October 20, 2017


Creating pottery is a bit like making a cake. There are many, many steps and each step is an opportunity for something to go wrong. In crafting pottery, if all goes well, and the piece ready to be sent to the person who purchased it, it still has the hurdle of being shipped to the customer undamaged. 

I remember one of the first times I packed a box of pottery for shipping, early in my career as a potter. I was shipping several pieces of pottery to one of Jennie’s siblings for Christmas.  Almost everything in the box arrived broken.  We didn't hear about the disaster until several months later, and then more by accident than the recipient just coming out and telling us. Not only did I not know how to successfully pack pottery, I also happened to be broke, which prevented me from buying shipping supplies, so I tried to make do with what I could scrounge up, mostly newspapers and cardboard.  

As we filled more wholesale pottery orders, shipping became more of a necessity. I began to develop a packing system. I realized I needed to keep the pots separated so I started shipping in recycled apple boxes. The apple boxes were a standard size, so I would pick up appliance boxes and cut them into dividers, which allowed me to place several layers of pottery in a box. At that time, we were shipping many mugs and soup bowls, so I cut strips of cardboard to make somewhat of an egg carton with 6 compartments to put our soup bowls in. Next,  I packed shredded paper around the pots to keep them from rattling against each other. For the mugs, I made an 8-compartment layer.

Cardboard and shredded paper were free for the gleaning, and for a time this was a good system, until I received a call from a store owner who was pretty upset, as his wife was in the middle of their store unpacking their pottery and all of this shredded paper was going everywhere.  His message was clear, and we converted to collecting styrofoam packing peanuts. We contacted several local stores and asked them to save their packing peanuts for us, which they were happy to do. While we had to purchase some, the upgrade resulted in cleaner packaging and lighter shipping weights. Today we purchase bubble wrap, styrofoam packing peanuts, and all of our cardboard dividers are pre-cut for us. (Saves fingers and time.) 

I had UPS show me how to best package our pottery.  One of the things they explained was that there needs to be a cushion of at least 2 inches of packing material on each side of the packing box, so we put down 2 inches of styrofoam peanuts and press in a layer of strong cardboard for a false bottom. We then make sure there is adequate padding around each side, which protects our pottery in transit. 

We have learned a lot through the years. One thing we guarantee is that our pottery will arrive undamaged, or we will replace it. I don't ship much these days. Bob Crystal does our shipping, and seldom does anything break when using the packing system we've developed. Our shipping process has undergone many changes over the 35 years we’ve shipped pottery. Though it may not be perfect, it is a good system. In fact, our shipping procedures are so good that when a pot is broken in transit, our provider always covers the claim. One more aspect of our company that God taught us through experience.

Many Blessings
Dave Lockie

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