Pottery hacks: Time-saving tips & techniques for efficiency
I am back this week with some time saving tips & tricks for your pottery practice.
When I was using a guest room as my studio, I did not think much about these as I was just starting out & was more focussed on learning & creating.
But now that I run a small business with a studio 45 mins away from my house, I've had to rethink and change the way I operate to make the most of my studio time. Today, These tips have become an integral part of my practice, simplifying processes and making them more efficient. I hope you'll find some value in them and be able to incorporate at least a few to save time and improve your own efficiency.
Let's jump right into it!
- Planning your studio time- Planning your day will most certainly lead to a more productive day and less overwhelm as you know your tasks for the day. I divide my week into studio and admin days. For my studio days, I usually plan in advance the projects I am going to tackle. This keeps me focussed on my plan and excited about my studio time. So while I am in the studio, I am not wasting time looking around or online for inspiration. I know what I am making and I dive right into it.
- Roll out your clay in bulk: An easy tip to save time is by rolling out a bag of clay at once and storing it between sheets of plastic. This way, I always have rolled out clay slabs ready to use whenever I need them without breaking my creative flow.
- Make templates and molds: I have drawers full of different templates and molds I commonly use for making forms such as plates, bowls, or mugs. These templates and molds make it quick and easy to cut & shape the pieces without having to measure every single time.
- Batch processes: I group similar tasks together and work on them in batches. For example, while making a batch of mugs, I cut all the templates in one go, add all the bases in the next step, make all the handles together & then attach them in a batch. I usually work in batches of 5-7 mugs at a time to ensure that the clay doesn’t dry too much. Though I do keep them covered with plastic between different steps to prevent excessive drying. This approach reduces the time spent transitioning between different tasks.
Plan your glazing in advance- I have a notebook dedicated to glazing where I plan & note all my glaze
combinations. Once I have a plan, I write down the glazes onto small sticky pads and place them inside or next to the corresponding pot. Then I separate them put into separate piles based on the colour. If it is a combination of multiple glazes, I follow the same process, where I note each combination and the sequence it goes on the pot and place them together and start glazing.
- Dip & pour instead of brush-on: I use dip & pour glazes instead of brushing on, especially when glazing a large batch. It turns out to be a lot quicker and more efficient as I don’t have to brush-on multiple layers of glaze & also don’t need to wait between the coats for the glaze to dry. Thus saving time.
- Waxing before hand: For easier dipping, waxing the pot bases is a handy tips. I usually wax my pots a day in advance so they're ready to glaze the next day. Again, batching the tasks makes the process a lot faster without breaking your flow. Quick waxing tip- Depending on how thick your wax is, you can thin it down with a little bit of water (only if you are using water soluble wax) . Add the mixture to a large shallow pan & dip your pot base in the wax pan instead of brushing the entire base. This substantially speeds up the waxing process.
- End of day clean-Up: It's a good idea to clean up your studio before you leave for the day. It might seem like a big task, but coming back to a clean and organized studio the next day boosts your motivation and productivity. Start your day fresh instead of wasting energy on cleaning up.
- Playtime: Along with my regular orders and commissions, I always make time for a few small projects just for fun. Exploring new forms and techniques without any expectations. These projects may become future additions to my offerings, but for now, I create them just for me.
- Keep your studio organized: Keep your tools, materials, and finished work organized in designated spaces. A well-organized studio saves time by making it easy to find what you need and improves your overall workflow.
- Personalizing your workspace: I’ve added some personal touches to my studio to create a welcoming and inspiring environment. I have shelves displaying my finished pottery pieces, handmade pieces from other potters, original art work from artists I admire. All these add to the overall vibe of my studio and keep me inspired and motivated.
- Evaluate and Refine: Regularly evaluate your pottery-making process to identify areas for improvement. Look at your workflow, spot any bottlenecks or time-consuming steps, and find ways to streamline further.
Remember, efficiency is a continuous journey of learning and refining your techniques. Try out these tips, experiment with different approaches, and find what works best for you. Happy potting!