Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Okay, Who Took My Life?

Coffee in the San Francisco skyline mug (that's right Starbuck's fans, I have acquired a new mug-thank you eBay!), "The One I Love" by R.E.M. on iTunes. Okay, who switched lives with me? I am far too organized, far too ahead of the game, far too... relaxed to be me. Something must be wrong. Today I will write the last two projects and edit the rest. That's all. No firing, no bookkeeping, zip, zilch, nada. Well, I'll approve the proof for the postcard, but that hardly counts!

It's all about compartmentalization. Instead of trying to do a bit of everything everyday, for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to do one thing in a set amount of time and then move on to the next thing when the allotted time is over. So far it's working pretty good (no major hysterical breakdowns yet). Today; book. Tomorrow; studio restoration and firing. Friday through Sunday; in-laws. Monday; firing. Tuesday; finances. Oh I know I'll slip. I'll get bored mucking about with the dingy little slips of paper and have to go make something, but it'll be okay.

And now, off to book!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Are You Sure It's Not Monday? *sigh*

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "So Far Away" by Carole King on iTunes. Ice on the pond again this morning. What's up with that?! I was not as good a mommy yesterday as I had hoped to be. I had visions of getting my postcard done and in to be printed and then snuggling, watching movies, reading and playing games with J while she was home sick. Instead I fought with (and am still fighting with) the format on the postcard all day to get it just right for the online printing company ( And I was crabby with the J. *sigh* Bad Mommy.

I decided not to go with my local firm this year as I am (again) on a tight deadline and they had so many problems last year. But now I have to figure out how to get the format (CMYK for the front and Bitmap TIFF for the back) and the resolution (355 dpi for the front and 1200 dpi for the back) out of my software application which is NOT Photoshop, or Pagemaker, or Illustrator, or anything costing over $500. *sigh* And the back of the postcard is not yellow--it's black and white. Just another mystery why it turned yellow when I converted it from a black and white bitmap to a jpeg.

Now I need to finish fighting and start writing--all the project re-dos and my edits are due to the copy-editor Friday. Then there is the web site to finish and the page to start AND finish. *sigh*

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Photoshoot is Over!

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug and "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones on iTunes. It is 19 degrees F here right now and with the wind chill it feels like 7 degrees! I had to break a thick layer of ice off the pond and the hose with the sprayer on it is probably a goner. Oh children, it's cold here today! Fortunately for me I am not leaving the house as I have a sick child home from school.

And now the wrap-up on the photoshoot. ("The Long and Winding Road" by the Beatles serenades this part of the narrative... how appropriate.) Wednesday my assistant arrived at 7:15 am. I forgot she was coming that early and overslept. She drove up to a dark house and Dave shook me awake to answer the doorbell tousled and in my jammies. I made coffee, pulled myself together, and hit the ground running hard. My contribution to the organization of the process was spreadsheets. Lots and lots of spreadsheets detailing the shots, their order, etc. Every morning I updated the list, and every morning in my exhaustion I accidentally omitted something. *Sigh*

We took a break on Wednesday so John, Megan and Carol could cast their own little paperweights in the kiln with the dragonfly I had to do for the book. John did the starfish, Megan the fish, and Carol (my assistant) did the lizard. The studio was filled with a hodge podge of their equipment and mine and we just all worked around it. I think the studio is the perfect size for one person and glass stuff only. John, the photographer, is 6'4" so he kind of fills up a lot of space all on his own. Then add his assistant Megan and Carol to the mix... We were lucky not to constantly trip all over each other.

There were only a few insurmountable snafus, and of course Jessie's accident, which put us off schedule. To save me, I couldn't find the circular level for the kiln-forming tools shot (one of the most important tools for a beginner), I couldn't find one of the cast dragonflies to send back for the beauty shots which will be taken at the publisher in March, and the necklace fell apart during cleaning. Note to self: you cannot tack-fuse to the irid side of glass. Duh. So I have to remake the necklace for the second time and mail it to the publisher along with the lost dragonfly after I find it.

By Friday morning we were over the hump and I was too complacent. I scheduled all the tough how-to's requiring a lot of set-up for Wednesday and Thursday leaving only two how-to's and the tools and materials shots for Friday. We should have been fine. But then the photography team also got complacent and was a half hour later arriving than the previous mornings. And I did not work Thursday night in the studio doing all the prep for Friday. I figured Carol was coming so we could whip it out in no time. And I just couldn't face another night in the studio after Wednesday. So when the phone rang at 9:30 am as John and Megan were getting set for the day and Carol and I were cutting and organizing, I was unprepared to have to drop everything and run to J's school to get her after her little "accident".

An hour and a half later we were back to work, but that was time we couldn't afford to lose. Even with a detailed shot list they hadn't been able to make much headway without me as they had had to find and assemble all the tools for the tool shots. We worked our butts off and I saw them all safely off with bottles of champagne at 7:00 pm. Now I wait for the results. John shot slide film which I did not expect. With digital you can do the equivalent of viewing the dailies to see what turned out and what didn't. With slides, you don't know if you need to reshoot something till it's too late. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. John shoots a lot of books for my publisher so I just have to trust that his experience will make everything turn out fine.

As a side note, I can tell that John is accustomed to dealing with females (he lives with his wife and three daughters). At the end of day three I was exhausted. Beyond exhausted. I was wearing the same shirt I had worn the day before (for continuity in the shots of the bottom of the sleeves in the how-to photos) and it was stained from studio work and lunch. I had no make-up on, I still had the tear stains from the morning's fear over J's accident on my face, and did I mention I was exhausted? And in spite of all that, John managed to get me to pose for a picture--ostensibly for the artist portrait on the book jacket! I didn't even want to let him take it, but there is no way in... any really hot place I am going to let them use it!

Today J is home still sick. I am going to write the remaining projects, clean up the old ones, and design and order my postcard for the BMAC. I am not even going to go down in the studio--which looks like a bomb went off in it (and after I did all that cleaning, straightening and organizing!).

I'll watch Princess Mononoke with the J, read her some stories, play Chutes and Ladders, and cuddle on the couch. Did I mention it's cold out there today? Tomorrow the latest pics from my photographer of the new Cloudstone pieces and the Pop Art box. Pics shown here: The creation of the cast pieces, John and Megan with their finished pieces, a few shots from the shoot (the ones I wasn't in), and the bordel of the studio in the aftermath.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quickly, Quickly

Coffee in the Montreal mug, no music. I thought I would have time for a post this morning, but the photographer and his assistant just arrived for a second day of shooting and it is going to be a long one. 15 1/2 hours yesterday. My new apprentice arrived at 7:15 am, and I finished the prep for today at 11:30 pm. It is going well, but stiffly paced (we have 30 photos a day to do). More later!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Conundrum

No coffee, no music. Finishing he post I wrote last night by adding the photos.

I know tomorrow is going to be insanely busy getting ready for the photoshoot and it's going to be tough to find time to post. So I am getting a jump on it by doing it tonight before I go to bed. First the kudo of the day: the Rosen Group has started a new blog called Wholesale Matters. I noticed someone came to Glass Incarnate from there a couple of days ago and I thought I would see how they were referred. Turns out, there's a big ole link here on the top left of their page under Blogs We Read! Sparked me to update Glass Incarnate with a section of links to useful art/craft and business sites. Enjoy!

Now for the conundrum. I have to put my order for my booth into the exposition services for the Buyer's Market by Wednesday in order to get the early submission discount. I have always had drapery walls for that show and used large format photography as my big wall-art pieces. However, I was so pleased with my hardwall display with all the hanging panels at the One of a Kind Show that I am tempted to replicate it somewhat for this show. I say "somewhat" because I have a three-walled 10 X 15 booth for the BMAC instead of the single-walled 10 X 20 I had at the OKSS. And the BMAC only provides two walls in their hardwall set-up. I won't be hanging anything on the side walls anyway (the display pedestals and the work that goes in front of them are too tall). So here are my three choices:

1) I could get the two walls and hang drapery on both sides for symmetry--in front of the hard sidewall on one side (the hard side wall is needed for stability). Then I would use the hard wall in the back to hang panels like at the OKSS. This option will cost $1,000, and this is rental only--I wouldn't own the display at the end of the show.

2) I could get three hard walls and pay for the third wall--probably $300 or so more than option 1.

3) I could use my current drapery set-up and hang one panel from the free-standing display I made from pvc for last year. This wouldn't cost anything.

This is the biggest wholesale show I do a year and presence is everything. But is there enough difference in presence to justify the cost? Please vote early and often and let me know what you think, Thanks. The photos shown are 1) the actual configuration of the three-waal booth but shown with foamcore walls (no longer an option), 2) the drapery walls but in the corner summer booth, 3 and 4) the OKSS booth left and right sides.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Failure, Failure... Er, Learning Experience

From Sunday:
Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers covered by my spouse on Guitar Hero II in the background... I love the weekend. In addition to getting ready for the photo shoot next week I am also preparing work to have it shot by another photographer for marketing uses (postcard, web,, etc.). I hoped to have several new cloudstone pieces ready and I am being DENIED.

Part of the problem is that I am experimenting at the same time I am trying to produce. Friday I tried firing on a sheet of stainless steel on my shelf. Glass sticks badly to metal if it is not prepped so I sandblasted the steel, heated it in the kiln and applied a lot of kiln wash to it. Applying the kiln wash was a pain. the metal was initially too hot and the water in the kiln wash vaporized off and didn't seem to leave much of a residue behind. I started using the spray gun and airbrushing it on, but I went through propellant like corn through a force-fed duck. So I tried brushing it on, and I thought I had applied enough. Well, maybe I had applied enough, but much of it had run off the edge of the shelf or gone who knows where because the glass stuck to the metal in the firing. It wasn't stuck when I opened the kiln at the end, but it was sheared and shattered. Impressive.

Now it's Monday:
Coffee in the Washington D.C. mug (forever Barbara), "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. Today is soooo packed! I have left filing the annual sales tax report with the states of Illinois and Georgia until today--the final due date for Illinois. I have a commission to re-do (she needs teh darker color more in the middle of the piece to cover her wall outlets...) and 12 pieces to ship to the Art Institute. I must cut and fuse a full load of interim-stage projects and then cut some more. Hargrove, the exhibition services company for the Buyer's Market, has a Wednesday deadline for ordering booth services (electricity, display, carpeting, etc.) and I am thinking of changing my display AGAIN. (Hard walls, like I had in Chicago. They worked well.) Tomorrow is my appointment with my local photographer for shooting my work... Ack! Ack! Ack!

This is the week of the penultimate big push on the book. All the photography will be done, all the project re-dos will be done and re-written. (Speaking of which, the wall sconce has turned out surprisingly well!) All that will be left for me is writing the intro and acknowledgements and the copyediting. Of course I decided yesterday to redo a project not scheduled for re-do because I didn't have anything in PURPLE, and to use the red, yellow and green Cloudstone for the screen project instead of the soft apricot and cranberry. I know my editor is going to be apoplectic, but I am not writing a book by committee. They are my projects and I will decide what works best for my book. Period. Clearly I am still frosted by being told (twice!) what the review committee wants me to make and what's not acceptable (I can't find the reference right now, but I was told way back in the beginning that "barrettes" are so, not cool, and they don't want a barrette project in the book).

So now to work. Taxes first, I think.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Big Bang for the End of the Week

No coffee, no music. Why do I bother to get up this early? It just means I find out about the day's aggravations that much earlier. Today, for example, I find that Bellsouth has decided my mailbox is full so they are going to stop delivering my email. Instead they are going to taunt me with automatically generated messages telling me what they aren't sending me because my mailbox is full.

My mailbox is not full. It is exactly HALF full. I guess Bellsouth has a different interpretation of the mailbox is half full or half empty and I am being DENIED! And I am on the phone with tech support. Again. And I finally get the news that even though I am allowed 250 mg of mail in my mailbox, I am only allowed 200 messages in my inbox... What kind of idiocy is that?

Now I have coffee in the Montreal mug, and I decided I needed to expand my collection so I am bidding on four more mugs on eBay. Nothing like a little shopping to reset my mood. "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band on iTunes. I think I will, and I move on to The Apprentice! I am not sure how much she wants her information bandied about the internet so I will just say that she is a mature (like me ;-) professional woman with her own business. She has taken classes in kiln forming for a number of years and she even has two kilns! She makes far more money in her profession than I could even count so she is not doing this for the money.

She wants to learn, and I think she is in a place in life where she is ready for a transition. I am thrilled out of my socks. She is leaving her assistant to manage her business one day a week while she hangs out here. Do I have a fairy godmother somewhere? Did someone wave a wand and say "Here you go! You deserve the brass ring!". I don't know. But I have list of things for her to do as long as the Loch Ness Monster's tail. And she will help with The Photo Shoot next week. And Bill, no wizard cap, and no combing my hair across the top of my head and squinting with little pursed lips.

The photo shoot looms, but the studio is now up for it, whether or not I am. I also have an appointment scheduled with my photographer on Tuesday to shoot the piece for the this year's postcard and a few other Cloudstone pieces. Next week is the Week Of Photography. And speaking/writing of the new Cloudstone piece, it is at the top of this page! Too pink, not enough green, but I will get it.

Now if I could just get the one for the book done again. Yesterday's came out too brown/black from the French Vanilla. I love to use the FV because of the unpredictability of the color reaction, but it is a pain to use because of the unpredictability of the color reaction... I'm complicated.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cloudstone Ahoy!

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. Just got off the phone with a guy from Smith Barney who cold-called me about financial planning for my small business. If I had been drinking coffee instead of answering the phone when he said that I would have snorted it out my nose for sure. Do I want a loan? No thank you, I would prefer not to fail to pay back someone else's money than my own. Do I plan to grow my business? Well I have an assistant/apprentice starting tomorrow and it looks like I have an intern (an intern!) starting in May so it looks like it will grow whether I want it to or not. Be careful what you wish for.... Then I got blood on the slipcovers from a cut on my finger as I was putting them back on the couch cushions and I had to tell him it was Not A Good Time for me to be talking on the phone.

The book ramps again. I got a rather frantic call from my copy editor yesterday saying she is going to ask the editor for an extension to the editing deadline... that sounds ominous. She has been all "what a great book you write so well" up to now, and now I write poorly enough that she isn't going to be able to edit the chapter on kiln forming and the projects in 3-1/2 weeks? I *really* wanted this done before I leave for Philadelphia. Compartmentalization is good. Finishing one thing and then being able to focus on the next task is good. And maybe it has nothing to do with me or my writing at all. She has a life. Maybe something has happened in it.

I started out languorous and happy this morning and now I am crabby, crabby, crabby! What's that all about? Jessie was even up and halfway dressed when I went in to get her for school. Maybe it's because Dave didn't put the slipcovers on after he said he would. Maybe I am just a pissy, cranky person. I know--I am reading-deprived! Until last night it had been a week since I finished my last book (book 5 in Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series for children 9-15). Last night I begged Dave for a boon and he bathed J and put her to bed by himself leaving me to take my own bath. I took Laurel K Hamilton's latest in the Princess Meredith faerie series in with me, "Mistral's Kiss". I added more hot water once and left the bath 2-1/2 hours later having read 212 pages--the entire book.

Nothing in the previous paragraph is glass small business studio artist related, but how you feel at the start of a day drives your work. I would love to curl up with a book other than my own today and just read and sip tea. Maybe that is what retirement is like. So back to the business, studio, glass, and artist. Tomorrow there will be pics of the studio as it is almost CLEAN. Well, it's almost straightened. There are still dust bunnies the size of small countries lurking under tables and on bottom shelves, but at least I know where all my STUFF is and it is mostly all boxed up in dust-proof bins. Today I clean off the last wild country: The Desk.

The Desk came from a previous life when I was at Northwestern University. It was surplus furniture stored in their version of the attic (the unused third-floor classroom) from who-knows-when. I refinished the top of it and have been carting it along on moves ever since. Dave swears it is made of neutronium, and it took two of us to barely carry it up the stairs and into our first apartment. It is solid oak from the early part of the last century (I would guess the 30's) and all one piece except for the drawers. The Postman Could Ring Twice on the top of that desk with the fat lady from the circus and it wouldn't move, if you know what I mean.

The suspense is killing me. I did a Tuscan Cloudstone yesterday for the first time since I made the original sample. If it turned out, it will be the bowl for the Art Institute in Chicago. If it didn't turn out, I will try again. I now go look, brb.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have Tuscan Cloudstone! The original sample is shown at right. Tomorrow, the finished bowl. Tomorrow also, The Apprentice and the Intern.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

All Over the Place

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug for Bryon and Vanessa in anticipation of their wedding (got the "save the date" postcard yesterday!), "Play It All Night Long" by Warren Zevon on iTunes. This post started as A Year in Review, but it's all over the place.

Let's just do January today. What was I doing a year ago this month? Well, I was trying to reconcile a year's worth of expenses into Quickbooks from little scraps of paper in just a few days. I was fretting about my booth design for the Buyer's Market in February. I received and was unpacking a buttload of glass from Bullseye. I was freaking out over having new work shot by my photographer in time for the BMAC postcard.. hmmm, sounds depressingly familiar.

Do I really repeat the exact same behaviors over and over again? Aha! What I am not doing this year is having anxiety attacks! Well, mostly not. I almost miss them. I got more done when I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning. Now I get up at 7:45 and need to be really, really organized to get everything not quite done in a day. But I'm happier. At this time last year I had committed to grow my wholesale business, write a book and do my website and I was terrified. Now the book is almost done, I am making a smaller grow-the-wholesale-business push this year with and the American Craft Retailer's Expo in Las Vegas in May, and I have to redo my website. Again. Did I mention I'm happier? And less stressed, let's not forget less stressed.

Today, call the photographer and make an appointment to shoot work I haven't made yet from glass I haven't unpacked yet with a mold I haven't prepped yet. And the book photographer comes next Tuesday to shoot all the how-to photos Wednesday-Friday. Got to finish making the list of the projects steps and materials I need to have ready for him to photograph and then start assembling them. Did I mention I'm not having anxiety attacks anymore? It's the valium. Just kidding.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Glass Incarnate!

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Shut Up and Get On the Plane" by the Drive by Truckers on iTunes. Happy Blogiversary to me! One year ago today I was asked to write a book on kilnforming and started this blog... And I just looked back at the first post and it was January 14, not January 16. Geez, I'm even late for my own blog birthday!

I would love to do a year-in-review for the birthday post, but since I'm already late I can put it off for another day. Life was too interesting and I already spent my time on Stranded in the South this morning. Until tomorrow...

Monday, January 15, 2007

And the Winner Is...

No coffee, no music. It's a holiday today for the gainfully employed and the being-educated. For the lossfully, I mean *self* employed, it is just another workday, albeit with people underfoot. (After several minutes of struggling and swearing on the part of my non-coffee-drinking spouse the coffee has been wrestled into the coffeemaker and is brewing, and he wants you to know it.)

It's just another winter day here which makes it better than winter days most other places (it's 61 degrees and it isn't even 9:00 yet), but it is still grey. I am uninspired. Today I must slog through more studio cleaning. It continues somewhat ameliorated by the purchase of many clear plastic totes yesterday from shoebox size to 15 qt. Maybe if I have somewhere to contain all the "stuff" it won't spill out off the shelves and onto the floor. And maybe pigs will fly out of my butt. Gaw. I have to do it, I don't have to write any more about it.

By the scientific verdict of the judges ("Dave, what do you think?" "Oh I like that one best.") The winner of last week's name that series contest is... Andrea Land with "Cloudstone". Cloudstone is an excellent, simple, evocative name which is easily extended: I already have Cranberry Cloudstone, Caribbean Cloudstone, Aventurine Cloudstone, Tuscan Cloudstone and Flaming Cloudstone. So Andrea, which color you want? Thank you to everyone who pitched in and participated! (Oh, and Jody, thanks for putting me off the word "vitreous" forever with that eyeball thing...)

Friday, January 12, 2007

I Don My Kerchief and Clean

Coffee almost gone from the Denver skyline mug, the sound of fingers tapping on the keyboard is my only music. Today is a full studio day. I woke up to the realization that I have a little over a week till the photographer comes to shoot the how-to photos for the book and I am in no way ready!

Yesterday I met with one of the owners of Sabra Gallery and set them up with a selection of work. In a spurt of efficiency I also updated my website to reflect the new representation. I am actually in the mood to do more online stuff today, but I have too much to do in the studio. It's ironic. Last week I cleaned to avoid computer tasks, now I want to do computer tasks to avoid cleaning!

Keep those contest entries coming! There have been some exceptional suggestions so far, and I am confident that you will have provided me with a brilliant name by Sunday. :-)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Contest!

The coffee is brewing after a grinder-malfunction scare, no music. I post quickly before heading up to shower and wash hairs. Today is packed with appointments of a mostly non-professional nature, though I am making a delivery to the new gallery in East Atlanta which has picked up my work, (Sabra).

Yesterday I cured the fiber blanket mold for the wall sconce project in the kiln. I don't know what the people who wrote the instructions for rigidizing molds were thinking. They say to air dry the mold for 3-5 days. I tried that this summer and it took weeks. This being winter, cold and damp, I decided to kiln dry. It took four firings to get it dry! You can only heat it to 175 degrees (don't want to risk it bursting into flame), but even so I thought four hours would be enough.

Au contraire. Then I went for eight, then four, and still denied! Did a final eight and got it, if not bone dry, pretty well dry. And release doesn't work too well with it either. The instructions say to use 50/50 dish detergent and water, or non-stick cooking spray. I tried cooking spray in the summer and dish soap this time and got sticking both times... But at least it's done and I can get on with making the glass part.

My latest mold order from Bullseye will be here Monday. The mold collection grows. Any piece the Art Institute is interested in I have to be able to produce quickly in large quantities. Can't be doing onesy twosy slumps. I am considering limiting the shapes and sizes I offer--at least for catalog work.

Finally, I redid my price list for 2007. I still have to come up with a name for the new series I am doing. So far the prime candidates are Quarried Glass and Vitreous Stone. Some of the pieces in the series are shown here. I need to get this decided by the end of the week, uh, tomorrow... maybe Monday. So here's the deal. If you have an idea for the name, post it in the comments or send it to me in email by Sunday night. If I use your idea for the name, you get an acknowledgment in the book and a piece in the series. Yes, it is a big prize, but I am desperate!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Internship and Retail

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, no music. Well, the books are more or less done. I had everything done in large enough brush strokes that the accountant was able to make sense of my hash. I have to have everything officially enterd, logged and cross-checked by February 1. I think I can do that. Now I can back to work--and to cleaning. There are 13 days till the photo shoot and I still have projects to re-do and all the interim stages to produce.

The idea of retail is still rambling around in my head. No storefront--Doug's right and the city would just not allow that. But a mail order/internet business... My goddaughter is coming from France in May and June to do an internship in business with an American company. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find an American company that will fit the bill. But what if Siyeh Studio is it? I may not have employees, but I produce a product, I market it, package it and sell it. And the ACRE show is at the beginning of that time period so she could get experience at an American trade show. And if I expand to retail, she could fill the day's orders and ship them. Would this work? And what would I do after she leaves...

Yesterday's accounting has left me with my creative juices sucked dry. Maybe I'll have something interesting to write tomorrow after today in the studio.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ready, Set... !

Coffee in the Alaska skyline (as if there is such a thing...) mug, "Something of a Dreamer" by Mary Chapin Carpenter on iTunes. The accountant comes at 3:00 today and the books must be done (see Bill, there really is a hard stop before March!). More than I should do, I buy things for the business with the personal credit cards. So the personal finances have to be done too to make sure I caught everything. I am up to entering August in the business checking account and have done the business Visa. I still have all our personal finances from August on and misc. cash receipts to do. Ur.

And I begin to get anxious about not doing any firing or studio photo shoot prep. Yesterday was all computer all the time and today will follow the same path. One small step at a time. Okay, that's four minutes for posting. Now off to the books. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Website is Progressing

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, iTunes is quiet (the dogs slurp chow in the background and the dishwasher swishes). Friday I redid the first page of my website! It's a start. One little step at a time. Over the weekend the office was cleaned and at 4:45 pm yesterday I actually began entering data into Quickbooks. And that's going to be my day, I'm afraid, apart from making the schedule for the next two weeks. Oh, I'll get a load or two in--maybe slump the current pieces for the Art Institute and redo another book project--but today is all about bookkeeping. And my back is aching already.

If I spent more time at the office desk I would invest in a good--rather than a good-looking--chair. Something ergonomic and contoured that doesn't go at all with the Craftsman Mission desk, filing cabinet and credenza. I am not even sure if it is a credenza as I don't have a clear picture in my mind of what a credenza is. It's furniture. It's in the storage family (like dressers) but it seems to me there is also an office component to it. I guess I could look it up in the dictionary, but, really, why spoil the mystique? Right now I have a piece of furniture in my office that I have tagged with a cool name. Why should I have to call it by the name it started out life with which is t.v. cabinet or entertainment center? Where is the romance in that? I added shelving inside and it has morphed into my idea of credenza.

OK, enough random chatter. The topic of the morning: retail. I did my inventory last week and I carry an *enormous* quantity of glass and frit. There are plenty of places that sell glass by the sq ft and frit by the lb, but does anybody do it by the sq inch and the oz? It would be trivial for me to sell that way online. I have long wanted a retail outlet but didn't want to be tied down to the set hours. Of course then there is the vacation consideration: I would need to hire someone to process orders while I was gone. Retail is worth more consideration.

Then there is the book. After it comes out this fall I am guessing I am going to get more requests to teach. I have always been reluctant to teach in my space because it is designed to be comfortable for me at 6 feet tall and most of my students would be shorter, but the book gives me a pre-done curriculum of up to 19 projects and techniques. Add to that I have enough kiln space to fire everyone's large projects at the same time and, well, it seems logical. Of course most people want to take classes evenings and weekends, and I am reluctant to give up that time (and Dave is more than reluctant).

But teaching ties to retail. If I teach, say, a fountain class I need to have all the supplies for each student to make the fountain. No use sending them all around to find the light and the pump and the fiber paper and the glass. And a screen melt class. If they want to continue making the projects at home it would be good for them to be able to buy a melt mold, screen, a screen frame, etc. easily and economically. Some of those I have made specially for me, and the company that makes them has indicated interest in wholesaling them to me for distribution. Other things--like the screen--are only sold in quantities which are too large for a hobbyist to want to buy them.

Hmm. Retail. Teaching. I think the idea of a business plan is not a bad one. Now off to face the finances.

Friday, January 05, 2007

It's Raining in Atlanta

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Georgia Rae" by John Hyatt on iTunes. "Georgia Rae" is a song from a father to his little daughter about how much she is loved, how her parents came to have her, and basically how great she is. I should've had this song on as I was helping Dave to get Jessie out the door for school this morning. I think Dave was ready to put a sticker on her, "reduced for immediate clearance". That girl has more shoe crises than women 7 times her age.

The first of the year for me is a time when I pause, look up, see where I've gotten to in life, and make decisions about where I want to go. Yesterday I said to a friend and gallery owner that I wouldn't be doing glass in 10 years... Wow. Where did that come from? Maybe I need to sit down and finally do a business plan. The past year brought a pretty good set of short to mid-term happenstance goals (something happens and I have to take a stance in response--not a carefully chosen goal, a fell-into goal... like the book), but maybe it is time to take charge of the direction I want to go with my glass business rather than just thinking "Hey, let's try THAT!" and reacting to what happens as a result.

I am definitely in midlife. This isn't a crisis, but boy it sure is time to pee or get off the pot in terms of what I want to be when I grow up.

In the meantime, there is still a studio to clean, a load to get in the kiln, a commission to prepare for a client and a new gallery to select work for (Sabra in East Atlanta would like to carry some of my pieces and I am to deliver a selection to them next Tuesday).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why Blog?

Coffee in the Washington DC skyline mug, "Gone Again" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. I have never been so efficient at getting things done while making absolutely no progress on the essential, core list. Christmas is away. The house has never been more organized--with the exception of the office which is still a pit. But the studio...

Well, let's concentrate on the positive. Started the new wall sconce yesterday by making the mold. Sure hope it works as I am out of the rigidizer and the vendor doesn't ship during the winter as it is harmed by freezing. Did the glass inventory. Wow. We won't be moving any time soon! And I just unpacked and cut six of the *95* sheets of clear irid that came in in December... and that's enough of a task list for the day.

Someone asked me yesterday about my blogging. Do I find it a good way to keep in touch with people? It's kind of an online diary, right? Well, no, not really. Sure there may be days when all that gets posted is what's to do, what's not done (ack, ack, ack!), etc. But the real point of blogging for me is to get to the point beneath the lists. It grounds and centers me. It's both a release and a reliever of anxiety. It's venue for exploration of a philosophy which might otherwise remain just a fleeting idea.

It's a place to exercise my brain through communication. I don't get out much. There are many days when what I put here is my only interaction (one-sided though it is) with the outside world.

And though I write quite a bit, it usually takes me all the way to the end to come out with the kernel at the center of the thought spiral. Blink and you'll miss it.

And I blog because, after all this time, I have discovered that I really do like to write. I just don't like being told what to write or how to write. So it's a good thing I am neither in school nor writing professionally. Oh wait a minute...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On the Horizon

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Return of the King" by Howard Shore & Sir james Galway on iTunes. Coffee would have been in the Denver mug in honor of snow, winter, and Aunt Sheila, but it must be in the studio still. Today I reflect on January. The heart of winter. The month for the artist of rest and rejuvenation. Of preparing for the spring and summer season.... And then there's this damn book. The anxiety attacks have begun again. Little ripples and tremors catch me unawares and I am the deer in the headlights for a moment or two.

But the book is written, right? It's being copy edited by a very capable woman as I type, right? Well, yes. But this book isn't just words. Oh no, it is lots and lots of big, pretty, glossy, color pictures. Pictures of projects which aren't done yet. Pictures of stages of projects which aren't prepared yet. Pictures of tools and storage and glass in a pristine studio. The key word there is "pristine". My best approximation of the antithesis of pristine is slovenly, which is a step up from the current state of my studio. The photo shoot is scheduled in a tight three days January 24 - January 26. Period. And there is still that pesky wall sconce to mold and make...

That's just the book. The Art Institute has 17 pieces due before February 1. The website and my website languish untouched. The bookkeeping is still unstarted. The... *breathe*

I joined Weight Watchers again yesterday. When I look at all the weight I have to lose after 20 years of steadily gaining it seems an unachievable goal. But in WW you don't look at the whole picture at one time (let's face it, it's a pretty big picture). You put your head down and look at what you need to do to get to the first step. And then the second. And you keep on going, one little step at a time. You celebrate each step forward and you work through each step backwards. Now to apply that philosophy to January (music swelling in "The Black Gate Opens" also from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack).

And on the subject of the Dark Lord... need to fire off a letter to my editor about the wall sconce and a couple of illustrations. That's my first little step. Into the West I go.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


No coffee yet, "Affair of the Heart" by Rick Springfield on iTunes. Proof that your past musical taste will always catch up with you...

A New Year has arrived. My resolutions are made... and that's about as far as it goes. I know what I am going to be doing for the next hour but after that I am totally at sea. As usual I did almost NOTHING on my list for the week between Christmas and New Year's (those pesky finances, e.g., are still free-roaming and pesky), although I did many things which were NOT on the list but should have been--like winterizing the pond, cleaning the back deck and grill (and, yes, Mom, fixing the sink!).

And today we all go back to our jobs after something of a break--if we were lucky enough to have time off for a winter break. How many will go back ready to take on a dozen projects, and how many are going to ease gently back into the stream? I guess your attitude and approach depend a lot on your boss and your job: The former are probably more positive if the latter are more reasonable. My boss is an unrealistic b*tch. But maybe she made some resolutions for the new year too. Maybe she will no longer expect more than any one human can possibly do in a day, showing extreme disappointment if I fail to achieve. Maybe, just maybe she won't have scheduled me to clean the studio AND do a firing or two AND inventory the materials AND unload the end of the year order from Bullseye today. Yeah, and maybe pigs will fly.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Coffee in the Los Angeles mug, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie, both in honor of Ren who is Lost in America. Drive safely.

It's sunny, still and 54 degrees this New Year's Day in Atlanta. The studio is dark today so by rights I should be writing in Stranded in the South. But my life is so tangled with the parts all inseparable that it feels right to continue here.

What will I do today? No, first let's start with what we did for New Year's Eve. It has been Dave's and my tradition ever since we married to spend New Year's Eve attempting to watch six movies. He picks three and I pick three and we never make it through all of them. We also race around the house stark naked, in the dark, playing with sarbacanes and boules de cotillons, screaming and giggling like mad fools. Before any thoughts should wing into the lewd or truly gross, sarbacanes and boules de cotillons are peashooters and spit wads.

This year I picked two movies, Dave picked two and Jessie picked two. We kept our clothes on and J threw more cotillons than she blew through her sarbacane, but the screamng and giggling were just as intense. The movies in order of watching (and we made it though all six!) were: "Barbie in the Nutcracker", "My Fair Lady", "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", "Shaun of the Dead", "Star Trek First Contact", and "The Big Night". Can you guess who picked which? J collapsed about 11:15 (most unwillingly) and D and I finished the night in the skychairs on the front porch making our resolutions.

I have only two resolutions this year and they could almost be combined into one: mental and physical health. I strive for slim and serene. With slim(mer) will come renewed energy, freedom from many of the aches and pains that plague me currently, and flexibility. Walking, yoga and moderation in food and drink will get me there. Yoga, meditation during stretching and slowing down this year will move me towards serene. This is the year of smiling and saying "No."

Now today, what for today which is marching toward noon? Clean J's room and put away all the new toys. Take down the tree and all the Christmas decorations and pack them away for another year. Pack in boxes all the things for Goodwill and Craig's list. Then potluck with good friends at their house at 4:00, dressed up to ring in the new year.

Peace to all. Peace to all I know and the many more I don't. Peace, safety, and freedom.