Monday, July 31, 2006

Where has July Gone? Long Time Passing...

No coffee, no music. Back to the 6 am days. As usual, the List (of things to do) fluctuated up and down over the weekend with no real down. In spite of the fact that I didn't clear any more major to-do's, I was completely busy all weekend. Go figure. Today, the final day of the month, I take to get organized (again). How much time is spent getting organized and ready to do things and how much is spent actually doing them?

August is the home stretch for the projects part of the book. All projects must be completed and in photographable format by September 1. August 1 is also the postmark date for all the artists who are submitting images of their work for the gallery section. And I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone, the outline for the book with the photo and illustration count is still not done! Yet I am not concerned that the book will not be written on time. The two projects I already wrote up showed me that the writing (for me anyway) is the least of it.

I have taken the first hour of the day to wake up, read email, write this post, and do a little home finance. The second hour will be spent on the firing schedule for orders and book projects and on creating an Other Tasks schedule to get me through more of the essentials on the To Do list. We'll see if that keeps me on track for August. No, wait. It seems a crime to waste the pristine hours of the day--before 8 am when Jessie gets up, reality sets in and the relentless sameness of every day begins--on regular tasks of the day. Instead, a pure hour on the outline. Good idea.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Another Day, Another (Identity) Crisis

No coffee yet, no music either--no wait, an ambulance just went by and all the dogs are howling. Since two of them are in the house and one is on the back deck I am getting a full stereo experience. The deerhounds are meant to howl--they are hounds, after all. But have you ever heard a cocker spaniel howl? It's a treat.

Yesterday was extremely productive. There is something powerful about the intense focus you get working in a completely neutral environment. Now if I can be half as productive today on the outline I will have it done! But I am back to being a single proprietor again today: got to pick up the piece I inadvertently dropped off at a gallery on Wednesday, need to make up and ship a catalog to a gallery in New Mexico (they saw me at the Buyer's Market and are interested in carrying my work), need to invoice the Art Institute and a commission client, have an order to ship, a piece to fuse for Jeffrey for a sculpture which sold at the Buyer's Market show (to one of the galleries which carries my work), need to write up the firing schedule, follow up on a ship-date for an order and THEN I can work on the book. At least I got my last webpage designed and sent off to the webdesign company.

Final news of the morning, I just got email from an artist I asked to participate in the gallery section of the book. He has been working with glass since the mid-seventies, fusing since the early eighties, was one of the original instructors at Bullseye Glass, and has work all over the world including the Corning Museum of Glass. He also has a book coming out in October on Fused Glass Art and Techniques. My first reaction when I read the email was, "Wow do I feel stupid and I might as well roll up the sidewalk on my little writing project right now." I moved onto a more gracious acceptance of my place in the world with the thought that there is room in the space for my crappy little project book too. I have yet to rise much above that thought despite the umbrage that my spouse took to my choice of adjectives when I voiced my feelings to him.

Why is it so hard for some people--and I am in that group--to steadily and assuredly believe in themselves and the worth of their work? Why is our immediate response to circumstances like the one described above to be threatened or diminished? My work has never been taken to SOFA. I do not have a piece in the Corning Museum of Glass. I have not had a show at Bullseye--I have not even been a finalist in e-merge. I have not had a piece in the Pilchuck auction (of course on that one I cannot really whine as I have not submitted one for consideration). All of these things are success markers in my field. Okay, I was a NICHE finalist the year before last so my professional life is not completely barren of kudos. And being recognized by NICHE was satisfying for, oh, a nanosecond until I started anxting about something I WASN'T getting. And that's the point.

Satisfaction and comfort in oneself do not come from external sources. How many thin women do you know who obsess about their weight and will never see themselves as thin or be happy as they are? What about women of my age who can't see past the newly arrived grey hair, sagging breasts, and wrinkles to the beauty that comes with age, wisdom and confidence? What those of us who tried to hang onto 20 as we marched past 30 and now cling to 30 as we slide towards 50 have never been able to maintain is our self-confidence. I am now mostly over any obsession I might have had with external beauty. Weight is another issue, but I am good with it as I am really quite heavy and physically uncomfortable in my body because of it. Moving right along...

My issues now center on professional competitiveness and recognition. If I were a novelist, I would work towards being Stephen King--New York Times Bestseller, and want to be Michener, Hemingway or Faulkner--Pulitzer. Can it be that I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up? Or is it that I just want it all--a financially successful production glass studio with work appealing to and within reach of Everyman and the recognition of my peers, curators and Serious Collectors as a True Artiste? I am having deja vu all over again--this must be a cyclical theme for me. I wish I could just break the cycle, hear the click of who I am snapping together with who I think I am and who I would like to be so I could quit wasting time and emotional energy on a conciliation that isn't happening! (You cannot reconcile that which has never been together in the first place.)

I am still frustrated but feel a little better knowing it's Just Me and now I have to get on with all the (no longer crappy) little details of owning a business on a busy Friday. And there is a place for my little craft how-to book. It will be pretty. It will be a bit fluffy (that due to the publisher rather than me--it is what I have been contracted to do). And it will be helpful, inspirational and valuable to some people. And that's really all you can ask as there are no Pulitzers for glass books and they never end up on the best seller lists, even if they're about or by Chihuly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Live From Joe's--A New Theme

Frufty mocha with Ghirardelli chocolate at Joe's this mornig. Music is a recording of a radio broadcast from the 50's--rock and pop with occasional commercials and talking. At least that's what it sounds like. Yesterday all day was spent delivering pieces to Taylor Kinzel and Taylor Kinzel II up in Roswell and then unloading the rest of the van. I accidentally left three pieces with them that I needed to ship yesterday. One I found a replacement for, one I remade, and the third I have to go back up tomorrow to pick up. *sigh*

Today is a website and book day. I hope to do at least one day a week like this until the book is done. Working offsite is good for focus and limits distractions. It would be better if I didn't have an internet connection, but nothing is perfect. I should also do paperwork, but I am not going to waste an off-site at Joe's on that.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Back in the High Life OR Let's Get It Started

Coffee in the Chicago Skyline mug, no music but the appropriate songs of the moment are in the title. Finally got back from Philly last night at 6:00. Construction, accidents and torrential turned it into a 15 hour journey. It was livened at 10:00 pm in the middle of Washington D.C. (why the gps sent me through Washington rather than around it I have no idea) when I realized that although the gas gauge said the tank was half full, I had gone 428 miles on that tank... The Odyssey does not get mileage that good. Clearly when I hit the tire in the middle of the road on the drive up it messed something up. Or it was coincidence. Regardless of the cause, it was late at night and I was somewhere in Washington D.C. desperately needing gas. The gps took me off the freeway and to a gas station, but it couldn't vouch for the neighborhood and I was plenty nervous. All ended well (we did not get mugged, raped or murdered) even though we did pay $3.59 a gallon for gas in the middle of Washington D.C., and we spent the night at Quantico.

When all is said and done it was a good show. I took orders from five new clients and two current clients--with one of the currents from Florida also taking a full order for their Chicago store. Guess that means I got six new clients including my first one in the city of Chicago proper (hence the Chicago Skyline mug--I'm celebrating). That repeat order also came 20 minutes after the show closed in the midst of packing and accounted for 30% of my sales so I really ended on a high. Delivery dates are spaced out from now till November and only the last order is really big.

Now it is 8:00 am and I still have not decided how the day will play out. I will unload the van and I will enter my last order into the computer and send off the confirmation email. But will I begin to fire pieces, or deliver new and replacement work to my local galleries, or will I spend the entire day on the computer working on web pages and outline? Just thinking of making a list (it is not a coincidence that list is a four-letter word) of everything I have to do is making my head hurt. I am thrilled to be home, but I am physically exhausted. Maybe it is my exhaustion which is making me more flexible than usual, but I am going to run Dave to the train station now, and I am still in my jammies--a black velour/velvet sheath. I am not even going to switch the coffee to a go-mug--I am just going to head out with the ceramic skyline mug.

Back from the train, dressed, back from taking the J to school (couldn't pull that one off in the jammies without worrying about social workers showing up at the door), mail sorted and opened. The day is still amorphous, and I am not going to stress it. I will make the infamous task list, and I then I will get to what I get to. Gallery deliveries tomorrow, orders shipping today, that's as far as I have gotten. Maybe I will actually work on the book!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep...

Coffee is for wimps, or at least mornings. I end the day with the sound of the same gentle snores from my Mom that started yesterday (and everyday on the road). Day two of the BMAC is done and there has been much grumbling among the artists about the paucity of buyers and orders. I can't complain. While I have only taken six relatively small orders, five of them are from new galleries/stores (new accounts for me). So I have some work, but not enough to overwhelm me as I go into the home stretch on the book, and I get to add new cities and states to my Locations page on my website.

And speaking of the website, I got the spreadsheet catalog of all my products created for the ecommerce portion of my website. All I have left is producing and uploading actual images of the pieces. That will be a big task, but at least I have some of it done. I also worked on the tiny detail outline for the book. The first outline was the broad brush strokes, do-you-want-to-give-me-a-contract outline. Then after the contract was signed I did the here-are-all-the-topics outline. Now I have to do the how-many-pages-photos-illustrations-per-item outline. It almost feels like writing the book without actually writing the book. So how many pages should I have on types of glasscutters?

But now I am snoozy, and it is time to collapse into my eyelids. Tomorrow will see us packing up and checking out of the hotel, doing the show all day, packing up from it and loading the car, and then getting down the road south of DC before crashing for the night. I might even get another post in. If not, bye till Tuesday.

Friday, July 21, 2006

For Some, the End of the Week...

No coffee (yet--but there will be Starbucks as soon as I go downstairs and get it) and only the sound of my Mom's gentle snores and her bird's sleepy rustles for music. In keeping with the nothing-is-ever-easy theme, I discovered last night that I couldn't print new business cards because I couldn't access files of that format (Avery Design Pro) on the Mac. So I spent a couple of hours finding, downloading, buying, and learning a new piece of software and then designing a new business card. It is a great looking card, but it was time not previously allocated and not really up for grabs. But it's done now and if I could just get the printer to color it in the lines... Stupid printer.

The rest of the packet contents are mostly designed and just need to be printed. I also have the pricing sheets and the labels for the AI pieces and samples. Luckily I also have 2-1/2 hours before the show, and I am printing as I write this.

It's Friday, the last day of the work week for some, the first day of the Buyer's Market for me, and my Dad's Birthday. Happy Birthday Dad, thanks for loaning me Mom. Some kids just borrow the car. I am sad to say that I am not looking forward to this show. I am really, really, really stressed about not having my website or the writing about the book docs for the publisher done yet. If I do not get them done in the next few days I think my head will explode.

Yet I must finish today on a happy note: Jeff Manpearl, the metal artist with whom I am collaborating (and doesn't THAT sound subversive!) has the booth on the back wall right inside the main door of the show and he has two pieces with my glass in them prominently displayed on the outside wall of the booth and a couple more inside. Whoo hoo. Talk about great exposure. Okay, off to the show. Pics tomorrow, really.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Houston, We Have Ignition

No coffee--both too hot and too late in the day for me, and no music either. It is Thursday early evening and I have been back in my room for over an hour. For the first show in four I am set-up and ready with time to spare. I will be spending that spare time making up product information packets to hand out tomorrow. A great big huge thank-you to Nancy Goodenough for bringing 6X9 black folders for me. I am downsizing on the materials I hand out. I have killed enough trees, and I am not getting a good return on them. This year the packet will just have a price list, a basic order packages list for each product line, a postcard for visuals and a business card for contact info (and the booth number, of course).

I'm sure the biggest question on everyone's lips is, did I forget anything? The answer: you bet your sweet bippy! Dave ran a box to FedEx for me this afternoon with all the samples of the Architectural Industrial glasses. Hey, I had to forget something for Bill. And the internet cable got lost along the way even though it never got used--but that doesn't really count.

Now it's time to head across the street to chili's for another dinner of Boneless Shanghai Wings and the Triple Play appetizer shared with my Mom. She'll add a Presidente margarita and I will have a glass or two of wine. Ah, perfect American bar food bliss. Tomorrow: a photo of the booth!

Tomorrow I will post a picture of the new booth layout, it is sweeeet.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This is Going to the Show, and I'm Just a Regular...

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug (of course it is, if you are familiar with the reference in the title), no music, but in the midst of ripping the last cd's for the trip. Today I load up with Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Doris Day, Billie Holliday, Bill Cosby, Percy Faith, a little Disney and some Broadway musical soundtracks. This time on the way to Phillie I am going to expose my Mom to the iPod. I also have the Audible book I downloaded a week or so ago, but she says she doesn't like audio books. We'll see.

Woke at 5:00, said "Nah." and was able to get back to sleep. Woke at 6:30 with a heart-pounding start because I was not able to get anywhere on the outline for the book yesterday. The author guidelines I finally got around to reading state that interim deadlines, assignments, etc., all come from this document which is not yet finished, and the book is due in 106 days. Worried? No, not really. But panic-stricken, yes. (It's the irrational vs. the rational.)

No fewer than three people have asked me if I have a list of supplies for this trip. I always have a list of supplies for EVERY trip. And I always follow it. How things still get missed... But as I change my display every BMAC I need to redo my list this morning before packing the car and heading out. My set-up is tomorrow at 1:00--a scant hour after the show floor opens--and if all goes right, I will have all day Thursday to do nothing but prepare printed materials, finish website pages and diddle with the book outline. Here's to things going right. The summer show is also notoriously slow so I am expecting to get a lot of book tasks done as I sit in my booth and wait for orders.

Okay, enough meta-preparation. It's time for the Real Thing. Live from Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon...

Monday, July 17, 2006


No coffee, no music, but it's ok. Though I did not post over the weekend I fired three full slump loads a day Friday, Saturday and Sunday (one in Bertha and two in Bella). Today and tomorrow are light days with only one load per kiln per day scheduled. Tomorrow is also the departure day for the Buyer's Market (BMAC) so the loads going in are for a gallery order scheduled to ship the day after we get back and the next project in the book--the final pattern bars for the mirror frame. They take a long cycle so I am glad they will be cooling while I am not here.

I got all the new pieces fired for the BMAC too, all the ones I was able to schedule anyway. With 115 going out to galleries tomorrow and the day after I get back, space has been a bit tight. Luckily, Becky at Creative Spirit Gallery in Decatur does not mind (too much) when I have to come in and clean her out so that I have enough work for a show. She will get it all back this time as it is a wholesale orders show so I probably won't have any sales. I might have a piece or two fewer as occasionally another artist will ask if you "sell your samples" and I usually do. It's pretty flattering when someone else in your field likes your work enough to buy it--even wholesale.

Also over the weekend I got to meet Barbara Muth in person--a glass artist I virtually met through this blog. I hooked her up with my photographer (Bart Kasten of Bart's Art) and he is going to shoot some of her work for her. Between her work and a weekend review of an English translation of an old German glass techniques book by Bettina Eberle, I am inspired to try a new series of work of opal and cathedral glass work with precious metal paints and partial sandblast finishing. When I will get to it is another matter--unless I make it a project for the book.

Over the weekend I had a major shift in design for a couple of projects for the book. If I hadn't been so far behind on getting materials to the publisher, it would probably be a problem. But I have (still) not got the final flushed out list with full descriptions and sketches to them so I am probably ok. As soon as I get back from the BMAC my #1 priority has got to be to get all the finished projects done so I can't change my mind anymore. While I am in Philadelphia I hope to get a lot of book and web work done, though I am probably fooling myself. Even though all you do is sit around all day at the show with short adrenaline bursts as you take orders, you are still tired at night. At least we are staying at the Marriott and at most, just have to walk across the connecting bridge to our rooms. I am glad I made that splurge and used my points--one less stress point/effort.

So today I finish up, pack up and prepare to head out tomorrow morning. Got to remember to transfer my Audible audio book from the computer to the iPod. And a list, I need to make my list.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Is It the End? Or Just the Beginning...?

Coffee in the Los Angeles Skyline mug with a side of plain MM's, no music though. Didn't get up till 7:00 this am and the spouse got up with me and made me coffee first thing. I am blessed. It isn't really the end of the week, it is the beginning of the pre-show prep.

And now it's an hour and a half after I started this post and I have a kiln load in, J off to school, and a plan done for the Archetype Industrial (AI) pieces I want to show at the BMAC next week. I created a new color series yesterday and am excited about the diversity it brings to the Morceaux de verre styles. I call it "forest" and it is juniper spruce tint, pale grey, dark green, silver aventurine and teal. It is a good color coming into the winter season (in July! You gotta love retail.) and should also sell well in the colder northern markets.

So it's Friday, but I will be working all weekend getting ready for the BMAC, finishing up the website as much as I can and getting the outline of the book done for the editor. Time is shushing by. Remarkably, I am not stressed. We are into the che sera, sera pre-show phase. It is now down to number of hours before departure and finite number of pieces which can be fired. I have made my peace with not having as much as I would have liked and being happy that I have some new things.

One of the new things I am going to have (after I make it between now and Monday) is a display for samples of all the AI patterns (the photo above right is of a couple of AI platters stacked). At last summer's show where I debuted this series, I naively thought that store owners would be content to leave the pattern selection to me and would just say "mostly organic" or "mostly geometric" or "your best sellers". But I guess it is the nature of a small business owner who does his own buying to be a bit of a control freak and want to pick all his own so this year I will make it easy. I will have a good photo of all the patterns to take away for remote ordering, a samples display where tiles can be moved around and grouped for ordering at the show, and a few recommended basic order groupings written up.

That last one, the basic order recommendation write-ups, was a suggestion from Mike Shapiro, owner of Shapiro's at Bay Walk at the February show. And rather than do a big catalog this year and waste lots of paper, toner, electricity, and time (let's not forget time), I am going to scale down my handouts and do something simple. Of course I won't be creating these sales and marketing materials until I get to Philadelphia. I won't even be buying the supplies till there. Hope set-up goes well so I have time.

And speaking of Philadelphia, for the first time I wasn't able to get a decently priced room on Either it has become the most popular way for cheap artist and store owners to get rooms, or Phillie has a lot of stuff going on next week/weekend. The official rate on the Marriott (attached to the Convention Center where the BMAC takes place) is $312 a night. Like I going to pay that! So after almost 10 years of hoarding them, I used (all) my Marriott rewards points to stay there from Tuesday through Sunday. 80,000 points. Whew!

The final news of the day is happy news: Barbara Muth, artiste de verre extraordinaire from Washington DC is coming out for the weekend with her husband. I am so psyched! I might actually get to play a bit! Or we'll just eat and drink a lot. Also a Fine Thing.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho

No coffee, no music. I sense a recurring theme. Maybe if I wrote at a different time of the day, my writing would be different, happier maybe. It is difficult to be perky and optimistic in the dark before down. On the plus side, I just looked out the window and the fireflies are still out. A nice sight though not one I am used to seeing when I awake. The pictures scattered throughout this post are from the artist I did collaborative work with for the BMAC a couple of weeks ago. It's my glass and his metal. The glass sizes range from 8" X 12" to 12" X 20". I can't wait to see them in person at the show next week.

The studio this week is a symphony where I am the conductor and all the musicians. I play madly knowing that if I stop, something dark will eat my soul... Well, it's not as bad as all that, but it is pretty hectic. The first fuse load (of two) for the BMAC goes in today along with the last of the Art Institute pieces. The AI seems a bit anxious about their order so I am going to ship it next Tuesday before leaving for the BMAC rather than the following Tuesday when I return.

Yesterday with great help from my mother (who fed the postcards into the laser printer so the backs could be printed and who put all the address labels on them) I got 500+ postcards ready to mail this morning for the BMAC. That was more than I planned to send, but the list I used looked pretty good (all the nominees for NICHE magazine top retailer awards this year). For the February show I mailed postcards to the top 100 retailers of 2005 and I got at least three new galleries for my troubles.

Also yesterday, as I was putting the finishing touches to the Locations page on my website, I found that one of the people who bought my work at the February show sells the work he buys on eBay. I can't even say I am ambivalent about it; I think it sucks. I do not sell my work on eBay and I don't really want to see work that I thought was ending up at a gallery in Las Vegas show up there. I just shipped his order last week so it has not shown up on either his website or his eBay page, but it is just a matter of time. I have him bookmarked on eBay so that whenever he adds new items, I will get notified. And I will be mentioning this to the Rosen Group when I go out next week. Will I be selling to him again? Nope. Will he come off my website and mailing list? Yepper.

I close with a note on the book. I sent two chapters (for two projects) last week. I got them back edited and the comment from the editor was "fabulous" and she went on to make a change on every single line of the instructions. Oh this is going to be fun.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hump Day... Again!

No coffee--but my wonderful spouse is going to make some in a moment--and music is provided by a neighbor's 2-cylinder engine (A chainsaw?), dogs barking and cars commuting. It's summer in the city.

Sleep, glorious sleep! I was asleep by 9:30 last night and did not rise till 6:00. First thing I did was load Big Bertha for the day and she was firing by 7:15. Now I get back to wrestling with the website, the postcards I still haven't sent for the BMAC, and writing about the book! I did get two of the website pages done yesterday--the front page and the locations page. Today I have to write up the backsplash page and send it to the designer to code up, and I have to update the calendar and Morceaux de Verre pages and start creating the catalog for the ecommerce area. I will not be selling retail on my site, but what I will do is allow the galleries and shops which carry my work to have see the current catalog and order from it on-line. If it works out, I might move to a joint retail and wholesale ecommerce site but that won't happen before next year at the earliest.

Coffee's ready, gotta go.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

All Awake

No coffee, no music, no sounds other my the deerhounds sleepy rumbles at being woken so early. They appear to be the only ones in the house actually still asleep. Dave woke before I did this morning (though he did not get up) and when I started downstairs I saw a light on in the guestroom and heard my daughter chirping happily to my mother. Having Gramma come is more of a reason to get up early than Christmas morning.

My posts are all about sleep these days. Another night when I did not get to bed till after midnight and I am still awake at 5:00 and up at 6:00. When I look back on writing this book I will remember these as the days of no sleep--I got more and better sleep after Jessie was born . I debated getting up this morning or trying to go back to sleep (the word "sleep" alone or encased in another word has appeared six times so far in this post) and ultimately decided that I will write the majority of the day today and that should earn me the reward of sleeping in tomorrow.

Kiln work is going really well. The Art Institute pieces are turning out beautifully (30 complete, another 23 fused to slump, and 22 cut and ready to fuse today and tomorrow), technically some of the best work I have done and with magnificent coloring. The production schedule is the one sacrosanct constant in my days. I don't know what I would do without Excel.

But the rest of my deliverables are... Where am I going? What is this handbasket? My webdesigner actually called to find out when I was going to get something to him yesterday. Now I am the bottleneck to completion. And there are postcards, and writing about writing documents to do. At least I got the printer up and working--and I got a great tip on running Windows on a Mac (thank you Julian!!) though I am going to leave any more sys admining till the weekend.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bring on the Week!

No coffee, no music, but lots of determination. It is the final week before the Buyer's Market of American Craft in Philadelphia, and I have the Art Institute order and another order to finish for shipping by the 25th--the day after I get back from the BMAC. Things are actually tight enough that I might have to ask Dave to slump a couple of loads for me while I am gone. And of course there is the website to finish, the postcards for the BMAC to get out (today), and deliverables for the book--more writing about writing the book (more outline and project stuff) and continuing to make the projects.

Friday I started a post at the usual time, but then I got sidetracked doing more sys admin work on the computers. Even after an entire weekend spent on the process, I have still not got the new Macs completely configured (syncing and migrating, syncing and migrating), or the printer or the scanner set up. And I am not going to be able to migrate completely from Windows to Mac as I have indispensable software which either does not exist for the Mac (Dragonfly's Glass Eye stained glass design program) or which I already bought for the Windows machine and do not wish to have to buy again for the Macs (Dreamweaver, Quickbooks). I would do without the design program but I find it very useful when I do commissions. Those wacky clients, they actually want to see what you are going to do for them before you do it, and we have not progressed technologically to the point where I can just give them a peek into my brain. The old solution to making Mac and Windows play nice together would have been get PC Anywhere software and run it, but it does not run on the new Intel-based Macs so I have to use Bootcamp and set up a dual boot machine with two full operating systems. Oh joy. Haven't done that since I had to have a a Windows NT server and a Win 98 personal computer on the same laptop. It wasn't fun then either.

Over the weekend I also got an offer of help on the book from another artist who I have asked to participate in the gallery. We have never met or corresponded outside the context of his participation in the book and recently he stumbled upon this blog and got a glimpse into the miasma of stress and anxiety surrounding the process of writing the book. I was simultaneously thrilled by his offer (I really really, really like his work and he is also a good writer--he has a series of clear, concise, detailed tutorials for esoteric kilnforming techniques on his website), and dismayed that he may have made it because of a negative impression of my capability gained from this blog. The blog is both a blessing and a sword of Damocles: Writing it centers and organizes me--and chronicles this journey in case I might feel like downplaying its difficulty later, but it *is* public and people who I might want/need to see me in a completely professional light get to see my knickers, my warts, and who knows what else! I could make it private, or just keep a regular diary in Word, but if I am honest, much of the stimulation of writing here is knowing that anyone could read it and being honest (in a very mature, adult version of the word) and letting it all hang out anyway. Next topic.

My Mom comes today from Montana. She is going to drive to Philadelphia with me and help me at the BMAC. This will be her third BMAC--she has done the past two winter shows with me--and I do not know how I would do it without her. My erstwhile apprentice, Maggy stopped by Friday and we played a bit in the kiln. Didn't do anything to further the book projects, but made some cool squigglies which I will use in a piece later. I was trying to show her how to weave and got the fiber paper strips to slump over both to thin and too close together. We ended up with clear glass almost round 1/4" strips with tight 1/4" curves. My daughter thinks they look like cool swizzle sticks. She isn't even 5 yet, how does she know about swizzle sticks?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Late Again

Coffee in the New York Skyline mug, no music as yet. I am inclined to J. Geils when it is time for music. Coffee would have been in the new Denver Skyline mug which arrived yesterday--and I would have started this blog half an hour ago--but when I opened the box this morning, the handle was broken off the mug and into three pieces. So I had to futz around finding the seller's email and letting her know it was broken. I could go on for another paragraph about how late I now am for a packed day, but why bother? Same sh*t, different day. At least today I started with a shower, brushing and flossing my teeth and getting dressed. Better able to face the disasters that way.

The pic at right is the second load (first full load) of pieces for the Art Institute in Chicago pre-fire yesterday--15 15 X 7 platters. Today will see a duplicate of that load and the piece I put in the med kiln--my failed screen melt from some time ago filled with frit--will be flipped and fired again. Pics on it tomorrow.

But firing will come after feeding CW (he gets his own entry and photos in Stranded in the South soon), taking J to school, going to ikebana class and lunch with another artist friend. I need to squeeze in some time for my erstwhile apprentice Maggy today or tomorrow, and the electrician comes to put the ceiling fans up on the porch this afternoon. I had intended to get my firing schedule for the month done this morning and also to update my To Do list, but tempus has fugited on me. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're always a day away...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Morning has (Almost) Broken

No coffee, no music, not even any lights. I love that the MacBook (the laptop) has a lighted keyboard. I never learned how to touch type so I could never write in the dark before.

Even though I worked throughout the a four-day weekend, it was still a four-day weekend and I did not get as much done as I needed/would have liked/planned. I did write the first beginner project. It is smooth, complete and concise at 435 words (target is 400-500). Now I need to whip up the intermediate project and finish the projects spreadsheet. I can't believe the spreadsheet is taking so long. No matter how much I tweak it and diddle with it, it is still not done. I also have to do two sketches of planned pieces so the publisher can get a better idea what I am proposing, and to design a complex necklace--the little fused necklace and earrings I initially proposed are too "simple". It is a beginner book, but I guess I am supposed to be taking projects no beginner would ever do on his own (either because of lack of technical knowledge or lack of design skills), and holding his hand through doing them. It feels a bit like cheating.

Finally I have my July firing schedule to write up and two kiln loads to do (one galleries and BMAC and one a project). It is now 6:00 am, better get to it!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Live From Joe's!

Coffee is a large Jittery Joe (20 oz with espresso shots), music is a nice background but not quite loud enough to identify over the sounds of conversation and laughter from the surrounding tables and casual groupings of couches and comfy chairs. Sounds like an R&B version of "Express Yourself" on the R&B radio station here at Joe's. I sit in a comfy chair next to my spouse who has the day off from Turner and is in his own comfy chair. We each have coffee (mine hot and spiked with extra caffeine, his cold and frufty) and a Mac laptop. I got up at 6:30 and started the firing in Big Bertha and now we are at Joe's for the day doing the Internet coffee shop workday.

Today I write up the first beginner and intermediate projects for the book to get a word and photo count. I also have to finish the projects spreadsheet with the colors, materials, techniques, number of photos, etc. for each of the projects, and I have to update the outline with a page and photo count for all the topics. Not a sexy day, but a necessary one nonetheless. And I get to hang out with my spouse in a coffee shop all day... there are worse fates!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Saturday in the Studio

Coffee in the Los Angeles Skyline mug, "The House is Rockin'" by Stevie Ray Vaughn on iTunes. No, it's not random chance; it's fate. The piece at right is the pot melt I did yesterday afternoon. My own firing schedule, and my own method to get the design. This piece is the basis for one of the book projects and I am so psyched!

Every melt I have done so far has been by someone else's schedule and with a standard unmodified pot. But yesterday I just said what the hell, I don't care if it fails. Better to fail on my own than to succeed on someone else. And it worked! Best melt I have done so far in terms of glass flow, color preservation and kiln wash adherence.

The final project review with the editor yesterday went equally well. It was again two hours long, but we got a lot of things cleared up and I made myself comfortable saying "No", "I don't know, I'll have to get back to you on that" and "I'm not prepared to make that decision right now". All are phrases which have historically caused me great anxiety.

So I ride the high of self-assertion and firing success to another day in the studio. Today I am going to do, photograph and begin writing up a beginner project. I am also going to fire a full load of gallery pieces in Big Bertha. But first I am going to shower and brush my teeth. The niceties of society and social conventions must be observed, after all.