Sunday, April 30, 2006


Coffee in the Austin Skyline mug--second 20 oz cup of the day--"Are you Gonna Go My Way" by Lenny Kravitz on iTunes. It is Sunday, but I am posting (and working) anyway as I have been suffering for a serious lack of motivation and drive during the past couple of weeks. If there existed "ahead" and "behind" in life as more than an artificial construct inculcated in us by our upbringings (mine had strong Protestant Work Ethic components) then I would have to say I am "behind". I am not actually behind: all tangible scheduled deliverables save one have been met and that one has been reasonably postponed. But I think I am behind, therefore I am. So it is Sunday and I work.

The work today is mostly meta-studio: I am finishing off the new garage space including purchasing new shelving and designing a shipping area (maybe even with one of those styrofoam peanut dispensers hanging from the ceiling... I can dream). I will also turn my Eye on the studio and divine her faults and limitations with the goal of possible rearranging now that I have more space. The additional garage space is no small addition: it is a two-car + garage and I was only using about a third of it prior to now.

Now to digress. Part of learning about the new iMac has been experimenting with its components. One of the components of the iMac is the dashboard--a set of widgets that do everything from convert currency, translate from one language to another,and show the time in binary (deeply geeky), to provide a fortune from a digital cookie, tell you your horoscope, show you your biorhythm chart and present the tarot card of the day (based on the date). In doing Mac diligence (aka putzing, ditzing and wasting time) I installed a bunch of new widgets. This is how my life has been: my biorhythms are ALL tanked, the tarot card of the day for the past three days has been death, and my horoscope has been telling me to hide under the bed. Okay, that last one was an exaggeration, but the rest are true.

Today the biorhythms are on the rise, the tarot card of the day is The Lovers, and the horoscope says I am in the mood to take on a project and I should do it as I will have fun. Not that I place any stock in the digital presentation of these arcane mystical forecasts... (Did I mention my fortune from the cookie was "If it's not in the computer it doesn't exist"?)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When the Going...

Coffee in the New York Skyline mug, "Something Wild" by John Hiatt on iTunes--still not the iPod, but I had to have music this morning. The floral journeymanpiece at right is this week's Ikebana arrangement of maple, flax and alstroemaria. Ikebana is my Monday guilty pleasure.

This post is brought to you via iMac. Yep, we finally broke down and acquired a Mac. It is not the Mac laptop for which I have been lusting, it is the whole family/business Mac which lives in the office. More on it--the whyfors and coolnesses--in the appropriate venue (Stranded in the South).

I didn't make it into the studio yesterday. I am now a day behind on shipping one order and firing another. I may be able to make up time this weekend on firing the one and I will definitely ship today on the other.

Yesterday I spent all day in the office. I sorted and organized and pseudo-filed. Pseudo-filing is when papers to be filed make it into a basket of the correct category, e.g., Griffith Family or Siyeh Studio. This is one step closer to the ultimate goal of the filing cabinet (or the shredder if they become obsolete before actual filing). The outcome of the day is that I now know the location of every piece of paper which is waiting for action from me, and eventually I will address them all. I did take care of doing, faxing/mailing the urgent must-go-out-yesterday pieces so I am caught up there.

Off to kilnform (and unload last week's delivery before it gets rained on... again)!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Coffee in the Alaska mug this morning, no music as the iPod is still down in the studio. Glad it is, because I sure haven't been lately! The only glass artsist "stuff" I have been on top of recently has been my firing schedule--and that probably only because I had three days of slush built in. Slush, I might add, which has now all melted away. Today I ship, and I ship again Monday. And that takes cares of all gallery orders till July with only two more to complete this year from my Buyer's Market orders from February ( I say "this year" because I actually had a gallery place a good sized order on 2/19/06 for delivery 1/10/07). It is good to be done as there is another Buyer's Market coming up mid July and at least one part of me hopes to get many more orders there! Another part of me is lost in landscape design (mine and others) and pond building. No, the construction has not yet begun on the pond, but it is all coming together. When it does happen, it will be over in a weekend and photos will be posted on Stranded in the South.

So today I ship (all Cosmos Morceaux de Verre), and I do a huge load of paisley pieces for a gallery in Canada. I also simply MUST get the final art fair apps and other paperwork done and sent off. If there is any time left, I will continue asserting my will on the contents of the garage and the shed. Time and space being what they are I predict they will both be left to gather dust for another day (or five).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Some Days I Need Blinders

Coffee in the Los Angeles Skyline mug (eBay, oh eBay, what would I do without you?) no music as the iPod is still down in the studio. Today I resolve to Keep Focused. Days when you do not have enough you must do to fill the day are bad because they lead to flailing and dithering (in me at least). Yesterday I had so little I had to get done that I could have done it all by noon and taken the rest of the day off. That's actually what I planned to do, but instead of making a conscious decision of what I wanted to do with the free time and following through, I got my firing in and spent the rest of the day doing a little paper work and ditzing around on the computer reading a bunch of stuff. And so the day got pissed away and I was left feeling very off-center and unsatisfied. If I had decided to spend the day reading, thinking and worrying about what other sentient humans were thinking and worrying about that would have been okay. Instead I got sucked in and lost control of my life. Not going to happen today. Though I am going to have to deal with all the mental fallout from yesterday and that will make up the next few posts on Stranded in the South.

Today the glass artist fuses another load of gallery orders, fills out and mails in the last art fair apps (really), makes a lot more progress cleaning out the garage and making it into extended studio, and unpacks the Bullseye delivery. It will be exciting in the early part of the day as I head off in 10 minutes to have my eyes dilated. Last week at my eye appointment they didn't do it as I opted to be fitted for bi-focal contacts. At the end of a week experimenting with them I have decided that my eyes aren't all that bad for either distance or close-in, and I am just a whiner. Nice to know, now on to get a mammogram appointment. Glad there's nothing to test-drive for that.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chug, Chug, Chug

Coffee in the New York mug, music from J banging on the piano. Got to run put her hair up and get her to school then back to finish this post. Yesterday's fuse was all "Cosmos" all the time--with the exception of one little "Earth" sample tile that I need to drop in the mail today.

Back from school--and back and back again: someone was not feeling well and is now watching Hercules from the couch. It will make getting in today's firing a bit more interesting, but not too. Luckily J is now at the age where she is self-entertaining and essentially independent. That doesn't mean I am going to chuck her out to fend for herself anytime soon, but it means I have a bit more latitude to do my stuff.

Today's "stuff" is a slump of yesterday's fuse and a lot of paperwork: I have not reconciled the financials since I had to do it for taxes. Not surprisingly I have been very able to continuously find more interesting (and necessary) things to do instead. Today with J home sick, no excuses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Glass is Here! The Glass is Here!

Today began with a delivery of 1000 lbs of glass. Coffee was in the New York Skyline mug (I eagerly await the Los Angeles mug which should arrive this week) and there was no music on the iPod. This afternoon I will get the fuse load in the kiln which I cut and prepared yesterday, and I will unload the delivery from Bullseye and put everything away. This will be the first official use of the new glass storage area in the garage. I am so excited I may even sweep the floor!

I don't know how it happened, but I am now three days ahead on my firing schedule: If I keep to the schedule I will have the next two gallery orders ready to ship three days ahead of when they are scheduled to go out. I am pretty excited about this as it means there is now room in the schedule for experimentation... and cleaning and writing... whatever.

I may even have a personal use for this time--I have decided to do a mosaic wall along one side of the pond and use up a lot of glass that I otherwise don't use anymore (mostly bought for Tiffany-style lamps which cost more to make than to purchase from Home Depot Expo made in China). Using it there will have the double positive effect of clearing out the studio and providing something beautiful for our home that does not need to be moved when we move.

So off to grab a quick lunch and get fusing! Tomorrow a picture of the kiln load from today (this site needs a bit of color).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Back on Schedule

Coffee and music on the radio were both in the car this morning taking J to school and heading on to Ikebana on the north side. Now it is already almost 12:30 and I am just beginning the day in the studio. Last Thursday and Friday were rough days comprised of a solid blend of real life (and death) and work. This week things are back to a more traditional work/life time split, and I am back to daily blogging.

It's good to be back to a schedule and done with traveling and shows for a month and a half. I have two more gallery orders to get out by the end of the month--one a HUGE one to a gallery in Calgary, Alberta Canada (my first international gallery!). In a week or so I need to start figuring out the customs forms. And I have the art fair apps for the fall shows to get out this week. Other than that, I am just clearing the decks to start on the book (no editor assigned yet so I have not begun). Part of the deck clearing is getting all non-glass STUFF moved to the new shed and the garage cleaned out to officially become a full-size studio extension.

It's about time to post more pics here, and I will do so of the new studio layout when it is complete. It will be a truly enviable set-up. Now off to get a full fuse-load in.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hump Day in "Real" Life

Coffee in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens travel mug--just got back from taking J to school. Nothing random on the Pod--needed comfort music ("Stay with Me Tonight" by Jeffrey Osborne). More about that on Stranded in the South. This here is about glass, and I need to get focused.

I haven't seen yesterday's firing yet, but I think it will be a good one. The shed is being built as I write and should be done by the end of the day. I am going to christen it tonight with the tent and display materials which are still packed in the minivan awaiting space to get down the drive and unload.

Much of real life is spilling into and mixing with glass this week, and the way to look at it is that that is the way life should be. Instead of the artificial schedule imposed by jobs and schools and the institutions of our lives, "work" should co-mingle with "life" and the priorities of one should be weighed and scheduled along with the priorities of the other. In theory this makes for a more balanced, less stressful life. Now if I can just take a few things out of both and SLOW DOWN I will be set. That's the trick, isn't it?

Today sees another fuse load, some cutting, grinding and polishing of yesterday’s pieces before slumping tomorrow, a whole mess of paperwork, cat and ferret litter boxes to clean, dogs to be brushed before their grooming appointments tomorrow, and spring garden clean-up to plan. Maybe I'll even get around to setting up an appointment for my long overdue mammogram, but I bet scheduling the gravel and mulch delivery will take precedence.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Closer to Fine

Coffee in the Austin Skyline mug--yep, read that right: AUSTIN. I finally got one (eBay, of course--and reasonably priced too). "Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls on the iPod. And by glory I am closer to fine today. It has been a rough three weeks. Yesterday I was so tired and so low. I did fire a load, ship a commission, call in all my credit card charges from the Dogwood, prepare the area for the shed materials delivery, critique the beta layout for my new website, and put in two orders with suppliers. But it took all I had. One ray of sunshine in the day was a package from Bridget in L.A. A gem of a little book called "The Gift of a Year". I think the package actually arrived sometime in the past 2-3 weeks and I just got around to opening the mail from that time period yesterday--a strong indicator as to over-extendedness.

The Dogwood was a very good show with one of the most hellacious breakdowns I have ever done. By the time I got everything in the van it was full dark and I think I left a couple of my tent bungees there. And I was one of the first ones to get to load thanks to the extraordinary help of a friend here who traded glass for muscles. Next year I will see if we can load out on Monday morning. Most of the artists are not local so there would probably only be a few of us wanting to do it and it would be *much* less painful.

Today, today, today is a bright and shiny NEW day. I rose at 7:30 to the doorbell and the builder for the shed. We reconnoitered the area and decided it would be better for him to come back tomorrow after I have the tree branches hanging in the middle of where the shed will go trimmed up. *Blush* I agonized for a week over the placement of the shed and paced and measured and paced and measured. But the one thing I didn't do was look up. I didn't see the tree for the ground... nope. (Hmmm I am not sure that was the idiomatic expression I was looking for...)

A little digression about search engines and sponsored results. Every now and again a word or phrase comes to mind that I feel the need to check before I use it (see "The Princess Bride": "Inconceiveable!" "You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.") (Ren takes this activity to a new level). I wanted to verify "idiom" or "idiomatic expression" as an appropriate definition of the phrase "see the forest for the trees". It didn't feel like a metaphor, and it isn't an analogy. So I looked on for "idiom". Nothing. "Idiomatic expression" also brought nothing. But under each there was a 'search the web' button which produced the following:

Search results for idiomatic expression.

Sponsored Links:

Idiomatic Expressions
Looking for Idiomatic Expressions? Find exactly what you want today.

I had heard you could buy anything on eBay, but I was not expecting Chinese idiomatic expressions...

So the day began with a builder and continued with shipping an order and a purchase from the Dogwood, getting J off to school, chatting with the woman who owns the garden rescue service (that's not actually what it is called, but it is an accurate name for us as they are going to do an intervention and stop my cycle of destructive avoidance of garden maintenance tasks) and setting up an appointment for her to evaluate our mess, and begging a new groomer to take on the dogs. I have let EVERYTHING slide in the past few months (years?). I have so many balls in the air right now that I will be lucky if their falling does not cause some poor marginalized species to go extinct. Or maybe they won't fall. I could be that lucky...

What does this all have to do with glass? Well, when two straight weeks are taken up with glass--evenings and weekends included--the rest of life has to be slotted in where it can and this slot happens to be TUESDAY. Which is not to say there won't be glass today. There will. The firing schedule is tight with a gallery order a week going out for the next three weeks, and the first order from the Art Institute of Chicago coming in over the weekend at 70 pieces instead of 50. (Whooppee!) And 35 more to be made and held here in case they need them... They don't need to be there till the end of July, but I am already scheduling.

And I am being so proactive about my firing because there is a book contract and in the next couple of weeks I expect to have an editor who will be giving me deadlines and cracking a whip over my head about output. I haven't even reviewed the outline I wrote back in January for them. I have no idea what I am going to write.

On the plus side, I don't have another festival scheduled until Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. Then a solo gallery trunk show here in June and the next Buyer's Market in Philadelphia in July after which we all flee to Montana for a couple of weeks of R & R (and probably writing for me).

Now I'm off to get the load in the kiln, dig up a couple of hostas to move out of the way of the shed, and I will relax this afternoon with garden and pond planning and financial paperwork. It's so good to be home!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

April Showers

A quick post before I head off to the Dogwood Festival for the day. No coffee yet, and the music is the sound of the rain, birdsong, and occasional thunder. I have a feeling I won't get a lot of traffic today--I just hope after last night's storm my tent is still standing. I am pretty sure it is, but I also won't be surprised if some people lost theirs. I woke at 4:17 to the howl of some pretty serious wind.

Fortunately yesterday was a good day for me. I should have planned better and already had the postcards printed up for the solo glass show I am doing at Creative Spirit for the Third Thursday Gallery Tour in June. As this is a local show, if I were a savvy marketer, I would have publicity for my next local event with me. But it really was all I could do to get eight additional pieces done for the show. Maybe I will print some up today. I have electricity in the tent, and I will probably have time.

OK, off to the show!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I Got the Call, I Answered the Call

Coffee in the Alaska Skyline mug, Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On" on the iPod. Random shuffle actually put up Tom Jones doing "The Green, Green Grass of Home", but while appropriate, it was not listenable. The next random choice was Marvin and I can live with that--it's also appropriate! I have already dropped the J at school--made her lunch and everything today--and left a panel at Dixie Glass Hoppers to be drilled. I hope I will need it this weekend at the DOGWOOD FESTIVAL. Yup. I got the call yesterday afternoon at 4:20 and immediately went and set up the tent and unloaded everything into it. It pays to be lazy (the car was still loaded from Austin).

When I got home, we had dinner and sangria from Billy Goat Cantina (which has been renamed My Cow Cantina for some inexplicable reason--I keep thinking it's Mad Cow Cantina... not good marketing on someone's part) and piled into the convertible (Sebring with a car seat for Jessie in the backseat) to go to the drive-in for The Inside Man. J watched Ice Age 2 on the next screen over. If we had thought and brought another radio, she could have watched and heard the sound too. The Starlight Six six screen drive-in which shows double-feature first runs five minutes from our house is one of the best things about living here. Next week we will see Ice Age 2 and the following week V for Vendetta.

But back to actual glass-related stuff. Since the festival doesn't start till tomorrow at noon I am WAY ahead of the game as far as set-up. Which is good as today I still have to read, sign and send the book contract, send the font and pics to the web developers, measure for and order the shed, fuse a full load of display pieces (so I have some new work for the show), prepare the replacement pieces for the gallery which broke in shipping last week, and firepolish a display piece I sold in Austin which had a couple of rough spots ground out and never polished.

The show is noon to 8:00 tomorrow, 10:00-8:00 Saturday and noon-7:00 Sunday. I just read their schedule on the web and the music goes till 8:00 on Sunday so they won't be letting artists' vehicles in to load up until after the people clear--likely well after 8:00 pm. Load-in was a breeze for me yesterday: I was the only one at check-in, there was one other vehicle on the road unloading (which is good as there is no room to pass), and there was plenty of room for my minivan to park in the neighboring as yet unoccupied spaces so I could unload it at my leisure. Load-out is obviously not going to be so nice and I need to be prepared for a late night--maybe even having dinner in midtown after breaking down while waiting for the biggest traffic push to clear out.

Whoever thought being an artist and doing art festivals was a relaxing easy life was just dead wrong. At least the weather looks like it will be perfect for the weekend! (I wrote too soon: I just checked the forecast and scattered strong thunderstorms and high winds are predicted for Friday evening through Saturday evening. Great. Going to hunt up the galoshes now.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Home at Last!

Coffee is an extra large Jupiter Coffee house blend with an extra shot of espresso... I notice a trend here. There is no music as the iPod has been temporarily re-purposed. more on that in a minute.

I took two days to drive from Austin back to Atlanta this time. It turns out that four hours of sleep after a two-day festival in the heat (and breaking down at the end of the second day) is not enough anymore to fuel this 44 year-old bod to drive 1000 miles in one day. Today is the first day of set-up for the Dogwood festival here in Atlanta. I am the first glass artist on the wait-list so I gave them a quick call to see if there is a spot for me before I unload the car. I left a message on their machine and now have an excuse to leave the car packed until tomorrow.

After the five am anxiety attack about all the things I need to do today, the rest of the morning started very slowly for me. I finally got Jessie to school by 11:00, and now I am preparing for a busy day of electronic paper pushing. I have to phone in all my credit card charges from Austin, sign and mail back the book contract, enter all my sales and expenses for the show into a spreadsheet, update my studio inventory, send font and more pictures to my website developers, update the gallery inventory for the work I left at Taylor Kinzel and send it to them, prepare an order for Bullseye, pay bills, invoice clients, return gallery calls from the past week, and sort through the mound of *stuff* on my desk. My question at the end of all this is, if I am a glass artist, how come I spend so much of my time with my hands on paper?

All I really want to do is curl up in the Sky Chair on the front porch and listen to the book from Audible that I downloaded to my iPod. Audio books, I am now hooked. I didn't even notice the drive yesterday--I listened to over five hours of a 10-hour book and could have kept driving to the coast. I feel like I could actually drive to Montana this summer with audio books. And they play through the car's speakers on the iPod. Is this a great century or what?

But there are papers to push so I had better get to it. Maybe I will be able to treat myself late this afternoon.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Why do I do Art Fairs?

The answer to the question above: To be exposed to new, cool technology! This festival's current leader is TiddlyWiki (thank you Bryon Jacob). Okay, I just recently started blogging (an admittedly linear exercise). And now I find out about blogging for the ADHD in 3D: Short and non-linear. I am not sure I buy the premise that "Human minds are not built to take in long passages of information very well; we're a lot better at taking information in little tiny chunks." For me, little chunks are as likely as not to get lost in the white noise of the day to day whereas a large chunk of data that I can visualize is easier to contextualize and remember. However there are places where tiny chunks are perfect, and I am a big fan of non-linear.

So what does this have to do with glass? Everything! Artist collaboration possibilities, tutorials, FAQ's help with problems. Think of Its is a GREAT site and it used to be a great resource (keep the flamethrowers pointed to the ground until I finish this thread and duck). But it is linearly structured and HUGE. The overwhelming winner in the 'most frequent phrase written in posts on' contest is "Someone has already written a lot about that, look in the archives". And as someone who has tried to find useful information in the archives, I can confidently say... no I can't. I don't use words like that in print. There is just too much information there to have to sift through it to find the relevant bits.

So what is a wiki and why would this be better? Because instead of having (100 million) individual posts which are not ranked for relevance show up in a search on, say, "kiln wash", you can have one editable entry on kiln wash that all members of the community can update or even multiple related entries on kiln wash (like multiple encyclopedia entries for a word).

The limitation of discussion groups is that they are too linear and searching the archives of a large one is at best difficult and time-consuming, at worst a complete waste of time. The limitation of a traditional website is that it is designed as a one-way flow of information and keeping it current for an audience like the warmglass group is too time-consuming even for a dedicated team of people. With a wiki, everyone who has a stake in the community shares in the responsibility of keeping the information current, and it is well-organized and accessible to new members.

Will I do anything with this new technology? I don't know. My plate is pretty full right now. Maybe the best I can do is offer it up to the new generation of kilnformed glass artists and say "Hey! You grew up with computers. Why don't you build a cool wiki for us old folks?"

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Live from the Austin Fine Arts Festival!

I love Austin. Free wireless almost anywhere you go. So here I sit in my booth at the Austin Fine Arts Festival and I am connected. Life is good. It should be the end of the first day of the festival, but some genius thought it would be a good idea to have a special patron's event tonight from 7-10. And while evening events can be okay, there are two strikes against this one: 1) the show has already been open to the public all day so the idea of getting a first preview of the art for collectors does not apply, and 2) after being open from 10-5 today we were required to close our booths and cool our heels for two hours till the evening event begins. The idea was that we could go get dinner, but it does not take into account the crash that comes when you stop moving after a big festival day. So I am in my booth, I have already crashed, and I have to open back up again in 15 minutes... Bad plan. It is also quite windy tonight and I am dreading opening the front of the tent for the full gale force.

Now that I have the negative comments out of the way I can say that this has been a very good show for me so far. I came a bit light and as I usually overload and schlep far more than I ever sell, it is doubly disconcerting to look in the boxes and see nothing to replace the work which has sold. I am almost to the point where I have to move things around in my display to fill the holes where pieces have sold. That has NEVER happened before: I always have more in the back.

And my mother-in-law offered up a genius suggestion for my lighting dilemma: instead of shelling out the big bucks on halogen track lighting, just get some of the aluminum-domed contractor clamp-on lights. I got six and sprang for halogen bulbs for them and they are great (and cheap!).

I have also had several inquiries about large panel commissions. This is a first for my Austin market too. I am accustomed to getting good commissions from my Chicago shows, it would be great if I could do the same here.

So five minutes to show time. I hope it's worth staying, but even if it isn't I will count the day an overall win.


So I love Austin and the free wireless, but the electrical sucks: The breaker has blown on our row every five minutes for the past half an hour and it turns out it was my fault! I am pulling 600 watts for my six lights and I have just found out I was only to have 200... A night show with only 200 watts per booth?!? Are they high? The elctrician's recommendation was that I use the same full-spectrum daylight bulbs the artist across the street has. Her booth is as bright as it can be and each bulb only pulls 27 watts. They cost $18 per light and she has 12 of them. Hmmm, my math says that is still more than the 300 watts I am currently pulling having turned off three of my 100 watt lights... and $18 a bulb? I don't think so.

On the plus side, I am no longer tired!