Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Prepping for Portland

For the last three weeks, we've been working on a massive production run of about 300 pieces in anticipation of my annual sales trip to Portland.

This meant that the house was almost always in production mode (meaning, really really messy). With a home business, work just spreads everywhere. The kitchen table seldom saw a meal. Instead it saw lots of various stages of glue-up, coating, testing, etc.

After the tankards are glued up and sanded, we put on handles, then shoot them twice with varnish. This is done outdoors in good weather. This photo shows about one-third of the production run -- we did them in stages.

Brit came over to say hello. Hey, we're a family-friendly business, including the four-legged family members.

Half the tankards shot (first coat).

Once the tankards are shot, we double-coat the inside with a food-safe epoxy resin lining. See? The kitchen table is in constant use.

Waiting to coat.

The girls work very hard this time of year, alongside us. It's nice that they're of an age to do a lot of the production work. We pay them, of course, and they like being able to earn money.

Horns, freshly-coated. The really funky pieces sell well in Portland, so we made sure to stock up.

We let everything dry for a few hours, then second-coat to make sure we didn't miss a spot. Once the tankards are dry, we force-cure them in the oven by baking them at low temperatures.

Once they're out and cool, we fill them with water to test for leaks.

Leaks seldom happen (about 1%), but when they do we can usually repair them. Since we're so busy at the moment, we just put the leaking tankards aside and will repair them later.

We stacked the finished tankards in a pile...

...which grew and grew until we started boxing them just to get them out of the way.

We shipped a bit under half via FedEx Ground (I'll pick them up in Portland) because there are far too many to fit in the vehicle.

Tankards that are traveling with me don't need to be individually wrapped and padded with bubble wrap, as when shipping.

By the time you read this blog post, I'll be well on my way to the Big City. Pray for a safe journey!


  1. Patrice,

    I'm praying for a safe journey and a complete sale out of your tankards.

  2. Amazing, you should do well with those, good luck.

  3. Once upon a time you were offering some of your tankards for sale on-line.
    I remember the process was a little awkward as you're not set up for e-commerce but I'd really like one of you tankards for a friend and I'm not geographically convenient.
    This is probably a bad time (since it's already your busy period) but have you had any more thoughts about selling these online (perhaps in a few months when yoru normal retail isn't so busy)?

    1. We'll be far too busy to put up any retail pieces until our busy season ends in mid-October, after which we usually put a few up on a temporary web page. We're not geared for retail sales, just wholesale, so that's why the process is awkward. For us, wholesale is a whole lot easier.

      - Patrice

  4. Great post. I've just shown it to my husband, who was impressed.
    Don is such an artist!
    I'm visualizing you now, sunny skies and 65mph, holding your camera out the window and "taking us with."
    As always, I can hardly wait to see the Portland pix. They're always a hoot and one never knows what to expect.
    Have fun. Be safe. Make money. And behave yourself in the bookstore! lol


  5. Do you currently, or have you considered selling these beautiful tankards online?

  6. Looking forward to the funky t-shirt pics!
    Praying you sell out.

  7. Wow! The woodwork must be a huge part of your income. You do some beautiful work, do you employ help or is it all done by your family? Very Impressive.