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studio schedules

updated tue 30 nov 99


Mert & Holly Kilpatrick on sat 27 nov 99

I am interested in how people in one-person studios schedule their days - as
someone looking forward to one day exchanging the 8-5 for self-employment.
Do you follow a regular set schedule? Do you ever have problems getting
distracted by other activities? How do you handle that? Do you put in a
certain number of hours a week? How many hours a week would you say you
work on the average? I am talking about people who support themselves with
clay work.

Looking forward to your comments,
Holly in PA

Cindy Strnad on sun 28 nov 99

Hi, Holly.

How much time you put in, and how distractible you are is purely a function
of your own personality. If you're a workaholic type, you may end up putting
in 12-14-16 hours a day. If you're like me, you wish you had someone to make
you go to work. But it's good for you. Forces you to develop
self-discipline if you want to pay the bills. At any rate, if you're a
grown-up, you'll find the right mix of schedule and spontaneity for your own
personal style and you'll get it done one way or another. (Hint: CLAYART is
a good excuse for not getting *right* to work, but you do learn a

Cindy Strnad
Earthen Vessels Pottery
Custer, SD

Carolynn Palmer on sun 28 nov 99

Basically I am a one person studio. I make a living from functional pottery.
The pots dictate the schedule.

First, I write the pots I need to get made on a wipe-off board, including
orders and pots I've decided to make to fill inventory for shows, etc.

I know from experience about how many pots I can throw in any given amount of
time, so first I decide which pots I need to make then proceed from there.
Teapots, for instance, take a lot of assembly time and are touchy about
drying, so I throw fewer teapots than if I were going to throw bowls, which
are quicker and require no assembly.

I follow no preset schedule exactly - the pots will set the schedule. When
the shelves are full, it is time to bisque and when the bisque firing is
cool, time to glaze, etc. The pots also dictate how many hours I work per
week. Sometimes I work 12-14 hour days and sometimes only 4 - 6 hour days.
Sometimes 7 days a week, sometimes less. It depends on the pots. On how
fast the pots are drying, how quickly I want to get an order out, how excited
I am by a new form, a new glaze, etc. There are so many factors that must be
worked around, that I have found it is just best to let the pots decide when
and how many hours to work.

Distractions for the self-employed have to be dealt with firmly. For
example, I have no telephone in my studio because it is too big a
distraction! The worst and hardest to deal with is my family, who used to
think I am not really working, just because I am working at my studio at
home. Whenever they are not doing anything, they tend to assume I am not ever
doing anything. It took me a long time to realize that I couldn't just drop
everything (I just didn't want to be perceived as rude) and entertain them,
or go with them somewhere, etc.

Now, if someone drops in, I just say I'm sorry, but I am working and please
do not interrupt me. They are welcome to follow me about and talk to me
while I work. You will have to let them know they are interrupting real WORK.
A hard concept for non-potters to grasp, I know. And sometimes you might
just have to be rude.

I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's. I love making pots. But to make
a living from pots requires lots of self-discipline and letting those who
interrupt you know that they are indeed, interrupting real work.

Good luck.
Carolynn Palmer, Somerset Center, Michigan

Mark & Pauline Donaldson-Drzazga on sun 28 nov 99

Dear Holly,

having worked for myself, mainly by myself for thirty years supporting =
myself by
making clay objects, I have not had a week that I could call typical.
I sometimes put a thirty six hour =22day=22 coupled with a normal nights =
sleep (for
me that's about 5 - 6 hours max) and then a normal days work (8 -12 hours). =
also go shopping in the morning, have lunch then start work at 2 o'clock and
finish at 7 or 8. This week I have been mainly not been working at all =
I have got masses of work), I don't feel guilty as I know that I will be =
able to
put the amount of work in that I need to fulfil the orders.
There are times when I find it more difficult to work than others, but I do =
panic, as this is the worst thing I can do. I also know that some people put=
regular time to their work schedules, that's great for others I need the =
to get me going. It all depends on the individual, that is what working for
yourself is all about - yourself.
My advice is to just find your own way of working, no matter how weird or
normal, and sod anyone else. You are the one doing the work. Go for it, it =
is a
great life.

Happy potting Marek

Elca Branman on sun 28 nov 99

What wass wonderful is that for me it never was a schedule;it always was
a rhythm..

Throw , let set up while you stack bisque, mix a glaze thats needed,
attend to a customer, hopefully sell the darn pot, ooh lunch already..
wax bottoms from yesterdays bisque.. if its winter and the air in the
studio was dry enough, the morning pots could be ready for trimming and
so it went, one task leading to another and rarely did i have a program..

mostly it was unstack bisque, throw pots and then whatever seemed most
pressing, from making up a clay order to get dead mouse out of glaze
bucket..nah, let it wait a day,dead already but hasn't started to

This may reflect my nature , more than the nature of the craft, but I
always felt guided ,not pressed, by the clay process.

I never glazed until there were enough pots for one of the big kilns and
i never fired until I had enough pots to fill the kiln..I never(well
haradly ever) stacked outside when it was freezing cold..things just sort
of melded into a process.

Hope it works that way for was always a joy(except forr dead
Elca Branman.. at home in Sarasota,Florida,USA

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Janet Kaiser on sun 28 nov 99

Hi Holly,

And good luck setting up your professional workshop/studio.
In answer to your question, I would like to point out that ANYONE working
from home has a basic problem: family, friends, utility employees and
everyone else you expect and usually welcome to your home, will keep popping
in, phoning, calling to read meters, ask for food, need the laundry done,
have to be taken to the dentist, etc. etc.

Not only will you have to train YOURSELF to keep to a work schedule, you
will have to train EVERYONE ELSE to understand this is your work, your
livelihood and how you keep a roof over your head and bread on the table.
This means no calls from 8:00 to 5:00 (or whatever you decide are your
working hours), no expecting you to drop everything for a chat, no chauffeur
service for the kids, NOTHING!!! If you are like me, it is hard enough
making yourself stick to a schedule, but by God it is nothing compared to
training everyone else...

Which is why a studio at the bottom of the garden, in the garage or
(preferably) at least a mile away from home is best.

Never have a phone in the studio... Or if you do, put on a message to say
you will phone back in the evening (for USA and other countries where calls
are free) or to request they phone again from time A to time B (those
countries where you pay for calls yourself). Time A to time B is not when
you plan to see the kids off to school, cook dinner or have other household
duties or "normal" life.

AND when working out your work schedule, remember that you still have to
fulfil the other things in your personal life: shopping, laundry, cleaning,
dentists, etc.
On top of this you will have to do all the other work as a self-employed
person: sourcing and ordering materials, doing the accounts *seriously*
including taxes, finding buyers, selling, promoting your work including all
the flyers, personal contacts, gallery visits, phone calls... paper work and
running around ad nauseum! This is on top of your production and creative

The number of hours you will need to work? Depends on what you produce, how
long it takes to make, how much you can sell each "unit" for. If you already
produce work and sell it, work out how much you earn from that one day per
week. Then add your normal income (from your current employment) and work
out how much you have to "make good". Will it work? Is it feasible?

I am not a working potter, I am one of those dreadful gallery people, but I
work a minimum 18 hour day. No social life. No time to be ill. One shopping
trip per week (about 2 hours) which includes a visit to the barbers once a
month (not the hair dressers). One hour per week ironing. One hour cleaning
(yes, only the kitchen and bathroom are clean, the fluff up the stairs stays
static once it is at least half and inch thick). I take an hour per day to
cook and eat. No lunch. No TV. No reading. Only relaxation is this list!!

The biggest difficulty to overcome (which has a knock on effect re:
creativity especially) is the change from a regular income to a limited or
to no income for a time... Unless you get everything sorted out extremely
well before you start, the lack of a pay packet at the end of the month is a
severe strain...

I expect you will get lots of advice about your studio schedule, but quite
honestly I think sorting the above is the basis of a successful leap to
working professionally...

Hope it helps!

Janet Kaiser -- where the winds have reached 60 m.p.h. and increasing
The Chapel of Art, Criccieth, GB-Wales

-----Original Message-----
From: Mert & Holly Kilpatrick
Date: 27 November 1999 15:46
Subject: Studio Schedules

>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>I am interested in how people in one-person studios schedule their days -
>someone looking forward to one day exchanging the 8-5 for self-employment.
>Do you follow a regular set schedule? Do you ever have problems getting
>distracted by other activities? How do you handle that? Do you put in a
>certain number of hours a week? How many hours a week would you say you
>work on the average? I am talking about people who support themselves with
>clay work.
>Looking forward to your comments,
>Holly in PA

elizabeth priddy on mon 29 nov 99

This is what I try to do in general. My
specifics probably would not work for anyone

I would strongly recommend that you evaluate
your own biorythms (sp?) and set your work
schedule for optimal creative performance.

Set your schedule up so that you are doing
low-brainer work at the times of day when you
are "cold" creatively.

Fire at night if you can so that you can work at
off peak hours. Sometimes you can catch a break
from your power company if you do this.

Don't set open shop times when you are
normally grouchy. And since you are your own
boss, allow for a siesta to break up your day.
Power naps can make people better workers and
you will be in prime power nap country, your
own bed.

Vary your work so that you don't grow to hate
the thing you used to love.

You should be the best boss you ever have, not
the kind you hate. Some people forget this the
second they start working for themselves, asking
themselves to do things they are not good at,
asking themselves to work at times they are not
at peak performance, asking artists to be
accountants...Pretend you are applying for the
dream job and make it exactly what you would
work for free for. Then get paid to do it.

And keep your options open. Working at home by
themselves makes some extroverted types a little
stir crazy. You would be well to re-evaluate
your plan every six months for a while to make
sure you are really and or still happy. I don't
know what your personality type is, but you do,
and your work schedule should reflect your

There is no better life. Good luck to you!
Elizabeth Priddy

Clay: 12,000 yrs and still fresh!

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