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Miss B

Have You Timed Yourself Making A Mug?

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Hi all,

 

Last month I did a little test of how 'efficiently' I throw/decorate a mug and today I posted the results and images on my blog, also copied below:

  • Between 3-5 mins to wedge
  • Between 13-15 mins to throw a mug
  • 10 mins for turning
  • 5 minutes to pull the handle and attach
  • 5 minutes for cleanup
  • Bisque firing
  • 5 mins of sanding to make them 'closer' to my desired finish (i.e. smooth, no throwing lines)
  • 15-30 minutes decorating - I tried out a sample pack of Japanese tissue transfers and added some trailed underglaze for definition
  • 10 minutes for glazing and glaze cleanup (e.g. bottoms)
  • Glaze firing

In total? between 66-85 minutes per mug. Eeek! I should state upfront that I am new to ceramics so I don't look completely moronic ;)

 

So - what I am interested in understanding from everyone are some 'industry baselines' for making a mug - i.e. how long does it take you (understanding of course everyone's creation/decoration techniques are different and thus have different 'time investments')...?

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I have timed myself several years ago. Before watching the clock, I thought

I was making mugs in about 3 to 5 minutes, and so many minutes for trimming and adding handles, and a few minutes here and there for cleaning with scotch brite pads, loading for bisque, staining, and glazing. But when I timed myself, the real

time closely resembled your time study. Now since the reality check, I just make items and don't worry about the time. They're done when I think they're done.

Having OCD in some areas of pottery steps doesn't help, but I'm OK with that too!

Since I'm competing with myself, I always win!! :))

See ya,

Alabama

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as you gain skill the time will shorten, of course, but you are spending time on steps that are unnecessary.  sanding is something i have never done.  i use a stainless steel rib at the end and throw with little water.  the stainless rib at the end pushes in any grog and smooths the surface very well.  nothing left to sand.  just learn to hold the rib at an angle to the surface, press hard and let it slide over any throwing rings until they disappear.

 

your choice of decoration may change also to something simpler and that will reduce the time spent.  you have lots of other things to worry about while a beginner, time spent on one thing is such a variable that it isn't worth considering.  later on, it might matter.

 

just enjoy all of the process.

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My thoughts are that your timing seems pretty good for a beginner, but you definately need to do something about that sanding time!  When I was learning to throw in the 70's, we were not even told you could sand.  If you don't like throwing marks, there are quicker and safer ways to take care of that, as oldlady stated.  Sanding raises a lot of dust that settles in your studio and lungs.

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All surface finishing should be done at the wet or leather hard stages. Sanding dry or bisque pots creates dust which is a health hazard. Very bad for you! I don't allow it in my studio. Try using metal or rubber ribs to smooth the surface during throwing and trimming and sanding won't be necessary.

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I think this question is similar to asking how long is a piece of string.

 

Work in runs, you will get way faster.

Make a few hundred mugs, you will get way faster.

Make a few hundred handles, you will get way faster.

Cut down how many times you pick up a mug to work on it, you will get way faster.

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Way back I did a job that was 2000 vessels for a religious conference. Little cups smaller than a mug golf ball sized clay. Started throwing off hump-60 a day in beginning. That was all that survived overthrowing, poor cutting off, warping when moving, cutting through the bottoms, or other maladies. Then 3 months later I was throwing 200 a day, trimming all the next and throwing 100 more. Survival rate without cracking in first loads was 70%, then in the later loads 99%. Did I get paid well, no, but what I learned in 3-4 months was worth 3 years of throwing. I can throw off the hump now.

 

best,

Pres

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I agree with everything Min said! Also, +1 for ribbing off the throwing marks with a metal rib. 3 seconds vs 5 minutes each.

 

Because you asked for a baseline:

-Wedging I don't count, because I take half a day and do it up for the next 3 days of production and re-bag it, plus another hour or 2 of serious cleanup for everything at the end of the week, Wet mop and all. I try and work tidy.

 

-2.5-3 minutes to throw the body. I aim for 24 in an hour.

 

-About 25-30 minutes to pull handles for the above batch of 24. (Whatever that works out to.)

 

-2-3 minutes each to attach handles, alter the form slightly and finish the foot.

 

-It depends for glazing and decorating. I have a lot of stopping for drying time, and I go glaze other pots while I waiting. I'm going to estimate about 12 minutes each, wax and cleanup included. (This really is a random guess.)

 

That's based on a mug I have made hundreds and hundreds of, literally, and with all conditions being ideal. I have a new style that is taking me longer because I haven't worked out the exact handle pulling mechanics, and I'm having to fuss with the handle a bit more than I'd like. Fatigue levels affect all these times, as does stopping and having to make any sort of creative decision, be it in the form or any step in the decorating.

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If you have the choice between making a poor-quality mug in 10 minutes and a beautiful one in 60 minutes, spend the hour. When selling the work the final price should be solely based on the quality and not on the time spent.

 

When someone asks about how long it takes, just include the years of practice and all the failures averaged into final product!

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And of course much depends on the desired goal.  I like throwing marks and Asian-style glazes, celadon, shino, and tenmoku, but not every mug wants to be that.  The basics of throwing, trimming, and assembly will certainly speed up with practice, but how long you take to decorate and glaze are completely up to you.  My skills at 2D decoration are near zero, so I don't usually spend any time there, but many folks spend lots of time drawing and decorating on their works; sounds like you are one of these talented people.. 

 

Despite my simple taste in glazing, even for me creative decisions are often the biggest time-killer, as mentioned by several of the previous commenters.  That's perfectly OK for a hobbyist, as I am now, but a killer if you're doing it for money.

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When I design and make a new form it takes a long time as I decide, design and develop it to the final look I want. Once I get a prototype I am pleased with I then make another one taking into consideration what small changes in my process I can do to improve my time yet keep the look I want. I can take several builds to get this fine tuned to a point where I think it's time to do a whole run. For a run I work in 6-12 lots and work in a production line kind of way. I time myself for this i.e. It takes 30 minutes to complete 12 plates or some such thing. I keep this time and count taped to the wall then as I put the new form into production I check the time and count every now and then as I usually get faster.

 

Now this works for production type stuff but the hand painted stuff is impossible to duplicate since there are too many variables. For these I just charge what I feel like and sometimes I mark them way up, I do this if I really really like something and want to keep it around for awhile. I figure what amount I could let it go for and not cry as I bag it up and mark it at that, I've sold items a few times at these outrageous prices but don't regret the sale since I got a really nice amount for them. I usually get tired of these pieces over time and reduce the price down to a more standard and reasonable amount.

 

As for clean up I do 99% of clean up in the wet or leather hard stage using water, but I use little loafers and it has very little grog so this works. I avoid sanding if at all possible. If I have to sand something I wear a mask and do it outside to keep the dust out of me and the studio. I have been practicing my rubber rib skills and am getting better and better at getting the forms perfected before they get anywhere near the bone dry stage.

 

T

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Miss B, as a fellow beginner my total time per mug for my highly decorated and carved mugs is 60-90 minutes.

 

For a simpler mug with just some slip trailing it's around 45 minutes, here is the breakdown: 

 

10-15 throwing (I have been as fast as 5 minutes but if I try for that disaster strikes so I take my time, the speed will come with greater skill)

15 trimming, smoothing, handling

10 slip trailing

I glaze in batches and I do about 6-10 mugs per hour. 

As Pugaboo said, working up the prototype takes the longest. Each subsequent piece you make in the same design is quicker and easier in no small part because you've gained skill. The first carved, glazed, detailed (I'm insane to make these) wildflower bowl I made took me probably 4 or 5 hours. I did every single blade of grass with a tiny brush. I've made that design around a dozen times now, and the most recent bowl I made took around 90 minutes. I use wax resist now for the grass. :D

 

In the very beginning when I first started selling my stamps three years ago I added up all the time I spent on my business (making, photographing, shipping, listing) and realized I was making $3 an hour. I don't recommend that you do that because it was very discouraging and by the end of the year the number was probably $15/hour as my business took off. This year I've been setting up my studio and cutting back on the stamps to focus on pottery, so income has dropped and my costs have been unusually high. So my hourly income is a number I refuse to think about. Next year will be better. This is the hard part.

The bottom line is that I want to make money at home and I am. Do I make $50/hour? Nope. Do I love every minute my hands are in mud? Yes. 

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It depends on what type of a mug. We do a lot of large order custom work.

 

Log of pug clay.

Use an egg cutter to get the right weight slug.

Depending on the mug 1 to 3 minutes.

Trim foot 1 minute.

Press and apply clay decal 3 minutes.

Exuded and apply handles 3 minutes.

A couple days to dry out.

Stain clay decals 1 minute.

Wax clay decals 1 minute.

1 minute per glaze color.

Gas fire to cone 6.

 

So once the clay is pugged I would say under 15 minutes of hand on work per a mug.

 

Thinking in type...

last week we finished 1,000 mugs for a local manufacturing plant in there colors and there logo. It took 3 potter and 2 helpers 4 days from the puged of the clay to when they were ready to decorate. It took half a day to decorate and to load them right onto the kiln cars. It took half a day to unload the kiln cars and to pack into boxes. I have about 200 hours of hands on work to go from pugged clay to 1,000 boxed goods so about 20 minutes a mug.

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way too funny

oh" Excreted and apply handles 3 minutes." hope this was meant to be "exuded" otherwise too much personal info.... :D

ohhh - too funny - awful visual images - not of you JAW - just Babs' comments

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way too funny

oh" Excreted and apply handles 3 minutes." hope this was meant to be "exuded" otherwise too much personal info.... :D

ohhh - too funny - awful visual images - not of you JAW - just Babs' comments

 

 

Okay everybody, when you start excreting clay it is time to wash your hands, take off your apron, and go to bed. 

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I just timed myself drinking a mug of coffee to the point where it's still warm enough to my liking and my findings regarding this scientific experiment were that it took a lot longer to make the mug than drink the coffee. I'm going to refill it now and sit here, sip some more coffee and continue to read the forum this morning now that I've solved this mystery. A little later I'll go downstairs to the studio.

 

Paul

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I just timed myself drinking a mug of coffee to the point where it's still warm enough to my liking and my findings regarding this scientific experiment were that it took a lot longer to make the mug than drink the coffee. I'm going to refill it now and sit here, sip some more coffee and continue to read the forum this morning now that I've solved this mystery. A little later I'll go downstairs to the studio.

 

Paul

 

Are you going to sip and ponder until "time to make = time to sip"?

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Guest JBaymore

When someone asks about how long it takes, just include the years of practice and all the failures averaged into final product!

 

Famous HAMADA Shoji quote"  "60 years and 15 seconds".

 

Was printed on a fund-raising T-shirt for Mashiko after the Great Eastern Japan tsunami/earthquake.

 

best,

 

.....................john

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I'm not sure this is really a useful metric, though it is interesting.  I'm a fairly fast thrower, but throwing is the part of making a pot that takes the least amount of time, at least for me.  There's wedging (my least favorite job) weighing out balls of clay, assembling multi-part pots like teapots and pipes, trimming, decoration (which often involves slip, for me,) signing, loading the bisque kiln, firing, unloading, resist for the bottoms, glazing (often a multipart effort, for me,) loading the glaze kiln, firing, unloading, pitching wasters, grinding bottoms and other small flaws, pricing, photographing work for the online shops, answering queries, packing, carrying work to the post office, correspondence. etc.  And that doesn't include ancillary stuff, the overhead of production, like maintaining equipment, ordering supplies, testing glazes, mixing glazes, maintaining the studio, pursuing publicity, and so forth.

 

If I had an intern to do the dirty work, i could probably throw 500 mugs a day, but then I'd need another day or three to handle, decorate, and finish them.  No, if I throw a couple dozen mugs, that's usually enough for one sitting, for me.  Then I want to throw something else for a while.

 

Under the most conducive circumstances, I still wouldn't be approaching Isaac Button territory.  That level of speed is literally impossible for potters these days, because we who attempt to make pottery as art spend a lot more time thinking about what we're making than Isaac had to.  And that cogitation takes more time than most of us realize.

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