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.


Bill Paley said...

"Mankind plans, and God giggles."

Smasty said...

Oh wow, what a day. Bill said it perfectly.