Thursday, August 20, 2009

Disapointment

Oval pitchers getting footed and handles tonight!



I think there's so much to be said about disappointment... I guess the aspect I want to delve into briefly here is: the disappointment that happens when a customer calls to check on an order only to find out that it has been delayed. Doesn't really matter what the reason is... they are always disappointed. Not once in twenty years has a customer said, " WOW! Fantastic! I am so glad my order wont be here when I expected it! Thanks!" Doesn't happen.

We have had a quick run of those in the past week. Not sure why. We have had lots of pots moving through the studio... but the orders seem to have piled up. Not a good thing. So for me, this week has entailed a lot of apologizing and trying to get things caught up.

The second disappointment of the summer has been technical. We are seeing defects coming back to the studio as complaints. People are bringing back or mailing back defective pots. Never before have we had any problems with our pots. But it IS happening now. So we're working with our patrons, replacing pots as fast as we can. Trying to figure out the cause of these odd cracks that have suddenly shown up.

From my end, the frustration and disappointment is something I can't pin on anyone or some far away entity. I don't know where the blame is. I know I have made the same bloody pots for 8 years now, with nary a defect... and suddenly, out of 2000 pots a year, I am getting 4 or 5 this year that are showing the oddest cracks. If I didnt know these customers well, I would guess they were abusing our pots in the most severe manner. But they aren't.

Do I blame the claybody, the manufacturer of our clay? Do I change the forming method? Do I kick myself for not knowing this could happen....

Nope. I feel my blood pressure rise. I look at my diminishing bank balance and I sit down. Keep the customer happy. They dont want excuses or reasons. They want kick ass pots, no exceptions. So I add an hour to my night, and I throw like a man possessed. I fire an extra load each week. Maybe that takes the disappointment away. Dunno.

My last disappointment is with myself. My body. I seldom speak about things too personal or intimate, but what the heck?! I feel like my body is out of warranty. All of sudden everything is starting to break down. I will be having surgery on my colon next month, little less than three weeks from now. At my age, I should have a spiffy shiny new intestine and instead mine looks like it was ridden hard and put away wet.

The surgery aspect scares me a lot. I don't know how most people feel about anesthesia, but it really terrifies me. The last major surgery I had (back surgery in 2003), when I was coming around, and the drugs were wearing off, I experienced the most awful feeling. The sensation of not wanting to wake up. Of wanting to keep sleeping, without pain, without dreams or nightmares. To just drift further and further out.

For someone who greets each day, excited and ready to go, the thought of giving in while under the anesthesia TOTALLY terrifies me. I cant imagine leaving my family, my friends... and yet, for that brief moment of awareness, that space between unconsciousness and full wakefullness... I was pain free, calm, quiet and peaceful.

So on that end, I am disappointed that I can't find that same peace and tranquility in my daily life. I know I need to find it, especially in light of how much influence stress has on one's well-being. To that end, I am off to bed after a nice late evening walk.

9 comments:

Judy Shreve said...

Alex - how frustrating things are for you right now -- I'm so sorry. Life seems cyclic to me -- there are definite highs & lows.

But it seems the problem with the cracks must be the clay body - since it's showing up now after all these years of making work.

Do you know about Matt & Dave's clay? These are two engineer ceramicists who've developed a porcelain clay body. They are in Alfred -- up your way & I thought maybe you might want to look into their product. Here's their web address: http://www.mattanddavesclays.com/

You know your fear of surgery/anesthesiology - is common. It's the unknown -- but the other side of that is good health!

I hope it goes well & all of this disappointment ends soon for you --

cookingwithgas said...

I fully understand and I will be thinking of you.

Alex Solla said...

@Judy- Yep, I have tested Matt and Dave's Clay. I love the handling but since the batch that they sent me was a cone 10 batch (I think they're making a c6 body now)... I ended up with massive crazing issues. Nice clay for throwing with though.

jimgottuso said...

hi alex, sorry to hear about all the frustration. i have found and i'm sure you know better than me that customers are not completely aware of the turnaround on pottery and i've given up and decided all i can do is tell them how long and try to get it done. i feel like you probably deal with this much more than me and i can see that the stress of it could mount to be overwhelming at times. i'm glad i don't have the cracking problem (yet) because i wouldn't have any idea where to start. as far as the operation, it would probably be better for you to concentrate on how good you'll feel afterwards although this is much easier said than done. last year i had a misdiagnosis of a very serious and commonly fatal heart problem and suffered months of thoughts of leaving the family and friends and i agree with you totally... not fun to consider. not sure how old you are but i noticed at around age 46 that physically things went downhill very quickly or at least it seemed that way. i've since realized that this is what aging does and it will never go back to feeling as well as i did in my thirties (although i still hold out a small irrational hope of that). now i think maybe the best course of action is to concentrate on keeping myself well enough to still make pots. i was hoping to be more comforting and less commiserating so i'll stop rambling. good luck with the surgery, think positively and you'll be back filling orders in no time.

jimgottuso said...

hi alex, sorry to hear about all the frustration. i have found and i'm sure you know better than me that customers are not completely aware of the turnaround on pottery and i've given up and decided all i can do is tell them how long and try to get it done. i feel like you probably deal with this much more than me and i can see that the stress of it could mount to be overwhelming at times. i'm glad i don't have the cracking problem (yet) because i wouldn't have any idea where to start. as far as the operation, it would probably be better for you to concentrate on how good you'll feel afterwards although this is much easier said than done. last year i had a misdiagnosis of a very serious and commonly fatal heart problem and suffered months of thoughts of leaving the family and friends and i agree with you totally... not fun to consider. not sure how old you are but i noticed at around age 46 that physically things went downhill very quickly or at least it seemed that way. i've since realized that this is what aging does and it will never go back to feeling as well as i did in my thirties (although i still hold out a small irrational hope of that). now i think maybe the best course of action is to concentrate on keeping myself well enough to still make pots. i was hoping to be more comforting and less commiserating so i'll stop rambling. good luck with the surgery, think positively and you'll be back filling orders in no time.

Alex Solla said...

@Jim-

I think that no matter how many times you've dealt with unhappy customers, no matter how often you try to say it's just business... it still personal. You feel like you've really done something wrong. In the grand scheme... yeah, their pots are late. Big deal. But for a moment there, even a few days, you get tied in knots. How messed up is that?

As for aging... yeah... I think my thirties have been a nasty wake up call. I was extremely athletic through my younger years and since leaving UT my health has been in the crapper. I have put on nearly 70 pounds in less than 10 years and it is kicking my ass. I have tried 2 years of intensive, nutritionist-based dieting, exercise, and the weight has just kept accumulating. I found out recently that stress plays a MUCH bigger role in weight loss than diet or even exercise. Go figure.

So the plan now, is to recover from this surgery, get my body happy, and find some way to really decompress each day. To leave it behind somehow. We shall see!
Thanks for your kind words Jim. It helps!

marystarosta said...

Thanks For sharing! I haven't had customer's return things yet, but I know the day is coming. . . Get well Quick! Enjoy the down time though, you never know where creativity might come from?

Newfoundout Potter said...

Hi Alex,
How frustrating! Richard Aerni mentioned on Clayart a year or so ago (it could have been longer as time flies) that he was having problems with his pieces cracking. He traced it down to a change in the talc that the company was using in his clay. There was very little talc in his body as you can imagine for a cone 10 yet it made a diff. Check if your supplier uses talc in your cone 6 and if he has changed brands. Good luck with your surgery - and relax and enjoy the down time. You'll have to be back at it soon enough.

Beth said...

Hi Alex!

I've also been told about the talc reformulations. From what I gather from the various ceramic materials manufacturers I've talked with, they have found it frustrating as well. Glazes aren't always working the way they were supposed to.

Hang in there and don't worry about the surgery. ...Have you talked to your doc about the possibility of an auto-immune component? I know I have serious weight issues due to the form of lupus I have --- and my body reacts *very* badly to stress, too.

All in all, just remember to laugh! It does wonders! :-D