Friday, September 29, 2006

Watermelon Delight

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "For You" by the Barenaked Ladies on iTunes, 500 unscheduled just-for-the-hell-of-it words written yesterday in addition to an almost complete detailed shot list.

Today is a firing day, I also need to ship work to two galleries, 30 pieces to the Art Institute catalog center, and samples to the Art Institute buyer. Then there is the shot list to finish and send. Maybe by tomorrow I will get to write my projects which are due this week (were due yesterday actually). Ended up firing four full loads yesterday, aiming for the same today. But where yesterday's were slump loads (fast prep), today's big one is a fuse. The medium one and the first little one are both slumps and they are already in.

This weekend is a big weekend. Tomorrow is Dave's birthday! Our family tradition is that the birthday person gets to pick their birthday dinner. If it is at home (also a choice) each menu item is chosen. Otherwise it is the restaurant that gets picked. Dave picked at home and he wants rib-eye steaks and twice-baked potatoes from the Cook's Illustrated cookbook. I am going one step further and getting buffalo rib-eyes from Whole Foods. I might even post on my adventures in cooking tomorrow on Stranded in the South.

I am pretty sure Dave won't be reading this post today, but I am going to be safe and not put up the picture of his birthday present until tomorrow or Monday. Instead here is "Watermelon Delight". It's one of the five new pieces I am sending off to the Art Institute today for their consideration for inclusion in their spring catalog.

I am off my game. I was out of sync all last night with my family and this morning I am out of sync with my body: I made the mistake of using reading glasses to finish an online order I started last night, and now I can't focus on the laptop screen without them. I tried bumping down the resolution (I have it set to 1400 X 900) but it still looks out of focus. The letters are bigger and readable, but it is still annoying. Old and Falling Apart! (See what you have to look forward to after Sunday, Jodi?)

And my allergy meds are not working. I am on 24-hour Allegra for the first time (last year it was the 12-hour version) and I am just miserable (whine, whine, whine). Yeah, like I have time to go to the doctor right now. I still haven't had the mammogram she wrote the referral for last year. I keep thinking maybe... December. After I take the dogs in for their yearly exams and vaccinations.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, no music, writing yesterday reserved for detailed photo list (*sigh*). So how could today be anything other than anticlimactic? I had myself so worked up by yesterday morning that I was ready to quit the whole project. And though reason has convinced me that I over reacted, my gut still tells me that I am right--that there is a fundamental mismatch between what the editor wants from me and what I want to do/have been doing. Life being what it is, you go on, make the best of it and Just Get Over It!

It's only 9:30 and I already have three kiln loads in and firing. The order that is scheduled to ship to the Art Institute tomorrow is ready to go today. I don't know what wild hair crawled up my nethers (besides the one about the book) but I have just been on fire, uh, firing (yeah, yeah, so I am having trouble writing... isn't that the crux of the issue anyway?).

Today is a writing day... again. Since my deadline schedule has been officially been revised at the publishers I am on schedule and not feeling too pressed. I write better when I am pressed. Some kids were able to start their school reports right when they were assigned. And they worked on them diligently, steadily, unhurriedly until they were due and then they calmly handed them in. I have *never* worked that way.

I am better with firing glass than I ever was with anything else because the kiln has a hard stop on how much can go in and how long it has to be in there. Math and physics cannot be bought or bribed or hoodwinked. They cannot be coerced or flattered. So if I have to get something done in the kiln by a certain time, there is a simple formula I have to follow to do it: Ship time minus 12 hours equals time to put in for slump. Time to put in for slump minus 12 hours equals time to put in for fuse. Since I usually do only one load a day, the 12-hour buffer spreads to anytime in 24 and gives me the time to prep for fuse and prep for slump.

But writing, ah writing. On a normal day (as opposed to an oh-my-gosh-I-am-so-far-behind-I=have-to-write-the-equivalent-of-War-and-Peace-Today day), I sit down with my MacBook on my lap and I open my word document for the current chapter or project. Then I flip to another screen and browse CNN. Then I flip back and open a spreadsheet or two to track my writing. The I write a sentence or two and have to look something up on Wikipedia. So I flip screens back to my browser, open a tab for Wikipedia and start researching. A side note on flipping screens: I am running desktop manager software and have four desktops with different application groupings open on each one. This configuration keeps me from having to dig through layers of windows on my screen.

After a bit of researching--either when I have found what I needed or feel that I have wasted too much time already on something that is probably going to get cut anyway, I flip back to my document and start writing again. Then I have to pee, or get coffee (the two are inextricably linked), or answer the phone, or call/IM someone. And the day passes. Maybe I get 300-400 words done. On that other kind of day whose name is too long to type again, I squirm till I absolutely MUST pee, Dave brings me coffee, and I leave the chair cramped after 12 straight hours with eyes crossed and reeking of crabbiness. But I have 3000 words written.

There must be a middle ground! I am not too old to change! Forty-five is the prime of life! Anything is possible! Blah, blah, blah. Now I have turned my little post for the day into another monument to procrastination and I MUST go write.

Thank you again to everyone who posted comments and wrote to me privately about my crise d'esprit yesterday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Okay, So Maybe I Over-Reacted...

Second post of the day. After getting three kiln loads in (time, tide and gallery orders wait for no man). I looked at a couple of the best-known, most respected books on kilnforming that I would actually consider primers, and I have waaaaaaayyyyy more info on the topics I have written so far than they do. So maybe, just maybe, my editor is being reasonable. One of the books I looked at had two short paragraphs on glass cutters and pliers. I have a page and a half listing every type made, their advantages and disadvantages and how to choose and use them. That's the only section I looked at as I am reluctant to be influenced on topics I haven't written yet. I would not consider either of these books fluff at all, so maybe I really am writing too much and if I continued on, by the time I finished I would have 650 pages instead of the 144 for which I have been contracted.

It's odd to think I may have a 650 page non-fiction book in me. Writing my master's thesis was an excruciatingly painful process and I thought I would never write non-fiction again. But whether or not I have it in me, there is a definite question as to whether there would be a demand for it, and no question at all that my current publisher would not be interested in it for this book.

So now that I have settled down a bit and ditched the paranoia, I can get on with the writing I have for the day. If only my husband had wanted to listen to me rant about this last night I might have thought of looking in other books then and saved myself the public exposure from posting this morning. But live and learn. At least I was able to work through it fairly quickly and am MUCH less worried that just because the publisher doesn't want 650 pages does not mean they want fluff. . Thank you Bill, Barbara and Jodi for commenting.

A Fork in the Road

This was going to be a post last night, but I left it to sleep. It has not gone away so it is the topic of the morning. I have a problem. I have finished about half of the book on kilnforming I have been contracted to write by a well-known publishing house. I am generally happy with what I have written. There is a lot of material, but I think I have organized it well and presented it in a way that will work for people coming to kilnforming from every degree of familiarity from complete neophyte to intermediate/advanced. The problem is that the feedback I got from my editor today is that I am not writing the book they want. They want me to just cover the tools and techniques necessary to make the projects in the book--and all the projects in the book are limited by kiln size--not everything I would like to share after 20 years of kilnforming. In short, they would like a pretty, fluffy little project book. Being from an academic background and infused with the sense that anything worth doing is worth doing well, I am having trouble adjusting to this... lighter... vision.

One of the problems I am having is that I just don't see someone going to Barnes & Noble, seeing this book on the shelf and saying, "Ooh, I think I'll buy this book, go spend $500 on a kiln and another $300-$400 on miscellaneous tools and learn to fuse glass!" It seems more likely to me that the people who buy this book will have already taken a class, or have a friend who kilnforms who will share their kiln or something. Unlike mosaic work where I can go out and buy a few tools and I am ready to rock, the equipment needed for kilnforming is expensive and daunting.

But the main thing going on here is ego, plain and simple. I've had a night to reflect and my backbrain has beaten my forebrain into submission and I have to admit it. When I started this process I was asked by the publisher if I wanted to include pictures of the work of other artists in the book. Heck yeah, I said. As deadlines even then were short, I approached the first 30 that I could think of. These were people I had met over the years or whose websites I had seen, and all of whose work I had admired. It was an eclectic mix, and I was not concerned with things like, did this person "originate" this technique, or who did they learn from, or were there other people I might be unintentionally snubbing by not asking them. All of those conditions are always going to be true in any small list. Unfortunately, my list, as they say in Mission Impossible (and how appropriate is THAT connection) got out in the open. Not too open, but open enough that there was a small bit of furor and flack in my small community. I don't know how much, but the fact that I know at all means it was not inconsiderable.

So where am I going with all this history? Well it is a two-parter. First, when I approached the other artists I indicated I was writing a primer on kilnforming. I gave the size and layout guidelines. There would be a Basics section--materials, tools, techniques, work-area set-up and safety--and a Projects section with 20 projects ranging from beginner to advanced. This is all well and fine. But there is (in my mind at least) a major difference between a "primer" and a "fluffy, pretty, little project book". What are the other artists going to think? Are they just going to be happy to have images of their work in print? Or are they going to be offended to be associated with "fluff"? And I hope you know what I mean by "fluff": It looks great, but when you really delve into it there isn't all that much of substance, and there is certainly no "this probably will be difficult and frustrating, but persevere because it is worth the effort". I haven't been told specifically NOT to put that kind of info in, but I feel herded in that direction.

So that's the first part. The second part comes from a bit of the reaction I DID get on working with this publisher from other members of our geographically diverse, but pretty tight on-line community. (I am a member of I post and read infrequently, but intensely.) Another book that came out a couple of years ago just got RIPPED on the list (and on in the reviews section) because the title the publisher selected when they translated the work was very similar to a well-loved book written by another member of the list. It wasn't even the author's fault but she and the book just got trashed. I don't know if I am thick-skinned enough to deal with deserved literary (technical) criticism from an honest effort. If I have to write fluff...

So as I write, I have someone who has already disapprovingly declined to participate in my effort virtually perched on my shoulder reading everything I type. From his whispers in my ear, I constantly check myself to make sure what I write is both complete and accurate. This kind of writing for a specific audience (notice it is NOT the publisher's target audience for the book) is keeping me honest and true and not giving me any slack for laziness, and I think it is making the book better than it otherwise would have been, better than it needs to be.

And there is the crux of the matter. I am writing a book that is better than it needs to be. It is taking a huge toll on me emotionally, mentally, and even physically. And it is not financially responsible from the publisher's point of view. They are in business. They don't care about ego. They care about sales, profits, bottom-line. They don't give a rat's ass about esoterica (which after 20 years I have a lot of). They want a book which will appeal to the great unwashed masses. They want me to be the Bob Villa of glass earnestly helping people make simple little things and feel like they are Really Fusing Glass, even if they are just using the same technique over and over again in their little 14" kilns.

So I don't know if it is good or bad that the publishers do not seem to get how truly advanced some of the projects are and how each and every one teaches a new technique. I didn't go for eye-candy. I went for by the time you have done every project in this book you will have tried most of the different kilnforming techniques (although I am light on painting so far). Is that bad? I don't know. Will it flop? I truly have no idea. Maybe I really can't present some of the higher level stuff because I won't have the space to go into all the could-go-wrongs and the what-to-do-with-the-went-wrongs.

What's in other books out there on kilnforming? I honestly don't know. Sure, I have most of them (buying books is a sickness with me--I also have a lot of books on metallurgy). But I only glanced through them when I got them and that was it. By the time anything more recent than Glass Fusing Books 1-3 by Boyce Lundstrom et al came out, I was already comfortable with the hows of kilnforming and I had plenty of ideas of my own so I wasn't interested in the projects. Shar Moorman's book was interesting and had some stuff I remember wanting to try, but I was too lazy to make the conversions from Celsius to Fahrenheit (at least that's how I remember it). So should I look now? Should I try to change course and give the publisher something kinder and gentler--like fool-proof projects? Or should I just keep forging my own path, writing what I need to write, and teaching the projects that will be challenging and not always come out perfectly the first time?

Whatever I decide, I have to do it now. Today is a writing day. The big one for the week. Comments really appreciated on this one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just When You Think You are Ahead...

No coffee, no music, no writing yesterday. Yesterday was a studio day. I was feeling pretty damn happy about how much I got written on Sunday and looking forward a solid day in the studio getting everything cut and prepped. While the day didn't go entirely to hell in a handbasket, it was close.

I got the order I was waiting on from the gallery in Chicago. It was a pretty good-sized one and folding it into my current firing schedule has me firing packed loads every day through October 23. I am a bit nervous about that schedule as I have never had so little slack for such a long time. If something should go wrong with the kiln... (it has been known to happen--until I replaced the lid earlier this year the element wires would burn through about once a month and ruin a firing). While not quite at the "borrowing trouble" stage, I am still concerned.

I also did not get nearly as far on the prep work as I wanted yesterday. It took until 6:30 just to get my fuse load for the day in. No writing at all, not much prep cutting done either. I think I am going to go down after I finish posting and get some work in before everyone else gets up. J had a nightmare and came in to sleep with us at 4:00 am. I finally gave up on trying to get back to sleep about 4:45.

Finally, to completely burst my in-control-of-life bubble, the editor called me yesterday to say they really need a detailed photography shot list for the book *now*. Thinking back on the conversation, she really knew how to do it. Instead of starting with the request for the shot list immediately, she said instead that they are deciding whether to do the photo shoot up by them (they are not in Atlanta). I, of course, immediately freaked out and said there is no way I can travel right now (the photo shoot will take about a week). Just schlepping all the projects up there for one day on (Friday) October 13 for the project review meeting is going to take energy and time I can't spare. I cannot even imagine how I would do projects in various states of completion, tools... Gaaaa! I am breaking out in a rash just thinking about it.

As they do not have in-house photographers, they are going to have to shop the job out and take bids so they need a detailed description for the photographer to spec out for time and cost. While this is reasonable for them, it isn't something I can really squeeze into the schedule for this week as I am already behind by five projects. But I was so rattled by the time I had unequivocally asserted that I CANNOT do the photo shoot anywhere but at my studio, that I let myself be nudged into agreeing to get out the shot list. I couldn't be nudged to be more than vague about when, but I was able to be nudged into agreement.

OK, it's 5:30 am and I'm getting anxious again. Time to pay some bills and go grind circles...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine...

No coffee, no music, but there are words! Oh my! I wrote over 3000 words yesterday, over 6000 for the week. By my reckoning, the book is about half done (whoo hoo!). It is heading towards being too long, but there are worse things--we can always cut. And my husband has provided me with a new signature for my email: "Please don't make any loud punctuation; I am suffering post-grammatic stress syndrome". I put it on the email I sent to my editor last night at 10:30 when I finally sent in my pages for the week. Officially, I am behind by five projects. But somehow the schedule is squishy enough that I still feel okay.

I feel okay in spite of the fact that I am getting slammed with orders: Last night just before I sent off my pages I got an email from the gallery in Florida that faxed in the order Saturday night. It seems their Chicago location is also doing really well with the Morceaux de Verre work and they are going to call today to place another order for there. Yeee Yeee Yeee. I really need to get that firing schedule done first thing this morning!

And now I have a tough choice again. I am scheduled to do another local art fair the weekend after next. That's three weeks before the manuscript is due and in the middle of the firing of all these orders. I have the inventory to do it as I made the inventory for Marietta which I ended up having to cancel. But do I have the time to do it? Can I afford to take two full days out of the studio and off the computer? Right now I feel like, Sure! But I worked hard all weekend this week. Saturday I was in the studio from 9-5, and Sunday I wrote from 10-10. Today is another studio day with maybe some writing thrown in to keep me in practice. It is already the edge of responsibility to cancel two weeks before the show, but waiting any longer would be really wrong. So do I pee, or do I get off the pot?

Coffee is ready, the post is done, it's not even 6:30 am. Time to get that firing schedule done.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Forget Weekends for the Duration

No coffee, no music, no final word count--it's just after 4 am and I still have hopes of getting back to sleep. Yesterday afternoon was exciting in so many ways. I was instant messanging with a friend about the catalog work I am doing this winter (Art Institute and Uncommon Goods out of NYC) and I had a brain fart: what if UG is planning to use a picture of the last PopArt Paisley set I sent them for the catalog?

I have always done these pieces one-of-a-kind and it's never been a problem. In point of fact, most galleries prefer it (my first order for UG was made up of unmatched sets and they were sold on-line from one photo). But now they are going to be in a catalog so I thought I would make it easy on everyone and do all of them the same--not every pieces the same, but every red piece the same as every red piece, every yellow piece the same as every yellow piece, etc. The pictures from yesterday show the first load done this way. That's all fine and dandy, but the last set UG got from me does *not* match all the new sets.

So I called them to find out if the mismatch is a problem for them, and, oh boy yes it is! I need to overnight them a complete set today for arrival Monday so they can reshoot the photo. Of course at 4:30 yesterday afternoon when I found out the previous bit of info I only had three of the five colors of plates and the platter fused, and nothing slumped. I am up now because I quickly fused prototypes of the two remaining colors yesterday at 4:30 and just got up now to slump them so I can get them out later today. I also did a full slump load of the pieces which came out yesterday so that I have a platter and the three other plates ready to ship.

At the tail end of all that excitement, the Art Institute faxed me a PO for another 50 pieces (this is on top of two more samples that they requested yesterday to evaluate for the spring catalog). I still owe them 20 from the last order. On the plus side, my order from Bullseye came at 5:15 so I have the glass to get going on those 20 (and the next 50!).

Finally, just to really get my Saturday morning hopping, when I got up to slump the PopArt pieces I saw an order had come in last night via fax: The gallery I am in at Disneyworld loves the pieces they got last month and has apparently sold most of them as they re-ordered all the big ones for delivery asap! So now before I go back to bed to try to get some more sleep I need to work up an official firing schedule for all the above orders AND the four orders I already have from the July BMAC scheduled to go out between now and November 1. November 1... why does that date sound familiar? Oh yeah I HAVE A BOOK MANUSCRIPT DUE THAT DAY!

Coffee? We don't need no stinkin' coffee!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fun Friday Again Already?

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Where are you Now" by George Winston on iTunes, about 384 words written yesterday. Considering that I had Jessie home all day so she could go to the doctor for immunizations, vision and hearing tests and her annual exam--followed by lunch at McDonald's as a reward for being very brave for the shots--and then go to gymnastics for the first time, I got a lot written.

I also got the first of the PopArt sushi sets in. Though I am not doing the colors as a set, I am doing the equivalent of 8 sets per fuse load. Last night I had a surprise waiting for me in the kiln when I went down after dinner to finish loading. If she comes back again today I will name her. I had to take her out of the kiln twice. I took her out and she went right back in. I guess the bright lights made for good hunting for her. She is small compared to most of the ones we are seeing around here right now. Jessie has one in her preschool class that devoured a locust the other day. Those were two big bugs. The mantis is still big. The locust is... digested.

I was up till midnight last night venting the kiln. The BE opals get a weird milky white coating on the bottom from the burn-out of the organic binders in the shelf paper if you do not vent to almost 1000 degrees. Since I started firing at 10:00 pm and I ramp at 400 degrees/hour... it was a long night. I blearily got everyone out the door this morning and cleaned up all the dog poop on the driveway so the Roadway trucking guy can get my order from Bullseye down to the studio door (it used to be the garage door, but it is official now: we no longer have a garage, we have a two-room studio.

A short survey of the rest of the household shows everyone to be pooped this morning. Baxter ate a little breakfast and went back into his crate for a snooze. The deerhounds (big grey rugs that they are) are zonked on the livingroom floor, the cat is curled up in the livingroom chair and the ferret is in his hammock.

Gaa. It's a short day. It's Fun Friday for Jessie at the YMCA, aka cheap date night for Mom and Dad. She goes there from 5:30-9:30 and swims, does art projects, has pizza and watches a movie all for $20. We go out to dinner and maybe squeeze in a movie. Bottom line is I have a hard stop of 5:00 on work so that I can pick her up from school and get her ready to go. There's a lot to happen between now and then and I am moving sloooooooooowwwwwwwly.

Today I must write until my fingers bleed and I also have another full PopArt load to get in. In a spate of early realism I am going to say that I will not get the load in and fire till tomorrow morning. I am okay on production schedule (20 Art Institute pieces to do and ship next week and the PopArt pieces don't need to ship for another week), it's the book I need to focus on.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Grace" by Jeff Buckly on iTunes, no words of note written yesterday. No firing either, though I am pretty close to getting it in this morning before taking J to the doctor (school stuff and last immunizations). I did get my two shipments out yesterday, but the rest of the day pretty much disappeared into a black hole. Some days everything just takes longer than you plan for it to, and some dust motes are just more interesting to stare at than others. Now off to the "real" world.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Going to be Boring

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes, 1425 words written yesterday. It's cold this morning and I snuggled under the quilt till late. First chore of the morning was signing the pieces for the Art Institute in preparation for packing and shipping them. Unfortunately the word choice in that last sentence is indicative of the day's mood for me--everything on tap looms like a chore. Maybe I wouldn't be so melancholy if I started the day listening to the Donnas or something else perky, but I am obsessed with this cd right now. I could listen to Cloudy This Morning and Walking on Air all day. Come to think of it, I probably will.

Today, today. Two shipments to go out, the first paisley (maybe I should just rename them Pop Art instead of paisley and be done with it) load to cut and fuse now that all the circles are ground (at least from the first shipment--I haven't even opened the box from the second shipment yet), and a lot of writing to do: I still have the rest of the Tools section--I figure I am about halfway through--and five projects to write up and send in this week. *sigh* And I have the energy of plankton today. There's always tomorrow. Wait a minute, tomorrow is going to be more of the same.... Oh well (or should I say "Oh hell"?). I will just hope I am different tomorrow since the day will not be, and I will be able to enthuse about it more (and stop whining).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Surmounting Obstacles From Joe's!

Coffee is a large mocha with Ghirardelli chocolate and whipped cream, music is "Reach Out Touch Faith" by Depeche Mode on satellite radio, got about 1250 words written in the tools section and need to finish it today (it's targeted right now for 5000 words but needs to be cut a bit). Yep, the mocha and sat radio are the big clues--we're live from Joe's.

Started the morning at 7:00 by putting in another Art Institute slump load which included three pieces to ship to the new gallery in Maryland. Whoopsie Daisy. The order should have shipped Friday and was going to ship yesterday but when I went to pack it up I found I was short four pieces. Quickly put the load in the medium kiln and fused it yesterday before heading to ikebana. Hope to ship it this afternoon if it is cool enough. Otherwise tomorrow when I ship the order to the Art Institute. Also put one of the AI pieces in the medium kiln to repair a blip on the surface. I'll slump it late tonight so it will be ready to ship tomorrow.

Down to one color of circles to grind, but another shipment just came from WaterJet Design (they do my circle cutting for me) so I have another 6,000 or so to do. *sigh* My glass order from Bullseye is scheduled to be delivered Friday so much of the day will be taken up preparing a space and then unloading it. Looks like today will be writing from Joe's, tomorrow will be mostly writing and a little studio time, Thursday will be 50/50 and Friday will be all day studio. This weekend I need to make the last of the book projects so I can write them up for next week. All in all, plugging along, boringly busy. The pic at top right is the final orchid melt that cracked. It is another Niche reject, though I might cut it up and make a box out of it...

Monday, September 18, 2006

On Schedule!

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Grand Central Station" by Mary Chapin Carpenter on iTunes, five more projects written last week, edited and sent off yesterday. That's 50% of the projects done and 15% of the Basics with 1 month and 2 weeks before the entire manuscript is due. So I'm on schedule for the week! That may not seem like much as it is only 8:30 am on Monday, but I have already ground all the little orange circles; washed, rinsed, dried, and put away all the tiniest circles of all the colors; washed, rinsed, dried, and put away all the lime green circles; finished grinding the load of platters for the Art Institute and put it in to slump.

Later today I will cut the first load of sushi sets, grind another color of circles, and grind another set of platters to slump for the Art Institute. Before then I will prepare an order to ship to a new gallery in Maryland and go to ikebana. The bulk of the day will be spent writing. I hope. Tomorrow and Wednesday are both scheduled as Joe's days--off-site writing days so I should be able to get on top of the writing due this week. I don't know what that writing is yet, but I hope to get caught up on it anyway.

Above right, another piece for the book which did not make the cut as a submission for Niche.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday, So What

No coffee--too late in the day for that, "Nevertheless, Hello" by George Winston on iTunes, many words but no current count. I am actually working on the book right now doing the metric conversions for all the projects I have to send in today. They should have gone in Friday, but I was kinda busy. My editor told me the easiest way to do the conversions is to open a Google window and type whatever you want to convert in the search bar.

These instructions work in that when I typed in "8 inches" I got back "8 inches = 20.32 centimeters". But I also got " – Watch 8 Inches Now! Muscle Gay Porn Video Site. Latinos, Muscleboys, Uncut Men, Tattooed Men, Pierced Men - A real sex video with a hidden camera in several Brazilian p."

Now I'm just completely weirded out and I think the editor is going to have to do her own conversions for the rest of the projects. Or maybe it's just that I am too easily distracted.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Already?!?

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, no music, a few words written yesterday, but not enough to count. It is not only Friday, it is also the middle of September and I am tired. I am more or less on schedule, but I am tired. I flirt with the idea of hiring someone or taking on another apprentice, but it takes too much time and energy to find and train them. The irony of expanding your workforce is that you need to do it when you don't have the work to support it so you have the time do it.

I got my pics back from the photographer yesterday and I am very disappointed. I have done my best piece ever (picture to be posted on 9/30) and it came out flat and a bit out of focus. The rest of the pics are also slightly out of focus and they lack tension and energy.

These photos are for two competitions where all the judging is done from the slides--the judges never even see the real pieces. So if they lack energy, they get tossed. The box above is a definite entry for Niche and Corning's New Glass Review, but it will not be a book project (needs too much coldworking for a beginner). And I'm not sure which version to use--the light or the dark background. Different characteristics of the piece are highlighted depending on choice of background. The fountain (left and right) was my best hope for a Niche entry in the cast glass category, but neither of the photos do it justice. So I might scrap entering it altogether and just submit the clock below (in the clocks category).

I have a beef with the Rosen Group--every year for the past the three they have changed the categories. And every year I have entered a piece into a category that ends up getting cut (the category does) for lack of entries or some other reason. If they didn't change the categories every year, maybe there would be enough entries in all of them because artists would know they would be there and could plan pieces for them! I anticipated all year having an entry in the flat glass category and they don't have it this year.

I fired a new project for the book yesterday on lava cloth. It was my first time using it and I had not realized you need to pre-fire the cloth because it shrinks. Both the pieces (two parts of the project) curled up and needlepointed, and need to be redone. *sigh* Fortunately my third attempt a pocket vase (in another kiln) was successful so I can check that project off.

Tonight I get a treat: Barbara Muth and her husband are coming into town again and we get to go to dinner. It is the bright shining spot that is going to get me through the day. But before that I have to get my Niche entries in and postmarked, write two more projects, and edit all five written this week before sending them in. I will also fire the lava cloth project again, the necklace project, and the first load of Art Institute pieces, thus beginning the cycle of firing a huge load every day for the rest of the month. Did I mention I am tired?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Burning the Candle at Both Ends?

No coffee and no music, but 2-3/4 projects written up yesterday. It is amazing I got that much done considering the rest of the day. Unfortunately I was not able to hook up with my photographer so I still don't have pics to post. Tomorrow. I started the day at the dentist. When I got back to the studio I had an email waiting from the Art Institute. They want 50 more platters as soon as possible. The catalog just came out two weeks ago and they originally ordered 70. Yeee, yeee, yeee.

I don't have quite enough glass or frit to do them. I had been meaning to get another order in to Bullseye but hadn't gotten around to it yet. So I frantically put together an order and called my rep to see if she could 2-day me a 5-lb jar of one of the colors I am almost out of so I can at least get started while I wait for the bulk of the order to arrive by truck (they don't ship 113 sheets of glass and 250 lbs of frit via UPS...). I had to leave her a message and wait for her to call me back. When the phone rang a few minutes later I thought she was calling me back, but no, my day was about to get even more surreal.

The caller was a woman I met at the February Buyer's Market, she's the assistant to some apparently famous chef . At least that's who I think it was as she never identified herself and I was so frazzled trying to pull together the AI order that I never got around to asking. Anyway she wanted to know if I could do *300* of the paisley sushi plates for a new restaurant the chef is opening in NYC or DC or somesuch. They want to use them as little charger plates for the opening reception... in about two weeks. I couldn't commit to schedule without planning everything out and she couldn't commit to purchase without an ok from the chef so we ended the call with no definite plan, but I have become Roy Scheider: I think we need a bigger boat.

The Art Institute pieces are going to take 15 sheets of glass, 62 lbs of frit, and 6 days in the kiln (9 firings) including 3 days of 2 firings per day 12 hours apart. The first 30 of the 60 sushi sets are going to take 26 sheets of glass, 5,400 little circles, and 8 days in the kiln including 4 days of 2 firings per day 12 hours apart. The 300 new plates would take 28 sheets of glass, 7500 little circles, and 12 days in the kiln (18 firings) including 6 days of 2 firings per day 12 hours apart to do them. And of course there is nothing in that estimate about the time it takes to cut and prep the pieces for the kiln. Hours without measure there. But for what I can count, by my estimation that takes me through October 10 if I fire every day and NOTHING GOES WRONG. Hmm. That actually leaves me enough time to do the three other gallery orders I have due November 1...

But then there is that pesky book. Maybe if I spend an hour in the studio in the morning before the morning blog, then I write for 8 hours, then I get J from school and do another hour in the studio, then dinner with the family and finish up with another 3 hours in the studio. That *might* be enough to get everything done... And I *might* be able to do it IF I WERE A 20 YEAR-OLD ON SPEED. There is only so much caffeine can do for you when you are 45. I find I can either do early morning or night, but not both. And in the early morning I can either work in the studio or write, but at night I can only work in the studio--I don't have enough left to string two coherent sentences together. So my candle is going to stay lit on only one end. I am just going to have to say "sorry, no can do". Or maybe I could hire someone...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And Eleven Hours Later...

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Walking on the Air" by George Winston on iTunes, no new words. It is a cool, rainy morning in Atlanta. Dave got up at 7:10 and I tried, really I did, to get up too. But J came in to cuddle and snuggle and play at 7:20 and we didn't get up till 7:45. School necessitates getting up then as she is now in the Official Georgia Pre-K and Can't Be Late for School. Sheesh.

Dentist appointment for me at 9:30. Between now and then, finishing plotting out the day, slumping a lace bowl in the medium kiln, and performing personal hygiene. Rainy cool days are good for writing and that is what I plan to do all day today. I won't bother to take my laptop to the dentist as they are always on time, but as soon as I get home I will dive in.

This evening I get to pick up my slides from yesterday's photoshoot. If I get a chance to scan them, I will post one or two tomorrow. Out of the ashes of the orchid melt pieces cracking there was a phoenix: In order to have enough pieces to choose from for the Niche submission I assembled the fountain and the photographer shot it. It was unexpectedly, incredibly gorgeous.

Now off to slump and clean-up!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


No coffee yet, "Manic Monday" by the Bangles on iTunes, 326 new words yesterday. I have a theory about energy. Your body continually creates and stores your energy... somewhere. You have to use energy to do things. There is a spigot on the storage tank that opens to release the energy needed to power you as you do things. Sleeping takes less energy than jogging so the spigot just trickles when you are sleeping. It flows steadily when you are jogging. Anxiety attacks in the middle of the night are caused by the spigot releasing a geyser of energy and the activity of dreaming is transformed to waking nightmare.

My spigot is broken and needs a plumber. It gushed and I jittered from 6:00 am until about 4:00 pm yesterday when it gummed up (and I collapsed) and then it gushed again from 7:00-10:00. You can tell if your spigot is working because you feel normal--just enough life force is being released to do what you need to do. If you feel like you've had a triple shot of espresso when you haven't had any caffeine at all, that's a sign your spigot is out of whack.

The whole spigot metaphor leads to my state today. I barely dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 7:30, grumpily got everyone out the door for work and school, and now I need to collect myself, get the pieces in the studio finished (grinding and polishing) for the photographer at 10:00. This afternoon I need to get at least one project done (written).


It's now 6:15 pm. I spent the entire day at the photographer's. Of the new orchid melt pieces three out of four have cracked--including the one I made into a 12" square clock for the Creative Spirit 12" Squares show. I am convinced I am having a latent compatibility-shift problem--probably with the orange and yellow glasses. Clearly I can't have this problem in a book project so I am going to have to redo this project (again) with different colors. I think I will do purples, teal, French vanilla and something else.


Now it's 9:20. I ate dinner with my family and watched Bones (downloaded from iTunes). Then I went into the studio and ground the tabs off little paisley circles for an hour. Now a little more t.v. (Standoff) and the bed. It'll be time to post again before I know it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's Monday and We're Live From Joe's!

Coffee is a mocha with Ghirardelli chocolate and whipped cream, music is satellite radio, word count: 7160. The word count is becoming meaningless as I enter the interminable cycle of edit and re-edit. For a reality check, I have five projects (out of 20) written and 10-15% of the basics section. Today is a writing day and I hope to crank a bunch out. Unfortunately I got yet another spread sheet from the editor and I need to fill it out with word, photo, illustration, and side bar counts. I understand the necessity of having an up-to-date snapshot of the size of the book, but for me it is just that much more writing about writing that takes away from actual writing...

Back to the middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks again, but I think they are adjusting early for the move off daylight savings time: They are happening at 3:30 am instead of 4:30 am now and that is just too early to get up. Did get up at 6:00, took another piece out of the kiln and it is just drop-dead gorgeous. Did a little adjusting and put it back in for a final fuse. I can't tell you what it is because it is for Dave's birthday and he might read about it. It is also a Niche piece. I went from scraping together a couple of pieces I could submit to having five pieces which beg to be submitted--and I have to choose three.

Today, today a writing day. I want to see how far I can get on basics as the editor was not at all thrilled with my resistance to doing a photo count before the text is done so I may have to get at least a first pass on the text done so I can do a photo count. The project photos I can fudge--I know about what they will take. But the kilnforming instructions are arguably the most important part of the book and I don't want to screw them up.

Bugger. I just remembered I left the kiln vented this morning. I have to run home and close it for the rest of the firing. While I'm there, maybe I can take the two 12"-square pieces to Dixie Glasshoppers to be drilled. When we left, one of them was still at 440 degrees Maybe now it is in the 300's and I can take it out.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fun Friday

Coffee is burbling, iTunes is silent, words are flowing though there is still no official count. Much of yesterday was taken up hammering out the details of the sushi set order and I missed my first writing deadline--it was the first deadline I missed, not he first writing deadline. Writing instructions has me in a precise mood.

Several hours have now passed since I started writing this post. In the interim I got my daughter off to school, my husband off to work, wrote a half a project, and went into the studio and checked he status of the box that came out yesterday. IT DIDN'T CRACK! I am the Master of the Box! I spent an hour and a half I do not have to spare grinding and polishing the sides. I have never been one for coldworking--too impatient--but today I could have just stayed on the wheel the rest of the morning or however long it took. The box is uber-beautiful and I am submitting it as one of my Niche pieces once I get it all ground and polished and a lid made. It will not be a project for the book as it is a difficult process and requires good coldworking equipment (and I don't want to share the technique yet--nyah).

Now I need to finish writing up the project I have been working on since last night, whip out another one, proof read all five and send them in. In a perfect world I would have all that done in an hour. Now that we have all finished rolling on the floor laughing, picked ourselves up and dried our eyes (the occasional chuckle still leaking through), I will continue. It is sadly not a perfect world and I have no idea how long all that will take. I MUST ship two pieces to the Art Institute in Chicago and a donation piece to the Zephyr Dance Company in Chicago today. I also MUST fuse a commission for Taylor Kinzel gallery that Dave will deliver tomorrow and a couple of 12" square pieces which must be delivered tomorrow for a show I am in at Creative Spirit Gallery (titled 12" squares--how appropriate!--and opening next weekend). Dare I say it? Yeee, yeee, yeee.

Finally there are all those little circles (5544 of them) to be ground for the sushi set order, and (plaintive whine) I want to fire something FUN today! Oh well, there's always tomorrow. (Or I could be like Jody and stay up all night watching Firefly and go to bed in the wee small hours of the morning... Maybe after November.

PS--This is just too hilarious not to share: The spellchecker for Blogger thinks "coldworking" should be "clitoris". What does it know that I don't?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's Not Raining, But It's Pouring

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Walking in the Air" by George Winston on iTunes, lots of words written yesterday but they were mostly organizational and there is no count yet. Today will tell. So much new since yesterday, I reel.

The Creative U series of six seminars on starting or promoting your own arts-based business--for which I am slated to do 1-1/2 of the seminars--has been rescheduled to run from 1/29/07 - 3/5/07 instead of starting 10/9/06 Hoo-ray. We had our meeting last night and I still have work to do on it now, but it is eased way back.

This morning I got an email from one of my accounts in New York and they want 18 paisley sushi sets by 9/18 with an option on another 42 for 11/6. They have pretty serious default terms (5% deducted from invoice total for each day late shipping, nothing for me if they are late paying...) and 9/18 is a ludicrously short amount of time to give me to produce 18 sushi sets in any style. Got to crunch some more numbers this morning. On the one hand, this is the largest order I have ever had if it all goes through and after the financial loss of Marietta this past weekend I would like the boost. On the other hand, I don't want to be left holding 42 sushi sets if they decide not to confirm the order. And there is the timing issue: I have a manuscript due 11/1 and three other gallery orders to ship 11/1. Maybe if I start doing those gallery orders (which are a sure thing) now and leave the kilns open for the 42 sushi sets towards November... and then there is the photo shoot for the book.... Yeee, yeee, yeee!

I also heard from my photographer this morning and he can shoot my Niche entries early next week in time to send the slides in by next Friday. Yep, I got two, maybe three pieces done. I am pretty confident I will have three by Monday in time to shoot.

And then there is the book... Three projects to write-up and five to send in today, and a full fuse load scheduled in the big kiln and a small jewelry (for the book) load scheduled in the small kiln. I can't even remember what was supposed to go into the medium kiln, but I'm sure there was something. This is what I get for sleeping in till 7:00. I should have gotten up at 4:00 when I had the anxiety attack and was wide awake. I would have saved myself from the post anxiety attack nightmare and gotten more work done. Yeee, yeee, yeee!

PS--And to add insult to the injury of the morning, Tivo and the satellite receiver had a tiff last night and as a result, Tivo did not record "Bones". Fortunately for me it will be up on iTunes very soon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hump, Hump, Hump (Day)

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" performed by Frank Sinatra is on iTunes, no new words (ack!). Yesterday was a production day and a crisis day. I had to give up on two of the projects planned for the book due to technical reasons. I had hoped to include Cailleach's Cradle as a project and just chemically etch it (the original was sandblasted) but it is just not working out. The box is also a no-go for the book. I have one in the small kiln right now and I might have solved the technical problems, but even if I have it is going to be too difficult for a fluff book.

Fortunately, I am not alone. Barbara Muth stepped in with a suggestion (several good ones, actually) that led me to a new easy project and I came up with one more on my own--a checker board and pieces. I wanted to do the checkers on one side, backgammon on the other with a raised outer edge and middle bar, but decided I was getting carried away and that one might be too difficult too.

Lots of projects in kilns yesterday--worked 15 hours, most of it in the studio and Still Not Done with the Projects! All three kilns fired and only one is cool enough to open yet. That's okay as it is a Writing Day. I have five project write-ups due tomorrow. Two of them are already written (I am re-using the first two I sent in which were never actually scheduled or counted).

I also re-wrote the interim schedule. I haven't heard back from the editor yet but I am expecting major flack. Two of the items on the schedule are determining the final photo count and shooting all the photos. Both of them were scheduled before the text was scheduled to be written. I really thought about it yesterday and it makes absolutely no sense to try to guess where photos are going to need to go in the basics section. I might be able to do it in a pinch in the projects (I could rough outline the steps and go from there) but I can't tell what is going to need a picture for explanation in the basics text until it is written. Whew.

So that's my day. Tonight is the second organizational meeting for Creative U (I am presenting a seminar on pricing your work, marketing it and choosing a venue to sell it--galleries, wholesale shows, retail shows, etc.). It's going to be another full one.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Good News, Bad News

No coffee, no music, no new words... and I just found out that's a problem. Unlike probably everyone else in America, I wish today were Monday following a three-day weekend. I have the write-ups for five projects and ten pages of basics due the day after tomorrow, and I haven't started writing any of it. Add to that I have three firings to do today so it was slated as more of a kiln day than a computer day. (down panic attack, down. Sit, stay.)

The weekend was not spent at Marietta Art in the Park. Friday on the way to pick up my hanging panels from the glass driller I almost got into a car accident from not letting an idiot cut in front of me into the left turn lane. He didn't want to wait through the long turn line during rush hour so he thought he would just cut in front of me. Annoyance trumped common sense on my part and I did not let him in even though he turned right next to me from the going straight lane. This action was really, really stupid on my part as I was driving the barely a month-old Odyssey which only has 500 miles on it. Good news, he didn't hit me. Bad news, I was such a wreck when I got home that I had a complete meltdown. At which point my spouse stepped in and suggested that maybe I had too little margin to do a three-day art fair with the accompanying set-up and breakdown. Especially since it would mean three days of no firings with a potential project review this Friday at the Publisher's.

So over the weekend I re-grouped. I fired, I assembled wind chimes, I fired some more. Then yesterday I cleaned the studio. Dave and Jessie came downstairs just as I finished and Jessie exclaimed, "Mommy, all the crap is gone!", and it was. I finally unpacked all the boxes of stuff I have received over the past few months and put it all away. I also cleaned all the coldworking tools and their table, cleaned the frit area and the worktable. I finished by sweeping the floor and washing off the Morton cutting surfaces. I bet today's firings go much more quickly since I don't have to move a pile of stuff to use a work area and then move it again to use another work area. Let's hope so anyway as I need every minute I can scrounge today.

On the good news front I have a re-do of the interim schedule to send back to the Editor. I think it will behoove me to reschedule some of the load due today to another day and the project review to next week at the earliest. There are still projects I have not done, and other projects I have done at least two different working versions of. Today should see the last of the projects into the kiln.

And I am going to try one more box. Barbara, were you referring to Amy Buchwald's boxes when you mentioned the schedule Ray Ahlgren did? A couple of years ago Ron Coleman sent me instructions for his method of making boxes. I never got around to trying it out and I haven't been able to find them now (switched computers and moved email twice). If I remember correctly though he does not do the fuse in box shape, he uses powdered glass as a glue which melts and holds the pieces together at higher temps. This method would not obviate any issues with annealing however. But I have a new idea, and it may drastically shorten the firing time and produce a gorgeous box. We shall see.

Now off to put pedal to metal, nose to grindstone and fingers to keyboard (interim schedule first).

Friday, September 01, 2006

On Labor Day Weekend I Labor

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "The Way It Is", by Bruce Hornsby on iTunes, 4695 words written for the book. Late, late, late posting this morning. But on the other hand I already have two kiln loads in (out of the five scheduled for the day). As I have to set up at 6:00 pm for the Marietta Art in the Park Festival and Jessie is home due to no school today, this is a pretty ambitious schedule.

Yesterday's firings were a mixed bag. I made "blobs" for the necklace project (I have changed the design again) and at the last second I decided to layer them so the square on top lined up with the square on the bottom (instead of making the two squares look more like a star with points lined up against sides) as a friend told me she always does them lined up and they come out round. I tried it that way because one down side of the star configuration is that a bit of dichro from the points comes up on the outside of the sides and that wouldn't happen with the complete overlap. However mine did not come out round. Either I didn't fire them as high as she does or I am just cursed. And I am annoyed because I used my only piece of CBS clear rainbow dichro in its entirety to make them. So I am firing them higher now hoping they will round out. If they don't I will use my only piece of CBS clear violet dichro in its entirety to make new ones (I know I am not supposed to be using my sample set).

The pot melt I did to replace the one I so proudly posted the pic of earlier was too yellow-orange and boring. I had to do a replacement because the first one spontaneously cracked. Might have been a subtle compatibility shift from too long at very high temps, or it could just have been karma. In any case it is a book project that I have to redo before my project review (which could be scheduled as soon as next Friday... LOL).

I am crabby, crabby, crabby today, and now I need to shift to planning art fair supplies, shopping for a few tools and materials for the book projects (pure silver wire for the necklace, fountain pump, dremel grinder for ceramics).

Just got back from running all the errands and found I hadn't posted this before we left. Duh. At least this way I can add the recent bit of news. Today the Art Institute of Chicago's catalog came out and my piece is on page 5! They also used a partial picture of it on their main web page for the glass category and on every subsequent glass page. Whoo hoo!