Tuesday, July 31, 2007

All My Bags Are Packed...

Coffee in the Los Angeles mug (brought to me in bed this morning by my wonderful spouse), "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd on iTunes. As many of you know, it's a very, very, long song. The goal is to finish the post before the song ends. On your mark, get set... All my bags are NOT packed, but the car almost is and that's the bigger part of the battle. Out today by 10:00 am. When I finish the post I'm going to call UPS to find 0out where my info cards are. I'm sure I'll hear they're in Antarctica or some such. *sigh* ImageMedia is losing points fast. Telling me that two-day air means before 10:30 am when it really means before end of day because they don't want to spring for even more shipping charges after screwing up my order.

But looking forward... Off to Philly today with Bill and Elaine of Elliott Metal Works. We're caravaning up together as I have to stop by their place anyway (I have glass for them, they have metal for me), and I'm driving alone. I have a lean mean set-up for this show. Even with all Dee's stuff, the car is very lightly packed. I'm not taking any Cloudstone, Pop Art or clear textured pieces. It's all Morceaux de Verre and spread out in a 10 X 20 space. I hope this isn't a mistake. But I think I made the right choice. I want to concentrate on the glass and metal work (the new stands), and though the rest might sell better to the summer buyers (historically I've seen more local gift market buyers than big buyers from far-flung galleries), I have to do what you do if you stay on the pot.

Freebird ended and "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers is now playing. It's another long song so I might actually finish with it.

It was weird to have the car mostly packed last night. All I have left are my clothes, the toolbox, the tech (printer, iPod, laptop, cables, phone, chargers and cables) and the paper (show docs, hotel docs, blank materials for creating show packets). I do have to get my two-show contract for next year's BMAC's post-marked today which means I need to scan the slides I got from Bart. Off to do that next before hitting the road.

Jessica is only half done and I am ready to go! Tomorrow late (or maybe Thursday), live from Philly. Be safe.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day Before the Show

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Mystery" by the Indigo Girls (for Dave) on iTunes. It was a weekend, a little slice of life with all the highs and all the lows, and I am putting it up in Stranded in the South as the bigger posts this morning. Now I gird my loins and get ready to leave for Philadelphia tomorrow. Because of Life over the weekend I was in the studio till 1:00 am last night and the night before (load from Saturday shown--photo courtesy of new iPhone) getting the firings in. Today I tidy up paperwork (bills, show applications, ads, etc.,) and then I begin to pack. I probably won't load the car till tomorrow morning as I don't need to be on the road till 10:00, but, then again, why not get a jump on it for once?

I have a niggling feeling I've forgotten something important that I have to do today, but for the life of me I can't think what it is. I know I want to get my new laptop bag with the Siyeh Studio logo embroidered on it from my friend Michael (it's a gift). I can't wait to see it! And I'm going to swing by one of the potential studio properties I looked at to measure the rooms (give me something to think about while I'm in Philly). If I have time, I might even squeeze in a pedicure. Might as well dream big!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, my daughter asking her father why it is so quiet and him replying "We like it that way." as my background music. It's Saturday. As such, it's not a typical Glass Incarnate day. However it's also three days before I leave for a major show, and, hence, a work day.

Haven't picked up my slides from my photographer yet. Since he said they didn't turn out and are probably not usable, there hasn't been much of a rush. But I need to get over there today to see if there is anything worth salvaging and to pay him for his time. I also have a load to fire, next year's BMAC contracts to get in, a book ad to create, and the rest of my advertising deadline schedule to figure out for the year. gack. Oh yes, and the dog to collect from the vet (fingers crossed--no word yet this morning).

It's a grey, still, humid day out there. That's pretty much what I feel like inside too. Our household is being ravaged by some kind of intestinal bug that leaves me feeling lethargic, crabby, and not the least like eating. J is whiny (I grit my teeth) and lethargic (thank heaven she has a play date this afternoon--something to get her moving and occupied). Only Dave seems to be more or less his usual taciturn weekend self.

Since I didn't sit down to write and whine, I had better get on with the day. Tomorrow a perky post!

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's Friday, WIll It Be Fun?

Coffee in the Washington DC mug, "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John on iTunes. I feel a bit raw and bruised this morning (mentally, spiritually) and out of sync--just like the characters in Almost Famous on the bus the morning after the band fight in the midwest, the subsequent party with the teenagers ending in a swan dive into the swimming pool... Maybe singing along will give me the same uplift and healing it gave them. On the other hand, life isn't a movie. *sigh*

Do I seem just a wee bit scattered this morning? Real estate shopping will do that to you. The owner of a small business is the conductor of the train. The business is set on a rail-like path and goes forward as fast as the owner drives it, much like the train. Real estate shopping is a bit like getting off the train, hopping in a car and whizzing cross-country for awhile before coming back to the train, still waiting patiently in the station. The train has not moved in your absence because there was no one there to move it. A business, like a train, needs to keep moving. Two days of nothing happening in the studio might be bad (who knows where I am--I still haven't done my firing schedule for this show yet!) and definitely makes me anxious--especially a few days before a show. I still haven't done any more than inventory the work I have on hand--I haven't made a single new thing.

Yet there was no better time to go looking. Between the BMAC, Montana and BMAC orders I will probably be booked now through September. If I'm not, affording a studio at all becomes an issue. Today, though, I am back grounded in the here and now. I have to compartmentalize and put all thoughts of new studio space out of my mind. Focus on the show and what I need for it. Dee is bringing her stuff down today (I am driving stuff up for another artist--a jeweler so not big stuff. She flies and helps with the gas money and the unload on the other end) and I am finally shipping two orders and firing up Bertha for the first of at least three loads pre-show.

Jester (on the left above, his sister Seraph is on the right) is doing well after his surgery yesterday. They grafted a piece of skin from his stomach over the lower part of the wound on his thigh to cover it. They had to turn the skin so they said the hair might grow in upside down. My question is, who could tell?!? He comes home (hope, hope) tomorrow with a follow-up visit on Monday to have a drain removed from the wound. Then it's either convalescing at home or our local vet, depending on how much he needs to be monitored.

I just added a photo of him with Jessie to give a better idea of his size. He looks kind of puny in the pic with Seraph and he is 130 lbs of lean muscle and bone. The vet told me yesterday that he weighs more than she does.

Now off to figure out what I have to do today to be ready to go on Tuesday...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Big Day

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Into the West" by Howard Shore (from the Lord of the Rings) on iTunes. For now it's just my spirit that goes into the west, my body is short-term and long-term bound for the east. Today I am off to look at more little house waiting, hoping to become studios. The neighborhoods I am looking in are filled with tiny bungalow and ranch homes from the 30's, 40's and even some early 50's. The homes have open, flowing floor plans and hardwood floors throughout. The neighborhoods are all shabby genteel inner city girls who are starting to shake their skirts, fluff their hair and strut into the desirable first-time-home-buyer market. Some are already renovated--and still reasonably priced, and some need a bit of work. It's a smörgåsbord (hey, notice all the little dots and doohickeys on that word? I have a *really* nifty spell-checker--it even corrected "doohickeys"!).

So what am I looking or in a studio now that the world is my mollusk? Well, the internal necessities are:
  • a kiln room that can be closed off (it gets mighty hot when Bertha is all fired up) and that has a big enough door (or double doors) to get Bertha in and enough room for all three kilns, a work table and all the mold storage
  • a wet-room/washout area for the restaurant sink, saws and grinders
  • a room for shipping
  • a frit layout area for my wall of frit
  • an inventory room
  • a main work area that will hold my cutting table and maybe all the glass
  • a small office
  • a teaching area
  • a room for the sandblasting set-up
  • a photography room
  • a small gallery area to display current work and use for a studio open house a couple of times a year
Whew! When I look at it in the detail, that's a lot of space! I currently have the 30 X 14 I indicated yesterday, and the majority of the 20 X 20 garage, and a 10 X 10 photography area in the craft room. Everything I have fits, but as anyone who's been in my studio will tell you, there's no walking room. There are paths through piles, and the "wall of frit" is daunting all by itself!

Okay, Stacy's here and we gotta go! The fridge gets delivered today, Jester has surgery this afternoon (he's doing *really* well--more on him tomorrow), it's a full day!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Studio Shopping

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Choctaw Bingo" by James McMurtry on iTunes. I hate being sick. All day yesterday my innards let me know they weren't happy and didn't want company so I didn't eat. I also didn't move around much. I did get a couple of loads fired--including an overnight turnaround on a couple of pieces for a local gallery that they'll pick up this morning. Other than that about all I got done was updating the Locations page on my website. This morning, as I am feeling MUCH better (though still not much inclined to eat), I unloaded a kiln, started prepping a shipment, and inventoried all my current work to determine what I need to make for the BMAC. Got to write this quick now and head off for a shower as I'm going studio shopping with my realtor at 10:00. My photographer called last night and none of the pictures he shot on Saturday turned out. First I had the wrong stand to shoot and then nothing I did have turned out. Did I mention the weekend was cursed? I rescheduled the shoot for 8/24--Jessie's first full day of school.

Now a few notes on the studio. We bought our current house with an eye to suitable studio space in it. I have a 30 X 14 (more or less) room in the walk-out basement (it's basement at the front of the house and first floor in the back--we're on a slope). I had it wired for lighting and plenty of outlets, painted the walls white, stained the concrete floor, plumbed a big 3-bin restaurant sink and moved in. Big Bertha (the biggest kiln) won't fit through any house door so she lives in the garage adjacent the studio (the garage is under the living room, all part of the house). As time passed I took over more and more of the garage: The little kiln lives there as does the compressor, the shipping area, extra glass crates for a set-up table by Bertha, all the ceramic mold storage, the etched glassware storage, and all the show booth and art fair display materials (tent, pedestals, lights, carpet, etc.,). There is a little craft room of the studio and it now houses the photography set-up. There is also a bathroom hose bathtub is filled with rolls of bubble-wrap and bags of Styrofoam peanuts (yet more peanuts lurk in the garage).

It's a bit cramped, but it works. What doesn't work so well is the treadmill in the Library (or the guest room if we don't have a long-term guest), the loom in the dining room, and the odds and sods of furniture tucked into inappropriate nooks throughout the house because there is no appropriate space for them (which surprisingly enough does not translate into the furniture itself being inappropriate--we still want it, tits on a bull though it is in the current layout). If we are to remain here, stranded in the south for another nine years (the current plan), we are going to need more room. We *could* build onto the house (with great difficulty), but it makes more sense to buy another piece of property and just separate the studio right out--much better return on investment.

Now off to shower. Tomorrow: What to look for in a studio.

PS--Jester is much better today and they are looking at doing wound-closure surgery tomorrow or Friday, and he might be home for the weekend!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday, Joe's Day

Coffee was a large Jittery Joe (extra shot of espresso) and music is satellite jazz. It's Tuesday, and I'm live from Joe's. Jester continues to improve, I shipped an order yesterday and am plodding through the rest on schedule for today and tomorrow shipping. I seem to have caught whatever intestinal bug Jessie had at the end of last week (it was inevitable) so I am spending most of today on the computer--makes sense since I am at Joe's. This afternoon when I get back to the studio I will ship and slump.

Today I work some more on the website, and I plan my pieces and firing schedule for the BMAC. I leave in a week, guess I better get to it. As tomorrow I will be looking at potential studios with my realtor friend Stacy, I'll also spend some time today writing up my needs for a space. I love designing studios! Heck I love organizing--at least the planning part of it. I'm not so down on the actual *doing* (and I DREAD moving the studio! I already told Dave I wasn't moving it again... but that sentence never worked so well with houses, why would I expect it to work with studios?)

Yesterday saw me conquering the immunization certificate requirements for J's new school (two hours at the Dekalb County Board of Health clinic because her doctor's office doesn't have an opening till August 16--when we're in Montana and she can't go to school without the certificate), beating the printer into shape (the info cards finally look the way they should), and knocking some sense into the remote control. I look forward to nothing new going wrong today.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Coffee in a Kavarna go-cup (Dancing Goats blend with an extra shot of espresso and real half-n-half--we were out of coffee this am), "Racing to the Red Light" by James McMurtry on iTunes. I sit here with yet one more thing gone wrong (this time a piece of technology failed--not critical but intrinsic to the daily functioning of the house) and think how very lucky we are. The past week has brought many trials, and they have all been so well staggered that even the most serious could be faced with calm if not serenity. I think on the recent trials of two of our very good friends, and I see mine for the little that they are. Perspective.

However, little does not mean nothing. The most distressing and looking to be long-term concern is the illness of Jester, the beloved deerhound. Last Friday morning I took him to the vet. He was almost unable to rise from his bed in the morning and there was a pool of blood under it. The vets still don't know what caused the problem--words like snake bite, cancer, and anal-gland abscess fly though the air with as much meaning as so many dust motes. Whatever. From the anus to the knee he had a mass of dead tissue that finally split open and revealed itself. He went through one surgery and suture. It split open almost immediately. Saturday we had to transfer him to a large emergency veterinary hospital. He has had to have the wound debrided daily--twice under general anesthetic and twice sedated.

Finally this morning they say it is looking better and they can start thinking about the major reconstructive surgery he is going to have the end of this week or early next week. I hope to be going up to see him this afternoon if I can get away. For now he's on injectable morphine and anti-inflammatories so I at least know he's not in too much pain.

In the meantime I plan for the BMAC--also next week. I thought seriously this morning about canceling the show (and taking the huge financial hit both from the cancellation fees and loss of income), but on top of the enormous veterinary bills, I just can't justify it. Instead I am going to ask a friend with a larger vehicle (as I will be in Philadelphia with the mini-van) if he can help Dave pick up the dog from the emergency veterinary hospital (on the north side of the city in Sandy Springs) to transport him down to our vet where they will board him for a week while I'm gone. Jester is 130 lbs of lean muscle and bone. He is the size of an adult human on four legs. He is likely to have drainage tubes in his wound and other care requirements that I just can't drop on top of Dave in addition to the rest of the pets, the household and the child while I'm gone. Oy. But the vet staff loves him and he'll have a bed in the corner of his own room--no kennel (he's too big for all their kennels)--so I know he'll be well taken care of.

So that's the big thing. I'm not even going to list all the other things that lined up one after another to cause me (thankfully) mostly difficulty and not pain. And these things, as I indicated previously, have been very considerate in their timing: each thing that has gone sideways, broken or vomited in our bed in the past week has waited to do so until the previous one was at least under control. I still have margin. I look forward to the day I don't need to be using it, but at least I still have it.

Today I ship two orders and fire the first load of the final summer order. Everything that comes in from now on will be done at the end of August--after the BMAC and the Montana trip--in the twilight of the summer. Creedence Clearwater Revival sings "Someday Never Comes" in the background as I close. Ain't it the truth.

PS--Immediately after posting the above, I got an email from the printer with my proof for the info cards. After I spent last week doing a camera-ready version (because they so badly hosed up the first version I sent) they sent me an email this morning requesting I approve... the exact same proof they sent last week. I still haven't fixed the thing that broke an hour ago. They begin to pile up.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday, Quick! Quick! Quick!

Coffee is brewing--first cup of the day and it's just after 10:30... it's been a... morning. Sick child (all night), sick dog (off to the vet), I am just getting started now. Since J came home early yesterday, I didn't get a kiln load in. Today, today. The info card to FINALLY finish, a HUGE load to fire, and then planning for the new studio. Yep, a new studio. It's less a case of needing more space for the studio and needing to reclaim more of the house for the family.

But it's already late. I'll rhapsodize about the collaborative lattice wall piece I did with Elliott Metal Works later (Bill and Elaine came down yesterday and we put together the lattice piece and brainstormed more wall pieces, wall sconces, tables...)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chicken Little

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, sounds of family getting out the door for music. I feel a bit like Chicken Little this morning. I am crouched in a fetal position on the floor with my arms over my head wailing about the end of the world when I feel a tap on my shoulder. It was just an acorn, I am told. I cautiously lift my head and peer through my fingers waiting to be smote to dust. Nothing happens. Hmmm. What does all this mean? From Daniel's comment on Woe! Woe!, apparently not all versions of Internet Explorer render my beautiful pages as muck. Since IE is only installed as part of the Win 2K operating system and I never upgraded it, I am running IE 5. Glass Incarnate looks heinous on IE 5 (the nav buttons at the top *each* span the width of the page and are stacked one on top of the other). It looks the same on the iPhone--and the iPhone runs Safari. I don't have Safari on my laptop and I don't seem to be able to install it.... oh boy. It's going to be another one of THOSE days, is it? So feedback, please. Anyone else see a messy layout with the menu buttons all stacked on top of each other on Glass Incarnate? If so, what's your broswer and version? Thanks!

Yesterday, thanks to the heroic efforts of Mike Ziolkowski, I got an ad finished for the inside back cover of Profitable Glass magazine. Today I have to get it to them--and I hope it will be less effort than creating it was, but I'm not holding my breath. I also have to finish the artist card proof (LOOM, LOOM) and get it in to the printer. Finally, there is glass to fire! The big load is already partially in the kiln with a couple of hours left till completion on it.

CRACK! I hear the whip, time to mosey.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Woe! Woe!

I just looked at my Glass Incarnate site in Internet Explorer and it is HIDEOUS!!! I designed it in Dreamweaver on the Mac, and it looks great in my browser (Firefox). But I don't even have a way to preview it in IE as THERE IS NO MORE IE FOR MAC (see an earlier post). In order to see my pages I had to start parallels desktop, launch windows and load IE. It's terrible! It couldn't BE worse! A whole new load of work looms in front of me. I think I'll go cry... again. woe. woe.

Summer is Half Over

Coffee is a large Jittery Joe (extra shot of espresso), music is satellite radio rock, it's Tuesday, and I'm Live From Joe's! Yesterday, let's pause a second and remember yesterday. Yesterday I was so dead, flat-out, balls-to-the-wall busy that I didn't even get out of my jammies till 4:55 pm. A neighbor came by with her little girl looking for Jessie for a playdate at 4:45 and caught me still en jammie... I don't think she's coming back... ever. But I got to the bottom of the pile and I annihilated it! I usually just sort into four piles (studio to do, home to do, studio to file and home to file) and then I skim the top layer of both the to-do's doing just enough so they don't turn off the water and we can limp along for another week. Yesterday I not only sorted, but I bagged the to-file piles, executed the majority of the to-do piles and neatly put the rest of the to-do's in a folder to get to... eventually. I finished my last task at 11:00 pm when I faxed a revised stand order to Elliott Metal Works for my BMAC needs.

A note on the time-honored tradition of bagging piles of papers... Back in the Dark Ages of Graduate School I went to my advisor to pick up a paper that I had written for her weeks before. She baldly told me that she didn't know where it was. Her husband had reached his limit on papers piled all over their apartment and done one of his periodic purges, i.e., he put everything in green plastic garbage bags and put them in a closet. She would get me my paper back... eventually. I'm not sure I ever saw it.

The intense deck-clearing effort of yesterday has freed me up to do graphic design today (two magazine ads for the book and the proof on the info card) at Joe's and then begin the full-out firings that will continue until I leave for the BMAC. And then summer will be 2/3 over. How did that happen? I blink, it's over. Summer is already half over now. (Forget the whole starting June 22 thing: Summer is June-August. Period.) And there's still no pond... Better get crackin'!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Come What May

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Search and Destroy" by Iggy (Pop) and the Stooges on iTunes. Thus far this morning I have conquered converting audio cd's (which show up in the music library and thus in random shuffle) to audiobooks on iTunes and joining tracks for gapless listening. Scripts were required for both. In the process I discovered that though Harry Potter books are not yet available on Audible, they are at the iTunes store--and for less than the cd's. *sigh* I just got Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on cd from Amazon.com... all *23 cd's of it*. There are 624 Mg's of data on each cd for a total of just over 14 Gigs. That's about all the hard drive space I left on my little beleaguered Mac. Fortunately, when iTunes got through ripping the cd's they only took up 1.44 gigs. The sad thing is that had I bought the iTunes store version to begin with and not done all the ripping and converting I could have used only 264 mg (note that that is just about exactly 23 times smaller than the original cd's). Everything is getting smaller (chips, space needed to store data, etc.) unless it's getting bigger (hard drives and other storage devices, transferal rates, bandwidth, etc.). What does all this have to do with glass? What do you think I listen to while I am driving to Philadelphia, Vegas, Chicago, etc. for shows? Philadelphia BMAC, here I come! And as I am doing set-up by myself this year I will have even MORE listening time.

Today, lots of piddly... poop to get through before I can get to the big part of the day--fusing! Image Media decided to send me a proof that looked nothing like what I requested. I sent them a pdf of the *exact* layout I wanted and, evidently, they didn't think it was jazzy enough as they added a background, color to the font, and changed part of the font to script. I hate script. So I spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday angsting (at least I know how to spell it now) over what to do. My friend Mike who just did a new logo for me sent me yet another re-do, and now I have to gird my loins and beard the graphic designer at Image Media in his den (and beat him over the head for wasting my time).

I also have to finish up with Hargrove (what an Italian opera THAT has turned into) and get my display forms in. Every show I seem to find myself throwing up my hands and saying "I'll fix it next time". I tried the PVC walls for the last show and though they are a nice, bright, cleanable white, they have several drawbacks: They are a tad long and so bowed from the weight of the hanging panels (whose chain pushed down on the tops of the panels), they are heavy (wear and tear on the car), and they are time-consuming and difficult to set-up alone. On the other hand, they are already paid for. *sigh*

On the plus side, it's Friday, I am not working this weekend, and I have a NICHE piece design!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Less Work = More Productivity

Progresso turkey noodle soup in a ceramic bowl, Muzak from my publisher in my left ear for music. *sigh* It's noon and it's been a morning. So far I worked on designs for a new collaborative series of wall sculptures with Bill Snell of Elliott Metal Works--we plan to have one or two for the BMAC in a couple of weeks, I requested a press release on my book with a high-quality image of the cover for ads I have coming out (ad and copy deadlines for the September and October issues of magazines are already whizzing past), and I came up with my NICHE entry for the year! I'm not going to tell, you're just going to have to wait. It's ambitious. 'Nuff said.

This afternoon, firing of the little pieces I had scheduled and beginning two good-sized orders I got in yesterday. I really thought July would be completely dead, but the orders are just trickling in steadily enough for me to feel good about it. I also have 100 words to write for a woman writing an article for the Crafts Report Octobe issue. She wanted to interview me about what book I would recommend giving to another artist... Is that a loaded question for an October issue (with my book coming out the first of November) or what?! However, I'll be noble. I must mention my own book (author=pimp, that's just the way it is), but I will also recommend some of my other favs for business and just for beauty/inspiration. If I don't have it (or didn't write it), I won't recommend it.

Yesterday afternoon I sat in the Sky chair and read a novel for five hours. I didn't move except to swing. I am so energized and motivated today as a reult that I am just overwhelmed! I *highly* recommend doing nothing (or nothing but reading) for an afternoon as a cure for the stress of overwork (not that I'm overworked right now--I wouldn't have taken off the afternoon if I were). Honestly, the energy you'll get from it will allow you to be more productive in the week than you would have been if you'd done nothing but work.

Now off to work!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some Days It Doesn't Pay to Get Out of Bed

Coffee in the Washington DC skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. I wonder if George is happy with his life. I see him in concert regularly and he doesn't seem to have changed at all since the first time at the Wilma theater in Missoula Montana over 20 years ago. He seems such a solitary person. I think I'll make it an all-George morning. One last tangent and then glass. Every time I wrote "George", I cringed. Isn't it terrible how one person can completely ruin a name for you? Aren't you glad it's not YOUR name being ruined?

Yesterday was a fun (used quite loosely) day on the computer. I decided to have another go at getting my artist info cards professionally printed and I had a coupon for Image Media so I said, what the heck, why not! The heck turned out to be the stringent format and color types necessary for professional printing. While my little Word docs are great for knocking off on the home printer, I need CMYK color and 300 dpi for a professional printer. It doesn't matter if you know what these things are or not, just know that you don't have them and can't get them in a Word doc. So I either scrap the whole project or I pay them $35 to do the layout for me. The total cost of the card is still $.11 per (Kinko's wanted $2.16 per--for reference) including shipping and the additional $35. I guess I'm dragging because 2500 seems like an awfully big commitment (what if I want to change them in the next decade?), but the difference in cost between 1000 and 2500 was negligible.

I was still ditzing with that project when I got a very nice (and, as it turned out, very necessary) call from Cindy at Hargrove (the exhibitor services people for the Buyer's Market Show (Philadelphia. August.) reminding me to get me order in. I knew the deadline was next Monday (plenty of time!) and I was still trying to find my packet so I could go on-line and order. Turns out that for once it wasn't my fault: the Rosen Group didn't mail a packet this time, they decided to do all materials for this show on-line. Save some trees. I'm all about saving trees. And I'm sure (though I can find no evidence to back up my confidence) that they emailed me my login and password so I could do my order. But nevermind--Cindy gave me my login and password and I decided to get a jump on things and look at my display options. Ho boy, good thing I did. Snarkiness to follow....

I am sure there are good reasons why Hargrove chose the software they use for their on-line processing, a software that requires using Internet Explorer as your browser. Just like there are bound to be good reasons why Microsoft decided to stop making, supporting, distributing or even allowing to be distributed Internet Explorer for the Mac. Certainly neither Hargrove nor Microsoft care that I HAVE A MAC. I DON'T HAVE INTERNET EXPLORER*. I AM REQUIRED TO ORDER ONLINE**.

I called Hargrove back and asked them if they knew about this problem and the snarky woman on the other end of the conversation said Yep. She'd be happy to fax me the forms--well over 20 pages of them. Or I could call the Rosen Group. maybe they could mail me something (that wouldn't get to me by the Monday deadline). I was pretty steamed by the end of my conversation with her and decided I would call the Rosen Group with the phone number she provided me. Their line was busy... for the next hour and a half. I never did get anyone there. Now, me, I find a problem with an administrative decision I made, I pro actively go after it. I don't just wait for people to notice. Sure, Cindy gave me a call and that was great. But, c'mon, you KNOW people have Macs--especially artists. If you find out that your lame vendor is using some lame software that requires the most virus-prone browser in existence to process orders for your show, you IMMEDIATELY send out a big email alert giving an alternative ordering process.

For the record, because I am a bit of an uber geek (and cheap--lots of old Windows software I am not ready to buy again for the Mac), I have Parallels desktop which allows me to run Windows inside my Mac, and *I do have Internet Explorer running under Windows. Also I think (though I was not told this explicitly by the VERY snaky woman I got the first time I called back to Hargrove) **I could fax the forms in if I had hard copies of them. That's what I've always done for this show. Now one last note now that I have been able to get into their Internet-Explorer-requiring software: it's lame, lame, lame! It is buggy (it throws up error messages and then just continues on while you're going "what the hell?"), and very difficult to navigate through all the display options available. As a former software engineer I have to say that it looks like it was designed for a junior high computer science class project in the 90's and never upgraded. C'mon Hargrove: you want to play with the big boys you have got to be better than this! As for the Rosen Group, before deciding to change your process in one swift stroke, make sure it works for everyone. It would have been MUCH better to transition to on-line ordering with incentives for doing it that way for one show (and the regular system as back-up) instead of just hopping to a new train. Yes, ACRE did all-online materials and ordering for their show. And I was nervous and skeptical about it, but it worked. It worked because Champion (the exhibitor services provider) was not two-bit about it.

Enough wrist-slapping. I end with a sincere thank-you to Cindy at Hargrove who certainly saved me from a nasty death on Monday (I would have left ordering till then, you know I would). And I thank the nameless person at the Rosen Group who probably asked Hargrove to get everyone moving on their orders as they knew there were problems. I grind my teeth and get on with it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Proof That Every Day Can't Have a Brilliant Post

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Brilliant Disguise" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. "Tell me what I see, when I look in your eyes. Is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise?" What does it all mean? Heck, I don't know. I am adrift on the relentless rolling waves under the hot sun after being tossed there by the storm. I was full-out busy in the studio right up to the minute we went on vacation. Then I was on vacation for a week. I didn't think about ANYTHING work or home related. I took my laptop and only opened it twice--once when we got there out of habit (I looked blankly at the screen for a few minutes and then closed it again) and once mid week when we went to town to check mail to make sure no crises had arisen in our absence.

Now we're back, I have nothing large and pressing, and I am a bit... lost. Sure there are plenty of things I SHOULD be doing--I'm still alive therefore my inbox is full, but nothing appeals. What to do when nothing sings to you? Shop! Or in my case, anti-shop! Divest! Time to clear some paths. Maybe a day of hard work and sweat will clear my mind and bring some focus for tomorrow. And maybe the divestiture will enable me to find my Hargrove folder so I can re-evaluate my booth design options (costs) for the BMAC next month. Method. Madness.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Easing Back Into It

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, the sounds of the fountain, traffic and cicadas for music. I'm on the front porch in the Sky chair, relaxed and happy to be home. We all have summer colds--Dave is getting over his and J and I are just getting into ours--so I am letting J sleep late this morning. It's summer and she's back at Phoenix School summer camp this week--there's no rush to wake and go.

No crises fomented during the week while I was gone. Today--and for the rest of the week--I am mostly going to putter. I have to put out an order that came in from a new gallery over the weekend, send a replacement piece to the Art Institute for the one that broke in shipping, get Ren her piece for winning the drawing back in MARCH, and order supplies. I'm also going to work on websites and marketing materials. The summer BMAC is just around the corner and I still haven't figured out what I'm doing for display, yadda, yadda, ya.

For now though, I wouldn't mind a bit of feedback. Part of the branding/marketing that I have been working on recently is the creation of artist/technique/care info cards for galleries to provide to customers who buy my work. Think of it like this: You go into a store and you are see something you would like to buy for yourself or for a gift. If it's for a gift, you would like the receiver to know that it isn't something made in China that cost you $1.99. If it's for you, the information on the card provides you with justification for buying this decorative item--which costs decidedly more than $1.99--instead of something at Target. Finally, there is a bit of technical jargon on the card that explains the process and techniques so the gallery staff doesn't have to be up on every technique by every artist. Below are the front and back of the card I whumped up before going on vacation. If YOU were buying a handcrafted item by an American artist, is this what you would like to get with it? Is there info missing? Other comments? Thanks, as always, for the feedback. (Click on the images to enlarge them so you can read the teeny tiny type.)