS.....EVERYWHERE.
When your work is done in the land of clay, Christmas is an all year thing. During the down times you create pieces at store them in bisque form so that when the rush comes you can "glaze and go!" Most people do not realize what is actually involved in creating a piece of handmade pottery and how long it really takes to create a finished product from a 25 pound block of wet clay.
Creating a Holiday tray can take up to 6 weeks from start to finish. First working with the raw clay to create the focal piece, then adding texture, text, handles, or other embellishments. Then waiting for the piece to completely dry before firing it first in a low fire, bisque run.
Once the first kiln run is completed and the piece survives intact, it can then be glazed and fired for the second time in a glaze run.
What is hard to think about is that a kiln can hold a number of pieces and it is not desirable to run a kiln unless it is full. It is wasteful, and unnecessarily wears the kiln elements, not to mention the use of electricity. So, a potter wants to wait until they have a full load before running a kiln. If the kiln is filled with larger pieces, it can hold anywhere from 1 very large piece to 25 larger platters, bowls, or pitchers. Runs with smaller pieces can hold several hundred holiday ornaments and even more magnets! Waiting until you have enough pieces to fire either a bisque run or a glaze run can add time to your project timeline.
I always try to add an extra 2 weeks to each time estimate that I offer for creating a piece. That way, if the worst happens and a piece is lost on the last run for some reason, there may still be time to make it and ship it. I always try my very best to get my work where it is wanted on time. Once or twice over the past 8 years that has not happened. But 99 percent of the time, it gets done and shipped on time.
Keep in mind that as of today there are 11 weeks and 3 days until Christmas. Get your custom orders in early so there will not be any disappointments on Santa's big day!!!!!