One of the first questions Nick’s dad asked when he heard we were starting a pottery studio in Puerto Rico was “Where are you going to get clay?”. No worries, I said. We can buy it on the island or ship it quite cost effectively from mainland USA. For the past few months, I’ve been investigating the reality of procuring stoneware clay in Puerto Rico. The clay of choice in Puerto Rico is earthenware, which is not a clay body I want to use. So, I’d have to place a special order for clay through a local distributor. But so far, I’ve had no luck getting cost quotes from the distributor on the island (in San Juan, which is a 2.5 hour drive). So, I’ve moved on to investigating the shipping option. For those of you who are not familiar with pottery, moist clay comes in bags of 25 pounds. More often than not, clay companies pack them two to a box (so now we’re talking 50 lbs). I got a quote just for shipping a box of clay via UPS. It was $123! Yikes!
Before anyone suggests we start digging for clay in our land, I’m happy to say that the answer has been found and it is USPS Flat Rate boxes. For a flat fee (which depends on the size of the box), you can shove anything that fits into said boxes and ship them anywhere in the United States (including, thankfully, US territories). My mom has been know to pack these boxes to the gills with cans of low fat coconut milk and other goodies from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. As these boxes are sent via Priority Mail, they show up in Rincon 3 days (yes, THREE days) after they’ve been sent. Amazingly (and thankfully), a box of clay (all 50 lbs of it) fits into a large Flat Rate USPS box. And the savings? Shipping a box of clay in a USPS Flat rate box comes to $13.95 (so a savings of $109 over UPS).
Fortunately for me (but sadly for the workers at my local post office), I’ve also discovered a raw materials supplier (for preparing my glazes) who shares my love for flat rate boxes. Sadly, Kilns and wheels do NOT fit in flat rate boxes and will be heading our way on a boat via UPS Freight.