Turnover (or How Ceramics Works)

I get a lot of requests for custom orders or wholesale orders of 50-500 pieces. My ETA has always been 4-6 weeks. I up it to 6-8 weeks during holiday because of the large amount of work that needs to be fired and backs up the kilns. Here is a brief post or FAQ on why that ETA exists. 


If I throw a piece on the wheel I need to wait for it to set up so that it can be flipped over and trimmed. If I hand build a piece it will still need to set up so that it can also be cleaned up pre firing. Before any piece can go into the first firing (called a bisque) it needs to dry thoroughly and slowing. I can try to speed it up to meet your demand but it can crack or warp in the process. No one likes a plate that doesn't rest flat or a handle that has fallen off a cup because I did not let it dry correctly. Let's say you placed an order for 50 mugs. I can throw 50 mugs in one day but I will need 2 days to trim and put handles on them. This puts us at 1-2 weeks. 

Next it needs to go into the bisque firing which is slow and steady. I like to fire at least for 12 hours. If you rush the bisque and the impurities of the clay don't burn out they can come out and ruin the piece during the glaze firing. Now just because your piece is ready to fire does not mean that I can fill a kiln or that there are not orders and student work that has been waiting ahead of you. I don't fire half full kilns. Firings are not cheap and not firing a full kiln is like throwing money in a paper shredder. The firing will take a day to cool. We are now at the end of week 3. 

Next I need to glaze your piece, fire it again and then wait another day. Same kiln rules apply from above. And here we are at week 4. And this of course assumes everything went correctly and nothing bit the dust through any of the steps. I always make a few extras for such events and to quality control large orders. 

Here is where week 5 or 6 can come into play. I might need to ship your order. Packing, scheduling pick up then delivery. Or your order might be so large that I'm still glaze firing. Or there might be so many other time sensitive orders in front of your that you are waiting in the queue.

Not honoring my turnaround time will get you know where. We live in a technological world and you picked ordering ceramics which in this day and age is a slow, steady form of craft. Trust me when I say its worth the wait. However if you refuse to honor the process you might want to find a different form of small batch manufacturing or another artist who thinks they can crank it out quicker.