Thursday, April 16, 2015

Always Do the Paperwork

Sample Firing Schedule Log

When I interviewed Jodi McRaney-Rusho, we had an email discussion about tracking firing schedules. I remembered this a little while ago while I was working through some Excel exercises. It reminded me of how important it is to keep good records. I'm not just talking about firing schedules, which are a MUST, but also your sketches and notes about products.

To start with, new kilns usually come with a sample log that you can copy and use. I use the form that came with my kiln and keep all of my schedules in a note book. There are also free downloadable sheets on the web. offers a fused glass calculator and free Excel spreadsheet. A step further (that I am definitely doing in the future) is to create a spreadsheet in Excel. This will allow you to get an at-a-glance view of your firing successes and failures and to organize your data by type in separate sheets. For example, if you do production jewelry work, you can keep exact firings for each product size and type of glass in it's own sheet. After years of keeping paper logs, I think a spreadsheet is a very efficient way to organize data.

My Firing Log

As important as firing logs, your own sketches and notes are valuable creative documents. It's easier to work out color combinations and palettes on paper before you ever commit to cutting any glass. Sample boards of tile and glass are indispensable for planning mosaic work. There are also sample grout color boards that save a lot of time and money for the artist by allowing you to see the colors side by side. As you plan your work, keep track of the order number (not just the name) for each color of glass, tile or grout. This will help you if you need to order more. Colors are discontinued from time to time. If you have a record of a color that you want to order, but the number isn't there, then you'll need to talk to a customer service representative to find a replacement.

For my custom client work, I kept a file folder of all of our emails, notes from meetings, sketches, material recommendations, estimates and invoices. This is also a good place to keep product notes. For instance, I did a mosaic shower inset for a client and I recommended epoxy grout. However, I had limited experience with epoxy grout. It is superior for water resistance, but a very difficult product to work with. After discussing the whole project with the client, I found out that they had a contractor who would grout the complete shower. I noted his name and contact information in the file for future reference.

There are many reasons and different methods to keep good records. Choose one that works for you and your needs. 

May all of your scores run true!

No comments:

Post a Comment