Tasja Puławska – T P. Ceramics /
I could do anything
Ceramics brand owner Tasja Puławska talks to us about a busy November, her annual rhythm and reshuffling the weekends.
In conversation: Bożena Kowalkowska
We’re catching up at the end of the year. Busy time?
Hectic. November is when we get the most orders, sales are the highest, and we have to manage it all in time for the beginning of December. This time of year I have the least time, for anything. I miss those moments when I wouldn’t have to think about work all the time. And although this happens each and every year, and in theory I know it’s all coming, I’m still astounded by the intensity. I keep thinking to myself – I could organize this a bit more, especially as I’m quite an analytical person, I base my decisions on how to make things better on facts.
And do you implement any improvements?
Not in relation to this manic period (laughs). Although wait, this year I’ve hired someone to help out, so I guess I am making it a bit easier for myself.
Maybe despite the heavy workload you like the craziness?
I’m definitely glad that I’m so busy in November, which is the grimmest time of the year, that time runs faster and I can hardly notice the gloom. Right now I’m slowly getting out of the woods, so I can appreciate this pattern, but when I’m really snowed under, my perception isn’t this bright (laughs). I think that although I don’t use any elaborate systems, I’m quite well organized. I know how to spread things out to save a bit of time for myself. It all flows quite nicely throughout the year. Naturally, whenever I have less work, I do worry nobody will ever want to buy anything and I’ll end up with all of this ceramic ware. And when I‘m getting loads of work, I’m freaking out that at this pace I won’t keep up the quality, nothing will sell and I’ll end up with all these orders. I guess all this is typical freelancers’ thinking.
So I am guessing you’ve got a bit more time for rest throughout the year?
True, and this annual rhythm is quite predictable. January tends to still be a bit intense – this is when I get the stock ready for retailers. After that, February through April is the dead season. I take the time to go on holiday – my fiance and I would usually go somewhere warm for 3 weeks. Spring and summer are a bit more balanced work-wise. I try to finish work early and spend my time out – swimming, having picnics, running, climbing, meeting friends. I stay active. Early Autumn is the last moment for a trip, shorter this time of the year. And then it’s November again. In some way this rhythm works for me, I can work around it.
“I don’t waste time traveling to the studio outside my working hours, I just get in there and spend only a few minutes on a specific job.”
Your flat is connected to your studio and the shop – is it a convenience or a hindrance?
A convenience for sure – pottery is all about timing – covering, coating, moving things at a specific time. I don’t waste time traveling to the studio outside my working hours, I just get in there and spend only a few minutes on a specific job. It’s a very functional set up, the only thing I need to be careful about is bringing the dust and dirt back into the house. Some people may struggle splitting the personal and professional domains apart, I’m aware of that, but for me it comes quite easy, it feels natural – I rarely take care of business in my free time, and whenever I have to do that, I always try to compensate for it in the week.
Speaking of the personal – do you ever make something just for yourself?
Not anymore. I used to really enjoy crafts, I used to knit, sew, I’d handmake gifts. Since pottery has become my profession (5 years ago) I do none of that, unless I have to. I have some of my own creations at home, usually it’s because they’re faulty – cracked or flawed, still perfectly good for home use, but not for sale. Those ones I keep for myself, all the rest – I gladly sell.
What does your typical work week look like?
The shop is open five days a week, five hours a day, which imposes a certain steady rhythm onto me, it disciplines me. I’d be working at the wheel in the studio during that time. I usually come in a bit early, even if it’s only to answer some emails or do some packing. I also teach 3 hour long classes in the week, so there’s always something to do. Recently I’ve changed the working pattern a little bit, I work Tuesday through Saturday, keeping Sundays and Mondays off. My fiance, who is a chef, is free on those days and wanted us to spend that time together, so I’ve reshuffled the weekend a bit. I’ve been working this way for three months now, but the old routine still sits in the back of my head, so when Tuesday comes and I start my work week I have this sense of being late, having too much to do, and then on Friday I realize I have a whole extra day! (laughs)
Is a calendar essential to your work?
It is and it isn’t. I don’t keep a diary or use a digital calendar, I just have a notebook to write all my orders down. I mark all the deadlines on a wall calendar, it just so happens it’s KAL! (laughs) I’ve done that for years, and it usually works fine. I think I’ve only ever forgotten about one order. Sometimes I think that perhaps if I kept an organized diary or a spreadsheet system I wouldn’t be wasting time looking for info in the notebook, but on the other hand, it’s no waste really in comparison to the time spent scrolling down Facebook or Instagram.
You have so many interests. Have you ever considered a career change?
I guess I have, I feel like I could do so many different things. We’ve thought about living someplace warm, or by the sea, where I could really put my other skills to use. People often think pottery must be my dream job, and that as it’s extraordinarily meditative, I must be constantly chilled out. But it’s not really true. I love what I do, and there’s many moments I am really enjoying it, but it does take a toll on me in terms of stress. And regardless of how much I love doing it, it’s still a job.