search  current discussion  categories  forms - misc 

production rates/mugs

updated mon 1 nov 04


Chuck Wagoner on sun 31 oct 04

The original question, "was how much time it takes to make a mug?" Not
just on the wheel but through the whole process. It is fun to ponder and
very hard to answer. From start, "clay prep", to finish, unloading kiln
and grinding the bottom I came up with the rough figure of 10 to 12
minutes. This would not include making of the clay and glazes and
maintenance on hardware, wheels kilns, but just the point from wedging
the clay to final firing. Some of the considerations would be, wedging,
throwing, making handles and attaching, cleaning bats, bisque, glazing,
all the loading and unloading, grinding and pricing.

My original post in response to "How Many Pots" was really meant to be
more about the fact that when some one talks about how many pots they
can make in a certain time period they often leave out what comes before
and after the time on the wheel. There is clay prep and all the
finishing and cleanup that go after the "on wheel time". If a potter
says "I made 100 pots on one day" I am always curious to know what they
did the next day. Of more interest to me would be how many pots a day a
potter in a small studio makes on average over a month period. We think
at our small pottery it is more like 20 or so when it is all averaged
out. One day I might make 100, but for three days we are working on
other parts of the process.

To answer the question about actual time making the pots on the wheel, I
worked at a production pottery factory where over a period of months and
years learned to center the clay and pull up a cylinder in a matter of
minutes. However, it still takes time to make a careful bigger work with
a pleasing form. If someone is taking an hour to make four very well
made and beautiful four pound vases then there is nothing wrong with
that. It was always rough when the owner of the pottery would tell me to
lower my quality and "crank out" the pots. Now that I can run my own
shop I take as much time I was want to finish each pot carefully and
never try to hurry.

To learn to throw the starting cylinder more efficiently I would
encourage making some very vigorous practice pots where you make some of
the first major pulls so fast that you are almost sure the clay will
fall down with no intent to save or finish these "practice pots".
Pulling to the "edge of the envelope" is one of the ways I have learned
to throw more quickly and thinner. Also, "tuck" in the base of the
cylinder so it looks like a cooling tower "Three Mile Island". That will
help it not twist and torque.

Speed and Size are not precursors to good pottery. I also do not "count"
when I am working on the wheel. Just make pots and enjoy each one. I
would rather put in some more time at the pottery then to feel like we
are trying to hurry to make more pots.

Mt intent was not to brag about "How many pots I can make", quite the
opposite. I would rather make one good pot in a day then 100 bad ones in
8 hours.

Potter Wagoner

It is another beautiful fall day just west of Indy where the Cardinal
Fans are getting over it and Cubs fans are used to it.