I previously announced (very excitedly!)that the magical Adventureland of Punnydukes was to become one of my new stockists. As well as stocking my prints,patches, badges and stickers, the store also commissioned some new bespoke pieces from me too.
We partnered to create some mini ceramic Punnys. Punny is the mascot of Punnydukes. A teal wizard cat created by Katie Abey. In Katie’s distinctive style, he’s cute and witchy and everything Punnydukes. It was an honour to be asked and a brand new challenge, I’d never done a ceramic commission before.
It’s a risky job to take. Ceramics is unpredictable at the best of times. It’s a slow medium to create with as items need to dry before they can start multiple firing. As I work in a community studio there is often a bit of a kiln queue too. Being able to create pieces within a lead time that is comfortable for someone wanting to commission you, whilst also building in time for testers is tough. I decided to build an ambitious but doable lead time and set to work on the commission straight away.
The heat is on
My lead time banked on my pieces working without testers. I created a series of possible products I could create at a range of wholesale price points depending on size, detail, functionality and complexity. The product sketches ranged from figurines to jars. I like to be creative and give a range of options for clients to choose from. I ensured that the designs featured underglazes and glazes that I have used previously and am reasonably confident in how they would come out.
Famous last words?
Unfortunately yes. The glazes I were so confident in unfortunately did not come out how they previously had. The beauty and the curse of the art form. It appears that the glazes I had successfully used before had been suffering from being overused without being stirred. This leads to the ratio of the contents being skewered and so the effect of the glaze differed. It’s a science as well as an art afterall. The cherry blossom pink glaze I had chosen had come out much paler and more watery than I had planned. I just was t happy that it was up to my standard and so Iwas going to have to start again.
Bum bum bummmmmmm
Damn right it was suspenseful music time! I’d built myself enough lead time to potentially deal with an issue like this, but it would be really tight. There was every chance the order could end up late, and I have never sent out a late order before! Should I risk trying to get the order in on time or be honest about the challenge right now, that there’s a chance they might be late?
Of course, I chose the latter!
I’m just that kinda guy. I emailed, apologised, said the pieces might still be on time but there was a chance they could be late and I’ll throw in an extra figure for free by way of an apology. My very gracious clients told me not to worry. Being honest is ALWAYS the way to go.
I was back at the drawing the board. However, my brain is something of a Catherine wheel, and I never have an idea that has just one way to do it. I studied the first batch of Punnys, made notes on what to amend and cracked on it again. Second batch in the kiln and all fingers crossed. It’s a bit like Christmas waiting for your pieces to come out of the kiln, and a pleasant surprise they were when they did. The second batch was a success. Packaged up and hand delivered just a day or two after the original due date and with an extra Punny in tow to make up for the lost time.
The Punnys are now on sale in the beautiful, magical Punnydukes store. The clients were really pleased with their execution and I was really pleased with the effect of the glazes. Perhaps my favourite part happened just after I dropped the Punny’s off in person. I went to grab lunch and returned about an hour later to show some friends the shop. In that time they had already put them out for sale and sold one! The best compliment of all is a sale of course, and so my first ceramic commission seemed a real success to me.