Friday, August 31, 2007

Wheeeee It's Friday!

Coffee in the Washington D.C. mug (hello Barbara!), "Already Gone" by the Eagles on iTunes. I am waiting for my extreme fatigue to be over and chafing that it hasn't yet passed. Maybe this weekend will do it. How can I be THIS tired when I just had two weeks vacation? I must be getting old...

Looked at another potential studio space yesterday, very cute, very tiny. The lot the house is on is only 52 X 65 and there is enough room for a small garage on one side of the house... It's a VERY tiny house, probably too small for a studio, but so cute! And our ownership of it would qualify Jessie for a very desirable school district. Doesn't life get complicated with children? I like the Waldorf School so far, but there are some things that make me crazed (they always wear rain boots and hats when outside--even on sunny warm days, even in the shade, even when climbing trees) and the tuition is not insignificant.

But today is about the old studio, not the new one. I have been invaded by dust bunnies of the largest kind, so after I get the kilns loaded and firing, I am going to clean. I'm also going to find new homes for all those empty 5-lb frit jars! There are now 8 full garbage bags full of them. Enough is most emphatically enough.

This weekend is the Labor Day weekend and I wish I could say I am taking it all off, but I will need to fire every day. Yesterday ended up being all about life--Ikebana, groomer, ballet, teacher meetings, friend for dinner (he was tasty--just kidding!), volunteering for the PTA (how the heck did I do THAT?!), etc. Today will be shipping, firing, cleaning, finances, advertising, new camera (got to take a picture of the new lattice piece in Ocean on white) and more cleaning (twice as much cleaning as anything else). Ah the glamorous life of a full-time artist!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back After a Full Day of Driving

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Harmony" by Elton John on iTunes. After a fruitful, fruitless, exhausted day yesterday, I am back in the saddle. At least I hope I am securely in the saddle as the horse is moving out and I'm aboard. Thanks to Daniel Waldman and the Rosen Group for the mention on Wholesale Matters Tuesday!

Back to Ikebana for the first day in weeks today, need to make a bank deposit, the two dogs go to the groomer, and J starts ballet. None of that is glass, and it's a full day in the glass studio too. Three orders to start today. In a perfect world they would ship tomorrow, but as I need two days of firings for them, that's not going to happen. Thanks to the holiday weekend they won't ship till Tuesday.

Fruitfully worked out the beginnings of the co-booth design with Elliott Metal Works yesterday as well as the work flow for our new joint venture (fay-zee-O). Next week I have to squeeze in a Joe's day to get the preliminary website done. I brought home one of the new lattice pieces yesterday (we've beefed up and padded the stand-off mounting system since the BMAC) and I need to see about getting pictures of it of quality for a NICHE submission. The deadline has been extended. I think they're just taunting me.

Fruitlessly drove almost to Asheville to see the model home we're (Siyeh Studio and Elliott Metal Works) doing pieces for. The gallery staff was not able to meet us at the last minute so the closest I got to scoping out the space was peering in the windows. But the designs Elaine has come up with are fabulous and are going to be great additions to the FeSiO line (and really fun to do).

Was so exhausted last night I retired to bed with the iPod and an audio book at 8:30. Lights out at 10:00. Except for having to get up to let a dog out at 2:00, slept the whole night, nary an anxiety attack in sight.

The horse that is the day is chomping at the bit. Time to get riding. Yippee Ki Yay...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What is This Finanacial Security Thing?

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Lay Me Down" by Crosby & Nash on iTunes. It's a philosophical morning in the studio. Maybe it's the impending purchase of a new studio space and the accompanying financial commitment, maybe it's the result of catching up a bit on my corner of the world on,, and yesterday, but whatever it is, I am the doe and I pause and sniff the air nervously before stepping into the meadow.

To my general unease, contributed postings on studio (and gallery) closings and who "makes a living" from glass and do they do it alone or with help on randomly put the books "Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire" and "Girl, Get Your Money Straight: A Sister's Guide to Healing Your Bank Account and Funding Your Dreams in 7 Simple Steps" up on my Amazon page so I would see them when I updated my blog there. yesterday went on and on about the glut (16-year-high number) of houses on the market and the 12-month low for prices (this after a couple of weeks of subprime mortgage crisis news and the repercussions from it) and this morning they want me to "Retire Happily" and inform me that the search for self-worth and emotional changes can tarnish my golden years... Whew! Methinks I need to stay off the Net for awhile.

Letting go of the big picture and putting on the blinders which keep me safe in my little world, I need to find a use for dozens (hundreds?) of empty Bullseye 5-lb frit jars. I cannot bear to throw or recycle them--not when they beg so eloquently to be re-used, but I have no use for them and I am tired of knocking over the mountains of them as I wend my way through the studio. And now that Seraph is gracing me with her presence and her 32" swooping hard tail in the studio every afternoon (and chasing Baxter around in it) they are all over the floor more often than not. Maybe J's new school...

Today is a slump load day as I prepare to ship two orders tomorrow. Tomorrow I also go to Greenville and Asheville so won't be posting in the morning (I am just not alive enough at 6:00 am these days to write more than "garm whahl urrr"). Going up north to review a model home FeSiO is providing pieces for.

FeSiO... another new topic (and thanks to Dave for the name). We (Elliott Metal Works and Siyeh Studio) needed branding for the collaborative work we're doing together. It was getting confusing for galleries to know who to order from, and we also wanted one place to showcase just that work. Enter I got tagged with the website development... One more site to create and maintain (bringing me up to three and three blogs--including the Amazon one--oy!). In addition to a website we need a product-developemt plan. Right now we all have lots of energy and lots of ideas and if we just keep going we'll be all over the map spinning our wheels. I am not looking for seven years to seven figures, but a little organization won't hurt.

Now off to bag up those empty frit jars, inventory the full ones, get in an order to Hoy's and cut the pieces for the rest of the week's fuse loads. I'd rather slip back to bed for a little pirate captain and the captured duchess...

Monday, August 27, 2007

The First Week of Fall

Coffee in the New Orleans mug, "Sweetness Follows" by R.E.M on iTunes. I was looking forward to this moment not so long ago. I awaited the departure of the child to school and the spouse to work with impatience so I could sit down and cleanse my thoughts here. Now I wish I could call them back and have one more "stay at home" day.

We all got a late start this morning--I was the first to wake at 7:47 and then it was a mad scramble for Dave to get out the door with J in her new lace-up sneakers (I taught her to tie her shoes this morning!) with all her gear for her two classrooms (changes of clothes in cloth bags, fuzzy socks for slippers, rain pants, rain jackets, pillow, blanket and soft toy for the afternoon class), breakfast and lunchbox.

It's the first day of the first full week of "fall". I know it's August and therefore still summer no matter how you slice it, but school starts in the fall, school has started, ergo... And it is a bit cooler this morning at 72 degrees (22 C). It's also the last week before the NICHE submissions are due, and I'm not going to make it this year. Time to surrender the fantasy and move on. Finally, it's the first full week back after a crazy month traveling. Time to knuckle down in the traces and start producing again... but I'm so tired! Still on Mountain Daylight Time I guess.

The new studio becomes more of a reality this week. I am putting the final touches on the financing and might even get an offer in--though I guess I better review the space on paper one more time to make sure there's room for everything (the sandblast cabinet, e.g., looms). I've even started looking for a used van--though my mechanic isn't holding out much hope of finding one for me. Anyone know someone who has one that might work for me? Some artist retiring or not traveling anymore?

Before we all fall asleep reading (writing) the little details of life in the studio, I need to jump into the big news: The fall issue of Profitable Glass Quarterly is out and I have an ad for the book on the inside back cover. The fall issue of Glass Patterns Quarterly will be out soon and I have both an article and an ad in it. Both ads are for the book, and I have to laugh--I have so spent any possible revenue I might see for this book, first on materials and tools for making the projects and now on advertising for it. But way back in the beginning knew I would be writing it "for fame and glory" rather than any financial gain so I'm not surprised. Yet to come are my ads in the September issue of Fired Arts & Crafts and November's (or December's?) Crafts Report. All are for the book but the last one which will feature one of the new stands... assuming I can get a decent photo.

Now off to post on in the classifieds about the book--and to solicit for suppliers for the on-line suppliers lists (the publisher does one and I'll have one on my website too). Time to start polishing the websites too...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday, a Beginning and an End

Coffee in the New Orleans mug, "The Girl With the Weight of the World in Her Hands" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. Oh the humor of the iTunes randomizer this morning.

Home the night before last. The advance copy of my book and a box of chocolates from my publisher were waiting for me. I'm an author!

Yesterday hit the ground running with J's first day of kindergarten and the opening school assembly which lasted till 10:15. Back to the studio to get caught up on phone messages and emails that came in over the past couple of weeks. It was a short day for J so I picked her up at 1:00 and then we went up to see Jester...

Today is another catch-up day with a full firing scheduled as well as a delivery to the gallery I didn't get to yesterday and a camera-ready ad for the book to get in to Glass Patterns Quarterly. I'm glad I caught up on sleep over vacation--I am already burning through the reserves.

He was so sweet and so trusting--even at 6 weeks when his head was little enough to rest in my palm. For those of you who have seen the movie for Harry Potter 5, Padfoot is played by a deerhound in the train station...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back to Atlanta, Back to the Real World

No coffee yet, I'll go scrounge some after I finish posting to help me get through re-packing, "In Without Knocking" by Mission Mountain Wood Band on iTunes. Posted last night on Stranded in the South about the Montana vacation, and even though I am still in Missoula in body and spirit, the studio is calling me back. Would that it didn't have to call me so far. *sigh*

The picture above are the new "Dance" pieces in "Flame"--original on the left and revised on the right. It's difficult to see the color of the glass, but I love the stands.

Was reminded yesterday by email that I am participating in a glass show at one of my local galleries this Saturday and need to deliver my work for it tomorrow.

Need to go to the vet tomorrow to visit Jester and make some decisions about where we're going with his treatment. He was only home a couple of days before he had to go back to the vet because his wound was opening up. He has had several more surgeries--including new skin grafts--since then and he now has a perforated ulcer from all the anti-inflammatories he's been on (that was this week's surgery). And the wounds are opening again so they're telling me at least one more surgery. It's been a month now. But this isn't the place to head down that path. Jester deserves his own day on Stranded in the South.

Friday, August 10, 2007

BMAC and Vacation Begins!

Coffee in a New Orleans French Market mug, the happy morning sounds of J with her Gramma and Grampa with his dog as music. I am barely, sluggishly awake. It seems to be 9:00 am here in Polson, Montana which makes it 11:00 am in Atlanta. I can't remember the last time I slept till the equivalent of 11:00 am. It is officially VACATION here in Siyeh Studio, but I missed posting on Tuesday after the Buyer's Market as I drove till midnight Monday and left at 6:30 am Tuesday for a full day driving and unloading. And then Wednesday I was so busy with only-day-before-vacation appointments and shipping two really big orders that I never got to it. Yesterday I was on a plane much of the day (up at 4:15 am and at the airport by 5:30) and then driving from Missoula to Polson, unpacking just enough to find the swimsuits and head for the lake. Ah, bliss.

So I must begin today with a bit of work, and, as a treat to myself, I post. First, a review of this year's Summer Buyer's Market. It was a GREAT show for me. After the disappointing sales at ACRE in May, the seemingly very light traffic at the summer BMAC, and the historically lower sales numbers at the summer show as opposed to the winter show, I did not have high expectations for August in Philly. But orders on Friday were good, as they were on Saturday. Sunday morning I was within striking distance of matching 2006 summer sales. My goal was to increase by 10%, and my stretch goal was to increase by 20%. I hit the 20% goal by 2:30, and I will never grumble about the show going to 4:00 pm again as I did 28% of my total sales between 3:30 and 4:00 resulting in 85% increase in sales by the close of the show over last summer and 98% of total sales--pre, during *and* post sales numbers for the 2007 winter show. And I don't even have post figures for the summer show yet, have to wait a month or so to see what else comes in. It was a *very* good show.

Best sellers were the new work with Elliott Metal Works--both the lattice pieces and the new stands. I had a 10 X 20 booth and put even less in it than I usually do in 10 X 15 spaces, and I think it was my best booth ever. I still haven't replaced my digital camera so this photo was taken with the iPhone. It's still a pretty good shot.

Wednesday, after a hellish day driving Tuesday, I shipped out the first of the orders from the show. One of my best customers, who has three galleries, asked if he could have many of the pieces I had at the show and get them shipped to two of the galleries before I left for vacation. It was over 90 degrees in the shipping annex (aka the garage) and it was a very complicated order, but I think I got everything sorted out okay. Fingers crossed for today's delivery to both locations.

Now today I need to send out printed order confirmations to everyone who placed orders (my handwriting and math at the show are both terrible), and I need to put together my ad for November's Fired Arts and Crafts magazine. I suppose I should be asking my publisher to cover some of my advertising costs--the ad is for the book, after all. Then, vacation. Flathead Lake, Missoula, Glacier Park, bliss, bliss, bliss. See you in two weeks!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday, Last Day, On-the-Way-Home Day

The morning has dawned difficult. Yesterday was sunny and sublime, today is rainy and fretful. No coffee yet (I just can't do the little hotel powdered packets), the rumble (and vibration) of morning traffic in the street below is today's music. It's the final day of the summer BMAC. After a blistering set-up, today for breakdown it's expected to be much cooler--though we risk thunderstorms. *Sigh* I'd rather the heat than the wet.

I believe I have my best booth set-up ever. Many of my customers and other artists have commented on how great it looks. The only downside to it is that I had to put all the cardboard boxes for the stands back in the car as I have essentially no booth storage. There's got to be a booth solution that feels open, holds all the work, has storage... and doesn't cost a small fortune!

For the show itself, sales Saturday were good--much better than expected. Of course I always expect to do nothing the first day so it can't be said I have high expectations. Yesterday I took enough orders to put me within reach of last year's sales. My goal is to increase sales by 10%, stretch goal of 20%, and I just might not make it. I know I have one account who wants to re-order and hasn't been by to do it yet.

New this show for me: I had everything priced and all the packets out before opening on Friday. That's the first time I've ever managed that, and this show it was crucial as I am in the first aisle on the right and the buyers stream like lemmings down that aisle first. So far I've handed out about 20 packets. They include a wholesale price list, an artist info card, a best-selling packages recommendations, an order form, a business card, and two postcards showing current work. Orders from people who picked up packets have run at about 5% (1 out of 20). We'll see if more of them bear fruit today.

Today's focus is to get through the slowest day of the show (I *really* hate having it on Monday) and to get efficiently and quickly packed and on the road. The show goes till 4:00 (it should be 3:00) and then I have to breakdown, load up, and get south of DC tonight so I miss tomorrow morning's rush traffic.

And what else is there to say? The glamorous artist's life on the show road is more like a scuffed house slipper than a Manolo Blahnik stiletto. Dinner has been room service or out with another artist or two. I could've tried to to get set up faster and done a tourist thing, or I could've planned a great meal out. But let's face it, I hate business travel anymore. If Dave and Jessie were here it would be different. But as long as I have to leave my family at home, it's just another work comittment.

And speaking of home: Jester broke open a couple of stitches yesterday so Dave is having to wrestle him back to the vet today (in a friend's loaner car) in addition to the normal load of Sprout wrangling. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make this one up to him.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lights, Glass, Action!

Dayquil in a little plastic cup instead of coffee, "Elephant Love Medley" from Moulin Rouge on iTunes. Last day of of set-up dawns bright and already hot (77 degrees). Yesterday went extremely well. The car was unloaded by 1:30 and the walls were up by 2:30. It took quite a bit longer than I thought it would to get them up and it's going to cost somewhat more than I thought it would/should, (I hate paying by the hour for exhibit hall services) but that was the *only* dark cloud in the day.

Before I left last night I had the carpet, the overheads for the lights, the lightbars, the tables, the sales cabinet and all the pedestals up. Today hanging panels, draperies, tablecloths, cleaning the pedestals, lights and glass. The display set-up (of course) is completely new. There's no French wall back area--all 200 sq feet are open. I also have a 2 ft X 8 ft grid wall panel covered with foamcore in the front corner of the booth where I will hang one of the new wall sculptures. I don't have enough storage room for all my boxes, but Dee said I can put them in her booth (she has tons of storage) or I can just put them in the minivan.

And speaking of the minivan, I am going to tell a big secret here. The loading dock for the Philadelphia Convention Center has a block-long ramp down to street level. At one side of the bottom of the ramp is a little outdoor parking lot. It's not only the cheapest parking in the area, but you pay at a machine in advance and just put the ticket in the window. I leave my vehicle there the whole show after unloading. It's even possible, when the line to get into the loading dock after the show is too long, to wheel your dolly down the ramp and load directly into your vehicle. And if you load into your vehicle in the lot, there is one holy grail spot at the end of the first row, right at the bottom of the ramp. Of course this spot was already taken when I parked yesterday, but as I was walking toward the ramp the owner of the car in it was getting in his car. I asked him in disbelief if he were leaving and when he said yes, I raced back to the minivan and quickly bogarted his spot. The only bad thing is that now I can't run to Home Depot for extension cords or anything else. Hope I have enough.

Okay, enough writing and procrastinating in the air conditioning--time to go set-up in the heat!

P.S.--Jester's second surgery went well and he is expected to come home Saturday.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hot, Cold and Cool

I am dreaming of the Starbucks coffee I'm going to have once I'm dressed, "Become You" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. The lousy little summer cold I having been pissing around with for the past week has morphed into a full-blown annoyance complete with extra-runny nose, sore throat, cough, and a voice so croaky that the vet thought she was talking to Dave this morning when she called to give the Jester update. Oy.

If I write one more time what good shape I'm in for this show (early arrival, packet docs created and even mostly printed), I am going to jinx myself for sure. I need to quick think of something going wrong and write it so the imps of perversity pass me by in their cruising. I even have high hopes that the foamcore wall set-up Hargrove is scheduled to do for me at 12;00 followed by my unload time at 1:00 (assisted by Dee) will go smoothly. It's not raining, the sky is a lovely cerulean... I'm doomed for sure. Oh wait, I know! It's going to be *96 degrees* for load-in today! If that doesn't make you miserable, nothing will.

Like my new laptop bag above? Thank you MZ--it's soooo cool! Embroidered, not iron-on or paint.

Jester is having surgery again this afternoon, warm doggy thoughts to him (and huge waves of supporting thoughts to Dave who is managing all child, pet and home care in my absence...). Now off to find that Starbucks and some Dayquil. (PS--Thanks to everyone who has posted wishes here, on Stranded in the South and in email about him.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Night Before Set-up and All Through the Room...

Coffee was long, long ago in little styrofoam cups, "Star Trek V" on HBO Family is my background music. I'm in Philadelphia, ready for rest and set-up tomorrow. I just finished watching a movie with Keith Carradine about a family seal in Maine named Andre. Oh my brain has been sucked for sure.

A little work, a little Star Trek. A little work, a little Star Trek. Wow, this movie is worse than I remembered. On the bright side, it might not distract me from the night's work ahead. I am going to try something new for this show, something recommended to me by Mike Shapiro of Shapiro's at Bay Walk over a year ago: I'm going to make a starter order sheet with recommendations for orders from $300-$1,200 in 1-5 colorways. Anything to make it easier for people to place orders--and for me to take them (it's much easier to write "#3 in Cosmos and Earth $750, " than to write up all the individual pieces and prices).

Okay, this movie is just to bad to keep watching. Time for "Law & Order SVU".


The Best Selling Packages doc is done and I watched almost the entirety of "The Devil Wears Prada". I'm not sure arriving so early before the show is a Good Thing.