About three months ago, I took a harsh look at my work schedule. I do three main things (ceramics, soaps, and yarns), and with bringing the lip balms and lotions in, I was looking for a better way to do things than a few minutes of ceramics every day, soap on Sunday and Monday, yarn on Tuesday and Wednesday, more soap on Thursday, lip balm and lotion on Friday, and full-on ceramics Saturday. For one thing, if you count that up, that's work every day. Which isn't necessarily the tipping point for change - every artist and writer I know works every day. Creativity isn't a M-F 9-5 job, it's a 24-7 brain-on-fire job. But I did spend a lot of time feeling that I didn't have time to finish what I was working on before I had to be on to the next thing, and I felt that I was falling behind and was becoming more unorganized.
Then three months ago, I evaluated everything and took this tack, thinking that I would do that for three months and see how it went. I do about two hours of ceramic work every day; then one week (Sunday - Friday) I work on yarn. The next week I work on soap. The third week I work on lip balms and lotions (and try to catch up on email, file paperwork, and other office things like supply inventories, ordering, checkbook balancing... that sort of thing). Every week I spend a good portion of the day on Tuesday and on Saturday, pouring and cleaning greenware. At the same time I reevaluated my kiln firing schedule. I had just finished a year of yarn mug custom orders, so no longer needed to fire the kiln every four days -- and I have to tell you that dropping down to firing weekly has very much freed up my time, and allowed me to have a day off every now and then. (You guys should try this "day off" thing! It's awesome!) Ceramics is my first and best love, and now that I can once again take time with it, especially doing detail painting work, my love for it is only increasing.
For the most part that three-week schedule has been working out very well. Like I just said, firing the kiln only on Thursdays, instead of Thursdays and Mondays, has really calmed my schedule down because I don't have the pressure to produce enough to fill the kiln (as an aside, many of the ceramics in my sale section are things that I glazed not because I was inspired, but because I needed to put something in the kiln, and I don't feel inclined to keep them as regular offerings, or at least not as they are currently done). I do still feel a little behind on paperwork (my "file weekly" box may have grown into a second box, insert shifty eyes here). But really for the most part I am very happy with how this three-week schedule is working out.
And then I had to go and learn how to do a new thing.
For a long time - years, really, even before making HaldeCraft a reality - I've had ceramic pieces in mind that I want to do. Things that I want to make that because of the way I currently make things, just don't work. I've experimented here and there, and have just never been happy with the result... the things I come out with never look like how they look in my head.
But this last week I've had what you might call an intense course of study; my husband's aunt, who was a ceramicist and potter for many years until selling her studio just a few years ago, came and stayed with us for a week and has given me so much knowledge in the last four days that I can honestly say that those things I've been wanting to make are now only weeks away from being able to happen and be shown in the shop.
However - you knew there had to be a "however", right? - that means I need to make time to do those things. I don't particularly want to stop making all the things I make now (except possibly the massage lotion, but that's another blog post for later) so the best way I can see to add time to make these beautiful, exciting things, is to go to a four-week schedule. One week for yarn, one week for soap, one week for lip balms and lotions, and one week for hand-building ceramic pieces.
Let me start by saying that I have a couple of yarn and soap custom orders out there right now, and this new schedule will not have an effect on those custom orders. If we've already been talking about something in a particular time frame, those things will absolutely still happen.
But for the near future, my schedule will look like this --
- 3/3-3/9: Yarn
- 3/10-3/16: Hand-building ceramics
- 3/17-3/23: Soap
- 3/24-3/30: Lip balms/lotions
(and so on, in a four-week rotating schedule, and still with about two hours of painting and glazing of ceramics every day, and pourings of greenware on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I do like to step back every three months and look at how I'm doing, so I will evaluate this at the end of May and see if that's working for me. If I'm falling behind in anything, or anything doesn't need the full time I've given to it, that will be addressed.)
Why am I telling you this? Some people like to know what I'm working on, when, so that they can time their custom orders to coincide with when I'm working on that thing anyway. Or so that they can make an educated guess about when their piece might be ready.
I'm very, very excited about what I've been learning and making this week, and can't wait to be able to share it with you.