Monday, October 11, 2010

Ding dong, the season's done!

We shipped off the final production run of tankards to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival this morning!

Here's what the last insane 24 hours looked like.

We finished coating the insides of the tankards early Sunday afternoon.  Because we had to get them baked that evening (we force-cure the lining by baking the tankards at low temps for 1.5 hours), we had to get them dry as quick as possible.

So we tented the batch and put a space heater on them for several hours.

Late in the evening, we put the first batch of 30 pieces in the oven.  Meanwhile we got the shipping boxes ready...

...while the girls spread open newspapers for wrapping each piece.

Don stayed up very very late Sunday night (well, Monday morning) and got three sets baked and tested.  I got up at 4:30 am this morning to finish the last bake.

I put the remaining tankards in the oven and got them baking.

Meanwhile last night's tankards were still testing.  We fill them with water and put them on newspaper to see if there are any leakers.  (We can repair leakers.)

Here are the tankards which have been baked and tested so far.

Next step is to card each one.

What this means is each tankard gets a guarantee card with contact info, care and feeding instructions, and the woods found in that particular piece.  The cards are tied to the tankards so they don't get separated.

At the special request of our booth managers, in this batch we included two "giants."  These one-gallon-capacity monsters sell for $100.  And who, you might wonder, would be dumb enough to buy a ridiculously expensive tankard that holds far too much for one person to drink and weighs a ton to boot?  Well, as Don is fond of pointing out, never underestimate the power of tankard envy.  Last week, two other giants sold at full price within an hour of the Faire's opening.

Here's a giant next to a standard next to a coffee-size.

Here's most of the batch, carded and organized according to style, ready to inventory and pack.

But first we have to repair a leaker.  See the tape with the arrow?  That's where the water came through.

A quick fix, another test, and it's ready to go.

Ready to start packing.

Each box is lined with heavy-duty bubble-wrap, and each tankard is wrapped in newspaper to keep them from damaging each other in transit.  Tight packing also helps prevent damage.

A few extra layers of bubble-wrap on top...

Then we seal the boxes and put the labels on them.  Almost done!

Here comes FedEx Ground.  The boxes are about 45 lbs. each.

Bill, the driver, loads them up and takes them away.

Whoo-hoo!  We're done!  This is the official end of our busy season!  Now we can start tackling the dozens of projects, large and small, that we've been postponing - and that includes battening down the farm and getting ready for winter.


  1. This is absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, truly amazing!!! You did it! Congrats! I just hope you don't give away too many secrets!
    Hope you have a phenomenal return on your efforts!
    Karen in Okie-lahoma

  2. Love your variation on your title to the article, from Wizard of OZ! Haha
    -K in OK; We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

  3. Approximately how many tankards get returned? I imagine not many, you do a great job with testing them before shipping. I think the jumbo tankards would make great pitchers. With a few of the smaller ones and one jumbo, a person could have a more-or-less matched set.

    Anonymous Patriot

  4. Tankard envy, ha! I know a few sailors who would spring for the gallon size.

    On second thought, it's probably more than a few!

  5. SO! Now they're carding the tankards instead of the drunkards?!! What's next? Gun control?


    Congratulations on a job well done!

    Bill Smith

  6. Have you changed the waterproofing? I notice the insides of the tankards aren't gray...

    Xa Lynn

  7. We get very few returns for leaking tankards since we offer a three-year guarantee against leakage **due to our workmanship.** We get a fair number of tankards returned for repair NOT due to our workmanship. Y'know, dropping it on concrete, or driving off with it on the roof of the car, etc. One came back in a baggie after getting run over by a semi(!!) (it fell off the back of his motorcycle). All sorts of stories of mayhem over the years, LOL.

    Yes, we have a new interior color, a sort of mahogany brown that blends beautifully with the wood colors.

    We're planning on opening a retail web page soon.

    - Patrice

  8. I am glad to hear you will be selling at retail soon. My husband visited your blog and implied he would like to have a tankard. He is not a beer drinker, his would hold coffee! His birthday is on Christmas, so were you planning to have the page up before the holidays?

  9. Congrats on a job well done! I wonder if photos of returned tankards (like the one run over by the semi, lol) would be fun on your new retail website? Enjoy the change of season and activity. Jennifer

  10. Yes, we'll have it up before Christmas. Hopefully WELL before Christmas.

    - Patrice

  11. I love the idea of using the giant tankard as a pitcher, with smaller tankards as part of the set.

    Hmmmm, if you get the site up early enough, maybe I can ask "Santa" to get me a set for Christmas!


  12. I would like to make a toast to some very hard working folks. In a tankard of their own making. Congrats and well done Don and Patrice.

  13. Fascinating. Totally fascinating! It is very rewarding to work with wood. My wife and I both love it, especially the smell of freshly-cut wood. Her father was a woodworker and boat builder. I've been repairing and refinishing rifle stocks for many years. Congrats on your booming business!

  14. Hi,

    We are really wanting to buy a couple of tankards for gifts this Christmas. Is there any possibility that your retail page will be ready soon?

    Love you blog!! Helps to know what is 'really' going on in the States since we live outside of the USA. Thank you for all the hard work that you put into it!

    God Bless,

  15. Actually, we're working on that even as we speak. It's turned into a surprisingly hairy project. I think I'll address it in a separate blog post. Thanks for your interest!

    - Patrice