Bullseye Murrini Millefiori 90 COE - 'Holly' - 40+ mixed chipsI KNOW.  IT’S ONLY AUGUST!  CHRISTMAS IS AGES AWAY!

… or is it.  I was worrying about posting my new mix (well, it’s not new, it’s last year’s mix with some tweaks and updates…) because I don’t want to irritate people as they scroll through their feed.  However, if you buy my stuff, you’re probably a glass fuser, and if you sell your work in any way, you’re probably already signed up for some Christmas craft fairs.  If you’re not – you might still be planning to go to one (maybe on a Sunday) to pick up some unique, not-high-street gifts for friends and family, and you’d like it if the stallholders had done their jobs and had enough stock for you to be able to have a range of items to choose from even if the fair has been running since Friday.

Given that “Christmas” Craft fairs can start as early as mid-November (the ‘Crafts for Christmas’ at the NEC is at the end of October!) the deadline for my customers is anything up to six weeks before the ‘big day’ itself.  I’ve done the Christmas Craft Fair run-up before, and if you’re a fuser, time isn’t really measured in hours and minutes, it’s measured in Number of Kiln Runs:

Here’s a little thought experiment:

Let’s calculate the theoretical number of full fuses possible between now (17th Aug) and the 20th November – we’ll use the Country Living Crafts for Christmas fair at the SEC in Glasgow as our benchmark ‘Christmas fair’ – although if you’re anything like me you haven’t got a free weekend between late November and mid December! So, today (17th August) to the 20th November = 95 Days.  You could have the kiln on every single day, but that’s unlikely (be honest!).  Let’s assume you work 6 days a week and put a full kiln load on every night which takes until 10am to finish, so 95 minus 13 Sundays ‘off’ = 82 kiln runs.

Obviously, you won’t be putting on the same thing every day, but let’s assume that you’re just going to sell little trinket dishes, of lots of different designs (that’s what I did).  If you’ve got enough moulds to fill the kiln (not always a given) you can fit 8 of the small trinket dish moulds in a Skutt HotStart Pro at once.  So; each batch of dishes will require two firings (full fuse and slump) which means that you can make a total of 41 batches (82 runs/2 runs per batch), which is 328 dishes in total.

Sounds like a lot, right?

I sold 90 dishes in one day at a fair one year.  It was a three day fair.  Luckily, the other two days were quieter, but I still sold nearly 180 dishes.  I had another two fairs to go after that, with only two weeks between them.

The fact is that that’s a maximum.  A couple of days off here… a batch of coasters there… a batch of tree decorations, some pendants…  The limiting factor of how much you can fit in a kiln, and the fact that you can only really do one firing a day (two, if they’re small things on a fast fire and you’ve got it ready to go in first thing) means that glass fusers have to start getting ready for the big fairs way, way ahead of when you’d think it necessary.  I haven’t even talked about the amount of time it takes to put a stall together, get your packaging sorted, labels, business cards…

So, I feel no guilt whatsoever about posting my Christmas mix in August.  And for all of you who are planning and prepping for Christmas fairs, good luck! =)

My stall from Christmas 2015… Sure, lots of mistakes but I was proud of it =)