Friday, June 30, 2006

Rising From the Ashes

Coffee in the Washington D.C. Skyline mug (thanks again, Barbara!), "Bat Out of Hell" by Meatloaf on iTunes. The main collection is now complete with the acquisition of the Denver Skyline mug this week. What to collect next?

Started the post and then got J off to school (field trip to Stone Mountain today) and Dave off to the train station (he forgot he drove to work yesterday and took the train home... oops). Summer hours start at Turner today so he gets off at 3:00. I want some summer hours. Me, I finish this post and prepare for yet another telephone project meeting with my interim editor. I have high hopes that it will be short, maybe sweet, and I can Get On With It! We have so far talked for three hours this week and are still not done.

Woke up exhausted this morning again (big surprise) and didn't get up till 7:30. The good news is that I have regained my equilibrium. As a very good friend and another glass (bead) artist said to me yesterday just before my second project interview, it is very hard to have a professional discussion with someone with whom you have such a gross disparity of power in the relationship.

I think the main reason I felt so bad at the end of Wednesday (and into yesterday) is that I did not feel on an even footing with the editor: the book contract leaves me with absolutely no power in making decisions about content. I am not used to be in a position where I do not have at least an equal amount if not the majority of the power. It has been years since I have been in that kind of professional relationship.

And I am only in one now if I believe I am. Nothing and no one is making me write this book except me. I can walk away at any time, and if I am made uncomfortable by the way it is being handled and it does not meet my professional expectations, I will cut them a check (for the portion of the advance I have already received and spent) and walk away. And I am sure I won't be the first.

So I am at peace and ready for this morning's final discussion. I still have an obscene amount of work to do between now and Tuesday night, but now I am looking forward to much of it. Yesterday after posting I found some great flower pots at the hardware store for pot melts. They not only have holes in the bottom center, they also have several large rectangular slits around the bottom edge. This design opens up all kinds of possibilities for the flow of glass. I hope I get to try one this weekend (for a book project, of course).

Then at the day spa where I get my legs waxed I saw the perfect fountain design to do in glass. The one I saw was stone, and it will be stunning (and relatively easy) to do in glass and will give me a chance to do tinting with Bullseye powders and clear frit. I badly want to do it this weekend too, but it will tie up the medium kiln for too long (there is a stack block component that, like the pattern bars, takes two days to fire and cool). Now I just need to find a small light to put in it...

The long weekend begins. If the house is a rockin', baby, don't bother knockin'.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Did I break my hump?

Though it is already 6:30 I have been up since 5:30 and awake since 4:30. No coffee, no music, no joy. I knew writing a book would be a difficult project and I would need to learn and stretch and grow a lot to succeed at it. Though I have sometimes wondered if I wanted to do it, I have only doubted that I could do it a couple of times and both of them were after talking to the publisher. One of those times is now.

I am struggling. After being left to twiddle my thumbs and get on as best I could with the projects for a couple of weeks, I had a two hour project review by phone with my interim editor yesterday and came out of it with an incredible to-do list due next Wednesday (after the upcoming four-day weekend for everyone NOT writing this book). I also have the strong feeling that I cannot do what they want in it: chic, current, beautiful, professional work that a beginner hobbyist can do with a small kiln. What I do not have is any end in sight for the materials I need to be creating to get an actual sign-off on the projects list. A lot of the work I have to do this weekend is writing more documents to show them what the projects are and how to do them without actually showing or doing them. And sketching. they want me to sketch the projects.

While I appreciate that they have a review process, I am not happy with the way their requirements of me keep growing, they take their sweet time getting back to me about them, and my final deadline never moves. I tried to gently introduce the subject of their diddling and my deadlines into the conversation yesterday and the response was defensively frosty (frostily defensive?) so I just dropped it. Getting into an acrimonious debate over anything at this stage does not seem a wise idea. Wise might be to see this as a sign to gracefully withdraw from the project entirely and reclaim my life before it is too late.

Add to all the above that I am tired to my marrow and, Houston, we have a problem. I did unpack the Bullseye order and the van yesterday, but I did not fire anything in either kiln. Today is packed to the gunwhales with outside the studio stuff till 1:30 when I get to have the rest of my project review meeting (oh goody). I don't know how much spirit I am going to have to fire after that phone call.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another Hump Day

Coffee in the New York Skyline mug, music is the on-hold Muzak from Ameriplan. Someone accidentally used my email address to set up her health insurance and now I am getting all kinds of email for her. The latest was a copy of the application including the last four digits of her SSN, date of birth, checking routing #, last four digits of the checking account, full name and address... if I were into identity theft, this would be a great start!

I got a very late start today (I slept in till 7:30) after a very early scare. I woke with a start from a sound sleep at 3:00 to the realization that I had left the kiln lid vented open for the entire firing--not just to 1000 degrees. This did not bode well for the current loftspace occupants of the garage, or the firing for that matter.

Earlier this spring a couple of happy little yellow striped songbirds decided that the plastic grocery bag full of used fiber blanket hanging on the corner of a shelving unit in the back of the garage would be an excellent site in which to build a nest. By the time I found it, they had already nested, so to speak. So instead of getting to close the garage door every night now that it is all cleaned out and an official part of the studio, I am still having to leave the door open all the time so the new parents can forage. I also get scolded if I stand in front of the kiln too long prohibiting them from getting food back to the nest as fast as they would like. Fortunately the vented heat and fumes from the kiln do not seem to be bothering them and they survived the night's heat.

I cannot say the same for the firing. Some days it does not pay to get out of bed. I didn't get the dinnerware into the load yesterday, but the four paisley plates going to the gallery in Vegas were in it along with the coasters for the 3-4 year olds class at J's school. Even though the kiln lid was closed when I raced down to check on it at 3:00, everything had still way overfired. The coasters will probably be salvageable, but the four gallery plates are not. I will have to redo them today in the with the first Art Institute or BMAC pieces. I just haven't had the energy to get a firing schedule done and stick to it for either the production work or the book project work. Regardless, both kilns need to fire today (I get to take the pattern bars out this afternoon when they are finally cool enough. I could be going with 100% failure today!).

More on the coasters: As with the first set I did, I took pictures of all of them on a piece of paper with the artist's name underneath for later identification and assignment. As it turns out, I took the pictures but my camera did not. It skipped about 50% randomly--probably due to a dead battery. So not only are they overfired, I have absolutely no idea whose is whose for half of them.

Today I also need to brave the heat and unload the Bullseye order which arrived late yesterday, and to (finally) unload the van with everything from the show at Creative Spirit over a week ago). With temps in the 80's and 90's here for the past week I have lacked the motivation to unload in the afternoon and the mornings have been taken up with other things.

At 3:00 I have a phone meeting with my interim editor and I should probably prep for an hour or so for that. I begin to regret not getting up at 6:00 this morning. Heck, I begin to regret getting up at all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Teaching on Tuesday

I need to spray some WD-40 on the bottom of the office chair. It sounds like fingernails on a blackboard every time I sit down and turn towards the desk. No coffee, no music, but I hear the spouse stirring and have high hopes for coffee soon.

Yesterday was as full as a day can be. Except for brief breaks to get J to school, eat lunch and dinner, I worked... almost 14 hours. There are those out there for whom this schedule is "normal" (my friend Dr. Bill comes to mind) but I had to end the day with Epsom salts in the whirlpool tub. And I have no great hopes for the book project I did yesterday--pattern bars for a wall mirror. I won't get to see how they turned out till tomorrow (the kiln is still at 930 degrees and only going down 16 degrees an hour till 750 then 32 degrees an hour till 650).

Ah, the blue light is on in the temple of the magic beans (I have made coffee). Now I await the ringing of the bells to announce the service (it chimes when it's ready). And there it is! ... The bell went off half-cocked (again) leaving 2 cups of water still in the reservoir. I turned the infernal machine back on and poured from the first brew. Yep, it's going to have a kick. Ok, though it is my consuming passion at 6:00 am, enough about coffee!

Today I teach another art class at Jessie's school, I am going to do the coaster project with the 3-4 year-olds. No frit for them: c;ear squares with all the edges ground smooth and little bottles of Glassline paints. Two birds, one stone: I get to see how the paints fire (they are tapped for a book project) and I make Jessie's former teachers happy (J was in their class for two years and I never did an art project with them).

But that happy activity comes after I write an email to my interim editor. I still await my assigned editor and an interim schedule. At this rate all interim will be over before I get the schedule. I am also going to get the slideshow working on the homepage of my website (all this before breakfast!). If I could get one page done per day I might have it all done before the BMAC.

Studio work for the day: polish and ship the pieces I made yesterday for the metal artist in California and a gallery in Iowa, cut the dams I will need to fire all the Art Institute pieces, fire the last pieces of a dinnerware commission and an order for a new (for me) gallery in Las Vegas, and unpack the order from Bullseye which is scheduled to arrive today. Gonna be another full one.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Thinking Positive

Another early morning with no coffee and no music. I have actually been awake since 5:00. I tried to get back to sleep till 5:30 then gave up in disgust and got up. Since then I have been futzing around trying to figure out iPhoto so I could get this picture up.

I tried another combing this weekend with obviously mixed results. Some people say that they never get big bubbles from their mulite shelves. I do with every piece except strip-pieced work unless I follow one rule: never go up faster than 400 degrees/hour above 1250 degrees. In strip pieced work--like the last combing I did--the strips of glass are placed on their sides leaving a surface area only 1/8" wide for each piece of glass. The air has plenty of room to escape this way. For the firing yesterday I went up at 600 degrees per hour and had three large bubbles by 1569 degrees.

Since the piece was already ruined, I decided to trying combing there. The glass wasn't soft enough and the top center dragged down into the piece. Then I decided to really have some fun and do a little temperature experimentation along the way. I went up to 1600 degrees for the next pass. It is possible to comb there, but there is a chance of deforming the shape of the piece and you only get one pass before you have to heat the glass up again. At 1600 degrees I also had a lot more bubbles. Typically I use 1/8" fiber paper on the shelves in this kiln to avoid bubbles, but that would not work with combing as there is too much risk of pulling the fiber paper into the glass.

I combed left, right, up and down intentionally dragging and deforming the glass. The result at the end of the day is that I find 1650 degrees an optimal comb temperature. And I didn't even almost set my combing stick on fire this time!

Now I am going to sort through my massive Siyeh Studio To Do folder and pay all the bills. While I am in bill-paying mode I will also do the household bills. Then it will be time to get the Sprout up and off to school and go into the studio for the rest of the day. I cleaned it yesterday for the first time this year. I still can't see the top of the desk or one work cabinet--and forget the shelving unit that holds chemicals, tools and hardware--but the floor is swept and the only things on it really belong there.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Great Way to End the Week

Jessie's class made me a thank you poster for doing the coasters with them. Now I have art on the studio door!

Let's Just Get Through the Week

Coffee in the Alaska Skyline mug, "Take It Off" by the Donnas on iTunes. Too much to do and too little time is becoming the motto of life (and Bruce Springsteen's "Prove It All Night" sliding into the play slot on iTunes seems to bear this feeling out).

Got a call yesterday from a metal artist I met at the BMAC in February. He liked my work and we talked about doing some collaborative pieces and him teaching me to weld when we were in CA in March. I was unable to get to his studio to learn to weld on that trip and we kind of drifted on with other things. Well he is getting ready for the July BMAC now too and he would like to do three pieces for it with my glass incorporated into them. When he proposed this to me yesterday I said "Sure!" ("Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls just started on iTunes... the iMac appears to be strongly empathetic to my blogging this am).

This morning I take the finished coasters to J's school and help the kids put the little rubber feet on them and sign them so they can take them home today. I still need to go to the hardware store to buy the little rubber feet.

The exposition services and exhibitor forms for BMAC are all due today. I haven't even figured out what my display is going to look like yet.

I spent three hours last night trying to get my arms and head around the details and schedule for the projects in the book. I was unsuccessful and gave up in exhaustion at 11:00. So today I have to figure out what I can fire that might keep me from backsliding (this is just scary: "Crossfire" by Stevie Ray Vaughn on iTunes). Never mind following a schedule that has me getting everything done before August or even getting ahead... I don't think there is anything I can do that is going to keep me from slipping more. Oh and the sacred weekends? The ones that are supposed to be set aside for sanity and family? ("Badlands" by Bruce Springsteen just started) They no longer exist. There is no day that will not be spent in the studio, on the road, or at BMAC for the next month +. July might as well not exist for me.

It would be really nice if this were just overwrought prose from an overtired artist, but Excel does not lie: the spreadsheet has decreed that the number of firings to do + the number of firings per day + the amount of prep + the hair ripped out in the process = EVERYDAY and slippage anyway. Of course the publisher still hasn't called to set up interim schedules and at this rate there won't BE any interim schedules just, it's due tomorrow, is it done?

I end with a deep breath and "Right Now" by Van Halen (and goosebumps. Quentin Tarentino could not have matched a better soundtrack to this posting). When I got to bed last night and shared my fears with Dave his sleepy response was "It'll all work out." And he's right, it will. It has to.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Trust Yourself

No coffee yet--I have got to start remembering to set it up at night before I go to bed. No music either--Dave and Jessie both still slumber peacefully. I started my morning with the peaceful activity of fiddling with the pond fountain to make it spit more muddy water (I don't think it is ever going to clear) and feeding the fish. Just knowing that they are all still alive is very comforting.

At right is the result of yesterday's combing. The colors are Egyptian blue and French vanilla (blue? it looks black! well, now it is black...). I am reminded of a valuable lesson that I had thought long ago learned: do not take the easy way out and follow someone else's directions over your own instincts. For whatever reason, most of the glass community likes to kilnform their glass at very high temps. I don't. I never fuse at the common 1500 degrees--1465 in one kiln and 1440 in the other for full fuse.

Yesterday when I decided to comb for the first time in many, many years, I looked in my kilnforming library for a recommended schedule instead of going back through my firing logs. Logs for the past few years are on the computer and, until my time got consumed with blogging, writing and gallery popularity, I was slowly working my way back through the paper logs and getting them online for easier searching. The library was more easily searched.

The first schedule I found called for a fuse temp of 1700 degrees--100 degrees higher than I had set the kiln to go. I went with my instincts and programmed the kiln for a soak at 1600, at which point I would turn off the kiln, open it, comb, close and restart. When it was at 1535 degrees I chickened out (if it is in print, it must be true) and set it for 1700. Mistake. I might still have lost the firing, but the problems with it would have been my own.

Why not go to 1700 degrees? Because it is overkill. Yes, at that temp you can rake several passes before the glass cools too much and you have to re-heat it, but the rake has less drag and so moves less glass on either side of the contact point resulting in a smaller pattern. Colors in glass made for kilnforming at lower temperatures can also change--the blue I used went to black and that might be from exposure to the French vanilla, or it might be the high temp. When I do melts from a flower pot my reds always go to muddy brown at that temp. At that high temp you also run a greater risk of air bubbles. An finally, kilnwash is not as effective and you almost always have to scrape, soak and use acid products (or sandblast) to get it off.

So I am going to redo this piece, and this time I will start at 1600 degrees. If that is not high enough, I will work my way incrementally up to find the lowest temp I can successfully rake at, and I will verify my belief that I will be able to do it with fewer bubbles and truer colors. I have to decide whether I also want to make wider stripes and use all transparent colors too. Maybe I'll do two sample pieces simultaneously to decide.

This would be a wonderfully fun puzzle if I were not under deadline!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Solstice!

Coffee in the Montreal Skyline mug--it's in French!--"What I Like About You" by the Romantics transitioning into "Fox on the Run" by Sweet on iTunes (the latter of these is too embarrassing even for the Shame playlist). The first firing of the preschool coasters is done and they look great! This morning I am going to drop off the sample squares I made and let them layer them and talk about how the design changes depending on which one you put on top. A nice introduction to dimension and perspective that would probably be more effective if they weren't still adjusting to a new classroom and new peers. Their little brains can only handle so much new at a time.

I still haven't heard from the publisher since I sent my project list in a couple of weeks ago. We were supposed to have a phone conversation, but I think I have fallen through the cracks. It is now firmly in the last half of June and I do not have a schedule of interim deadlines, a final approval of the projects, a complete outline (or the assignment to do an outline)... zip, zilch, nada.

I put together a schedule for a clear-glass test firing and have been following it, but I think all it was doing was giving me a false sense of security. I know what the photographer is going to want for the book: a finished piece, one or more mid-state photos (which means one or more copies of the piece finished to that state ready to photograph), and a photograph of me doing a beginning or interim stage. Each photo will more than likely require its own version of the project.

So if I really want to get this book done--and since I have not been given any direction from the publisher--today I am not only going to cut the three versions of the wall sconce and fire/comb one of them, I am also going to make a stages list for each of the other projects and begin prepping (cutting, etc.) that number of each of them. This activity will require a substantial amount of storage space, but I still have an unused wire shelving unit that I will dedicate to holding projects.

Last night I decided the final colors on all but two of the projects, and I settled on a fountain design. I have had so many ideas for different kinds of glass fountains that I could probably make a book of just glass fountain projects! But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Today I will go to Home depot and buy copper tubing and something to bend and pierce it with--I hope. If not, I will have to switch designs again.

I never did get to Creative Spirit to break down my show yesterday so that has to happen today too. It was 93 degrees yesterday afternoon, and I just wasn't up to it. It's supposed to be in the 90's today too. *sigh*

Good thing it is the longest day of the year!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


No coffee yet, no music either. The rest of the household is sleeping in this morning and the only sounds are the hum of the air conditioner, the buzzing of a fly trapped in the office with me and the tapping of my keys.

After I posted yesterday I took Jessie to school and was reminded that this is Art Week at Phoenix Summer Camp and I volunteered to teach the project... Whoopsie Daisy. So yesterday there were no firings. I spent the afternoon racking my brain for a fun, NEW project suitable for 19 4-6 years olds.

We're going to make coasters! I cut 48 4" clear squares and ground down all the edges and corners so nothing is sharp. I packed up jars and jars of opal frit (with over 30 jars of opal frit picked, I decided to skip transparent frit and all powders this time) and Dave went to the grocery store last night and bought Elmer's glue all and dixie cups. Today they will put the frit on the glass with glue--two pieces for two layers, one coaster each--and I will flat fuse each piece.

Then tomorrow I will stack and fuse the layers (using a digital picture I will take of each child's set to tell me whose is whose, what the orientation is, and which one goes on top). Thursday they are going on a field trip to the High Museum of Art--I will not be able to accompany them, though I think I might have already volunteered. Friday I will take the finished coasters back to school and the children will put the little rubber feet on their coasters and sign their names in black sharpie on the bottom. Sharpie pen fires out so putting their names on in advance would do nothing.

The afternoon was taken up with a tutorial on the "tool" my web design/hosting company expects me to use to maintain my website. I thought tools were supposed to be useful. It has got to be the least flexible, most cumbersome interface I have ever used. There is no proportional resize of any elements--including jpegs. There is no drag and drop. All sizing is done by typing in the height and width in pixels in for each block on the page, and if you accidentally get one too big, it breaks the look of the page. The sizes are not displayed for the elements so you can't easily tell where it's broken. All this means I am going to have to spend a lot more time and attention to update my pages--and create the ones which are still not done. At least I got the slide show working and know what was wrong with it. Maybe I'll even have it on the real home page by the end of the week.

So this morning I teach, this afternoon I break down the show I had at Creative Spirit last week, and I fuse the children's coaster tiles. I hope I also get a chance to do the combed sconce project scheduled for today. The anxiety attacks are just going to have to wait--I have no time for them today.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday, Monday

Coffee in the Chicago Skyline mug, "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats on iTunes. No, it is not random chance. I got up at 6:13 this morning to get a jump on my week and ended up puttering it all away on the little pond (The fish are alive! The fish are alive!), iTunes, email, computer syncing... I begin to think it is just not worth it to get a new computer ever. What I want is to be able to pug one computer into another and say "duplicate all of this--documents, settings, music, pictures, whatever--just go through a check list and have it magically work. No hardware issues, no OS woes, just WORKS. My weekend was so far from that it was not funny--but I am told I will love the Mac.

But today, today, what does it bring? Ikebana for me at 9:30. I am in the Research course now (ooooh). Swimming for Jessie--her summer camp class goes to the Y for swimming Monday and Wednesday mornings--so I need to braid her hair, dress her in her suit and pack clothes and a towel. Then, work for me!

My new website went live Thursday night. It took three months to get it to the state it is in (notice I didn't say "done"), and there is no end in sight. Trust me to have picked a website design/hosting company which does not allow ftp. You have to use their little tool. I refrained (barely) from saying crappy little tool. The last thing I want to have to do now is learn yet another piece of software! I am getting REALLY TIRED OF COMPUTERS! The web developer said he could not do an image slideshow (a little flash element) for me that I would be able to manage or edit. I need to do it myself, so I did. It works fine in Dreamweaver and in a test browser on my system. As soon as I move it up to their server, it doesn't work anymore...

This was not supposed to be a bitch session post. I hadn't realized I was still so frustrated by my recent tech overload. Need to think of something positive... Ah, yes, glass! I will make glass today! Two orders to start producing for the final two gallery orders pre-BMAC (Buyer's Market in Philadelphia in July). Also time to start on the Art Institute order.

This week's book projects are:
garden stake
wall sconce
2-D panel in a stand
wall mirror
cast paperweight

Oh boy. The garden stake hardware is on backorder from my distributor and I haven't been able to find one retail anywhere. This is not a project I want to drop, but I frankly don't see teaching copper tube bending and soldering. I wonder if Michaels' has anything I could use. The technique effort has ratcheted up too: the wall sconce is combed, the 2-D panel is from an aperture pour, the wall mirror is a pattern bar piece, and the paperweight will involve modeling, mold making and casting.

This week the exhibition services order for the BMAC must be submitted (what kind of walls, what color carpet, poles for lights--where and how many, etc.). One might think it would be cake as this is the fourth time I have done this show. Unfortunately, all four have had different booth configurations requiring a different set-up.

It's going to be a busy week. Better make a schedule and a list!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Let the Projects Roll

Coffee in the Washington DC skyline mug (it has fireworks on it--appropriate for the day) (thank you again Barbara!), "Too Bad About Your Girl" by the Donnas on iTunes. The drape vase at right was made from the pate de verre wafer that I made when I did the pate de verre bowl (see the picture of it flat just post-fuse in the post below, "All in but One").

I really like this technique! The frit I used was #1 (sugar grain), #2 (kosher salt) and #3 (rock salt) all mixed together, but when it is sprinkled onto a flat surface, the smallest grains fall to the bottom. This creates an interesting effect in terms of color and surface texture on the inside of the piece (second picture). I need to work a bit on the draping schedule for this one as the wafer is too fragile and tears apart in the middle if draped too quickly (shown but almost impossible to see in the third picture).

This piece was done for fun. It won't be in the book, nor will it make it into my product line. I may, however, work on the technique and combine it with other things into a piece for Corning's New Glass Review or Bullseye's eMerge competitions this year. The only competition I entered last year was Niche, but this year--because of the amount I am having to stretch my repertoire-- I hope to have entries for all three.

Second project shown is a quick pocket vase I did out of clear tekta just to test the technique and a firing schedule. It turned out pretty much as expected except for some needlepointing on the topmost edge. The finished piece inspired me enough to see the colors and pattern for it, and to work out a final project which is simple enough for a beginner, and nice enough to be something more than just a learning piece.

So what to do today... first off I think I will inventory all the finished pieces I have in the studio. I have let my inventory get completely out of control since, oh, February. I have a solo trunk show Thursday night at Creative Spirit Gallery in Decatur as part of Decatur's Third Thursday Gallery Tours. I have assured Becky I have enough work, but I should inventory today just in case so I can whip up new work to fill in any gaps.

I also need to get my materials orders in to Hoy's and Bullseye. On the subject of materials I found a great source for clock parts yesterday. They have atomic clock mechanisms, reverse clocks, cuckoo clock parts, and pendulum mechanisms. If I weren't already so over-extended I would consider making a bunch of clocks for fun and product. I did buy five mechanisms as one of the book projects is a clock.

Today's book project test is the windchimes/mobile. I want to do the mobile so I think I'll ask Dave to help me with the math. In the book this project will be painted float glass but I don't have the paints or the tin scope yet so I will just use more tekta (Bullseye's machine rolled fusible clear).

I will round out the day with some paperwork (mostly bills and billing) and shipping (catalog and commission).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

All in but One

No coffee, no music. Got to fix that if I am going to continue getting up at 6:00. Maybe I should start setting it up the night before and using the automatic time feature. Spent the first hour of the day reading and responding to (mostly book-related) email. All of the artists I invited to participate in the gallery have responded save one, and all the responses were yes but two. By some odd twist, I will up with exactly 30 if the lone person I haven't heard from says yes.

Then checked the medium kiln to see how yesterday's pate de verre firing went. I made a bowl using scrap frit (crushed glass) and since I still had room in the kiln I decided to do an abstract flat wafer of frit for draping. It is firing now and I will post the results tomorrow. The bowl turned out technically well. I could take it a bit higher in temp and make it fuse together a bit more, but I am happy with it. Artistically it is crap--neither the shape nor the color have any inherent tension to give interest to the work. Fortunately I will neither use this mold nor scrap frit for the piece in the book.

Today I get in the materials order I was working on yesterday--and which I must finish this morning--and I write my edits of the techniques portion of the basics section of the book for the publisher. We will talk this week and hammer out the project list. (Which I still have not posted here. I am a slug.)

The old Compaq laptop threw two blue screens of death yesterday. I hastily copied all of my documents, application data (email and bookmarks), and templates over to the new iMac. I will also back them all up to the external drive this morning.

Finally made contact yesterday with the woman who has a gallery in Michigan and is interested in carrying my work. I will mail her a catalog today.

The Art Institute in Chicago received the piece I sent for final color-matching approval and it was a go so I am ready to schedule and begin making 75 of them. It's also time to do my last two orders from the February Buyer's Market show--just in time to start preparing for the summer Buyer's Market in July. And that's a day!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Let the 6 am Days Begin

No coffee yet, which is a crime as it is just after 6 am. No music either. Dave is also up and on his laptop, but the Sprout sleeps on and I am just not awake enough yet. It was a harrowing weekend. I finally got out the solicitation for participation emails to the other glass artists I am inviting to submit images to the gallery section of the book. There are 30 of them, and though this seems a huge number, it was really, really difficult to get my list down to it. I consoled myself with the knowledge that some people will decline and then I will get to invite more people. Think of it less as an alternates list than as the rest of the initial list which I haven't had a chance to get to yet.

Unexpectedly but predictably it turned into a repeat of seventh grade. I hated seventh grade. Like any party, some of the kids asked who else is coming and I naively provided a list of the names of the first 30. The list then made the rounds of the Internet both to the invited, the not and not yet invited. It was a mess. I consoled myself again with the knowledge that we artists have the attention span of mayflies. With no further stirring up, it should all blow over in the next few days. After all, we are all long past seventh grade and we have many other issues pressing for our time and attention.

I begin to feel the time squeeze in this first major deadline (hence starting my morning at 6:00 am rather than 8:00 am). I am to have all the projects done and ready to photograph by 8/1. I have not yet ordered/purchased the remaining glass and hardware that I need to do them all. The order for the hardware will go in today, the couple of pieces of non-Bullseye glass I need I may just buy locally at a stained glass store (at full retail, Ugh!). It feels like every time I blink, another week has passed. Time to write up a complete schedule/timeline for now through 8/1. Usually writing up and following a schedule calms me down and allows me to pace through the overwhelming tasks between me and a deadline/goal. Let's hope it works this time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Faster, Faster, FASTER!

Coffee in the Barcelona skyline mug (brought to me this morning by a Concerned Spouse), "Too Bad About Your Girl" by the Donnas on iTunes. As soon as I am don posting I am off to the Phoenix School to drive on a field trip to the Fernbank Science Center. It's a Mom Day. One of those "I am letting work take over my life and I have to make more time for my family" things. I do not really have time to do it, but if I breathe deeply and concentrate on relaxing, I will get through.

Yesterday was my half-life birthday and I celebrated appropriately. It took a long time to get to yesterday and I am looking forward to another good long time to get to the end. I also took the time to make a few rest-of-my-life resolutions:

1) Start being comfortable saying No.
2) Be realistic about scheduling even if the schedule might disappoint someone (i.e., don't kill myself to get something done just because it is more convenient for someone else).
3) Schedule downtime.
4) Obviate seven-day work weeks.
5) Stop worrying about my inability to separate business work and life work into their own time slots (e.g., 9-5 and all other times).

Now that I have all that settled I just need to get through my current bout of over-committed/over-scheduledness. The bad news is that it runs through November.

The image at top right is the first project in the book--a double layer vase drape. This one was done with two layers of glass powders over clear. I haven't decided whether to use pre-colored glass for the project or to make my own. I will probably just use Spectrum Baroque or Bullseye confetti.

Today contains a wrap of the work on the trunk show next week, all email going out to the artists being solicited for participation in the gallery section of the book, picking up the panel I had drilled and shipping it off to the client in Chicago, and putting in the order for all the hardware and supplementary materials I need for the projects in the book. I pretty much have the glass, but there is a lot of stuff I don't have and I didn't have time while I was in Chicago to stop by Ed Hoy's and pick it all up.

9:00, off to Fernbank!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Back to Work!

Coffee in the Montreal Skyline mug this morning, "Rio" by Duran Duran on the iPod. It is a truly cosmopolitain morning (no, I haven't started drinking... yet!). Details on the trip to Chicago (with pictures!) and a follow-up on the neighbors' dogs in Stranded in the South.

My new webpage is almost finished (by the web design company). When they finish, then I have to create the remaining pages using the pages they created as templates. The site can be previewed here and I would love feedback.

Tomorrow I will post the list of projects I plan for the book. I would again love feedback--if you know nothing of kilnformed glass, would the chance to learn to make these things make you want to have the book and if you know kilnformed glass, is there anything here that would make you want the book so could learn the techniques? Some of them might be difficult to understand/envision if you are not a kilnformer, but I can't put in any images which are not my work. What I am looking for is a balance in size and complexity. Colors are TBD later.

Today, fusing, and slumping and artist solicitations rule. Paperwork is an unfortunate necessity after the big trip and I will try to get to it. I have been approached about teaching a couple of seminars on Selling and Marketing and need to plan a bit for them. And finally, follow-up on commission and gallery requests will complete the day.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Coffee in the Atlanta Skyline mug (the collection grows), "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley on iTunes. Life for the past couple of weeks has been a fight for everything--nothing has been simple. And yet I am still in good spirits and have kept the breakdowns to infrequent minis. The latest additions to the list of catastrophes associated with the trip to Chicago: the stereo system in the Odyssey, bamboo, carpet, router and neighbors.

We picked up the van almost without incident from the dealership in Nashville yesterday morning. It was almost without incident as the battery was dead from one of the dome lights being left on for a week while it sat in their parking lot. A jump later and it was running, but the anti-theft security on the radio had been triggered so we needed to put in the code. Also not too much of a problem, they looked it up for us there. I didn't try to get the iPod and all working until we were on the road, but when I did, I found that power adapter (used to be called a cigarette lighter adapter) and the cd player/radio had no power. It would have been a long silent ride home (the dvd player did not work for the Sprout either), but we made metaphoric lemonade and took turns singing silly old songs (Clementine, Bicycle Built for Two, Yankee Doodle, etc.) and playing counting games. Jessie's favorite that she sang was Yankee Doodle, but she just would not accept that pronunciation/name and sang "Rankie Doodoo" all the way home.

There was no lemonade for the bamboo. This year for the first year since I put them in, the yellow and green Castillonis bamboo sent up shoots, big shoots, five of them. They were about a foot high (and over an inch around) when I left for Chicago and one of the first things I did yesterday upon my return was run to the backyard to marvel at their glory. But they weren't there towering over the rest of the bamboo. What the hell? So I looked closer and discovered to my horror that bamboo shoots are either tasty to deerhounds or Seraph was really stressed at my departure. All five shoots were about four feet tall and splintered off at the top from being chewed. No leaves at all so they probably are not even going to live. In the case they can't grow from being cut off in the middle, I need to cut them back to the ground so they don't siphon off nutrients from the rest of the plants. *sigh* There's always next year (bamboo shoots once a year and the full growth of the new culms happens in one growing season so these plants will always be as they are this year.

The lemonade for the carpet was that it could have been worse. The gate to the upstairs did not get closed before we were all gone so the dogs had free run of the upstairs in our absence and the carpet suffered in a few spots. Enough said on THAT one.

I just threw up my hands and out the lemons on the router. Went to get Dave the security key for the router so he could get his laptop connected last night and the lights on the router were all off. I couldn't connect to the router via either the laptop or the iMac and my laptop couldn't connect to the net. I think I am still able to get on via the iMac as a pass through from the DSL modem. The electricity was out while we were gone and the router might have gotten fried by lightning. In any case I foresee a frustrating morning of sys adminning to get the problem resolved and the home network functional again.

I wish I had saved the lemons to through at the neighbors. And last, but not least, the crappy neighbors with the yappy dogs moved while I was gone. So how could this be a catastrophe? Guess what they left behind--the yappy dogs. I went over last night and the dogs had no food and no water. I went over this morning and, again, no food and no water. It is going to be 85 degrees today. I do not know these dogs well enough to open their kennel, go in and take care of them. As far as I know, they have never been out of the kennel and though they look friendly, I am not going to risk being bitten. So I called animal services and their response is to put an abandonment notice on the kennel giving the owners 36 hours to take the dogs away. No amount of protesting would convince the operator that the dogs could be dead in 36 hours. Alvin and Belinda have been gone for over a week now, and I have seen no evidence that they are coming by to take care of the dogs. After much aggravation and $7.95, I have found the landlady's name and address (the internet is a truly wonderful thing) and called her. She did not know they had moved and said she would call Alvin (Allen, whatever) at work to find out. She might or might not call me back to let me know what she finds out. And the police should be here in the next hour.

Even if the Alvin and Belinda complaint falls through I still need the police. I have finally decided to do something about the dog in the yard next to Alvin and Belinda's. Another set of renters moved in there and they have a young female pit-bull in a prong collar chained 24/7 in their backyard with nothing more than a small airline carrier kennel for shelter. It is illegal in our county to chain animals at all. Even trolley systems can only be used in the day--not from 10 pm to 6 am--and require a back-up containment system. I have not complained before now because I did not have the time to dedicate to the process and was nervous about the fallout from the neighbors. I am still nervous about the fallout from the neighbors (the dog owner is a big guy and if he bangs on my door with temper and ill-intent for making a complaint...) but it is the Right Thing To Do.

In tomorrow's post I will get around to all the good things that happened in Chicago and all the fun we had. For now I have to unload the van, fix/replace the router, fire a couple of commissions, review the web pages I have *finally* received for review from the website development company, and write the publisher about their response (I haven't received one yet) to the project outline I sent last week and the week before.