Friday, June 29, 2007

Live! Signed Copies of the Book!

It took all day, but I now have an page on the new website to pre-order signed copies of A Beginner's Guide to Kiln-Formed Glass! There's more to it than just the main page. There's the PayPal ordering page, the thank you for ordering page (which you don't get to see unless you order), and, of course, the main page. Whew! Glad it's done.

Into the Wide Web Yonder

Coffee was in Chicago, "Someday Never Comes" by Creedence Clearwater Revival (almost drowning out the dog whining) is on iTunes. Another day learning website technology. Today's topics: SSL certificates and OSCommerce. Yesterday I registered a bunch more domains (one of them being the afore-mentioned Glass Incarnate) and learned about the ins and outs of that cut-throat business (Go Daddy vs my current hosting provider IX WebHosting). Go Daddy apparently targets the cheap masses and IX WebHosting targets the even cheaper technocrati. With Go Daddy you have to pay a little bit (on a monthly basis) for each of the different service options you want on your site (encryption, forms, blog, shopping cart, guestbook, database/catalog, etc.). IX WebHosting offers just about everything for free with open source software solutions, but there's a catch--you have to be *really* computer/web-literate to set them up as the documentation for each is lean to non-existent. (I find myself reading the knowledgebase...*sigh*)

Am I a glass artist or a website publisher? All I want to do is put up a way for people to order signed copies of my book for heaven's sake! Now I'm worrying because Admin hasn't been secured on my site, or whatever, and because I didn't py $900 for a certified SSL certificate I get a doofy warning every time I go to Glass Incarnate (just accept the certificate permanently and don't worry about it. Really.).

I think I'll have a woodchuck cider for lunch (it's lunch time already!) and just fuhgidaboudit...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Glass Incarnate!

I can't wait till tomorrow to post, my new website Glass Incarnate is up!

One more Work Day Till Oconee!

Coffee in the Alaska mug, no music yet--iTunes is being slow. Everything is slow this morning but me. Alright--music! "Already Gone" by the Eagles on iTunes. Sophie has returned home to France, the Art Institute order is half slumped--three more days of full slump loads to go, and the website dilemma is solved: Siyeh Studio with its current layout remains for a professional gallery presence. becomes the online home of glass artist Brenda Griffith with news of the book, the blog, teaching schedule, etc. It gets its own layout. Thanks to all who sent email or weighed in by commenting.

Yesterday was also a bookkeeping catch-up day and I paid my deposit for the One of a Kind Show in Chicago in December, reserved my hotel for the summer BMAC in Philadelphia in August, and paid my deposit for ACRE in Vegas next May. Today I deposit checks which will cover, oh, about 1/8 of what I spent. Lots of just due and past due invoices outstanding right now. Would be nice if everyone paid before I go on vacation next week. I can understand why people are slow mailing. I have four rolls of 39 cent stamps and no 2 centers. Damn post office for raising their rates again! If they improved their service I might see the validity, but service just keeps getting cut back and prices just keep rising. Guess I'll be squeezing in a run to the post office today to pick up *400* 2 cent stamps!

Now off to Dreamweave. One more day before vacation--no glassincarnate next week as I will be in the mountains with no internet, no tv and no phone! The cell phone *might* work. Let's hope the world doesn't end, I might not find out about it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Website Drama AND A POLL

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Don't Cross the River" by America on iTunes. Time to reboot. Reboot the morning, reboot the expectations, reboot the exasperation. Let's start with the website.

For the past week I have been hellbent on redoing my website to incorporate all the aspects of who I am (professionally) and what Siyeh Studio is. I envisioned incorporating the daily communication (blog), all the links for the publications--the book (including how to get signed copies, a forum for asking technical questions and posting comments, my own suppliers list, technical corrections and additions, etc.) and articles I write for Glass Patterns, a new area for classes as I formally extend the teaching part of my repertoire, and all the existing material on the glass pieces I produce, the shows I do, etc.

However I had dinner with a friend last night, he is something of a web guru in the areas of content and flow, and he frowned at my plan. He thought I should continue to keep the website for its current purpose--promoting my glass work to galleries and other potential clients--and I shouldn't muddy it up with the book and blog which (if I am remembering correctly what he said) might diminish the value of my "art" work. It's true that a little of me goes a long way. And maybe it's best if I keep the blog away from the front of my work, the professional face.

Maybe a blog--in this case a resource for business and technical info for those in the hand craft industry--shouldn't be easily accessible to potential clients. I was thinking in terms of raising my professional cred, but couldn't it have the opposite effect? I have already managed to offend several people at my publishers with what I've written here about the process of writing the book, and I wrote a long post some time ago dissing another company that has a blog on their main company website that is not very... professionally... written. Am I falling into the same trap?

And how do writing and teaching meld with production art glass? Do they belong on the same site, or do they diminish the work of the art? I have to admit that if I go to a website and one page is selling supplies and another page is the "art" produced by the enterprise, I devalue it. Am I setting myself up for being devalued? I value teaching and writing, but does the renaissance aspect of doing more than one thing take away from the one thing that I used to have on the site? Is any of this making sense?


I attended some session at some conference years ago that addressed the issue of websites and I seem to remember (I have re-purposed so many brain cells!) a strong admonition being to keep separate websites for different aspects of your work for exactly the devaluation reason. To validate this advice I looked at some of the sites of other artists I know who do more than production work--foremost among them Milon Townsend. He does have two separate sites--one for his art work and one for his books and classes. Of course he also has two separate business names (a concept that niggles at my brain as also being recommended at the conference session). Dinah Hulet has a site separate from Hulet & Hulet--but as one site is for the work of one and the other is for the work of two (both Dinah and Patty) this separation seems more driven by the existence of two businesses rather than an intentional distinction solely for type of work for one business. Finally I looked at Elliott Metal Works--truly the most diverse example as they do both metal fabrication and metal art and they manufacture and sell metal parts for the textile industry. Their approach seems to be an amalgam of one site/different sites: There is a primary Elliott Metal Works page and its only function is a gateway to the five different sub sites--each of which has a unique design and layout further distinguishing the different aspects of the business.

The Internet is a mysterious and powerful device whose power is only exceeded by its mystery. You only get one chance to make a first impression. What is your Quest? Though they appear to be random statements/question, all of the preceding appertain to the purpose of a website, AND I'M STILL LOOKING FOR MINE.

Time to come out of the woodwork and wax eloquent, folks (especially the U of C lurker... I know you're there...). What is the purpose and scope of the modern professional website for a small art business? Should it be one site or two (or more)? If two, what the heck is the other one called? Opinions on pros and cons for both approaches appreciated.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lantern, You Have to Call It Lantern

Coffee was in the New York skyline mug, "Animals" by Nickelback on iTunes. It's only 9:45 and I have been rockin' this am. Yesterday I made it through the main Dreamweaver tutorials and created a webpage complete with images, flash elements, a nav bar, cascading style sheet (CSS), and tables. Also did three kiln loads and read 2/3 of a novel... sleep is for wimps.

This morning I am going to finish up the mouse-over tutorial and designing from a CSS and then I am going to lay out my own tables on paper and start doing my own redo. I thought about just editing the pages I have in Dreamweaver with all the EZNet code, but it looks like it'll be easier and faster to redo the pages, make a template or two along the way, and just re-use the images. With luck I'll have the new site up by the end of the week (at least to the level I already have content on the current site--the first page I make today after the "Home" page with be the "Under Construciton" page). It's an ambitious plan, but the kiln work is light for the rest of the week (one last fuse today and then all slumping and shipping) and the tutorials are really giving me the grounding and info I need to power through.

One last thing before I go off to code. Yesterday I asked JY and JYK about running my own blog, forum, etc. from my site as opposed to linking to my own page on other sites (Blogger, Google Groups, Flickr, etc.). The main reason for putting it all on my own page is navigation: if I link to an external site then I lose all my site navigation. E.g., there won't be a nav bar on the Google Groups page to get from the forum to the series page on my site or the blog site on blogger... If it's all on my site there is the same nav menu on every page. And isn't the good web credo, "Don't let them leave your site."? So Once More With Feeling: Are there good technologies for running your own blog and forum for your own website? If no, I could always use frames.... (UGH!).

PS--The blog title this morning is from the spouse who looked at the new green series last night again, and said (again), "Lantern, you have to call it Lantern." Apparently the greens are the perfect match for the colors used in the late '70's era Green Lantern comics.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Skin of the Master... Another Time

Coffee is a large Red-Eye (extra shot of espresso) from Joe's, music is satellite radio jazz. It's Live from Joe's! What, you might ask, am I doing spending a day at Joe's coffee shop on my laptop now that the book is all done? Time to work on the website! The firings are chugging right along--a slump in Big Bertha and a fuse in the middle kiln scheduled for today, J is off at zoo camp, Sophie is home tying up the loose ends of her internship and doing a penultimate day of work for me in the studio. Me, as soon as I post, I'm popping open Dreamweaver and going to town. The big changes I want to make to the site are adding a section for the book and moving my blog to my website (my own domain). The book section will include a link to buy a signed copy, a forum/bulletin board for questions and comments, and an expanded technical tips section.

JYK, JK, and anyone else with input, I could use your Mac expertise for pointers to good forum and blogging software for use on one's own site--or just a note to say I'm high and I really don't want to manage either the blog or the forum. I could jsut continue to use blogger and to link to it from my site, and I could set-up a free forum on google groups or something and link to it, but it would be nice to have the same look and feel to (and menus for) all the pages and not have to pop back and forth to different sites.

I was going to write today about an incredible revelation I had as I was making a custom piece last night and my feeling of finally being a master of my craft... but I just can't get the words arranged right so it's going to have to wait. The website calls.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Umbrella Drinks and Printing

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Power of Two" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. Dave not only made the coffee, he also picked the mug, filled it and gave it to me. He picked Atlanta. It's a sign: Be Happy Where You Are... and I am. "The Power of Two" was randomly chosen by iTunes and couldn't be more appropriate--it was the song our friend Andrea sang at our wedding. Life is finally slowing down and it is Really Good. Dave took Jessie to Zoo Camp this morning so I have a little extra time to sit in the early morning relative cool (it's scary when a Montana Girl thinks 70 degrees is relatively cool) in the sky chair on the front porch to post.

All that's definitely on the plate today? Three kiln loads--two of which are already ready to slump just waiting for the kiln to cool and a third fuse that's cut and ready to lay out when that kiln cools. Today I guarantee you I take summer hours. I think Carol is coming this morning, though I haven't heard from her. If she does, I have tasks for her. If she doesn't it may be time to go find the stone for the pond and the boulders for the yard (I can just hear my father laughing at me for buying ROCKS).

Sadly, making morceaux hurts Sophie's back so I won't be getting any further ahead on that project. But summer hours I said. Today at 3:00 it's my goal to be back sitting where I am now in a sky chair, but this time I'll have an umbrella drink in my hand.

I am so tired this morning I ramble. but it's a good tired. Yesterday I was still exhausted from lack of good sleep since before the wedding in Austin and I was crabby with the world. Last night we saw Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and didn't get home till 11:30 (Jessie and Sophie too) so I still didn't get much sleep, but finally what I got was solid and dreamless. Today I am sluggish, but much happier.

I did, indeed, get my artist info cards done yesterday. I did a couple of versions and now I just need to choose one and figure out where to get them printed. Professional printing has not been easy for me so far.

My first foray was postcards with a little local printing company. They couldn't read my files, lost my files, didn't answer my email about the receipt of my files, had machine failure that caused a multiple day delay in my order, didn't have the postcards cut when I went to pick them up so I had to wait about half an hour while they cut them... They *were* very nice, but it was stressful and effortful enough that the experience wasn't a success.

Then I took the plunge and tried Modern Postcard online. Their required format and layout are *extremely* complicated, and the color came out crappy (they warn that the best way to get correct color is to pay more, have a color sample taken, and mail it back and forth... like I have time for THAT). Besides the difficulty of my last experience, I don't need a postcard this time. Or do I? Maybe a postcard is the best format for the artist info cards.

I am tempted to try the local Kinko's or a similar chain this time. Anyone else have any printing wisdom to share? How about what other people put on their info cards for galleries and in what format? C'mon artist lurkers, I know you're there. Come out and play and SHARE. Doug, I know I can count on you...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

So Far Behind I'm Ahead

Coffee in Denver (the skyline mug, that is), "The Rest of the Dream" by John Hiatt on iTunes. I was listening to it in the studio as I was finishing the last of today's cut list and continued it here. Somehow, in the weird way that time works, I am now so far behind that I am actually ahead! I didn't get my fuse load in yesterday--the polishing of the photos and the article for Glass Patterns took ALL DAY. I didn't have the heart (or the energy) to work last night to get the kiln load in so I pushed my whole schedule back a day. Now I have *no* free days between now and when I lave for the mountains of South Carolina with Jessie. I still consider it a good trade.

This morning started--as all the mornings this and next week do--with taking Jessie to Zoo Camp at the Atlanta Zoo. Any morning is a good morning when you get to hear Lenny Kravitz "Are You Gonna Go My Way" not once but twice on two different radio stations on the drive. As soon as I got home I headed into the studio to do the cutting so the scrap would be ready for Sophie to turn into morceaux when she starts work at 10:00. Two days in a row with the same routine and I'm liking it. Too bad Sophie goes home next week.

Now it's 9:34 and I have already done all the cutting scheduled for today. After I finish this post I am going to make a frit inventory sheet for my 5 lb jars of frit and have Sophie fill it out. I put some thought into the design of this form and instead of writing numbers of jars left, I am going to color in blocks as I use up a jar so I can see at a lightning glance exactly how much I have left.

The concept of needing to track *5 lb* jars almost boggles my mind. When I started working with frit I bought 1 lb jars and I had one of each size (fine, medium and coarse) for some of the colors. Then I worked up to one of each size for each cathedral (transparent) color, then one of almost every color in every size. By that time I was also buying 5 lb jars--in all three sizes--of the colors I used the most so I could refill the 1 lb jars and work from them. Now I am at the point where I am buying and keeping on hand multiple 5 lb jars of some colors and sizes. Next up, 40 lb buckets--though that's a pretty big step up. If Bullseye had 20 or 25 lb buckets I would buy them all day long for some colors, but 40 lbs is a lot and takes up one big footprint (I scatter my 5 lb jars around the studio and studio annex there are so many of them).

Then I'll get my fuse load in and that should take me up to noon. That's all I had officially scheduled for the *day* so I am going to take advantage of the extra time to get my artist info cards designed and ready to take to the printer. Then if there's more time left before I have to get the J from Zoo Camp I might work on my booth redesign for the BMAC. Yep. Have to redesign (yet again) as I have a 10 X 20 corner for the first time (and after I just bought carpet for a 10 X 15... *sigh*). My show rep called and offered me first shot at the five extra feet and I said sure why not! Bigger *is* better in this case.

Now off to see what else I can think of to add to Sophie's plate besides inventory. An intern is a Good Thing (and my assistant/apprentice Carol is back tomorrow too! It'll be a full day in the studio).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Keeping Right On

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug--just the dregs remain. "If Everyone Cared" by Nickelback on iTunes. The day marches (plods?) on. I have everything for today's fuse load cut, and I am putting the finishing touches on my article for Glass Patterns Quarterly. I am introducing a technique to make foil that can be cut, crumbled or used in sheet form out of mica powders. It's pretty cool, if I do say so myself. More info as the publication date approaches.

I am tired to my soul. I think I need some of Bridget's Stone Soup. Too bad I threw all the leftovers in the fridge out yesterday--though the reason I threw them out is that they were, well, bad. Today is the first day working on the Art institute order: 60 rectangular "Ocean" platters. Sophie is down making morceaux from the scrap and refilling frit jars so the maestro can sweep in and make the platters. It's good to be the maestro.

I have maybe another hour on the article and then two hours loading the kiln. Then, if I am efficient and right in my timing, I will have a free hour before I need to go get Jessie from zoo camp. I think I will take it in the sky chair on the front porch sipping lemonade and drowsing. I don't even have the energy to either start a new book or continue slogging through the fifth Harry Potter (again--before I read the sixth with the seventh coming out very soon).

Good Wednesday, Gentle Reader. Hope life is treating you well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Really Big Day

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug. The first cup was in the Los Angeles mug, but that was lost along the way somewhere and I was too impatient for cup two to hunt it down. "Hazy Shade of Winter" covered by the Bangles on iTunes. So far this morning I got the Sprout up dressed, fed and off to Zoo Camp, grocery shopped, packed and shipped an order, reconciled my outstanding invoices, charged a merchant's card, and started a fuse load in the littlest kiln. It's 9:50.

It sounds like I have accomplished a lot so far--and after another night with lousy to no sleep even though exhausted--but the big tasks still lie ahead. I have a full load of dinnerware for the big kiln, and all the photography and writing for my article for Glass Patterns to do, burn to a cd and overnight to the publisher. Yep, it's due tomorrow. Yep, I haven't started it yet. By the end of the day yesterday I had settled on which project I would write up and I made sure I have a finished version of it. Now I just need to review the magazine's format one more time, take all the pics and start writing! Just getting through the day is my #1 priority.

About yesterday's software question: My wonderful spouse suggested a free plug-in for Firefox (which is my browser of choice) called Scrapbook. It dumps everything into one directory, but all the links work, minimal filtering for content is available and you can set the levels of links you want to follow. (Take that EZNetTools!) Now said spouse is using IDEA, his Java IDE (Integrated Development Environment) of choice and dragging and dropping everything into the appropriate directories and using inspections to refactor (fix) everything that breaks/is already broken. He's such a cuddly little geek!! While I was at it, I also backed up all of Glass Incarnate and Stranded in the South. Thanks to JY and JYK for their suggestions too. I have filed them in case I need something similar again.

Now off to fuse!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oh Lordy, It's Monday

Coffee is brewing, the sound of the machine gurgling is my music. A week begins and I am sorely unprepared after four days of wedding prep, wedding party and wedding. Sketchy details are on Stranded in the South this am, posted as I waited in the Austin airport for our delayed flight. And now there's coffee, and now there's music (nothing but James McMurtry will do this morning for me), and now I shift to glass... incarnate.

Over the weekend I looked at the backup copy of my website that EZNettools provided for me a year ago. After I discovered that I had to use their little tool to build my web pages I decided to rebuild them in Dreamweaver so I would be able to manage and edit them better. Unfortunately, it looks like they don't want me to be able to do anything with the files they sent as they are not a backup of my website (which is what I asked for and what they promised to send) that can be opened in a browser--none of the links work so none of the images (or anything else) load. I have a bad word for them that I am politely refraining from saying/writing right now. Dave told me I could get a website copying/downloading software that would copy my online website to my hard drive for me. I hope so--I hope the lovely people at EZNettools haven't blocked that too. I am very unhappy with their product and at this point, their service too. I have found a couple such pieces of ware, though nothing for the Mac (as usual, *sigh*). Any recommendations out there?

Beyond the website (though it's hard to see beyond the website) are four orders that need to ship this week and a big order for the Art Institute in Chicago that goes out the end of next week--140 pieces total. Oh yes, and I have an article to write and all the how-to photos to take for it for Glass Patterns Quarterly... by Wednesday. *sigh* After that I am taking a week off. I am going to the mountains where there is no Internet access, no TV, and no hard-line phone. I'll have my cell for emergencies which is the only time they should be used anyway. I am counting the days. 2 weeks, two hours, and thirty four minutes....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Taking Care of Business

The spouse is making coffee, the chomp of doggie teeth consuming kibble as music. It's Wednesday. Hump day for some, but the end of a three-day week for me as we are off to Austin for a wedding tomorrow. Two orders to ship today, four loads to fire (in three kilns--uh oh, it's a double-duty day!), a piece to design and fire (one of the firings already listed) for my first article for Glass Patterns Quarterly, two months' worth of bills to pay, five months' worth of paper to shuffle, one month's worth of mail to sort, oh yes, and taking Sophie and the J to the aquarium this afternoon. Does the fun ever end? I think I'll go get some of that coffee now.

It's getting time to gear up for the last two shows of the year (The Buyer's Market of American Craft [BMAC] in August and the One of a Kind Show in December). And thinking of the BMAC, the NICHE awards application deadline will also be here before I know it/am ready...

You know, I don't want to think ahead right now. There are still so many things that loomed on my plate when summer was still a warm spot on the horizon. Now it's here in its full-blown 90 degree-ness, and they STILL loom! If those damn galleries would just stop ordering pieces... (JUST KIDDING!).

And speaking of galleries, I have given Sophie all of my wholesale invoices since I started doing the BMAC in February of 2005. It seems so much longer ago, but I have only been doing wholesale for 2-1/2 years! Anyway, since I haven't got my database done yet so she can enter all the data so I can run reports against it, she is making a set of spreadsheets from the invoices to tell me in concrete numbers how my business is doing. She likes doing this kind of analysis (probably why she's in business college), and she's quick and good at it. Too bad I couldn't get the database all pieced together so she could really go to town.

So that's the week. No progress on the web site (a common problem for artists/crafts people), and I have just added two more forums to read The Arts Business Institute Forum and the American Craft Forum. As if I wasn't busy enough? But I just got reinforcement of the validity of a tip I got years ago about calling galleries that stock my work to see how their stock is and if they need a re-order. I am going to try it next week and track my responses. Success/failure of method posted here when I finish.

And now off to the kilns. Tote that glass, lift that frit, hyah mule!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Two For Tuesday!

Coffee in whatever damn mug is clean. Looks like New York. I hate our dishwasher! "Jessica" (the long version) by the Allman Brothers on iTunes. And just how long is it? Long enough to go to the bathroom, wash my hands, find a clean mug, pour coffee and two flavors of coffeemate into it, stir it all, get settled back in the chair with the laptop and type this far with lots of typos and corrections necessary because there has been no coffee yet. It's exactly THIS long.

Yesterday's post finally made it to the world this morning so it's a Two For Tuesday! I had another epiphany to add to yesterday's...

Don't you just love life? I am just beginning to write about an epiphany and Dave comes in to tell me that the front pond is almost empty. Now that that crisis has been dealt with I am back and completely derailed. Okay, epiphany. Oh yes, what life and schedules SHOULD be.

In the past when I have taken time out of my "work day" to do something for Jessie, or something around the house--speaking of which, it's Tuesday, garbage day, got to everything out to the curb. BRB...

So where was I? Oh yes, taking time out for things. Whenever I have taken an hour in the work day for something "non-work" I have felt obliged to make up that hour later. Do the math. There are only so many hours in a day and with this kind of ethos you rapidly run out of hours. Stress happens. The problem comes about by thinking of it as "non-work". It isn't non-work, it's just as essential for life as that which is designated as "work". Just because there is no monetary remuneration, no revenue generated by the activity doesn't diminish its worth, necessity, importance and shouldn't mean that it's non-work and needs to be "made up" later.

So I'm going to try something new. In addition to the weekly cycle, I am going to add a daily cycle. There is a portion of the day from, oh say, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm that is designated as work time. Anything I do in that time that is not pure recreation for me (reading a book in the sky chair is a good example) counts as work, and I am allowed to feel good about what I accomplish in a day if I stay on track and "work" all day. No more feeling bad because a load didn't get fired because I drove for a school field trip instead. Life isn't about money--everyone who makes a living in the arts and crafts industry knows that already--and work shouldn't be about it either. Work is that which we do to make our lives and the lives of those around us better. If I needed to associate money with every minute of my day I would have been a lawyer and billed by the minute.

Yesterday, in addition to firing two kiln loads, Work included taking Sophie and Jessie for pre-wedding pedicures and manicures (I got one of each too). Today, Work is another two kiln loads, a lot of pieces cut and ground, the project for my first magazine article cut and fired, tasking Sophie with an evaluation of sales performance over the past four years, taking Sophie, Jessie and Jessie's friend Rachel to Wendy's for lunch at the mall food court before seeing Shrek 3, and then hosting a wading-pool playdate for Jessie and Rachel this afternoon. Even if I don't get all that done, I can count it as a successful day as long as those are the things I am doing all day. And how cool is it that my "job" requires me to see Shrek 3?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday, Monday

Coffee burbles in the new Capresso coffee maker, no music, the house is... silent. Friday ended with another order from the Milwaukee Museum of Art. They just opened their Camille Pisarro exhibit and chose my glass to sell in conjunction with the exhibit through the Museum Store. None of my work is on their website yet, but I am hopeful they will put it up. This has been the spring of the Museum Store for me with the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, The Art Institute in Chicago and the Milwaukee Museum of Art all placing multiple big orders.

This is a short week in the studio--short for the the amount of time to do work, not short for what needs to be done. We have a wedding in Austin this weekend so I am only working three days...

It is now six hours after I started this post, the day has advanced to the point where I can see what will get done and what will be "rescheduled". Rescheduled is a lovely euphemism for "put off". Of everything I will get sone today, my unexpected epiphany is the most important. As I was getting the first pieces in the kiln for the big fuse load today I pondered the nature of time and came to a startlingly conclusion: I am happier with a work week schedule.

As a small business owner whose business is co-located with my residence, I can work whenever I need. The benefit of this situation is that it allows me to get all the things in my life done in the time that is most appropriate and convenient for them, rather than in the time that has been previously artificially scheduled for them. When I worked in an office, e.g., it wasn't possible to do a load of laundry in the middle of the day even if I really needed the clothes in it that evening. I had to do much more thinking and planning in advance. Now I can be a Mommy, wife, homeowner, business owner all as the need arises: I am much more flexible, efficient and productive... and more stressed. Today I think I figured out why: I need a cycle.

This past weekend I didn't work in the studio even though I had some a couple of firings scheduled, and I got a ship-asap-order Friday evening so arguably I should have. But I had life this weekend too. I took Sophie to a bead show Saturday and I went to the water garden store and finalized the pond design and supply list. Sunday I pressure-washed the parking pad, took J to a bowling birthday party (she got three spares in four frames and the highest score in her age group!), and (with help from Dave and the Internet) wrote over 200 fortunes for a friend's birthday (for one of his gifts we gave him a box made from handmade paper--not by me--full of folded fortunes), and then had a dinner birthday party with fireworks. (Dave, of course, did all the grocery shopping, men planning and cooking.)

So the weekend was full, and it could be expected that come Monday--the first work day of a very short week--I would be stressed because I didn't fire and about everything that looms before me. But what I find is that I am more relaxed and rested than I have been on previous Mondays even though I did no less over the weekend. As I pondered why this might be so, I came to the conclusion that I need the work-week cycle. When every day is the same, every bad day has more weight because there is nothing to stop the next day from being exactly the same. All the tomorrows stretch out in front of you just as bleak as the day you're in.

Breaking all your tomorrows into a series of weeks changes things. For people accustomed to the working week, if today is Monday and it's a bad day, the tendency is to say, "Today is bad because it's Monday. Tomorrow will be better because it's no longer Monday, it's Tuesday." There's suddenly a psychological predisposition to look forward to tomorrow (and thus not feel so bad about today) because you have a reason--however lame--for it to be better. When there's a new cycle on the horizon there's hope. I wonder if retired people feel the same way?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

Coffee long cold in a Kavarna cup, "One Step At a Time" by Clifton Chenier off of Bogalusa Boogie on iTunes. The album was a birthday gift from my mad friend Keith (who would make a great B&B chef). As he put it, even though it's the blues, they can't help but make you feel better (I paraphrased badly as I can't find the e-card with the actual words). Okay, it's almost noon and I have spent the entire day so far Putzing. I took J to school--with a stop at Publix for bananas, water and muffins and with a stop at Kavarna for coffee as the coffeemaker is still broken--only to find they had already left for their field trip to the Puppetry Arts Center downtown. It's a good field trip, and it's J's last day at school for four weeks (for one reason and another), so I drove her downtown, got there, got her seated and let her teacher know she was there all right before the show started. Then back to school to take down her Superstar board, then to the mechanic to drop off the Honda.

When I finally got home the first thing I had to do was submit a request online to have the tree next door removed. It's a water oak with a 51" diameter (really, I measured) that is dead and rotting on the side farthest from our house. It has dropped several big limbs in the past couple of years (one right in front of a previous tenant--it crushed her car and would have crushed her had her dog not stopped to pee right before it fell). The property is a rotting rental (vacant for the past year) whose owner's attitude when told that the tree poses a danger to our house and property (by the tenant after the tree limb almost killed her) "They have insurance...".

For those of you who live in the north and west, trees in the south are different. It is common here after a storm to see many ginormous trees blown over and crushing houses, cars, blocking roads, etc. These big old trees have incredibly shallow root systems and one good wind and they fall over. I have been nervously eying this one ever since the first big limb fell. Right now there is a really big dead limb right over our house that I am sure is going to go soon. It has already shed several little branches off itself that litter our roof.

The situation is especially hard for me as I am a tree-hugger and I LOVE this tree. It blocks the view and sound of the busy, ugly street to the south. It shades and cools out house and front lawn. It is home to hundreds of squirrels. If the property owner would have it regularly pruned it could probably last a few more years. But we are in a drought now and she doesn't even water it. It is going downhill fast and we can no longer afford to just let it be. Too bad the rot and slant of the tree aren't such that when it goes it would take the rental house instead of ours. It's empty and full of rats, bugs and who knows what else.

Now about glass. Yes glass. It's supposed to be incarnate here. Lately I feel more like mommyincarnate than glassincarnate, and while that is a GOOD thing, it needs to be a planned thing too in order not to cause me stress. One should not have stress on one's b-day. And speaking of b-days, we are celebrating mine tonight by going to see the Braves vs. the Cubs with a bunch of friends including 5 children 6 or under. There will be hotdogs. There will be beer. There will be fireworks and friends. I will celebrate 46 in style. There will be glass... next week. Happy Weekend all!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Too Darn Hot!

Diet coke in the can, "Angel" by Amanda Perez on Sophie's MP3 player in the background. Coffee and any thoughts of breakfast were hours ago--as was the possibility of sketching out a workflow that I could evaluate for my software needs. After I posted yesterday I skimmed the first 55 pages of the Filemaker Pro book and identified the core 120+ pages that I have to read to brush up my database skills. Figuring out what one needs to do is for wimps. Just get in there and DO something! Flail around a bit then scratch your head and try to figure out why everything is still broken... oh wait, that's what I'm already doing. Maybe I should stop to plan.

Orders shipped and delivered yesterday. Today, much firing and a meeting with the electrician to plan the new studio annex wiring. As soon as I finish this post I'll water all the flowers on the porch and the deck. It's 82 degrees right now and headed to 91. What the hell?! It's only *spring*!! What's it going to be like when summer really comes? Wasn't I just being all cheerful about how beautiful it is here and maybe not such a bad place to live? Let me begin the retractions now--I just can't take the heat!

And speaking of the heat, it has rotted my brain. I have nothing more to post. Got to go slave over a soon-to-be hot kiln.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Business Process, Ad Nauseum

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Mad World" covered by Gary Jules on iTunes (just one more time and then I'll put it away for something perkier). I spent the entire damn day yesterday listening to it and the rest of the cd Ren sent me awhile ago. It is entitled "Melancholy" for a reason. Another friend used the term "June Gloom" to me in a chat midday and it was so appropriate. Yet another another cher ami daydreamed with me about running off to a better place to live (maybe Spain) and opening a *really good* B&B with a restaurant (he'd be the chef). But that was all yesterday. I have shaken it all off and Started My Day Right (thanks, Dave). Now I have afterglow coffee (TMI!), my laptop in the sky chair, and birds twittering and squirrels and chipmunks romping. Does it get better than this?

Today deserves a serious post as I slog through business technology and figure out where to drive my glass bus (so to speak) next. Sophie is here (my intern) and she is doing her internship for a business college so, as a responsible intern mentor, I am focusing on the aspects of Siyeh Studio that have to do with business right now. That means instead of living the carefree bohemian glass artist life and making one beautiful thing after another in a kiln all day I am pooping around with a computer.

I am designing a Filemaker Pro database for tracking customers, orders and products (and learning Filemaker Pro in the process). I am redesigning my website with Dreamweaver (and learning Dreamweaver in the process). I am creating an online catalog/store at (and learning their web-based interface AND learning how to photograph and edit my work with iPhoto in the process). And finally I am trying desperately to create a catalog on cd, one that shows all of my work--something I am having difficulty getting to do in a manageable way--to mail to anyone who asks me for information about my products (and downloading, learning and evaluating scores of piss-poor windows-based catalog apps in the process). Can you see why I might be gloomy? With all this learn-the-software crap there is very little finishing-the-project gratification going on. At this rate it's going to take an entire summer of hunching over the computer before I get ANYTHING done... not a pleasant prospect.

And it begs the question, how much do I really need to do and how much am I doing in a knee-jerk reaction to what I THINK a successful business needs? I am a pretty smart mammal so I think I am more or less on track, but maybe my (lack of) plan could use some tweaking. First, the database. Clearly my current process is broken because it's too easy for me to make mistakes on my orders. I also have no way to do any kind of analysis of how my business is doing--how much is it growing, am I covering my expenses and making a profit that will appropriately provide for my retirement, any of a thousand questions I might want answered from the data I already collect. The first of the two issues--mistakes on the orders--is paramount to fix. But analysis of data... how necessary is that really to a business my size, a business of one? I have Quickbooks and I use it to track expenses and income. Period. no invoicing, nothing else. Because it doesn't do everything I want, and I because I resent the way it does some things, I refuse to use it any more than my accountant says I must.

And the morning has passed and I am still not through the questions and on to the answers--much less on to the filling the kiln, shipping orders, cleaning out the studio, etc. I am going to have to revisit the issue tomorrow. Maybe I'll actually be able to flow out what I do so that I can figure out what I need to fix/get to be able to do what I need to do... capiche?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Plea for Software Help!

Coffee in the Washington D.C. skyline mug, "Summertime" covered by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on iTunes. That song covered by that band is the perfect juxtaposition of styles and there could not be a better expression of the structure of my life. Yesterday was the last of the field trips/driving for me for awhile. Maybe it would have been better if I'd taken my laptop, but I doubt it. Last Friday I managed to relax into the experience and enjoy it for the slice out of time that it was. Yesterday I just chomped at the bit to be back at work the whole time.

And it's not like I got anything done when I did get back to work. I spent the entire day futzing with software... Again! I waited too long and can't download the version of Dreamweaver for which I have a license anymore. The new version (not a new release--it's still Dreamweaver 8, just with a new name since Adobe acquired Macromedia: CS3) doesn't work with my license key, It took almost an hour to figure this out because the program is so huge and the download took so long. Now I have to dig around for the installer and license key for the windows version. Blech.

I went back to the catalog software I installed a little over a month ago and my trial version had expired. I wasn't ready to buy without more of a trial than five minutes so I tried to download the freeware version, but the download was broken and customer service never did answer my email. A bit more searching around the web found basically the same site by the same company under three different product names--all for $29.95--so I begin to think they're a fly-by-night company and it's all a scam anyway so I have to start all over again in my search for software to create an electronic catalog! Any suggestions on what others out there use would be GREATLY appreciated. I prefer something for the Mac, but I run Parallels desktop so I can use windows software too.

I have made no further progress on my Filemaker Pro database, and Sophie has already entered all the contacts so she languishes with nothing to do. Enough time in front of the computer screen. Time to go take pictures of all my work and then put Sophie to work organizing all of it on shelves and cleaning and straightening the rest of the studio!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Week Begins

No coffee yet and no music on iTunes--a morning of silence to mark the MIA status of the actual iPod. The democrats debate Iran and immigration, Russia tests and plans to deploy nuclear missiles aimed at Europe... the world was a much simpler place before media became ubiquitous. It's almost too much for the mind to hold and continue to function to KNOW what's happening in Darfur, e.g., and to go on with a normal life here. Yet a normal life is what I have, and I give profound thanks this morning for it.

Despite temps in the 80's in the shipping room (studio annex... oh if you must, GARAGE!) orders continue to go out on schedule. Today I champ at the bit to actually finish the photography of all my current inventory and subsequently the pages and the electronic catalog. Next electronic tasks? My own website (time to move it off EZNettools and into a format where it can be easily and meaningfully edited) and the artist cards I have blathering on about for the past several months.

The color lasers went back to the publisher today and they will soon wing their way to China for printing. Yes, even my book will be Made in China. Sad really. As documented here over the past year+, the experience of writing the book has been a real roller coaster. And like roller coasters, it ended with a slow, straight, pull into the station: a gentle, non-hurried re-read over the weekend as part of the last proof stage. Boy is it dense! Due to the error with the page count, there is a lot of information packed into a very tight space with hardly any filler words. When I read it I thought there was almost too much to take in. How do you condense 20 years of doing something, all the little tricks, tips and bits of sage advice you might have into 128 pages--with projects?!? But it is what it is, and it's time to let it go out into the world on its own. Four months and four weeks from today. Another reason to get working on my website so I can make a Book page where I can correct errors, answer questions, sell signed copies...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Field Trip

Coffee in the go-cup, the sound of happy and frightened children running and screaming in the background. Funny how they can be both happy and frightened at the same time. Why are there children in the studio? Well, there aren't! I am in the gazebo at the Avondale Estates Lake. They needed drivers for the field trip this morning so I decided to take my work on the road. In a burst of serendipity, we had an entire loaf of bread that had given itself up to the goddess of mold when I went to make J's lunch so we had lots of food for the ducks and geese. It was a win-win. We also happened to have Chicken Little in the dvd player in the Honda so there were five very happy little kids in the back all the way to the park. In a minute we're heading to the playground for lunch and I will use the time to pay bills.

This afternoon there are two orders going out, two loads going in, and the color lasers for the book arrive! Then there are photos to take, a database to keep creating, the fun never ends. Some of it even has to do with glass!

Isn't this a great country? We ate lunch at the park/playground I paid bills, I am still sitting at the picnic table in the park enjoying the breeze, and someone nearby has an open network! I think I'll just post now... Happy Friday.