How to be Happier - POWER HOUR

I have been listening to more and more podcasts in the studio these days. For two main reasons. One, because I learn stuff; filling my brain with probably useless facts, but filling it nonetheless, is a bit of an addiction of mine. Two, lately music lets my mind wander too far, whereas podcasts keep me focused.

My new favourite podcast is Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Gretchen is the author of best-selling books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before. She and her sister give tips for living a happier life and how to develop good habits. They are a hilarious duo.

This week, I thought I'd try one of their tips. They call it the Power Hour - when you take one hour a week to get something (or many things) done that would otherwise NEVER get done. These are tasks or chores that don't have a timeline attached to them, so you could literally NEVER do them. For some this might be sorting through tupperware bottoms and lids, it could be replacing all the burnt out lightbulbs that you never got around to. It could be cleaning the inside of the kitchen cupboards or sorting through old junk in the attic. Whatever it is, you spend one hour a week doing it, and you will feel happier.

This week is my first time hosting classes in my studio space. I NEEDED the power hour. Since leaving Sheridan 3 years ago, I have moved dried out clay from studio to studio without ever reclaiming it. I have left pots that need to be smashed pile up. I have about 8 teapots that just need handles attached, but have I attached them? NO! After every woodfiring I have a collection of pots that need to be ground down or burnished before they are saleable. Have I taken the dremmel to them? NO!

I have all this crap in my studio that needs OUT. So this week I started with the dremmel. I spent two hours (because I was on a roll!) dremmeling wadding off the bottoms of pots, drilling out holes that had been filled with ash and grinding off sharp bits. I even dealt with all the pots that needed to be smashed.

I've only had one Power Hour so far, but I can tell you that smashing pots with a hammer did indeed make me happy.

I hope you take an hour to get something done in your home. It is INCREDIBLY satisfying. Plus, listen to this sweet beat  on repeat while you work and the whole process will be way more groovy.

How Long Does It Take?

*Tony Clennell, one of the wisest potters I know, once wrote a list of the steps included in the creation of a pot. Potters get asked all the time: "How long does it take to make a pot?" So because Tony hit the nail on the head, here is his answer in the form of a list of steps. I have adapted the list to fit my making process.

1. Pick up your clay at the supplier (often hours away) 2. Unload clay 5. Mix with reclaimed clay 6. Wedge clay, and wedge clay, and wedge clay 7. Bag clay 8. Wash tools, wedging table, throwing bats, wheel and studio 9. Weigh clay 10. Wedge clay

For thrown and altered piece: 11. Throw clay 12. Move pots to drying rack or wet cupboard 13. Trim clay 14. Make darting template 15. Dart clay 16. Roll out slabs 17. Move slabs to drying rack or wet cupboard 18. Alter thrown piece 19. Attach slab(s) 20. Clean up attachments 21. Wedge clay for handles 22. Pull handles 23. Attach handles

For soft slab piece: 11. Weigh plaster 12. Mix plaster 13. Pour plaster hump or slump mold 14. Move mold to drying rack 15. Sand and clean mold 16. Roll out slabs of clay 17. Move slabs to drying rack or wet cupboard 18. Texture 19. Form slabs over molds 20. Back to drying rack 21. Remove from mold 22. Attach more slabs 23. Clean up attachments

Then: 24. Back to drying rack 25. Sign every pot 26. Apply base slip 27.  Back to drying rack 28. Read through atlases, marine charts and fiction for reference 29. Apply underglaze 30. Apply underglaze second (and third? coat) 31. Carve in decoration 32. Back to drying rack 33. Move to kiln room 34. Load bisque kiln 35. Make cone packs 36. Fire kiln 37. Unload from kiln 38. Move all pots to glaze room 39. Sand 40. Wax bottoms and lids 41. Weigh out materials for glaze 42. Make and sieve glaze - for EVERY glaze (there are several!) 43. Glaze each piece 44. Clean up glazed pots 43. Clean kiln and kiln shelves 44. Move all pots to kiln room 45. Load kiln 46. Make cone packs 47. Fire kiln (if this happens to be a wood fired kiln, add about 100 duties to this list.) 48. Unload kiln 49. If pots are cracked or you have a bad firing, go back to step 9 50. Sand and grind bottoms 51. Price work 52. Display work 53. Attend to people that ask questions like:    "How long does it take to make a pot?"

This list does not include: update website, update blog, check email, read other clay blogs, check email again, update Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr (or whatever other social media networking you use), apply for grants, apply for shows, drive work to shows, pack work, check email (again), attend sales and shows of your peers... etc. etc.

*Tony Clennell is a fantastic writer and full of wisdom. So, to be inspired and educated, check out his blog