Friday, February 23, 2007

Judgement Day

No coffee, no music: Only the dulcet snores of the deerhounds to keep me company as I prepare to begin my 12 hour countdown. From tomorrow through March 3 the studio--and Glass Incarnate--will be dark as I have a well-earned Vacation. "Didn't you just have a vacation in November?", one might ask. The answer would be yes, and that was last year. This is this year. It makes all the difference. I want to wax eloquent about the circularity of time and how something that is really linear is manipulated by our brains into being perceived as something that repeats in circular measurements of years, months, weeks, days, and even 12 hours... but my creativity is subsumed under the weight of my stark panic at the list of what I must get done before 5:30 pm today.

There are so many things I won't get done today: I won't get the large panels packed and shipped to Chicago, I won't get a scheduled gallery order out, I won't get the business finances to the accountant so she can file the tax papers... I'm sure there are more things on that list, but those are the highlights. Today I MUST finish the edits on the book, write the Introduction, and review the captions for the pictures written by the copyeditor.

I did get the packing mostly done last night (though I don't have a swimsuit that fits or time to get one). And I had good news from the dermatologist: the smallish spot on my upper chest has a 50% chance of being a basal cell carcinoma. I'll know in a week when the results of the biopsy he did yesterday are back. How could that possibly be good news? Well it has a 0% chance of being melanoma, I don't have to cancel the vacation, and if you are going to get cancer, this is the one to get! Not much worse, really, than a cavity in a tooth.

Now I face the day already exhausted from a wretched night's sleep thanks to my own dogs, stressmares, and a neighbor's dog desperately barking until 3:00 am in protest at being left outside. 5:30 am. The clock is ticking down my final day on the book. To infinity, and beyond!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Snip Snip

No coffee, no music. Heck, not even any light. I can hear the cat rumbling beside me on the couch, but I can't see her. I have been up copy editing the copy edits for the book for the past hour. Dave's car alarm went off at 3:30 and neither of us could get back to sleep so we gave in and got up. Now we sit companionably in our robes in the livingroom, each with our laptops, the only light the glow from the screens. If I weren't so stressed about finishing all this editing I would bask in romantic contentment. As it is, the book is now deemed *seven* pages over (who the hell does the math on these things and why can't they get it right?!) and I am playing snip snip. Checking for stress with polarized filters? Snip. Mini-kilns for vitrigraph? Snip. How to test your new kiln for hot spots and optimal process temperatures? SNIP!

When I first started this project the senior editor told me 400-500 words per page. 144 pages. She also said photos on every page. Here seems to be the rub: the 400-500 words on a page DOES NOT take into account the space needed for the photos! They know they want photos, they know how much room the photos take up, why can't they give a real count for the words WITH the photos? They gave me a little spreadsheet and asked me to plug in my word totals as I went. I did. And I plugged in photos. At my last check I was four pages under. But they insist I am seven pages over, snip, snip. I am appalled at the incompetence (they use the same spreadsheet for every book--it's not like I am the first to run into this problem) glaringly highlighted by the inaccuracy of the spreadsheet! But fuming gets me nowhere. Back I go to snip snipping.

P.S. (from 8:30 am): The car alarm on Dave's car went off at 3:30 am because someone stole his gps... again. At leaset they used a coat hanger or something non-damaging to get in and didn't just break the window. There was no damage to the car.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Road to Philadelphia in Review

Coffee with an extra shot of espresso and real half and half in the large black ceramic mug, jazz on satellite radio. That's right; it's live from Joe's! Today is the last big day on the book--all the copyedits need to be blessed and sent back asap. but before I get any further, congratulations to Bina Donakowski-Jones for winning the Niche award in the fused glass category for her stunning fused glass book. I am sorry I couldn't find a better picture of this piece to link to as it is really gorgeous. I am very happy to report that politics did not win out, and, truly, the best piece won.

The drive back was uneventful, the Holiday Inn in downtown Philadelphia was uniformly horrible. I cannot find one single redeeming thing to say about it or the Benson's (Benton's?) restaurant in it. No, that's not quite true. There were one or two staff members who seemed to genuinely care about our room and service difficulties, but there was not a single person who knew what the hell was going on there or could do anything about it. By the third day of six there were Harry and David truffles, a bottle of chardonnay and two bottles of Starbuck's frappucino in our room compliments of the management--along with a very nice handwritten note expressing wishes that the rest of our stay be pleasant and uneventful. Lol. The frustrations and difficulties still did not end. There was not a day when we didn't have to deal with some annoyance--from no hot water in the shower (ever) while having scalding (literally) water in the sink, to dry, grey, overcooked steak in the restaurant, to lost packages, no internet and invisible managers. When I actually wanted to talk to the general manager before leaving she couldn't even be bothered to come out and face me. I got the restaurant manager. I pinned his ears back, but it really wasn't enough. I will review the hotel and my Priceline experience and I will *never* do Priceline in Philadelphia again and risk staying there.

A review at the end of the show gives it a solid 6 of 10. Sales were down 30% from last year, I believe mostly due to not seeing most of my customers from last year--including the ones I expected to see. Exposition services had more than their fair share of problems, but everyone I dealt with was friendly, helpful and could actually solve (most of) my problems.

Biggest issues for me were loss of electricity, booth space issues with neighbors, and load-out. A bunch of us lost electricity Friday night and it was still out Saturday morning for the first hour and a half of the show. There was no identifiable reason for it--everyone was using their allotted amount of power, but the cables were poorly laid out in the booths and not marked as to who should use what so it is possible that someone was on a 1000 watt service line instead of the 2000 watt line they paid for and it caused the transformer to overheat and blow. Whatever. Better labeling and lay-out would have prevented the problem, but Hargrove (exposition services) was quick to respond and fix it (I think it is fear of Wendy that makes them move so fast and I don't blame them).

People are asked to keep their stuff out of the aisles during set-up so that everyone can get their stuff in. Lol. You can barely walk down some aisles for days--much less get a dolly down them. Clearly the rules don't apply to everyone. All the set-up woes in our section can be laid at the door of the guy behind me who set up his immovable hard-walled booth before everyone else arrived and didn't even bother to check to make sure he was fully inside his space and not interfering with anyone else's eventual set-up. Some people just never learned to color in the lines. He put his back wall on the corner of my rented carpet so that the corner was folded and the whole rug was bunched. He moved the pipes of the pipe and drape wall system so his booth would fit right, and made everyone else's walls cock-eyed. But he has been doing the show forever and he just does what he has to do so his show goes well.

Participation in the set-up and breakdown of an art show--either wholesale or retail--should be required for the leader of every communist country in the world. They are perfect examples of why communism fails. Artists--the free souls, gentle spirits, last hippies in our society--show at the core how people do not work together for the betterment of all. And yet they are individually, one-on-one, extremely nice people!

At the end of the show a bunch of exhibitors were told they could load out using the underground loading area and the freight elevators. These were the same two freight elevators that exposition services had to use to load up all the people who paid to be loaded. I waited 20 minutes for my stuff just to get on the freight elevator to get down to my van. Was that fair? What is it with people?

We are almost all in a hurry, but some people think they are just entitled to take whatever they want, cut line, and screw everyone else. This is another sad, common characteristic of this show. Most of the people who have been doing it have been doing it so long they know how to "get around" the system, ruthlessly cutting off and delaying everyone else. Some of it was just selfish human behavior, but some of it was a defense mechanism against a bad system. What bothers me is that after 25 years of having the show there is still such a strong need for a way around the system (continuing the show through Monday? Come on! What a waste of time!!!).

I am seriously tempted to research flying and shipping. The big downsides with them are weather delays, breakage and lost freight. but I am going to have to do it for the ACRE show in Vegas in May anyway.

Now it's over for another year (the summer BMAC is smaller and easier in so many ways), and it's time to move with the day and the book.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

To Niche, or Not to Niche, That is the Question

Water in the Dasani bottle, "It Ain't Necessarily So" performed by George Winston on iTunes. It is Day 3 of the Buyer's Market of American Craft. Yesterday and Friday were both slow for me--not great news, but not unusual for for me for this show. I was confident that today would bring the orders streaming in. The day is now half over and I have had one order from an existing client and nothing new... Hmmm. Should I be worried? On the other hand the Jewish Museum of New York has asked me to design some menorah for them to carry. And I had a gallery owner from Orange County who might want me to do sugar and creamer boxes (no lids) and a vase (essentially a tall box with no lid) in Pop Art. These projects both have the prospect of being fun, if not necessarily lucrative.

This show brings out my tendencies towards reflection and contemplation. I think all the should-I, would-I, could-I thoughts. I am simultaneously humbled and validated by the art around me, and appalled at the callousness of some of the other artists. Clearly their grandmothers were not like my grandmother and the whole "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" edict just passed them right by. I can honestly say that I can find something good to say about everyone's boothes or work. maybe not both, but all I need is one nice comment and I'm done. It might be damning with faint praise, but at least I am not slashing bloody strips and leaving viscera to dry on the floor. Why bother with the viscera exposure? There is no need to state the obvious and it is much more rewarding for everyone if you make the effort to find the kernel of good. I wonder about the ego of the of the person able to so cruelly dismiss another's efforts. And I am forced to wonder what they are saying about me behind my back. And I dread the release of the book (and my exposure to the cruel world) , and I stall on the copy-editing review.

Part of the problem with the book right now (post copy-editing) is that the edits are so damn perky! No, this *isn't* my voice anymore. It is not darkly sarcastic enough--and as I just got through saying that I don't really see myself as predominantly darkly sarcastic, that's saying a lot! I asked my editor today about the edits she made and did she try to give the projects all the same detail and feel. She said no, she mostly put them in the style of the publisher. Oh dear. I delay reading them again.

And tonight are the Niche awards. Part of me says, "I'll never win. It may be my best piece ever and it may hold up well to all the other pieces in my category for artistic merit and technical excellence... but I'll never win." That's the part of me which does not believe that the prizes will be given for merit alone and that there will *always* be additional factors which determine the actual outcome. Which is not to say I think my piece is the best and I should win. Really. I want to, but that's a different story. Maybe it's just a human failing that looks for easy (and not my fault) reasons for why I didn't win. So I'm a bit petty and not perfect. I can live with that.

After the awards I will be joining friends at Morimoto for dinner. The reservation is for 7:30 and that's when they are all going. I will be at the awards alone, grumbling that I could have been celebrating life with friends instead of having my hopes dashed again.

I know! I'll think of it as celebrating the achievements of the people who do win! I told you I could always find something good to say....

Friday, February 16, 2007

Day 1 of the Buyer's Market of American Craft

Maker's Mark in a hotel glass, Law & Order SVU on tv. It's the end of Day One of the Buyer's Market of American Craft. I am cranky. We are staying at the Holiday Inn downtown and so far the hotel has been a complete disaster. Let me explain... no, that would take too long. Let me sum up. Smoking king changed to smelly smoking double. Next morning schlepped luggage down to desk so could move to non-smoking double (it should have been moved for us). That night: 9:00 pm, schlepped luggage up to new room after setting up all day at the convention center, no room service, restaurant closed, no internet in new room, 45 minutes on the phone with tech support. Next morning: moved to a new room. Intermittent internet. FedEx package for Teresa delivered to hotel Wednesday morning at 9:30 am, it still hasn't been found or delivered to her.

Now it's the next morning (Saturday). I slept long and have woken less crabby... I hope. The show started yesterday with a bang and I was behind until almost noon (it started at 10:00) when I finally had pricetags up on everything. I thought I would have a little lull at the beginning as buyers tend to start on the sides--of the hall or of the type of work they are interested in--and work in. Duh, I am on the second aisle in, which pretty much counts as on the side, so I got hit right away. Oh, and fun news! As I was setting up, another glass artist I had not previously met came into my booth to tell me how much she and her sister like reading Glass Incarnate every day. Her name is Patty Hulet and she and her sister make the most edible glass you have ever seen. I am going to see if I can get some of them for Dave for Valentine's Day (we are celebrating next week).

I had a good show yesterday: Four orders including two from new galleries (and a new state! Connecticut!). That makes six orders so far with the two that I got the week before the show. And people like the boxes, but no one is even close to interested in carrying them where I have them priced. I really may need to offer them retail instead of wholesale.

In addition to doing the show I have a deadline of a week from today to finish reviewing and editing my seriously copyedited manuscript. Gulp. But I'm set up now and can cruise on autopilot through Monday when it's time to break down and head home. I should be able to squeeze in editing projects at least.

I read back through what I have written and it's a long, disjointed, caffeine-free post. That's a problem I need to fix. Gonna hop in the shower and head out to Starbuck's

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day in Philadelphia

Merlot in the hotel room service glass, "Night Pt 1: Snow", by George Winston on iTunes. We are arrived in Philadelphia. The sweetgum tree to the right shows it's icy adornment--taken at a freezing rest stop in Virginia where the main building was closed and they had porta-potties set up for the desperate travelers. I don't THINK so.

I held it till some godforsaken dumpy little town in Delaware (Teresa tells me it was Havre de Grace) where the rednecks sat with their butt cracks hanging out of their pants, filling the tanks of their snow plow pick-ups and continuing to block all access to the pumps for the rest of us while they chawed and spat and prepared to to go plow something. I finally asked one of them if he would mind moving as my bladder could not take any more waiting... only to find out that the 7-11 store/gas station didn't have a restroom. We tore out of there to the Shell station across the street... which also didn't have a restroom. What is it with people in Delaware? Don't any of them ever have to pee?! We had to go across the street in another direction to McDonald's--and I was lucky I made it. And every stop required dashing through the salty, wet, cold slush. My poor EnzoAngiolinis.

There is much wet slushy snow everywhere. I wore my flimsy little Italian leather shoes (the afore-mentioned Enzos)... with no socks. I have a couple of pair of boots with me, it's true. They are also nice, thin, leather, and meant for dry, happy times. The hotel is nine blocks from the Convention Center--a good walk for a Weight Watcher... but not one with inappropriate footwear.

On the bright side--and I try to always find the bright side--even though I was not scheduled to unload today I went to the docks at the convention center anyway to see if they could squeeze me in. Turned out there was no wait at all and I had all my stuff in my booth in the time it took to get an assistant badge for Teresa. By the way, check out her work. Cool, huh? Tonight we are in a smoking (blech) double (it was almost a smoking king!) at the Holiday Inn downtown Philly, and have consumed a pizza and almost-copious-enough quantities of red wine for me. I am slogging through my review of the edits of the materials and tools sections of my book and preparing for a long day tomorrow setting up in the freezing (no exaggeration there) convention center hall. They won't bother with the heat till the Buyers show up late in the afternoon for the jewelry preview. Brrr.

Okay, enough already. I'm here, I'm safe, I'm in a smoking room (did I say blech?), but I'll live. There is supposedly network access from the convention center floor this year so I will stay live. Till tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Road to Philadelphia and the BMAC

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes in an attempt to calm my ever-increasing anxiety. I feel it roiling from one side of my face to the other, then descending to my arms and squeezing. I cold-worked a new box until 11:00 last night and got up at 6:30 this morning to do the final polish and I just. can't. get. it. I am letting everything else hang in my quest for the perfect box. I have been consumed by this obsession and even the approaching of the goal state does nothing to lessen my tension and stress.

Teresa will be here in the next hour ready to go to Philly. She is another artist I know from the One of a Kind Show who lives in Louisville, KY, works in stone (mostly alabaster) and has been considering doing the BMAC herself. I offered her the chance to go to the show for the cost of her meals if she would be my assistant for it. It's a good deal for both of us. And I am about to blow *everything* with this box. I should have left it at a fine matte finish instead of going for the high gloss. Now I am halfway to high gloss--the holy grail of cold-workers--and I realize I am not sure how to get the rest of the way. Other, more sage, kiln-formers tell me it just takes time. But I don't have TIME and I want it done NOW. Now, before it breaks from the heat of the polishing. Now before it flies off the wheel and smashes into a dozen pieces in the sink. Now so I can can get on with all the other things I have to do before going to Philly. Just NOW!!!

Got to pack the clothes, got to make the show list of everything I need to take, got to pack the car, got to write notes for Dave of things to take care of while I am gone, got to breathe, got to not cry.... Just want to go back to bed. Maybe plan a pond or perennial beds or...

Yesterday all the orders that could be shipped were. I edited most of the first 50 pages of my book and it has come together nicely. All the firings for the BMAC are done (including lids for the boxes which went in last night at 10:00, which are still 500 degrees, and which also need to be ground and polished before leaving for the show).

The anxiety rises, the anxiety falls.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Am the Phoenix

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, no music. For sheer carnage, yesterday was the worst day I have ever had in the studio. I am ostensibly scheduled to leave for the Buyer's Market (BMAC) show in Philadelphia tomorrow. I may not get out till Wednesday morning and then face a hellish long drive and impossibly quick set-up. But why worry about tomorrow's hell when I can dwell on yesterday's!

On the schedule for yesterday: put in the main slump load in the big kiln, slump two more new-style bowls in the small kiln, and take the boxes out of the medium kiln. That should have taken about 1/2 hour total for the day, bright and early in the morning. The rest of the day was devoted to reviewing the edits of the first 50 pages of the book (the Basics). Simple, easy Sunday. Snort.

I opened the small kiln to find the violet Cloudstone bowl--the only example of violet Cloudstone I have for the BMAC--thermal shocked, cracked in two and fused drunkenly together again during the slump. I don't panic. I shrug philosophically and get out my firing schedule to see what I can tweak. I should never have put it in the kiln while the kiln was still hot from the piece I had just taken out. These things will happen. I decide to squeeze in another Cloudstone piece in the medium kiln and move the slump of the Seder set to the big kiln in with the BAC pieces and pieces of orders I need to ship. The schedule is a bit higher and longer than a normal slump, but maybe I can adjust the piece heights so that nothing will be ruined. I really need violet Cloudstone.

So I take the boxes out of the medium kiln to prepare it for the Cloudstone. They are cool and they look *perfect*. I have apparently solved all technical issues with boxes. I start to prepare the Cloudstone firing, but I can't resist polishing the violet orchid box a little first. It is soooo perfect! I do the bottom and half of one side. I cannot help but marvel at the sheer beauty of the piece. I will triumph at the BMAC with these boxes. I will sneer at anyone who questions their price. The box catches a bit on the lap grinder wheel and flies out of my hands to smash into three pieces in the adjacent sink. I run sobbing to my spouse. That's two.

Now I have a dilemma. I need a mass of Cloudstone for the show because it's what I featured in the postcard I sent out, but I also need perfect boxes because I am up for a NICHE award for a box and the awards are given at the BMAC as part of the show. I pick up the other box that jsut came out of the medium kiln, the orange/yellow/green orchid box... and the bottom has begun to crack from a compatibility shift of one of the primary colors during the original melt. This is the same glass that cracked in half during the bubble fix firing a few days ago so it's not like I didn't already know it was a troubled piece. I now have no violet Cloudstone, no perfect boxes, and almost no time left. That's three. I have another breakdown. The BMAC is *the* big roll-out show for new collections and new products. It is where you either show buyer's that you are a dynamic, creative artist, or a tired, same-old, same-old taker-up-of-booth-space.

And then I rise from the ashes. Sure it's the most important show I do a year, but it's just a show. I will salvage it as best I can and move on. It takes until 5:30 pm (so much for the little half hour in the studio in the morning), but I get a bowl slumping in the little kiln, another glorious violet box firing in the medium kiln, and the Seder set, the rest of the BMAC pieces and my outstanding orders slumping in the big kiln. Also in the big kiln are three pieces of violet Cloudstone that I cut the thermal-shocked bowl into with my tile saw. I am slumping them flat to use them as samples of that color at the show.

I finished the night by validating the slump in the big kiln (I did need to up the temp and time a bit more because of the Seder set), putting the fiber blanket over the new box at the appropriate point in its firing, and putting another bowl to slump in the small kiln. I also polished the the orange/yellow/green orchid box down to just before the final cerium-oxide-on felt polish. As it turns out, only the new glass I added in the box construction firing on the bottom of the box cracked and it didn't crack through the box. The piece is not salable, but it is showable as a to-the-naked-eye perfect box. I was then going to read the 50 pages of my book, but my spouse talked me out of it and I collapsed exhausted into my eyelids.

This morning I rose, I stretched, and I vowed to conquer and take no prisoners. Che sera sera. It is now 9:00 and I am ready to review the copyeditor's version of my book. There is a lot more on the plate, but I am not going to stress myself out by listing it again. Tomorrow, maybe, the road to Philadelphia.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Boxes, Seder, and Commissions, Oh My!

Coffee in a paper Jupiter Coffee mug--with an extra shot of espresso and half 'n' half instead of Coffee mate. Yep, took Jester (deerie #2... or #1 as the case may be) and walked a half an hour for coffee this morning. That's twice this week. I need a nap! "Teardrop" by Massive Attack on iTunes. I am *really* (really, really) enjoying the cd mix sent from Ren. Though I have to say, a lot of it makes the Counting Crows (used to be as mopey as mope rock gets) sound positively perky.

Today is Friday. The apprentice comes on Friday so I have an enforced studio day. Not that I usually need to be forced to hang out there, but this week I have been struggling with priorities. Too much surfing, too little doing. Later this morning, when the kiln has cooled from another late-in-the-day firing, I will take four panels into Dixie Glasshoppers to be drilled (three for the commission and one for the BMAC) and beg to get them back Monday so I can ship them before I go. I hope Kelly doesn't leap across the counter to disembowel me when I tell him when I need them back. I need my bowels, and I need him to drill my glass so I don't have to. The least I will get is a dirty look. Maybe I should make cookies for them again.

Now Carol is here, off to the studio!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The HooHaa Monologues

Coffee in the New York skyline mug in honor of the Jewish Museum of New York, "Home" by Marc Broussard on iTunes. Got a call from the JMNY yesterday and they ordered another Seder set and matzah plate. That was a difficult commission the first time (details are in the posts from 3/10/06-3/15/06 for the curious kiln former). Got to find that mold, dust it off and whump one up... after I remember what size I made the large plate in the Seder set.... This year instead of using the adjustable mold I made last year, I will go ahead and make one that's the right size so I'll always know how big to make them.

The title for this post? A news clip this morning reported on complaints to a theater in Florida soon to feature the play the Vagina Monologues. The name of the play was changed on the marquee to the above when a passing motorist, offended at having to explain what a vagina is to her niece, called the theater in outrage. Hoohaa. There were so many opportunities there for some good female-empowering conversation, and all she could think of was embarrassment and smut. I can't wait till Jessie asks me that question. Back to glass (not to be mixed with hoohaas).

It took forever yesterday to get two kiln loads in. I just dragged my feet all day about firing. Part of it is that I am nervous about the big hanging panels I am doing from an email commission for a client in Chicago having never seen the space. I have the nagging feeling they are not going to be the right size (the client gave me the dimensions of the opening and asked me to figure out the clearance for the panels) and I am already stressing about shipping them. Or maybe I'm just a lazy whiner. Anyway I won't be able to open either kiln till later this afternoon and J has gymnastics at 4:00 so it looks like I am going to stay behind schedule with late-in-the-day firings for the rest of the week (the rest of the week for me this week is through Monday).

I think I used my allotment for philosophical creativeness on Uma (1 and 2) in Stranded in the South earlier in the week so I am just going to go off and finish entering tax data into Quickbooks. A demain.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

All Glass in a Vacuum is not Dichroic

Yesterday's coffee microwaved in the Atlanta skyline mug augmented with Coffee Mate on the cusp of turning. Lazy frugality won out over fresh effort for the day. I should just give in, start exercising (my health goal for February) and walk to Jupiter Coffee for something other than a large mocha*. "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" by Elvis Costello on iTunes. Party on, dude. Firing, firing, firing today. And figuring out the actual configuration of the crate I need to build to send three 34" X 15" X 1/4" panels to Chicago before I leave for Philly next week. This is a case where shipping the work is much more difficult than making the work...

Got the inventory and piece list for the BMAC done yesterday and got the postcards in the mail. Sent 180 this time. The mailing list grows. The Tuscan Cloudstone I did yesterday looks to have turned out well. I'll do the surface fix today and slump it tomorrow. Then either it or the original one on the postcard go off to the Art Institute in Chicago.

*Now back to that mocha. Life does not unfold in a vacuum, or if it does, it's a pretty damn big vacuum. So while I am writing a blog about the dailiness of being a studio glass artist, I am also in the midst of a Quest. My Quest is not the Grail, but to Lose Weight. I joined Weight Watchers on January 2 and have been slogging right along ever since. Today it is worth noting that I have lost 10 lbs. It is also worth noting that you find out some very surprising things when you are paying attention to what you put into your mouth. For instance (I only learned this after the fact) a Caribou Coffee large mocha has exactly half my allowed daily food allowance in it! For you Weight Watchers out there that is 14.5 points--more than either a Big Mac or a large fries at McDonald's. And it's not the whipped cream--whipped cream is essentially free. You would have to eat 3-3/4 cups of whipped cream to get that many points.

The moral of the story? I walk to Jupiter coffee for a plain jane coffee with a splash of cream. Otherwise why bother to walk at all? Off to dust off the pedometer and find the leash for a deerhound, THEN I'll fire...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

No Moles Were Harmed... Not Even in the Oven

One Book to rule them all,
One Book to find them,
One Book to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Coffee is brewing, "The Ride of the Rohirrim" from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack on iTunes (of course). The book is the Moleskine Dave got me for Christmas. It looks much like Van Gogh's in size and appearance though less worn and without the cool art paper inside the covers. Its comfortable weight lives in the back right pocket of my jeans and it literally saves my butt several times a week. Yesterday, for example, I was writing the last of the project re-writes and reviewing the last projects for my copy editor. I needed to know the amounts of each glass I used in the cranberry stone oval melt. I whipped out my Moleskine and looked it up. Then I needed to know the last tweaks I made to the firing schedule I used to fuse the lace to the single-thickness wall sconce. My hand went to my back pocket and produced the Moleskine with a flourish. Prior to Christmas I used whatever notebook or random scrap of paper was at hand to write whatever important credit card, phone number, firing schedule, mileage I needed to track. Now, as long as I wear jeans (whatever am I going to do when spring comes and I move back to my pocketless capri's?), I have the MOLESKINE (and a pen in my right front pocket. A known recipe for disaster, but greatness has its price).

Coffee is now in the Los Angeles mug in honor of Jodi (and Eric). Congratulations! No, nothing as humdrum as a wedding (to the best of my knowledge they are already married)... (Bryon and Vanessa, YOUR upcoming wedding is not perceived to be humdrum in ANY way)... (I am having a hard time getting to the point this morning and I just sipped the first luscious drop of coffee!)... (Back to Jodi and Eric:) They won the Bake-off! I am writing all this without actually looking anything up because I want to the pass on the news as I got it... from Dave. Dave doesn't even know Jodi and Eric virtually so you can imagine my surprise when he slid into bed last night saying casually "Your friend Jodi won the bake-off with her spaceship". I was asleep at the time so the little gnome trudging from my ear to my brain might have garbled the message a bit. I groggily asked him (Dave, not the gnome) how he knew and he said "The Internet is a mysterious and powerful device whose mystery is only exceeded by its power. It was on Boing-Boing." Hoo ha! I (sort of) know someone famous! (Fame = being mentioned in a blog Dave actually reads, unlike mine.)

Now back to glass. I think I am going to skip reading the first big set of edits the copy editor sent me yesterday. She rearranged the Basics and condensed them into two sections. I am reluctant to read them in case my worst fears (brought on by her admonition "When you read them make sure there is enough of your own voice left.") are realized. Instead I am going to fire today. And to invent! I need a guide for my lapgrinder which will enable me to make regular, even, true 45 degree mitered corners on the boxes. I am going to dust off the compound miter saw in the studio extension (aka the garage) and go to it. I am inspired by Smasty and her very clever chalkboard towel hangars in their lake house guest bath. Time to dust off my own power tools.

I realized last night that I have to make a choice for the BMAC next week. I can either have a lot of Cloudstone or I can have four new boxes. Since I am sending out the postcard (today) with the Cloudstone on it I should probably have several more colors and styles to show and be ready to market them heavily. On the other hand, I am up for a NICHE for a box so it would be nice to have more of them. But realistically I haven't even figured out how to price them yet so maybe I am not ready to splash out several more. Or maybe I could figure out the pricing in the course of making (or failing to make) four more. Maybe I should just get another kiln or two...

Before I go and do something so rash I had better get on with the nitty and the gritty, the nuts and bolts of the day... FIRING!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mission Impossible?

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug,"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross and the Supremes on iTunes. I think they're wrong: I think there IS a mountain high enough, and it's called Monday. No, wait, it's called THIS WEEK. At least the studio is back ship shape again. Carol cracked the whip over me till everything was back in its place Friday and I was in production again.

Elsewhere in my little glass world... The book is now only 4 pages over the length limit--after the overview was cut... and I am really peeved about it. The editor went out of her way to tell me how many pages, how many words per page, how many photos, yada, yada, ya. I followed the guidelines, and whoops! Somehow I am miraculously almost 10 pages over. I think they need a better page count estimate spreadsheet. So I have some major cutting to do this week and I have no idea what or where. I have a strong feeling this is going to hurt. This morning I still need to wrap up the project re-writes and send them to my other editor... and one of them is *very* long. Of course it is the wall sconce that the main editor threw in on Dec. 5 so I don't feel too badly about that, but I know she is going to insist something else be cut. Something I think should be in. Something like the explanation of compatibility of glasses or coefficient of expansion and viscosity. Something actually important beyond the barest of hobbiest levels. Something... hard and dry and boring to the unscientific (like me), but very important nonetheless.

Got another commission yesterday, the last one I was waiting on from the One of a Kind Show. That brings this week's fusing obligations up to three 34" X 15" hanging panels, three 3.5" X 8" sushi plates, two Cloudstone bowls, and a 20" round display panel for a wrought iron stand. Oh yes, and all the pieces I need for the BMAC next week that aren't done yet. That aren't even identified yet. Need to identify and schedule them today to so I can squeeze them with the rest.

And speaking of firing, I have some Cloudstone and orchid melt pieces that I finished over the weekend and want to turn into boxes. I think I might try four at a time in the medium kiln. Could be spectacular, could be disaster. Could be spectacular disaster, but let's stay optimistic, shall we? Oh yes, and one more necklace project redo for the book to squeeze in somewhere. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.

Other than that it will be a light week (snort): Mailing list to update for postcards, postcards to mail, photos for ad in the buyer's guide to clean and upload, the samples to finish and ship to the Art Institute in Chicago so they can evaluate them for inclusion in the 2007 fall/winter catalogs, and the fine detail of the studio finances for 2006 to enter into the computer and get to the accountant (it took three days to do the broad brushstrokes part...). I had the papers all sorted, organized and stacked neatly, and now they are covered by another three week's worth of paper and detritus. It'll take a dedicated archaeological expedition just o uncover them. Where is Dr. Mike Adler when you need him? (I like this photo better. Looks more like he did when we were egging cars when we were in high school in Montana...).

But back to the mountain... She is high enough, and she is now. (Hey Mike, remember this photo? The first view of the Mission Mountains over the top Ravalli hill and around the big curve?)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Yea for Photoshop!

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, the sound of the in-laws' pencils scratching the answers to today's sudoku puzzle on paper for music. It is an abbreviated day in the studio. Carol (the Apprentice) will be here any minute to help put the studio to rights from last week's photography explosion. And the postcards are scheduled for an on-time delivery today.

That was then, this is now. The studio is back together and I have the beginnings of a firing assembled. The postcards have arrived and the color is... not what I had hoped, but ok.

I got a funny call from one of my editors yesterday. Apparently the pics from shoot last week turned out really well. They just have a little photo-shopping to do: They are going to remove the worst of the "injuries" from my fingers. Yes, children, kiln-forming glass can be dangerous, but we don't want to show you just how dangerous in our pretty little how-to book. I am actually quite pleased they are doing the clean-up because, in spite of the manicure, my hands looked like crap last week... and this week... heck, every week!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

News of the Weird

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, CNN news video (the report on the cat in the washer--CatWash--on YouTube) as the audio this morning. Disney will be suing someone soon. I think I'll go back to iTunes.

Yesterday I finished the first edit of 12 of the 19 projects in the book. This morning I have to finish the rest and then go straighten the house prior to the arrival of the in-laws. My postcard is on schedule and due to arrive Friday, now I just need to get the mailing list together and the mailing labels made. I only had 500 postcards run off this time. I get the super-size ones (if I can't super-size my food anymore, at least I can super-size my postcards!) and they take a regular 39 cent stamp to mail. Going to keep the mailing list tight and meaningful instead of using a scattershot approach this time.

Oh and I have to call Carol (my apprentice) and tell her I won't be in the studio Friday!!! I am an idiot. My schedule has been so helter-skelter that first I told her no, and she dutifully write it in her PalmPilot. Then when she double-checked the following week I said yes, and she dutifully erased it in her PalmPilot. Now I have to tell her no again. She is going to think I am a complete flake--and I'm not, really!

It is five to nine and dark as a mountain cave outside. Wet and cold too. Dave said two of the native Atlantans on his team have already written to say they will be working from home today because they are afraid of the drive in. Sure, the forecast called for freezing rain and ice, but it's just rain, people! Southern wimps. We northerners, we know how to drive in the winter. Heck, for proof, just check out the story on the news van that fell through the ice in Wisconsin.

Hmm. That's two links to weird news this morning. I don't seem to be in the mood to either clean or edit, and yet, that's my day... Maybe I'll make something too. That always perks me up. I know! Andrea's Cloudstone piece. Too bad the people for whom that color was specially blended never got back to me about their sinks. Come to think of it, they still owe me money for their dinnerware. As does a gallery in California. The gallery is 60 days past due at this point and I am beginning to get angry. Having to pursue people for payment is one of the worst jobs of the small business owner. I could follow some of my colleagues lead and say payment before shipping. Period. No more Net 30, but I don't get quite enough abuses to feel comfortable with that approach.

One last off-glass-topic and I go work. See "Pan's Labyrinth". And be prepared for a really justified R-rating. There was one scene I just. could. not. watch. Even Dave only watched about half of it. Knife meets flesh. They disagree. Knife wins. Flesh must be... repaired. Ugh.

(One last news item: Naked Harry Potter. Nice abs Harry!)