The Journey Our Art Takes
Our ceramic fish and sea creatures are handmade in Sicily and here's how they make their way to the UK.
The artists make the clay, press it in a handmade mould of the species of creature, it is fired, glazed, refired, cooled down, checked for quality then safely packed. The boxes are stacked onto a pallet and await the perilous journey across two seas and continental Europe. Just to get to this point is weeks, sometimes months, of order, specification, creation, paperwork, planning - science meets art meets technology!
Once the pallets are collected by the shipper from the artist's workshop, loaded onto the truck, the customs clearance process begins. With so many changes in the last couple of years it is never a done deal that the goods will ship without 'friction', as the powers that be like to call it. There will be many forms to fill, in Italian and English, at any point the goods could be held up or stopped in their tracks if one tiny dot, dash, number or description is unclear or inaccurate. Attention to detail when dealing with export/import in order to meet the stringent requirements is essential. UK customs clearance takes place before they leave their country of origin. However as a small business you have to become well-versed in the language of logistics - incoterms, DAP, EORI, HS codes and so forth.
The fish travel by road and customs clearance is checked at regular points, logistics hubs, ports and so forth. Our latest shipment was our biggest yet, just under a half of a tonne of goods on two europallets 2m high. Breakages are our biggest fear but the artist's team does a great job with packing and because the goods are safely wrapped on pallets means that breakages with this kind of shipment are very rare. Our shipper's website allows us to track the shipment and a time stamp and activity is recorded every time the shipment is scanned.
The journey from Sicily to Dorset usually takes around 2 weeks.
Once the goods arrive at Shoal HQ, they are all unpacked, checked and then picked and repacked to complete customer orders or placed onto the shelf as stock.
Like alot of small businesses we pay upfront for our stock, it keeps the artists going with their cashflow too so it's a nice sustainable cycle. Key for us is to sell our stock within a given timeframe against our own business goals and targets.
When a fish arrives at one of our independent stockists to go on their shelf, or if you buy a fish direct from us, by the time it gets onto the wall in its new home it has had quite a journey!
We hope you find this interesting and that it gives you some insight into our commitment to bringing this amazing handmade, artisan art to the UK.
Lyme Regis, April 2023