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Callie Beller Diesel asked a question about organization a while back: 

I'm sitting here trying to organize some new things into my schedule, I am wondering how other full time clay folks organize their clay time vs office time? Do you dedicate certain whole days to one task or group of related tasks, or do you do some office work and some clay work every day? How does it change throughout the year, and how has it changed over time? Anyone with insights from other industries?

When you were transitioning from more structured jobs to full time clay, how did you handle having to organize yourself?

For those who aren't doing this full time, how do you organize your clay time into your schedule? What challenges do you have, and how do you problem solve?


I am retired, and over the years have had a ton of paper work to do, and of late, I have to admit, I usually am last to do it. I keep the records for our family LLC up to date, and am still trying to determine how to keep them for the pottery. I keep receipts, billings, and other things, but have not organized them of late. For years I had counted off the pottery on taxes, but last year was the last of that according to my tax accountants, I didn't really make enough for it to matter. Maybe 1K a year. Here it is only June though and I have much more than that with the wholesale I am doing. Thankfully, I do not have to worry about sales tax. Did that in the 90's and it was always a bit of a hassle. 

As far as getting into the shop. I have a listing of orders I need to get done, have it prioritized, and have started on making again. I try to get at least 3 days a week in, and try not to do too much on Sunday, and save Thursday afternoon for bowling. I have funeral urns for two dogs to make, 20 communion sets, more mugs and honey jars, some more teapots and Christmas gifts for family. I am also waiting to hear about some more wholesale orders that have been mentioned.

Presently I am trying to better organize as the one car garage has gotten really small as late. I am thinking of a wheeled platform for the heavier glaze materials, and glazes to wheel them out for use from under a large heavy shelving unit. I will move the bottom shelf up and use all of the shelving with much more order. That will probably mean moving some things out to a small shed in the unused driveway. I also want to move this shelving unit that stores all my glaze materials so that I can insulate the metal garage door. Then put it back, seal up windows and such. Lastly to figure out the best heat situation for the small brick garage/studio.






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This is my favorite and most important scheduling tool: a wall calendar that displays the entire year at a glance, and can be written on with a dry erase pen. I plan out about 2 months worth of days in advance, then stick to my plan as close as possible. It takes an emergency to make me ignore my plan. If I don’t stick to it, I will arrive at shows feeling underprepared, and I hate that! The shorthand you see (1a thru 1d, 2a thru 2d) refers to to-do lists that I keep in a notebook. Each to-do list produces about $1250 worth of pots. So when I apply for and get accepted into a show, before I commit to it I will make sure I have enough days to produce the necessary amount of inventory. If yes, then I will commit to the show and schedule the days of production. This way, I am always fully stocked. But I avoid overstocking myself which I consider wasted energy.

As you can see, I give myself regular days off, usually two in a row but sometimes three. I need these days out of the studio to let my sore muscles recover. Often, one of those off days will be spent working, just not in the studio. This is when I get my computer stuff done (bookkeeping, bill paying, writing blog posts, writing email campaigns, making hang tags, photographing my work, website updates, etc.) So that means I get one day “off” but that’s enough. 


Today 6/26 which is a day off. Tomorrow I start another round of glazing. And then I reach the end of my currently scheduled days. I have a completely unscheduled week 7/1 thru 7/7. Weird feeling! I will probably schedule those days as “video days” because I don’t need more pots for the three shows coming up in July. When I get near the end of my July shows, I will plan out all the days until my three October shows. Then follow the plan. 

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I have to organize my organizers, making sure they match:  a studio calendar for clay stuff, an electronic calendar that includes the studio  stuff plus the rest of daily living events, a studio white board with certain contents that "should" (never do) match the wall calendar, a set of electronic folders and files, and the inevitable bright sticky notes scattered throughout, directing me to do my thing before I forget. 

The first  screen shot is a folder with web-ready pics of my catchalls, ready for online insertion. All my photos are in folders by type, with subfiles for web-ready; the second screen shot is my file system. Too bad the file lists can't be read-I was hoping the titles would be helpful. The folders listed far left are my Art Biz, and the subfolder shown is Office and Operations; then the Master Inventory  tracker on the right is a file within that.

Works for me! The photo file name is also  the inventory code which is also the website product or item number, and is written on a piece of tape on the back of the piece. The drawers or bins the pieces are stored in are labled as well.  And, I also save certain CAD pdfs and "how to and tips" from this forum.  It's not OCD, it is organizational survival!!  The only way I can function is by having "A place for everything and everything in it's place", as my dad taught me. That, and the Blessing of the Day that I write on my whiteboard (from various sources). 

If anyone is interesested in the folder names--the categories of information and resource materials for Art Biz-- that I am using to develop my hobby biz, just msg. me.



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Edited by LeeU
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I am, of course, purely a hobbyist in clay, but I can share how I organize the primary work I do.

I use two systems simultaneously, a desk calendar and a white board that is probably 6' across. I use nothing digital.

The desk calendar is for planning tasks and dates associated with teaching. Everything is placed there by when I intend to do it, but I don't stick to that schedule religiously. I am usually ahead of plan.  These might be notations like "Write and send in syllabus to the U" or "Prepare class notes for session 1", or put together class assignment for Day 3"... I don't write in things that are completely routine, like copying the day's materials the day before or things like that.

The white board has sections for each project/effort in which I am engaged. That will have a sequence of things that need to get done for each project, like a timeline, and if there are actually necessary completion dates, when I plan to do them. So there might be 6 different timelines on different parts of the board, with dates written in.

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I'm not a big spend time in the office guy. As it is I have to bookkeep more than I would like and I try to limit this to winter hours as much as I can. I try to spend time outside more in outside season and less office time. If the weather is crappy then its office time.

Also now that I'm only doing 6 shows and more wholesale /and some consignment then planning is less hard. 

I have always done the same shows so I do not have to think much about when as they are always about the same times yearly.

I used to calendar up as Mea does now but it no longer like that for me. I used to work backward from the show to calculate the fires and times.

But now for example I have a show next week on the 4th of July-I packed 95% of van last week. All the pots are in that load. There is some what I call loose ends left to add but its not pottery.

I'm working towards my Big summer show in Anacortes Wa and most of that work is also done and just needs to be unloaded from two kilns priced and packed. I still need to make some wall fish art and some more spoon rests (just threw 200 in last two days)

I tend to glaze on Mondays or Fridays-Glaze fire on Saturdays or Tuesdays. Throw Heavy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays -deliver pots on Thursdays to markets-Unload and price on Fridays-this is General schedule not fixed in stone and it varies.Things like fishing diving or shows change this basic schedule

At a certain point you just know what needs doing without much thought and an office/computer is not needed.

I make a list at the show of whats needed to fill in the stock and work from this list-same with general Market stock(wholesale and consignment)

I also make another list of that shows Best sellers-I alway pull this list out at least a month before show and make sure that all those items I'm well stocked in. They seem to always be about the same with some yearly variances.On this list It may say bring 350 spooniest or two boxed of sponge holders or one plates sold well,or 8 boxes of mugs.

I try to never run out of stock and get ahead as much as I can so I can do what I want when the weather/Ocean cooperates -especially in summer.

I know come late December I will spend days accounting in the office-right now the sun is out and pots are drying and need trimming or handling.

Edited by Mark C.
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