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1 hour ago, dirtball said:

ok today i threw 33 mugs in 2 3/4 hours this would include wedging and weighing out the clay . so my question is how much work would be thrown in an average day for someone who makes a living as a potter. 

It totally depends on how one makes a living as a potter. A production potter who sells mugs for $26 and glazes them with a single or double dip and makes their money on volume is going to produce very differently than a potter who makes highly decorated mugs that sell for $65. I can throw 25 mugs in an hour, and trim them just as quickly, but it takes me 5 hours to decorate that many with underglazes.

One of my friends always says 'Making lots of pots is easy. Selling lots of pots is the hard part'.

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I fall in the more expensive mug category (and isn’t it funny that we all seem to measure so much around mugs?). 

First, I don’t wedge for mugs. The amount of clay is too small, and the particle business gets sorted out in the coning. I do wedge for 2 lbs or greater. I weigh out for the week’s production list, which isn’t done all in one sitting, usually on a Monday. That takes maybe an hour, hour and a half. Throwing mugs is at a rate of 2 1/2 minutes each, so about 24-25 mugs an hour. Some forms are a bit faster if they don’t require a lot of shaping. In a given week I can comfortably and easily finish 40+ mugs, usually mixed in with other things. My record is 120 without other stuff. The throwing is the fast part of the process. Handles and finishing take longer, but by how much depends on the style. 

I tend to look at my output in terms of what I can get done in a week, because you don’t spend every day throwing. 

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I sent you a pM

On output I used to think about 350$ a day minimum -throw that amount -finish that amount in same day. Now I do not think about such things as I can do more or less than that whenever I choose. Since its xmas the production often is more.In mid winter its less. I shift to the demand.

Two days ago it was 120$ larger bowls and pie plates (12) and some slab  square plates and oval platers in a day.That day was way over that 350 mark.

Mix in say 30 sponge holders and smalls for kiln stuffers and you can see its more than just mugs

We produce on average at least 120 mugs a week. Making 7 different sizes and 3 styles .

You need a mix of work to sell. unless you are a strickly mug shop (I know of one potter who only does names on mugs)

How you glaze or decorate will also make the production number a poor indicator of output.

Its more about the 350$-500 $a day output and then its retail or wholesale numbers-otherwise its apples to oranges


PS these are old price points as pots cost more now that say 20 years ago


Edited by Mark C.
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It also depends on your style of work. So if you spend lots og time decorating you cannot finish that and make that amount on same day.

Some potters throw one day trim another ect. Some collect enough  bique to fire fire and fire.

It all depends on what you do with your work.

I can trim and throw all same days with  gas heater  in shop or sun outside-many cannot so thats a factor as well. 

I am a fast glazer due to my style of work-looser can be faster. If your work is tight that takes extra time so style is a big factor.

No one way fits all.It all depends on the work you do.

I tend to work in one or two week cycles -with a bisque  loading then firing (while making the next weeks pots) and a glaze day (all day mixed in is also the kiln loading that day) then return to throwing next day. Right now I have done that 3 weeks in a row  as I had a surplus of bisque wares piled up before that and also this coming week its glaze every two weeks.

The  loading and firing most of this year is two kilns  the 35foot car kiln and the 12 foot updraft. thats 47 cubic feet a week or every two weeks. thats a lot of wares for the season.

I do not count pots  in kiln loads or what they are worth or anything close to that as I thinks its a waste of my time. I count the end of year totals for taxes and whats left over is mine thats what counts for me.Its been this way for most of my life in clay-the early yaers where more hand to mouth but in middle 80s it all changed due to traveling to fairs far away. Now I have slowed on that and have a huge steady local market going. Its been a full circle path really.

one last note those 350-500$ a day where long ago prices now its way up as pots cost more

Edited by Mark C.
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I'm not a professional potter, but I do make a lot of mugs.  When I sit down I can throw a bag of clay an hour without feeling rushed.  That's just throwing though.  Handle time depends on how I'm doing the handles... If pulled I can usually pull 60 handles in an hour, which is my usual amount +/- 10ish when I'm doing handles.  If I'm extruding I usually just extrude and attach right away and it takes only 5-20 minutes to extrude 60 handles, and depending on how set up the mugs are by the time I get to them, it can take me a minute per handle (when everything is leather soft) to a few minutes per handle (when the mugs are more towards leather hard, because I have to slip and retouch after).

Of course if you're racing you can do a bunch more, but that gets old fast and wears me down quick.  I enjoy taking my time because I'm not under any sort of time crunch.  They get done when they get done.

Extruded handles:


Pulled handles:



And as you can see I don't make anything overly complicated, it's all just a liner glaze and then usually 2 dips on the outside.  My brushfire mugs get a spray around the middle, but that's almost as quick as dipping once I have the sprayer hooked up.

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I also answer this question with a dollar amount instead of number of pots. My normal production rate yields $1250 per two days. That’s one day throwing + one day trimming, or two days of handbuilding.

On average though, it’s around 30 pots per two days. 

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1 hour ago, ronfire said:

I think it is time to up the price of $35 for custom painted mugs of your pet or horse




Um, given that custom pet portraits on paper start at about $75 CAD and go up from there, yes. You might want to reexamine your pricing structure.


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  • 2 weeks later...

It's so interesting hearing all the systems people have in place! I have been making a decent living as a potter for about 4 years now, and I will just throw in my two cents: making the pots is such a small facet of the workload. Emails, social media, packing, other office work, etc. are really the time-suckers and what inevitably brings business in (after dabbling with hiring assistants, eventually decided I liked working alone- so of course it is much different for folks with steady help). The amount I am physically making always fluctuates though depending on the season and also how I am personally feeling. I tend to base my workload off of shop updates/preorders or other deadlines and work backwards from there. With little rests in between. Less day-to-day goals and more of a  firing-to-firing goals for me. Likewise, many weeks I set out with throwing goals and they get completely squashed with other facets of the business that need more attention, haha. It feels more like "throw what I can each week" rather than "how much can I possibly throw in a day". Sometimes I wish it were the latter :) . Going into it I thought I would need to be hyper-organized and  time myself to do the math, make "x" amount a day with stagnant consistency, etc. because I saw that is what other "successful" potters did, but over time I just have a flow which feels good for my body and mind and worked with my annual revenue "goals". I also quickly woke up to the much smaller amount of actual studio time I get than one might think a full time potter would have! 

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The work you put in for me is the $ that comes out. Since I have a no ship policy after thanksgiving I can stay focused on prodution and delivery and my own sale.

My social media is zero for pots so thats not a time suck either.I have been getting a lot more calls about when will my booth be open. Its covid mania I feel.

I have developed a huge xmas market of sales over the past 4 decades and this month is the most profitable always  if I push it to the max . Which I'm doing but it all ends on xmas eve.The push starts in early November as well. My gas bill gets to be huge as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've only been full time for around 6 months but it's going well so far. It sounds like you don't need to worry about making speed, I think I throw slower than that. Like others have said it's all the other stuff that sucks time. I start to finish about 50 pots a week, they are mostly customised so take longer to finish than plain pots. 

I sell everything online , for me getting my dispatch setup efficient was key. I used to spend ages sorting labels and taking everything to the post office, waiting in cues...Now I've got some dispatch software that combines my Etsy and Shopify orders in one place and prints royal mail labels. Then all parcels get picked up at my house. 

Also building a larger kiln has made me massively more efficient. 

I personally think social media is not necessary, it sucks time. If you have good products and start getting good reviews on Etsy, you will be flooded with sales. I have too many. If you have a website that is good you'll get traffic without social media. 

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