Friday, September 28, 2007

The Week is 80% Done...

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Blue Sky" by the Allman Brothers Band on iTunes. Blue sky, baby. I continue to surf the week from the top of the wave. With luck and a bit of focus, I won't crash and burn today and then it will be Over! I shamefully admit to being unable to put a video up on the blog. I blithely assumed the existence of the necessary tech. I was... wrong. I have a seven year old Palmcorder VHS C. It replaced the 12 year old camera that my father gave us for a wedding present that used full-size VHS tapes. There are cables... somewhere for the Palmcorder. But I think even if I found them I wouldn't be able to do what I want to with them. That's the problem with me and technology: I always see a seamless interface where none exists. What does exist is the opportunity to buy my camcorder for $9.99 on eBay--that's the information I got from googling the model number... Looks like a tech upgrade in my future. Any recommendations? I want to be able to point, shoot, put on the computer, write to dvd, post to the web... how hard can it be?

However I am capable of the occasional digital snap, and I provide three today as a peace offering for the lack of video. The in-kiln shot is of the fountain pieces for today's article and the wall pieces are the installed location. I will have a better shot of both together from the Grovewood (I was late for getting home in time to pick up J and didn't have time to futz around with better photography after the install.

One last note on the new studio before I go write-up how to make a fountain: When I went over yesterday afternoon after closing I found that someone had four-wheeled around the backyard and torn it up the night before. There are several spots where they spun their tires and sprayed dirt everywhere. But they got theirs. In the back of the yard, camouflaged by the summer's kudzu , is a pile of concrete rubble and cinder blocks. They must have thought it was just vines and hit it square on. Heh. Looks like they hung up on the concrete pile (deep spin-out pits from the tires seeking purchase to get off) and one of the cinder blocks was knocked ten feet. I hope they ripped the heck out of the undercarriage of their car/truck. Can't get that fence up soon enough.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's Official!

Coffee was long past (in the Atlanta Botanical Garden go cup), "Ain't Wastin' Time no More" by the Allman Brothers Band on iTunes. We closed on the studio property this morning at 9:00. It took 17 minutes. I won the bet. Heh. Good stakes.

Now I head down to pack to ship, and to fire the fountain project for GPQ. Tomorrow I hope to have a walk-through video of the New Studio up here on the blog. Now it's 12:30 and I pick up J at 3:00 for the gymnastics and then ballet classes. Got to get hoofin.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Elephant Love Medley" from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack on iTunes. I have made it through 40% of the week de l'enfer, and we close on the studio in 24.5 hours. All that's scheduled between me and then is a dentist appointment, a PTA meeting, two UPS claims for breakage from last week's shipments, three new shipments, a fountain, harassing the arborist division for the City of Atlanta about the tree next door to us, bills to pay, glass to order, gentle reminders about past due invoices to send... in short, a cakewalk!

Shown above are the FeSiO pieces we installed in the model home furnished by the Grovewood gallery in Asheville yesterday. Remind me not to attempt to drive at 4:30 am in the dark after taking allergy medicine for the first time in the year again... Nuff said. I made it there and back. We don't need to talk about it.

And that is enough of a post for today. Off to slay the day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Boy It's Dark Out There

Coffee in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens go mug, just the quiet tapping of the keys for music. Yesterday went exactly as planned, and now I am off to South Carolina for the day. Photos tomorrow of all the current FeSiO pieces. A side note, it was gently noted to me yesterday that FeSiO, as a "A Fusion of Steel and Glass", is not accurately expressed in the name as "Fe" is just iron, not steel. Yep. It's artistic license. I am just full of artistic license!

See you tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Where is the Harmony, Sweet Harmony?

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love & Understanding" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions on iTunes. Oh Elvis, (scream!). I saw him Saturday night opening for Bob Dylan. Saw him from the 11th row center, oh my. He opened with "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" and closed with Peace Love & Understanding. I'm in Love. J's favorite song is "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" and Elvis Costello is her favorite musician. She was *very* disappointed that she didn't get to go to the show!

But back to earth. I have a WEEK scheduled. okay, I live in Georgia. Georgia, Jungle. Georgia, Jungle. I had a very busy summer and the backyard, well... I finally had to break down and hire a friend (who's a landscape designer) to bring in her crew to Restore Order. The weeds are (no lie/no exaggeration) taller than I am. I have a Japanese maple and a weeping deodora cedar back there... somewhere. Kudzu, and poke weed and crab grass, oh my. The crew comes today and, though I will not be actively weeding, I need to prepare for them (this little thing? It's a peony. Please don't pull it.). Three firings today and an order to ship.

Tomorrow, leave for Greenville/Asheville at 4:30 am to photograph the FeSiO pieces at Elliott Metal Works and to install the new wall pieces in the model home for the Grovewood Gallery. Pick up J from school on the way home and then tomorrow night, date night! If I'm lucky, I'll get to see Viggo naked. The new David Cronenberg "Eastern Promises" is out and might be here in Atlanta. It looks soooo good. (Russian Mafia meets murder thriller). Speaking of Russia, my in-laws just got back from Moscow and St. Petersburg and my MIL said Moscow was so clean it was unbelievable. I admit, I had a hard time believing it because when I was there in '87 it was filthy from air pollution, litter, and apathy.

Wednesday, oh Wednesday. Dentist in the AM, PTA in the PM, glass catch as catch can. I'm sure there'll be a crisis Wednesday as we close on the studio property on Thursday at 9:00 AM.

Also scheduled for Thursday are Ikebana (dress rehearsal for the Japan Fest exhibit), and gymnastics and ballet for J. I am guessing that between closing starting at 9:00 and ballet ending at 6:00, there won't be much glass done.

Sweet harmony (listening to Elvis C. again), sweet Friday. The fountain project write-up for the winter issue of Glass Patterns Quarterly is due. I haven't started it yet. I'm using Armstrong Float Fire, Bubble Powder and float glass for the first time... There's my crisis in the making. Set-up for Japan Fest in the afternoon, an evening with J while D goes to the Drive By Truckers Friday night.

Saturday work begins on the studio with the first electrical as a christening. Saturday is also Japan Fest, if we have enough energy to go. Energy must be conserved as Sunday is D's birthday and celebrating must be done. Fortunately I purchased the Great B-Day gift weeks ago and all I have to do is wrap it.

Next week, while assuredly not easier (I have three people scheduled to work on the studio Monday including lot clearing and grading, fence and deck prep, door installation, AC repair, etc.), will at least be MORE FOCUSED. Glass, studio. Glass, studio. And it'll be October. I love October.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What's Lost Is Found... Sort Of

Coffee in the San Francisco mug, "Tamarack Pines" by Gorge Winston on iTunes. As can be told from the title, I found the missing piece. Um, actually, I never really lost it. It all started at 1:00 this morning with the thwap, thwap, thwap of the deerhound tail on the stairwell wall...

An hour later after much cursing and swearing (there is a difference) and several trips downstairs to Deal With The Dogs, Seraph was consigned to the backyard for the night, Baxter was lodged in the studio, and the first floor smoke detector low-battery alert (which probably set the dogs off in the first place) was reset. You'd think sleep would be had. Nope.

An hour after that I was Still Awake and really wired. I thought of the four lattice wall pieces and the two new tree-and-lattice wall pieces I need to have cleaned, ground, labeled and boxed for my driver to pick up this morning between 9:00 and 10:30 and take to Greenville so Bill at Elliott Metal can put them in the metal and crate them for shipping. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough time to get them ready after getting the Sprout out the door for school. I rose, donned the Black Thing (velour dress-like jammies--no nakedness in the studio... well, no nakedness for any length of time) and went to work. Good thing too--the above-mentioned tasks took until 5:00 am.

In the process of the cleaning and assembling of the set of lattices that I believed to be short one piece I found... an extra piece. It wasn't that the lattices were short, it was that I had inadvertently stacked an 8" square plate in with them giving me an odd number. Now the great mystery is who was the plate for and should it have already shipped? *sigh*

Speaking of shipping, yesterday saw glass with a street value of $9523 go out the studio door. Another $2330 goes out today. Would that it all net 30 or credit card on ship orders. Sadly the bulk is consignment. And the dollar amount, while impressive, is not nearly as significant as the weight of it that I had to carry up the stairs from the shipping area in the studio annex (garage off the basement) to the UPS pick-up area (front porch). Oy, I ache today. I can't wait till I'm in the new studio and everything is on the same floor!

Have a great weekend and be safe y'all.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lost in America

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" on iTunes. It's not random--I love the song and am feeling reflective (thoughts, not light). Yesterday was going really, really well--I was on top of my schedule and everything was getting done in turn--and then it all went to hell in a handbasket about 4:30 and I neither got the scheduled orders shipped nor got the scheduled fuse load in for the day. *sigh* I'm over my little melt down now and need to pick up all the pieces today.

Today's topic is representation for an artist--having an artist rep. One of the orders I (now) ship today is going to a gallery in the midwest whose owner is also going to rep me through her area. Her cut is 15% of everything she takes orders on. 15% off of wholesale seems at first blush to be pretty steep. But I figured my cost of doing wholesale shows last night at 20%-30% of the take--and that's for the really successful ones. Makes 15% look not so bad.

However both returns call my pricing structure into question. I believe I am charging what the market will bear, but I know I didn't figure marketing costs to be so high when I did the math on what to charge for my work. Makes me think (for the 3010th time) that we might be better off financially if I didn't work (or if I did something else). My sales increase substantially every year, but there is such a *huge* disparity between gross and net.

I start thinking maybe I should do more retail shows--there's a clear profit margin there. With retail, you take your expenses (booth fee, travel, meals, etc.--typically not wages) and your sales and if sales are more than double the expenses, it was a profitable show. Double because you sell at retail which is twice wholesale, and making more than wholesale shows you were better off doing the retail show than just selling the work to a gallery for wholesale.

Of course shows--especially retail outdoor shows--are exhausting. Set-up and breakdown are brutal and I am just getting too old for them. Right now carrying shipments up the stairs from the studio so UPS can pick them up is killing me--that and things like moving the 500 lbs of frit I moved the other day. And I'm not keen on giving up my weekends with my family so I can do more shows. It would be different if Dave got into the gypsy traveling show life (I snort coffee just thinking about him in a Winnebago. Can you say Lost in America?). Jessie would love it and she's getting to the age where she could actually help a bit (yep, child labor, my very own sweatshop), but I think I just need to walk away from the idea. Walk away slowly and no one has to get hurt.

But, seriously, I think the answer really needs to be to make the wholesale side of the business profitable enough. If marketing costs are so high, prices are going to have to rise too. And if I can't sell the work for enough to make it profitable, maybe it's time to change careers again and become a landscape designer or a writer (fiction this time).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Missing Pieces... Again!

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Gone to the Y" by James McMurtry on iTunes. I don't know, it's random! The last three songs were "Mission Bell" by Fleetwood Mac, "White Room" by Cream and the morning started with "The End" by the Doors. You got me, man. If there's a theme, I don't see it. Unless it's "Your day is going to be filled with random, unconnected events". I don't have time for either random or unconnected this morning. I have utilities to request, a letter to get for termites, insurance to obtain--oh yes, and glass to fire and ship. Whew!

Last night was date night--great sushi at Magic Fingers Sushi and "Moliere" at the Landmark Arts Cinema. I was really in the mood for a good foreign, period, romantic romp, and "Moliere" delivered just fine. "Shakespeare in Love" in French (need to watch that one again soon).

When we got home I checked email (I'm obsessive that way) and found two more orders for signed copies of the book and a PO for a glass order. Time to update the firing schedule again! Okay, the song now is "The Voice" by I Robot. Time to move to a playlist, an organized theme before "The Fall of the House of Usher" by the Alan Parsons Project or something else really weird comes on. There's some alien *stuff* on my iTunes. Thank you Bryon.

And speaking of firing schedules... I am at my wit's end trying to figure out a way to efficiently manage my orders. I went to ship a big order on Monday and discovered I was short two bowls. I had one in inventory and the other I had fused for another order (shipping tomorrow) so I quick slumped the fused one for Monday's order (now to ship Tuesday) and fused another one for today's order. Went to ship Monday's order yesterday and discovered I was now missing two medium rectangular platters! None in inventory, none in process so I had to call and ask what the client would prefer I do--ship incomplete and pick up the shipping on the final two pieces Thursday, substitute something else, or wait till Thursday to ship. She picked wait so I fused the two rectangles in the medium kiln--Big Bertha was already way full--and will ship the whole order Thursday.

The point is, I am *still* coming up short at ship time about one in every five orders. I think the weak link in my process is the firing schedule. All pieces ordered get put into the schedule and completed based on their size and colorway and whether a fuse or slump is scheduled for a particular day in Big Bertha. The medium kiln is primarily used for overflow and emergency firings (like yesterday), and the little kiln is for slumping 12" bowls (I get a perfect slump every time in it due to the even heat all the way around) and small slump emergencies.

Somehow I need a better way of checking off pieces as they come out of the kiln and not removing them from the schedule until they have definitely been counted. My spouse occasionally talks trash about writing software for me to manage part of my business process. Maybe I need to take him up on it now and get something that will manage the order processing from receipt to ship and invoice.

In the meantime, off to update the schedule based on the past few days firings and add in the new order. Oh yes, and to insure and termite and util. Oy. And the piece I lost the day before yesterday? Still lost. Fugidaboudit. Made a new one yesterday. It was easier. (It's a relatively small piece).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers Band on iTunes. Yeah. Sometimes I feel like I been tied to the whipping post, good lord I feel like I'm dyin'. Evidence? I sat straight up in my mind this morning at 6:30 (my body remained recumbent, it wasn't about to move before it had to) convinced that I had programmed Big Bertha for a fuse firing (way higher temp) last night instead of for a slump and ruined the load. And that's not the worst of it.

I lost a piece yesterday. Not lost as in I broke it or it broke. Lost as in, I know it was in the kiln, and then it wasn't. I was standing in front of the kiln unloading it, I lost a few moments, and I found myself with another piece in hand staring into the kiln and counting the remaining pieces. There was one missing. Had it been anything other than what it was I would have thought I just forgot to make it. But it was the bottom piece of one of the two lattices I fired Sunday--absolutely not possible that I didn't make it.

I lay out all five panels in the lattice pieces together because I have to put the color down in a flow. I laid out two lattices at the same time Sunday so there had to be even pairs of pieces or I really would have noticed. I remember laying it out, it's not still on the prep table, I don't pick up from the prep table and lay down anywhere else BUT the kiln so it had to go into the kiln. Yet it wasn't there in the middle of the unload. Was it there at the beginning? It's the most likely scenario. Occam's Razor sides against someone coming into the studio annex (the garage--the big door was open) and taking a cooling piece (200 degrees) out of the open kiln while I was in the studio.

Today I need to make two more lattice pieces... and a replacement panel for the missing one. Honestly, I looked all over the studio, the annex--even the house!--for half an hour before deciding that it would be easier to just make a new one. Where the heck could I have put it/it have gone?

Monday, September 17, 2007


Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Delirious" by Prince on iTunes. The song is part of the compilation Uncle Bryon (in Austin) made for Jessie for her 5th birthday. She's a lucky girl. I'm not a lucky girl, I'm ex-haus-ted. Five kiln loads fired yesterday in three kilns--two of them fuses (which take more prep and more time than slumps do), and that's only the tip of the iceberg as I have 13 orders to ship or prepare for pick-up this week. Thir-teen. Looks like the new studio is going to be the enabler for the next step--Big Bertha 2. And it's time to order glass again--sheet and frit. I moved 500 lbs of frit around yesterday making it hard to believe I need more, but I'm going through it pretty fast.

Siyeh Studio is having a growth spurt. I daydreamed again this weekend as I was cutting and prepping pieces about having an employee. Someone to refill all the 1 lb frit jars, cut all the bases for the pieces, crush the morceaux, wash and dry the fused pieces, pack and ship the orders. Ah, it's a grand fantasy, but for the time being it must remain a fantasy. Yes, there's a lot of work. More than I can do on some days and weeks that require working through the weekend, but I think that's more due to poor time management and scheduling ("Well, I am pretty booked but I'll try to get that order squeezed in for you.") than to a consistent demand-greater-than-supply on my time. If I were certain that the demand would continue, I might actually hire someone (now that I'll have a studio separate from our house). I did hear unofficially on Friday that I am going to get an order for 50 platters tomorrow with another 50 being needed in the next month. Talk about demand and time management...

Good thing I have a lot of orders right now as the new studio means a lot of new expenses. For awhile I am going to need to pour everything that comes in right out into it. But the financial news is not all bleak; I had the property inspection on Saturday and the results were great! Things I didn't know about that could have been a big problem were already fixed (new floor joists and the existing joists shored up, new support beams in the attic for the roof), and it has a new furnace AND air conditioner--the compressor is missing from outside but the air conditioner was installed, and all new pvc plumbing.

Since the structure is in such good shape I get to start right away on the improvements that will make it a studio. The electrician is going to put in a new meter and upgrade the service to 200 amps (it's currently 100). The carpenter is going to put french doors in the back bedroom (the kiln room) so I can get Big Bertha in the door (she's too wide for a conventional doorway). He's also going to put a deck with a ramp on it (adding handicapped accessibility to the property) outside the french doors as Bertha weighs about 600 lbs and needs to be rolled, not lifted, into her new home. Then he's going to put a doorway back in between the kitchen and the back hall completing the circular traffic flow through the building (why did they block up that door anyway?!?). Clearing the rubble from illegal dumping out of the backyard and fencing it all in, and removing dead limbs and dying trees (and trees growing against the house) round the work off nicely.

Now back to electrical for a second for a discussion of lighting. This is a tricky one. I work with glass so I need lots and lots of light (I also have old eyes and don't see as well as I used to). The rooms have 10-foot plaster ceilings that are not in great shape and had an ugly 1970's texturing job done on them. Each room has a ceiling fan with a light fixture in it in the middle of the room. My options are can lighting--about 5-6 cans per room, or 8-foot fluorescent fixtures (I would probably move the ones I have in my current, windowless studio). The can lighting is good for re-sale, but I am thinking the ceiling is going to need to be redone before we sell anyway (redone as in a new drywall ceiling put in below the plaster ceiling--with 10-foot clearance there is a bit of room to spare), and the can lighting could be put in then. Decisions, decisions (money, money--there's the decider).

Now off to work. Shipping, firing, ordering, oh my.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A New Studio!

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "When the Deal Goes Down" by Bob Dylan on iTunes. Two-fold reason for the song/artist choice. The song is in honor of the bank accepting our offer (well, doing a little counter which we quickly accepted) for the new studio property! We close two weeks from yesterday. A real estate deal from conceived to done in just over two weeks. Gulp.

The artist choice is in anticipation of seeing Mr. Dylan in convert for the first time from the 11th row center next Saturday night--Elvis Costello is also on the bill. Dylan is also playing at Stubbs in Austin tomorrow night and Zilker Park for the Austin City Limits Music Festival Sunday. Too bad we don't still live there.

Oh the train wreck that is my schedule right now. I can't WAIT till October when all the diverse things I have committed to have passed and I am back on a normal studio/firing schedule! Of course come October I'll also have a new property to be working on and a move to make. Got to think about the timing on that one. I have the One of a Kind Show to do in Chicago December 7-9 and a lot of work to get done for it. I also have a piece in the current Art Institute of Chicago holiday catalog and I'm not sure how orders will fall out from it. They kept me pretty busy last year and I don't want to be caught with my pants down/kilns unplugged this year. The smartest thing will be to plan the move for either before or after Christmas. Heck, I could take the last couple of weeks in December to pack and then move in January. As long as I'm ready for the BMAC in February (where I'll share a 20 X 20 booth with Elliott Metal Works in Inspired Interiors), I probably won't have much firing to do.

And I don't have to move far! I'm just going to take down a section of fence and go through the back yards. As soon as we close (and I am over the superstition of jinxing the purchase), I'll do a video walk-over-and-through and put it up here. How cool is it that Blogger now lets you put video directly into your blog--no need to go through YouTube at all. Maybe I'll even do a video construction log of creating and furnishing a glass studio.

Okay, enough fantasizing about things other than work. Off to get some bills paid, some invoices sent, some loads in, some orders shipped, normal Friday stuff.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday? It's Thursday, Right?

Coffee in the Alaska mug, UPS customer service as my music (as I type). Yesterday turned out to be... a day. It ended with UPS not picking up my scheduled package which means it won't get to Florida this week as they don't deliver on Saturday. Wednesday is a big shipping day for me for certain shipping areas. Because of the no-Saturday thing, pieces that need to be to a gallery by the weekend--weekends being big business days for galleries--need to be out by Wednesday. Shipping Thursday gets it there by Monday and many of my galleries are closed Monday.

Oh I'm popular, while on hold, Elliott Metal Works called. I bet they want to know how I'm doing with the pieces we're doing together for the model home in Asheville and the FeSiO pieces they are taking to the St James Court Art Show. At least on that front I have good news for them--yesterday I managed to combine almost all the slump pieces scheduled for two loads into one, freeing up Big Bertha for a full day. Three kiln loads slumped yesterday. Crappy pictures--the iPhone has no flash--but the quantity was too impressive to ignore.

Today a meeting with the loan officer for the studio (where *are* the tax papers from the past two years...?), invoices (finally) out, Hoy's order (finally) in, yadda, yadda, yadda. And it's after 10:00 already, yikes!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just Say No

Coffee in the Los Angeles mug, the sound of the dryer for music. It's only 7:30 and I've already downloaded transactions for all bank accounts and credit cards and reconciled them against the online balance for the day. Have to keep on top of things daily for awhile as it looks like our offer on the studio property *might* be accepted--at least it wasn't greeted by howls of laughter from the foreclosure realtor. We offered market value, which is a good offer with all the properties currently on the market. But it happens to be *half* of the mortgage the bank foreclosed on. If they accept the offer it's grim evidence of the state of the real estate market and the effects on banks of all the foreclosures--and good news for us.

With the onset of fall come lots of parental duties--playdates to schedule and convey child to, gymnastics lessons, ballet lessons, PTA meetings, school functions, modeling assignments (really)--the list seems endless. I also have my personal activities--semi-annual dentist appointment, monthly leg wax (I know, too much information), Ikebana and Ikebana for Japan Fest. These are all daytime activities, and all of them are seriously eating into my workday right now.

I scheduled orders for September based on a regular work week with a bit of extra professional activity thrown in--a fountain to design for my next GPQ article, new products and techniques to experiment with, an article on start-up issues for Profitable Glass, web development for my four on-line presences, new product design, etc. Now I find myself WAY over-scheduled and beginning to stress about it.

This is my favorite season, dammit. I'm going to ENJOY it this year. Last fall was lost to the book, this year I am going to garden--not just clean out the weeds but replant the pots on the porch and the deck (yes, in the south there is a new planting season for fall and winter color). I'm going to decorate for Halloween and Thanksgiving. And I'm going to RELAX and LIVE.

Relearning how to say NO is a necessity to this effort. No, you can't have it today, tomorrow, or next week. How about October 17? No, I can't be on that committee, in that group, come to that meeting, participate in that project at this time.

Yes, I can get into this. And glass will be done.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Be Careful What You Ask For...

No coffee yet, the sound of it brewing for music. Yesterday I waxed happy about Seraph finding her howl. She exercised her joy again this morning at 5:07 (accompanied by Baxter, of course) when some emergency vehicle or other went by. It was enough to wake D and me, and J came pattering in about five minutes later to join us so I guess it woke her too. After an hour and a half of various and sundry dark morning anxieties, I surrendered the sleep fantasy and rose. There is much to do with this day.

Put in an offer on a studio space yesterday. Could close as soon as 9/29, whew! Here are some interior shots of the space--there are four fireplaces, three shown in the pics. It's hard to get a feel for its flow from pictures. If we get it, I might video it and put it up on YouTube... oy. I can't believe I thought that, much less wrote it.

Today, up to Armstrong in Kennesaw, ship a couple of orders, fire a couple of loads, have a couple of panic attacks. Same old, same old.

PS-- Damn and blast. As early as I got up, I still didn't have my items ready for the American Kidney Fund on their pick-up round this morning. For once they actually came at 7:40 (they always say be ready by 7:00 and never get here till noon). The driver said he was trying to beat the traffic from the golf tournament. Oh joy, that time of year again. The PGA Tour Championship one block from our house. *sigh* time to get out the orange traffic cones and put them in front of the house so the mailman will deliver to our box.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lots of Can't Wait

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug (surely cold by now), "Careless" by the Drive By Truckers on iTunes accompanied by Seraph and Baxter. This is worth a side note: Seraph is our remaining deerhound. She lost her brother, Jester, a couple of weeks ago. Being hounds, Seraph and Jester often sang along with ambulances and other emergency vehicles driving past our house--they even taught Baxter the Spaniel (clearly *not* a hound dog) to howl right along with them. Since Jester died, Seraph hasn't howled but maybe once... until this morning. The Drive By Truckers elicited the best, longest, full-throated howl I have heard in some time. It warmed the cockles of my heart for sure--and of course Baxter joined in

Fired all weekend and am finally caught up (fingers crossed and a load in today). Didn't get anything in for Niche on Friday. Some things just can't be rushed. But I took pictures this morning of the Ocean on white lattice wall piece that is shipping today and the puzzle pieces I was going to coldwork into a Niche sculpture.

Also over the weekend I went over the property that's thefront runner for new studio space with my electrician. Whew. It's going to cost a bit to upgrade to 200 amp service. Today I meet with the carpenter and get his quote, and I hope to hear back from the bank about a mortgage. Then I need to get with the HVAC guy about the cost of putting in air-conditioning. The house was built in 1929 and has forced-air heat in the floor, but I think--given the ten-foot ceilings--I would like to put the air-conditioning ducts in the ceiling. Cold air falls, doncha know.

Heard from Maureen at Glass Patterns Quarterly Friday and my piece made the cover of the fall issue--can't wait to see it! Now I need to get going on the fountain I am doing for the winter issue. Tomorrow I have been invited to Armstrong Glass in Kennesaw to play with Float Fire. I can't wait!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Happy Day (Or Else!)

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, hold music from Veterinary Pet Insurance on speakerphone as my music. It's already a morning, but it's *going* to be a good one (dammit!). I finished cataloging the breakage from the accident at one of my galleries this morning. Twenty pieces costing $1,182 (artist price, not retail) damaged. Of those, a couple of big ones can be cut down and made into new pieces, a few of the little ones can be ground and refired, the metal stands were ok, so total loss is reduced to $675. I am splitting that with the gallery so neither of us got hit too badly--it could have been a LOT worse.

Finished the proposed banner for FeSiO Art (above) and am working on the rest of the website. It's a good first pass, but I want an image that integrates with the text better for the long-term. Other comments?

Picked up a new digital camera yesterday on the way back to the studio from ULine. It's a cute little Nikon Coolpix, and I *know* "cute" isn't the main feature one looks for in a camera. Obviously there were many other factors that went into the choice (usability being #1--if I can't find the white balance adjustment without having to read the manual, I'm not buying the camera). And it's so cute! It's red! I will use it today to photograph *two* Niche entries...

And I will ship, and I will fuse, and I will inventory, and I will clean. Finally, I will Remember The Milk.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I Am Not Gruntled

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "The Long and Winding Road" by the Beatles on iTunes. The music choice this morning was not random, it was three-fold 1) Apple is slashing the price of the iPhone by $200 (we, of course, paid full price in the expectation that--like the iPod--prices would not be going down), the phone part of the iPhone stopped working yesterday (an apple tech support rep was able to get it back up in a quick phone call--but it was scary nonetheless), and the Beatles are still not (and not going to be) available for download on iTunes.

Now to glass. Oh how behind can I get? When Thursday is an Ikebana day I always lose a bit of work time, but today is Ikebana, gymnastics AND ballet for the J (I have to get gymnastics switched today). It's also a scheduled fuse day and I have a ton of calls and bookkeeping paperwork to unsnarl. Apparently everyone at Bullseye who works with my account is new. I found out (from accounting) the day before yesterday that my "new" sales rep was no longer there and the one order she did process for me in May appears be snarled up with some of it past due. Bookkeeping called me at almost 7:00 the other night not knowing enough about my account to notice that I am on the east coast and therefore three hours later than they were... Yes, I was working, and yes, I answered the phone. But if I am still working at 7:00 something has gone very wrong and I don't have time to chat.

Now it's time for a bit of a soap box. When we evaluate a company for a business relationship we take all the incoming data, all the sound bites we can get, and we form a picture. I have been using BE glass for over 20 years--to this point it's almost all I've used. I've been loyal to the point of ignoring sound bites and resisting the lure and temptation of shiny, flashy promises by other manufacturers--good solid developments from other producers not even making it onto my radar. I've also been dealing directly with the BE factory for awhile now as I need frit in 5-lb quantities, I like BE's molds, and my long-time wholesale supplier (Ed Hoy's) doesn't carry all the molds or frit in that size.

But now I am disgruntled enough that it might be time to do an evaluation and maybe move on. So what's going on? Lots of things that I am not going to go into here. The negative energy I have generated so far this morning by STARTING to write it all up has me so enervated that I am just going to drop it. Suffice it to say that everything I have seen in print (oh the beauty of the InterWeb), heard from other businesses and artists, and recently experienced in my (lack of) customer service interaction indicates that the business priorities of my glass producer no longer seem to mesh with my needs of them as the primary source of my materials.

For the second day in a row I have not ended posting on a positive note, and I don't feel better about my world. Writing almost always makes me feel better about my world. *sigh* Six orders to get out today. Niche to finish or not. Oh yes, and Ikebana and gymnastics and ballet oh my. Breakage report from one of my local galleries tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Moral of the Story is Don't Plan!

Coffee is a large Jittery Joe (extra shot of espresso) in a porcelain latte mug, music is some unidentified Sade-like thing in the background. Yup, once again glass fans, I'm live from Joe's! I'm not sure the Jittery Joe is a good idea. It's true that my skin rippled with the effects of multiple anxiety attacks from 4:00-5:00 this morning leaving me quite tired, but extreme caffeine on top of extreme exhaustion seems potentially fraught.

Got a new order from a new gallery last night. This is a post-show order from the summer BMAC and it brings me to within $160 of my best BMAC... ever (February 2006). And for summer to summer comparison, I more than doubled sales between 2006 and 2007. Yes boys and girls, you CAN make a living as a glass artist, even in today's economy.

Today at Joe's I am working on the FeSiO Art and Siyeh Studio web pages--time to move SS off EZNettools before I go mad using their wonky little interface. Yesterday's main slump load was derailed by two casting experiments and a visit to the most perfect potential studio space seen yet so I have to get the slump load in today. The other slump (a 12" bowl) thermal shocked during slump so I have to fuse a new one today and slump it first thing tomorrow for shipping.

This morning before heading off to Joe's I sneaked in another little casting experiment. *sigh* The deadline for Niche is Friday and I am still futzing with maybe-I-ca-do-its. Got to LET IT GO THIS YEAR! I have six orders to ship today and tomorrow, and tomorrow also sees the next batch (due next week) going into the kilns for first firings. There really isn't time to squeeze in Niche AND GPQ (see below).

I'm also speeding toward deadline time on my next article for Glass Patterns Quarterly. As I promised Maureen I would not only do the project but would also create an outline of my project proposals for future issues, I need to get moving.

Okay, now that my anxiety attack is back and FULL BLOWN, I need to get working. Posting is supposed to be a mind-cleanser and organizer. I am NOT supposed to finish tied up in knots. That's what you get for planning. No wonder I spend so much time flying by the seat of my pants. What'll get done'll get done whether you plan to do it and do it or just do it. And if you just do it you don't have time to get anxious about how much there is to do.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tuesday? Monday? Whatever!

Coffee (with an *ant* in it!) in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Choctaw Bingo" by James McMurtry on iTunes. It's Tuesday, but it's Monday because it's the first everybody-work-everybody-school day, but it's Tuesday because it's already later in the week than Monday. Whatever. Ants are everywhere this summer. They're even in the fridge (and the freezer! They die there and leave little shriveled chitinous exoskeletons). Monster cockroaches (the big outdoor wood roaches also called palmetto bugs) coming in under the door strips at night--just in time for me to find them on the way to bed. I squeal, I scream, I whimper and squeek, and I smash them with books as I dance in the effort of keeping all the feet off the floor at the same time. Dave disposes of the carcasses. I am not fond of the wildlife of the south. Give me a good old Montana black or grizzly bear any day. They mostly stay out of your coffee.

First day since being back on that I don't have a fuse load scheduled. Slump and ship today. Inventory, order and sweep. Straighten. All the things I thought I might get to (vague hand-waving) other days. And a visit to one of the two local galleries where I have consignment work. I just finished heavily stocking them, even over-stocking them. And I was smote, smited right on down. In the middle of the night Friday a large, heavy painting fell off the wall over the glass table holding the majority of my glass work. The table broke, much (most? all?) of my work broke.

The gallery has insurance, but they also have a bit of teensy tiny fine print of which they were unaware which classifies glass as a breakable and only covers it for fire or theft. The owners were most distraught to to learn of the fine print. They assured me that they'll pay for everything... but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that. It was an accident. They are a new business struggling to get established. I don't know. I just feel like it would be taking advantage of bad circumstances to get a "sale" from this. On the other hand, it's hard for me to take the hit too. I think I need to see how bad it is before I make a decision.

Okay, 8:43 am and posting is done. I promised myself some treadmill time before heading to the studio. Off to melt away fat...

Monday, September 03, 2007

(To) Labor (Or Not To Labor To Labor To)Day

Coffee in the (repaired--thanks honey!) Austin skyline mug, no music--the Sprout still sleeps. It's Monday and there isn't really a choice, I will labor--the firing schedule is finally done through the next two weeks and it's a doozy. Today sees four kiln loads--two slumps, two fuses including a *full* (as in packed to the gunwales) fuse load in Big Bertha.

Now to wax reflective, mournful and philosophic--all in turn.

July and August didn't exist for me. I look back on the summer and I see scheduled bits--the BMAC, vacation in Montana, and I have little memories of them... but they are little island vignettes in the vast Sargasso sea of the nothingness of being that was the summer. Come to think of it, I don't remember June much either. I remember acknowledging the beginning of summer in May. I remember enjoying all the pots of flowers and ferns on the front porch and the back deck. All but of few of those pots now overflow with dead, brown twigs grown moldy from the recent rains.

I cast back and I can't find an anchor in what was the summer. There is no binding holding everything that happened together. Jester's illness and death are the mist shrouding August. The extreme exhaustion from post ACRE and editing the color lasers for the book obscure June. As I spent much of my life on the educational calendar, summer was always the golden time of relaxation and recharge. And while it is true that I am (finally) recharged, I had to sleepwalk through the summer in order to achieve it. What a waste.

The past few days I have plugged back into the grid. I caught up on all the blogs I read. I updated my professional Amazon profile, I read and replied to a lot of posts on, I updated the Siyeh Studio main page and created a bibliography/library catalog of my glass books on Amazon as the Listmania List Glass Essentials (and linked to it on Glass Incarnate).

Now I'm off to get all the kiln loads in. I need another apprentice. Carol is very busy with her law practice and doesn't have time to hang with me on Fridays, and I am getting tired of refilling my 1 lb frit jars (from the 5 lb jars) and crushing and screening my own morceaux. Not to mention straightening, cleaning and organizing. I am *such* a slob!

This afternoon I am reviewing a couple of the potential studio properties and looking at three new ones. I should go to Best Buy and get a new digital camera, but that might have to wait till another day (maybe tomorrow). Though the big sales only go through today...

Tomorrow I will view the damage and post about a gallery glass disaster my work suffered last week. How much it costs me, I have yet to determine. And you'll just have to wait for the rest of the story.