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The Importance of Keeping a Ceramics Log or Notebook: Article or Project

Keep Paper and Pen at Hand ALWAYS

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For Projects

Have you ever completed a project and, some time later, have someone ask how you made it? Then, as you start to explain, you can’t quite remember exactly what products or sequence you used to create the masterpiece? It is more common than you might think.

Keep a notebook in your studio, next to your work area and jot down notes each step of the way. Write down the products and colors and brands, how many coats, what brushes you use….everything. Being in the habit to do this will prove invaluable as you expand your experience in the field of ceramics. AND, DON’T FORGET to take pictures. You can snap photos or short videos of each step or just the finished piece.

*If you make a mistake or something doesn’t turn out as you might like, you can go back to your notes and often see what was wrong or what might be better.

*If you want to teach others, you have a ready made lesson plan laid out – in the rough

*You have a ready made list of products which you can sell to someone wanting to recreate your masterpiece.

*You have the foundation to submit project plans to publications.

*You can create a catalog showing items for sale and take orders – flip the page and you have your instructions handy.for your own use, or to share.

*Videos are great teaching tools. You can get great mileage for your shop by being able to offer visuals free or for sale on how to complete special projects. Wow! Think of that. Sell the greenware or bisque, sell the materials and products, sell or include the video. You can create a total package and ship all over the world!!

*Don’t forget Youtube. Teaching videos abound and create a following as well as promote good will and future business contacts.

Take your notes and transfer them to your computer (don’t forget to keep backup). From there it is easy to make modifications for whatever use you might dream up, or to print out a copy for your customers.

For Your Kiln

Keep records of firing times
cone used
cone condition after firing
size of load. – heavy, medium, light

This information is invaluable as you track the operating condition of your kiln and even useful when trying different firing techniques. You can almost predict when you will have a kiln malfunction or need repair just from the charting. Several times I’ve been in a corner with an urgent firing and had to fire my kiln without the use of my kilnsitter and had to rely on ‘time’ only. NOT fun.

For Greenware

Record how much slip it takes to fill a particular mold
Weather conditions – cold or hot; rain or snow, humid or dry
How long the mold takes to set up to desired thickness
Approximate amount of time before casting is ready to remove from mold
Special issues or quirks of a particular mold

This information is a great tool when trying to make sure you have enough slip for an order or when training someone else to cast molds.

I’m sure it sounds like a lot of work, but believe me, the payoff and rewards are priceless and once you are in the habit of doing it, it really doesn't take as much time as you might think.

OH, one last thing. DON’T LOSE YOUR NOTEBOOKS… just one added ‘back up’ in case of a power failure.



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