Friday, March 17, 2006

One Damn Thing or Another... and a Good Idea

Just finished the dregs of an extra large house blend from Jupiter Coffee with an extra shot of espresso. Dave is, of course, in Austin and I am helpless in the face of the coffee maker. "Voulez Vous" by ABBA is on the iPod. However when I sat down to write this post , the song playing was "Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls. But I didn't have an internet connection so I couldn't get to this page to start writing. I went through "The Key" by REO Speedwagon, "You Should be Dancing" by the Bee Gees, "Venus" covered by Bananarama, and "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood during the internet system administration phase of the morning. Now I am in the office with my laptop hardwired to the router listening to "Bat out of Hell" by Meatloaf. In my defense, though the music is on shuffle, it is shuffling through my secret shame playlist as I started the morning (after getting Jessie up, dressed, fed and to school) by putting an entire load of Archetype Industrial (AI) pieces for a couple of gallery orders into the kiln and I do that best with the Pod on 'inspirational and fast'.

Anyway, back to the internet situation for a moment. Either the router's wireless access is kaput or my laptop wireless network card is fried. I will have to wait till Dave gets home and there is a larger sample of computers to test to determine for sure. In the meantime I have a cord, am not happy about it, and wanted to share that state.

What I really wanted to post about today was not the inevitable other s*it that mucks up a small business owner's day (like technology failures--don't ever dare say or even think that you are getting ahead because the demons of technology will strike with a vengeance and put you so far behind you will see your ancestors childhoods before you). No, what I wanted to post about was the idea I had while I was grinding the edges of the AI's before putting them in the kiln (while listening to some really great tuneage including INXS, the Drive by Truckers, Bruce Springsteen and Jeffrey Osborne).

"I Ran" by a Flock of Seagulls ushers in the idea: I am ready to supply the masses and move into the department store market. Oh not for everything I do. No, I want to get the AI pieces out to the world. I LOVE them. They are all made from machine-cast glass which I cut, grind, slump and combine into sets of functional ware. I make everything from sushi sets (I can now even do the soy cups) to dinnerware. There are sets of tapas plates, rectangular serving trays in a variety of sizes, 8", 10" and 12" square plates... I could even do the Seder sets in them now that I have created the molds.

And they are so inexpensive! They are perfect for just starting twenty-somethings who want stuff that is a step up from Target and can't really afford it. They are also great for chic parties for the forty-somethings (like me and my friends). In fact I started doing them again after going to a poker party at a friend's house and he was using an AI piece I made in 1988 to serve sushi. I was struck by how well the design and idea (and the piece!) had held up--they are classic and modern at the same time. They are called Archetype Industrial pieces because they perfectly evoke the feel of the Art Deco period and the dawn of the age of technology. They are perfect for someone who is an artist AND a geek (or an artist married to a geek...) somewhat like Captain America. He would have used these plates. It is the combination and juxtaposition of the different tints, textures and weights of the various glasses combined in a set which make them special. If all the plates were of the same glass it would be, well, machine-made and boring!

Even more important than the issues of demographic interest and cost is the production question and part of the reason I am not really making a living as a production glass artist is that I can make far more than I sell. Even though I am now in (or will be in once all the orders I am working on have shipped) 24 galleries and do five retail art fairs a year including the One of a Kind Show in Chicago (a big one) AND get an average of four-six large commissions a year, I am still not producing at full capacity or even close to it.

I know, I know, I whine a lot about being behind and not having time to try out new ideas, but a good part of that is that some work takes a lot more mental energy that other work. The AI's can really be done in my sleep--or I could even hire someone to help with them. The steady income that they could generate would go a long way to making the studio self-supporting--even with the cost and hassle of having an employee.

Of course I would have to get another kiln for really big production, and I would totally take over the garage for glass and mold storage and new kiln placement. The last time I bought glass for these pieces I got four cases, 2000 lbs of glass. For serious production I would need to double that. And I would want to store it as close to the drop-off point for the shipper as possible. Last time I moved all 2000 lbs one sheet at a time over two days all by myself from the parking pad outside through the garage and into the studio. Boy was I sore! (On the plus side, this kind of a workout obviates the need for a gym membership and is free.)


Barbara Muth said...

Brenda, these are wonderful. And inexpensive to make? SWEET! Have you thought about a catalog company like Coldwater Creek? Or some fancy schmancy catalog? I like this idea. I can imagine myself waltzing into Hechts one day and saying "Woah, I know the woman who made these!" (well sort of anyway.)

Bill Paley said...

So, you need to drum up a distributor or a large retail chain; what's your next step to do that?

Brenda Griffith said...

Yesterday I looked at Neiman Marcus' website and they have a contact number for vendor inquiries. I called it and got a reference for a buyer who handles my kind of work. He was not at his desk Friday so I will try him again Monday.

I also found the number for the vendor relations person for a local cool store which has several locations in Georgia and the near south. I will call him Monday too.

I will also do a little more research on venues I think would be the right size and market--both catalogs and stores, and then I will make some more calls!

Barbara Muth said...

EWWWW webcrawlers. (That's worse than pinworms and ringworms and lice combined!)

Brenda if you enable that word recognition thingie, you'll never get another visit from a webcrawler. I had two telling everyone to go on a diet post comments on my broken heart image post. After that, I enabled the word recognition thing and never again!

Brenda Griffith said...

Yep. *sigh* I have been resisting implementing it because (blush) I actually am having trouble reading the words to recognize myself when I post comments. My eyes are getting really bad and I just cannot get used to reading glasses. But this is the second web creepy crawly and I am done. Today, word recognition!

Bill Paley said...

You could try Braille...