Friday, November 30, 2007

Tired? There is No Word Great Enough

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "If Everyone Cared" by Nickelback on iTunes. "Amen, I'm alive..." and yes, that sums up the morning.


Now, many hours later, I am still alive (against all expectations and odds). Tired is not a descriptive enough, evocative enough, accurate, in fact, word. I am in the beyond tired. Sleep is something I usually slip slowly and lightly into. At first I'm laying on the mattress and everything is normal. But then I feel the first shifting of gravity--it doesn't exist for me anymore--and I languidly begin to leave my body for the place of sleep and dreams. I have a second or two to marvel at my weightlessness and to luxuriate in a feeling of total peace and relaxation before I go.

But for the past few days (weeks) going to sleep has been... faster. The night before last Dave and I went up to bed and, as is our want, we were talking as we snuggled under the covers. He said something, then I responded... and I fell asleep halfway through my sentence. I woke with a start as I finished talking, horror-struck with no idea what I had just said. Dave paused for a second, mulling over my utterance and then kindly said, "My heart, I think you have lost all your consonants. I'll help you find them in the morning." And that was that.

Thanks to Stacy, Dave, my Mom, Dee, and Jessie I have made it through the week and I will be ready to go to Chicago on Monday. While I'm driving up the road I'll be seeing if I can scare up a Bertha II by the end of December to help me complete an order for 400-500 long rectangular platters that I might be getting Monday (due the end of January). Am I INSANE?!?!?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vroom, Vroom

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Don't Waste Away" by James McMurtry on iTunes. Truer words were never written. Too bad the expenditure of energy and effort I am experiencing right now don't translate into weight loss. (The chocolate-dipped biscotti I'm munching on with my coffee are precluders to the whole weight-loss thing.) But who cares about weight? There's a show coming up next week! Against all odds--and for the first time ever--all of the firings scheduled over the past two weeks happened... and happened when they were scheduled. There has been no slippage.

The lack of slippage and sleep have made me cocky: last night I upped the ante and *added* a firing to the schedule. Big Bertha is now scheduled for *two, count them two* slump loads on Saturday. The only way to pull this off is to get today's and tomorrow's loads in early and earlier so she'll be cool enough to unload by 5:30 Saturday morning. One load at 6:00 am, the other at 10:00 pm, then Sunday's load at 2:00 pm so I can unload Sunday's load by noon on Monday... and hit the road for Chicago. Sounds pretty ambitious, doesn't it? But like I said, I'm feeling cocky. :-)

Today, J to school (check), dogs to groomer (check), minivan filled with gas and handed over to Stacy so she can meet Bill from EMW up in Commerce and get the rest of my stands for the show (check). Kilns wide open and cooling (check). But I have an appointment from 10:00-11:15 and I wanted Big Bertha's load in before it. Not going to happen. But it'll be in before I pick J up from school at 1:00. Then the rest of the class list for Hoy's, gymnastics for J, dogs from groomer, ballet for J, maybe even the fabric store with my Mom. Whew!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hump, Hump, HUMP DAY!

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor on iTunes. Not random, not chance. Maybe not haut musique, but appropriate this morning nonetheless. Today is the hump day to end all hump days. Yesterday I realized that I can no longer go it alone, and today I will be alone except for a couple of hours this morning. Yesterday I had help from both Dee and Stacy all day and for most of the day, respectively, and I just managed to get through the production tasks for the day. Nothing more was written (though I did get the GPQ article in)--including the class list. And yet the day was non-stop, jampacked. Today promises to be more of the same (though I did promise my spouse I wouldn't "overdo"--a subject for a post in itself, and not for today's).

Yesterday Stacy did morceaux duty and frit refill, Dee helped move yet more crap from the basement to the studio and then did inventory with me. She ended the day (from mid-day on) by doing the second grind (100 grit) of the edges of the little sushi/chocolate/tapas plates (the plates for whatever little thing you like to eat). Stacy did the wash and third edge inspection/diamond handpad grind (220 grit). I did the first grind (60 grit, I'm in a hurry). I made 140 of those little plates for the show and right now I'm thinking $32 is not enough for them to make them worthwhile to do. Fuse a sheet, cut it into five plates, do two grinds, wash and handpad for chips, slump. That's a lot of hands-on time for a piece that measures 3-1/2" X 8" and retails for $32. On the other hand, they are always the hottest seller at this show. Last year it looked like the sale table at Filene's Basement with the women clustered around them almost snatching the different colors out of each other's hands.

To continue on the topic of not going back... Bill (EMW) called to see how I was doing and to ask if I really wanted to be this busy. I said okay and it's okay. But his question made me stop and think for a moment and realize that, even though she's only been with me a couple of weeks, I would have a hard time going back to working without Stacy. And Dee has been dropping in once or twice a week since I got this studio to just hang and help out. And she really works--there is no just sitting and chatting. Yesterday I didn't even take time for lunch--I grabbed cold leftovers straight out of the fridge and ate them standing by the sink while I was waiting for Mom to finish up what she was doing and get her shoes on so we could go pick J up from school.

I still don't have time to update my website, work on my display for next year, manage customer data, or create focused mailings. And I have help! Before you even think it, no I can't hire someone else. I can't afford it. Yes, more business, but now also more expenses--rent, formal utilities of every variety, and more materials... lots more materials. Maybe I'll be surprised at the income that will come in--let's face it, unless I am doing something radically wrong more work means more money--but who has time to sit down and do financial stuff?!? After the One of a Kind Show. Many things are put off till then.

Now off to fire--a bazooka today, I think. And I won't even aim it at Bill (who so kindly keeps sending me drinks through Facebook).

PS--Thank you Sue for the lovely review on Amazon! I really appreciate that you took the time to write it when you are so busy yourself right now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Pornographer's Dream" by Suzanne Vega on iTunes. I had a completely sublime, completely unexpected, transcendental evening out with Dave yesterday. I have said before that I am just not a live music person anymore--if I ever was. I get annoyed by crowds, bored with standing, and most of the "musicians" of my youth sounded better (much better) in the studio than they did live. So when Dave asked me a week ago if I wanted to see Suzanne Vega at the Variety Playhouse with him I agreed because I love him and so want to do things with him--not because I had any desire to see live music.

And let's face it--right now isn't a good time for me to be doing just about anything. I am *buried* in work getting ready for this show and meeting other professional commitments (writing, writing about teaching, orders, preparing for orders, etc.). I rushed like a mad woman yesterday to get all my work done, have a shower (and wash my hair), and hook up the dvd, tv and receiver so Mom and J could watch a movie while D and I were out. By the time we walked out the door I was really stressed and cranky and would have rather chewed my arm off than go out at all. And to see live music... ugh.

Dave made the mistake as we were halfway down the street of asking me if I was looking forward to the concert. Me and Georges (Washington--not Bush), we cannot tell a lie. I did hasten to add that just because I wasn't looking forward to it didn't mean I wouldn't enjoy it (though I did have my doubts). I was realistic enough to acknowledge that my crankiness might be almost wholly responsible for my dour outlook and there was hope. He was less sanguine and the evning almost got canceled then and there.

As it turns out, my hope was not misplaced. What a great evening, what great music! (What a barely acceptable dinner--though the bass player and other band members, maybe even Ms. Vega herself, sat at the table in the corner opposite us. I recognized the bass player and the woman he was with after the concert in the lobby as being from the restaurant. But back to the other story...) This is my kind of venue and the other people there were my kind of people--they stayed sitting down. Earlier in the day I had groused to Stacy about going to concerts and she said how annoying it was when she went to see the Dixie Chicks with a bunch of women and the people behind them wanted her and her friends to sit down instead of standing and dancing... I dryly informed her that I was one of the people sitting behind her--Scrooge McConcertgoer.

But last night I lounged in my seat and munched my way through a vat of popcorn--washed down with a couple of bottles of (hard) cider--and bobbed my head to the vocal stylings of Suzanne Vega. (Oooh, "Frank and Ava" from the new album just came on--I love that one!) The Variety is a small, intimate venue with a little balcony and great seats throughout. Dave saw both the Drive By Truckers and the Hold Steady there in the past two months and he is very sorry to have missed the New Pornographers and Jason Isobel. I had such a good time that I told him I'd go see anyone there.

But back to glass. Five Days till D-Day and counting. Yesterday I got my article in to GPQ. This morning I need to polish up the class list for Hoy's. I also need to figure out what the heck I've made in the past week and what I still need to make. Sure I have a schedule, but I have been just swapping things around and adding randomly to kiln loads as I could squeeze more in (or needed to change something for an order). I have a little idea what I have... but only a little. Now off to the studio.

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Week, New Opportunities

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, "Hands Like Rain" by James McMurtry on iTunes. Up at 6:00 this morning to write, then took J to school and Dave to the train. (I think it's the last day for that--D's rear window is supposed to be replaced today and then he takes back getting J to school and himself to the train... In a way I'll miss the routine, but I'll be able to use the time.) Got home and put two kiln loads in--a bowl to slump in Little Boy and three ovals and two small round dishes in Middle Ground (finally named the two smaller kilns!). Opened Big Bertha to finish cooling the pieces in her and will reload her after I post and finish one of the two articles--maybe after finishing both.

The birdbath overslumped, and of course I need to photograph it today to finish off the article for GPQ that's already overdue. Hope I can get a creative shot that shows the beauty of the glass and the interest of the design while hiding the overslump. I might end up sending in the article with all the other photos today, redoing the piece, and sending a photo of it finished later. The problem with that scenario is that I don't have space in either Middle Ground or Big Bertha till after the One of a Kind Show--the birdbath is too big for Little Boy--and that might be too late.

The end of last week brought a new opportunity to the studio: I was contacted by a company that works with corporations on their corporate gift programs. They wanted to know if I would be interested in (and able to do) 100-150 pieces for a local company to use as their corporate gift in January. Yes and yes! January is typically a very light month for me in terms of production (though not in terms of work--it's my month to prepare for the February BMAC). and a little extra revenue will be most welcome. They are reviewing the pieces this week and will let me know by next week. If I do get the contract, I'll need to get more molds for that piece. An excuse to shop. Heh.

Now off to write and fire!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday and It's Not Sunny

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, the whisper of air from the furnace blowing up through the vents for music. It is really quiet this morning. Jessie had a sleepover at a friend's house and Gramma is still asleep. This is what it will feel like everyday when it's just Dave and me and the laptops... And then the dogs come in from outdoors and chaos reigns anew. For a Spaniel, Baxter is such a hound!

I began the day by limbering up my fingers knitting a few rows on the coat I am making for Jessie. Now they fly over the keyboard as I do this post--the warm-up for writing two articles and class descriptions. For the latter I think I'll start with the how-to's of mica, my version of pot melts, screen melts, variations on pattern bars, working thick with frit and chunk, and maybe pulling kiln stringer.

But the articles are for the spring issues of magazines, and spring seems so far away. The classes offerings are for next year too, next year summer and fall most likely. Of immediate, pressing, right-now interest are the changes I am going to make to my display for the One of a Kind Show that is, oh, Next Week!

This is a retail show, the only one I still do, so most of my planning has to be completely different than it is for a wholesale show. Sure, big wholesale (order) shows and retail shows have some things in common, but they are more different than alike. The one thing I can count on for every show is that my display needs to grab the attention of the passers-by in the 18 seconds or so that I will get from them before they look on to the next booth. For this show especially, if I haven't caught them in that amount of time I won't get them all. It's a huge show packed with other artists with eye-catching, gorgeous displays and there just isn't time for people to walk the floor twice (i.e., come back).

The wholesale shows are even bigger, but the buyers who attend them are, in some sense, professional shoppers. I think they train for the shows like runners train for a marathon. It takes real endurance to walk a show floor and evaluate the work of some 1500 artists. At the BMAC it's common for someone stop by the booth, look around, say they'll be back to place an order, and actually come back and order. At the One of a Kind Show last year (when the number of artists displaying jumped dramatically), I would hear "I'll be back", and I'd know I wasn't talking to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The average retail shopper just doesn't have the stamina or the ability to resist being completely overwhelmed by the sensory input so get them the first time by or don't get them at all.

So lots of light, open space (a strong body of work is good, clutter is bad), bright colors, check. That's the easy part. I winnowed down the numbers of both the series and the colorways within the series that I am taking this year. In previous years I've taken Morceaux de Verre, Pop Art, Frit Painting, Morceaux de Verre, and boxes--a little bit of everything. But this year I am going to focus on the bell curve, the 80/20 of it all, to maximize sales. Sure, there'll be someone who comes up and asks where are the boxes or the Pop Art pieces--he saw one last year and really wants to buy it now--whatever.

At a wholesale show it's good to have one of everything you do (though last year I still cut all the series except Morceaux de Verre for those too) because buyers see the one piece and place orders. At a retail show I actually want all the pieces I take there to sell there so I really need to take the most popular pieces and lots of each of them. Figuring out which pieces to take was the angst of a week ago.

This week's angst is how to store all the back-ups in the booth so they are readily accessible and the booth remains uncluttered. Oh yes, and the display doesn't weigh too much or take up too much space in the min-van. I am thinking the plastic utility shelving at Home Depot is the answer. Last year I did the wire-rack shelving I use in the studio. It's great for size, but it's really, really heavy and I think it's overkill for a four-day show.

I also have to figure out packaging. I started many years ago with recycled grocery bags, then moved up to purchased paper shopping bags, then frosted plastic shopping bags and bubble wrap, and this year I think I need to add cardboard boxes for the pieces on stands. Storing all of the packing materials takes space too (and the fire marshal frowns on flammables in the booth). Oh yes, and the wall pieces (lattice and tree) all have their own wooden boxes. Those I am going to have to put in the back-stock area as I just can't see having room for them in the booth.

But the day is awasting (and the child is home). Guess I'll keep mulling it over as I put in three more kiln loads (and then get writing!).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wee Free Glass Artist

Diet coke in the can, "Wild Boys" by Duran Duran fading into "Right Now" by Van Halen on the iPod. The day progresses as does studio arrangement and glass production. Yesterday while I was working, UPS was taking the day off. Even the post office was open yesterday, but UPS was CLOSED so the two orders I had ready to ship did not go.

Today I already have the small kiln firing and I'm preparing to do the birdbath (again) (for GPQ) in the medium kiln. I enjoy writing, but I've had a hard time swallowing that particular frog. I think my biggest obstacle is doing the photo shoot all by myself in addition to the design and the writing. The writing is the easy part--I also need to do a quasi-professional job photographing all the steps and the finished piece.

Big Bertha is set up for a slump load of the little rectangular sushi (chocolate) (tapas) plates. Those plates are the only production pieces I do where one piece of fused glass is cut into multiple pieces--five, to be exact. For everything else one fused piece equals one finished piece and I don't grind and polish the edges prior to slumping. These little plates are extremely labor-intensive as I lap-grind the edges with two different diamond grit sizes before slumping. I'm firing 30 of them today so I'll be spending quite a bit of time at the grinder this afternoon--and it's already almost 1:00.

So much for time to make wee folk dolls today. I am planning a set based on Terry Pratchett's book "The Wee Free Men" to give to Jessie for Christmas. I am reading the book to her now as her chapter book before bed, and she spends much time running around the house shouting "Crivens!", "Waily, waily, waily!" and "Wee little burdie" in her best Scottish accent. Never having been to Scotland or having conversed with a Scottish person, her versions are a hoot.

Okay, back to glass. It's the weekend, but there is work to be done.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday, the Week Continues

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Time of the Season" by the Zombies on the iPod. Yes it is the time of the season. For some, it is the time to shop. For ohers, it is the time to sleep off too much turkey, stuffing and pie. For me, it is the time to fire the kilns non-stop and juggle firing and shipping schedules. Today it is also the time to listen to the assistant working as I post and let me tell you, that is a GOOD sound!

Besides firing three kiln loads and trying to spend some time with my family today, I am also struggling with getting my Canon i560 printer to work with my Mac. I *thought* it was just out of ink so I bought a bunch of cartridges (why pay shipping for just one when you can pay the same shipping for a bunch?). But it wasn't the ink. Nor was it the printer (I have two from the old Windows PC days) as I swapped it out. Nor was it the cable as I swapped it out. Ergo, it must be the driver. Grumble, grumble, grumble, hate technology, grumble, grumble, grumble, need a new printer, grumble, grumble, grumble, won't take the same cartridges, can't return the cartridges, grumble, grumble, grumble.

Time to get my grumbly self back to the kilns. I'm working on my time-management skills (which my new assistant disparages--and boy does that smart!)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks and Swallowing Frogs

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Strutter" by Kiss on iTunes (what can I say? Guitar Hero infects us all). Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I am swallowing frogs this morning! Ew, you say. But no. I have Stacy (the new assistant) to thank for providing the perfect phrase for something everyone has to do in both their personal and professional lives. Most of my personal frogs have been shoved so far down the list I can't even here them ribbit, but my professional frogs--as frogs will do--are getting in the way of my getting things done. I am so surrounded by them right now that I am getting to the state where I can't even get to production, shipping, and other less cerebral, more hands-on tasks.

So what are frogs and why on earth would you swallow them? Frogs are tasks that you really, really don't want to do or that now loom over you because you have left them for so long and they're so late... If you had just done whatever the task was right when you got it, when it was due, it wouldn't be a frog now--and psyching yourself up to do it wouldn't require the effort of psyching yourself up to, say, swallow a frog! Of course some things are born frogs and the best thing to do is just hold your nose and get them over quickly. But that's more like the cleaning-the-ferret-litterbox task rather than anything I have to do professionally.

The more frogs I have, the more time I spend on the Internet. I know that whatever I'm doing is neither advancing my business, nor my preferred free-time activity, nor achieving the goal of ticking an item off the to-do list. But the frogs... they peep, they ribbitt, they croak vociferously... In short, they make me look up "coyote ugly" in Wikipedia (the definition wasn't there, but who knew the phrase spawned a bar, then a movie, then a chain of bars!) and then in the Urban Dictionary. Ostensibly I do this to enrich the post, but really I am just avoiding the anticipated cold, slimy, squiggly thing going down my throat.

But no more running! I embrace the frog! Over the next four days I will write three articles (one of them a how-to complete with photos) and put together a syllabus of classes I am interested in teaching at Ed Hoy's (and in my own studio, for that matter).

Though not frogs, I will also fire three kilns at least once a day. Today is Thanksgiving so I shouldn't be posting, and I don't usually post on weekends. But I am in the show home stretch so as I am working, I will be posting everyday through the end of the month.

This afternoon there will be turkey (deep fried, yum), good wine, good friends (and family! my Mom's here), and good Guitar Hero. I give thanks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Day Before Thanksgiving and All Through the Studio...

No coffee yet (need to rectify that), no music either (tick, tick, tick goes the clock). It's O'Dark Thirty in the morning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Jessie has no school today and has a friend coming over for an all-day playdate. I wish I were six again. Maybe. Almost. I know I am rushing toward the busiest, most jam-packed, stressful month of the year with all my reserves used up. Again. Time to reboot--not just for the morning, but for the season.


Okay, a few hours have passed. Coffee has been consumed. A new playlist has been created for the studio (containing mostly perky music... though I think I did put in "Hell, No I Ain't Happy" by The Drive By Truckers). I am in a better frame of mind. I'm still way behind, mind you, I just don't care so much... At least I thought I didn't until Stacy asked me just now why I was so anxious and I started to cry... Breathe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug (for the upcoming One of a Kind Show and Sale), "Flyswatter/Ice Water Blues" by Lyle Lovett on the iPod (for Stacy). Yesterday I left Stacy (new assistant) in the studio working alone for a couple of hours. When I got back she shared with me that after listening for awhile to the playlist I had left on the iPod, she was really depressed and felt like crying so she changed to a different playlist. She was shocked (shocked!) to find that I had left her listening to the melancholy playlist. I'm going to try Ren's melancholy playlist on her next. Heh.

What I posted yesterday about there being no way I can get all the work done I plan for the show is true and independent of the number of people who help me. My labor is not the bottleneck; Big Bertha is. (The semicolon is for Dave. He knows why.) I can only fire one load in her a day. If I rush and get stressed, some of those loads will fail and I won't be able to make them up (the whole finite number of days thing).

Last night I wrote up the list of pieces I would like to have. This morning, as Bertha cools from yesterday's load, I will plug the list of pieces into the (again, finite number of) slots available in her between now and the end of the month. And yes, I know it'll all work out (the Siyeh Studio motto is at the end of the linked post). However just telling me it'll work out is not enough to convince my amygdala. I might could use a little pre-frontal lobe stimulation too. Either the house had bad feng shui at 5:00 am or my anxiety infected everyone because not only was I up and sleepless, but the rest of the human denizens in residence also all woke for short amounts of time--even my mom in the guest room. But she's old and might have just been up for one of the many old-people night bathroom trips... (Just kidding Mom--you're not old.)

So today, more firing. Calling the Merchandise Mart and begging to be allowed to submit my services form late (it was due November 5th), and article writing. Funnily, the topic of one of the articles is realistically determining your work output to evaluate whether you can make a living as a glass artist... Some days the irony just kills me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Two Weeks and Stressing

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, Themes from the Lord of the Rings and the Fellowship of the Ring by Eric Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops on the iPod. Just call me Frodo this morning--and not for my height or hairy feet. No, I'm on the road to Mordor--otherwise known as Chicago. Don't get me wrong--I love Chicago. I love going to Chicago, I love doing shows in Chicago, I love the show I'm heading up to do TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY! Can you feel the anxiety rolling off my body and flowing through the wires out into the world? I know--breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. It'll be what it'll be. I'll be in that frame of mind by next Monday when it's all over but the shouting. But for now I have to go through the entire process. Really. You can't just "skip to the end" (much as I'd like to). And it's the same (or similar) every year.

I am reminded of a post from earlier this year when I was a week out from a show and I realized that the work I needed to do to be ready for it wouldn't fit into the time I had. Every show for me seems to have some variation of that theme. It begins with absolute panic at the disconnect between what needs to be done and the time and space required to do it, and moves through frantic activity, failures, and unimaginable stress to an eerie calm acceptance of my limitations as a human being bound by the laws of gravity and the space-time continuum. What I wouldn't give this morning for eerie calm.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good-bye Oak and Post Trunk Show and Book Party

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones on the iPod. Yesterday was a full day. The City of Atlanta took the big oak out yesterday. I requested it be taken as it was dying, but it still made me cry to see them cutting off the limbs and cutting it down. I called the grandson of the original owner of the house and let him know they were cutting it. He is a wood turner and wanted some of the wood from it for sentimental reasons. I got the City people to leave some good pieces for him and he came for some of them while I was up at my book signing/gallery show last night.

Taking down a tree this big--especially one whose trunk is less than two feet from a very busy road--is a monumental endeavor. It took a team of four all day. One guy was up in the basket with a chainsaw and the rest were on the ground controlling the fall. There were some really scary moments--like when they took the whole trunk down in one piece.

There was a grizzled old man with a white pick-up who waited for hours to be able to collect some of the fallen limbs and pieces for firewood for the winter. I was glad to think the tree would be warming him. The limbs the city took away are chipped into mulch which is given away to anyone who wants to get it. This weekend Jessie and I are going to collect some of the acorns from the tree to plant so we can have new oak saplings for the backyard next year.

The show and book signing last night were a hoot! All the pictures (courtesy of Pam and Licha--I forgot my camera) are up on Flickr.

Thank you Mary and Patrick for a really wonderful party!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Booth Design Considerations

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Punish the Monkey" (again) by Mark Knopfler on iTunes. It is going to be A Day! I was reminded on Tuesday afternoon that today is the first day of the Taylor Kinzel Glass Trunk Show that I am in up in Roswell, and they are also having a book signing there for me tonight... Oh boy. My first book signing and I only have five copies of my book left. Well, that ought to be enough--it's not like I'm J.K. Rowling! So I'm off up there about 3:30, therefore missing J's gymnastics and ballet and relegating Dave to airport pick-up duty at 7:32 when my mom gets in from Montana (yea!) for a month.

But enough chatter. Today's topic is display considerations. I am splitting a 20 X 20 space at the upcoming two BMAC shows and ACRE with Bill and Elaine from Elliott Metal Works. The first step in the design process is to identify the needs. Ours are as follows:

  • Break up the space into areas for each of our individual works and then an area for the FeSiO work and have all of them flow seamlessly together
  • Have our own private areas for sales and business talks with our customers
  • Have a lot of wall space for them and tabletop display for me
  • Grab the eye from any angle as people walk by
  • Open and spacious feeling
  • Flexible for changing layout
  • Quick and easy to set-up and break-down
  • Not too heavy (or we'll be eaten alive by shipping)
  • Not too expensive
  • Durable

Think we're asking for too much?

Let's start with the walls. Movable panels are great for maximum flexibility. Plywood is the first material that comes to mind for DIYers, but plywood needs to be at least 1/2" thick in order not to warp, and it weighs 50 lbs for a 4' X 8' piece. That's a lot of weight. It also has to be kept painted or covered, and whenever you nail into it you get a permanent hole. Not a great option. So we extended our thoughts and came up with gridwalls covered with foamcore. That's what I had on the front corner of my booth in August (photo at right, wall under the lattice piece).

They aren't any more light-weight than plywood, but they don't warp, they attach to each other with cable ties, and the work can be cable-tied to them--even really heavy pieces. The foamcore is extremely lightweight and can be re-used if handled carefully. It can also be decorated with a tissue-paper-and-glue collage that would really set off my work (and hide damage or flaws in the panels). The panel size we settled on is 8' X 2'--and we might cut them down a few inches to fit in a crate made from 4' X 8' sheets of plywood. We put together a common floor layout template and are now tweaking it individually back in our own studios. I am going to create mine with Google Sketch-Up--a free CAD program (Dave wanted to find a use for it, and I was happy to oblige :-).

Enough design for today. Up next: maximizing display space in the sweet spot (thigh height to just above head height) and floor covering. Soon: lighting, and extra touches.

Now off to make the birdbath for my GPQ article (check out the fall issue for my last article!).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Time Lapse

Coffee in the Washington D.C skyline mug, "Adrift" by The Barenaked Ladies on iTunes. No drifting here--moving too fast to drift. Today is the big meeting with Bill and Elaine from EMW in the new studio. I am serving coffee (a blend of French roast and mocha java) and frozen pain auchocolat (chocolate croissants for us Americans) from Trader Joe's for breakfast. These frozen pain au chocolat are the most amazing bakery goods that you can buy from a store and bake at home. I lived in France for awhile, I know good croissants (and pain au chocolat). What you get from most American bakeries wouldn't even qualify--much less anything from the grocery store. But these Trader Joe's things... You put them on parchment paper on a baking sheet at night before bed (frozen) and prep them in the oven (i.e., put them in the oven and leave them there all night with the oven off). Then in the morning you brush them with an egg and bake them at 350 for 20 minutes. At the end of that time you have the most exquisite, perfect, flaky, crispy, buttery pastry you have ever eaten. I kid you not. And they are $2.59 for a package of four.

But back to the day... Yesterday I had both De and my new assistant Stacy helping me and we really powered through things. All the molds (or all the ones I might conceivably use) are now in the new studio, the last of the architectural glass that was moved has been put in its case, books shipped to Europe, and an order shipped to New Jersey. All the scrap glass too big to go in plastic storage boxes (and which therefore stands in the wooden bins below my assembly table--shown above) is now back in the bin (and off the coldroom floor) and it's even sorted by color. I shiver in the bliss of complete organization.


It's now many, many (about 13) hours after I started this post. Much has happened, and it will wait for tomorrow. News of books signing and gallery show and display layout--all tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toting and Lifting Barges and Bales

Coffee in the new York skyline mug, (the theme to) "Baretta" by the Trick Babies on the iPod. Now that's random! I got to work at 9:00 this morning. My commute was to the train station with Dave and then school with Jessie then home to drop off the car and pick up the laptop (and more coffee--out of the go-mug and back into the Starbucks Barista mug) before trekking the long hike across the backyards to the studio. I am sooooo sorry for my LA friends! I know their daily commutes are hell and I shouldn't rub it in, but I *love, love, love* going to work now.

The orders are coming in again, the hiatus is over. This week is Taylor Kinzel's glass show so I need to have work for them by Thursday... hmmm. Guess that means firing it today and tomorrow for pick-up Thursday morning. The main orders for this year's holiday season came in in August, mine are already shipped, so I am done pretty much done with wholesale for the year. Time to pump up the retail inventory for Chicago in December and to start mulling new work for the Buyer's Market show in February--it'll be here before you know it..

And now the studio is full of people (well, there are two people besides me) moving molds and continuing studio set-up. I feel guilty sitting on my tush writing while they tote the barge and lift the bale, so I gotta go.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine... Again!

Coffee in the Starbucks big go-cup, laughter and chatter from the PTA meeting as music. It's Monday which means all the "stuff" that accumulated over the weekend has to be fit in today in addition to the last PTA meeting before the holiday market. The highlights of the weekend include Friday night's high jinx--some fine, upstanding citizen(s) decided it would be fun to break out the back window of Dave's Seebring convertible. Our insurance company obviously feels that accidents and vandalism don't happen on weekends as there was no one in at our agent's office Saturday nor was there anyone in the referral area who could tell me where I could get the work done so I could get a jump on it before today. Then last night we discovered that Saturday morning we left a credit card at breakfast and I need to run pick it up from the restaurant today.

Yesterday Dave had to work some so we sent him away to Kavarna for peace and quiet and Jessie and I headed for the studio. I fired a commission piece for one of my Florida galleries and J broke out her new sewing kit. The photos at right are her making a little purse complete with closure strap with buttonhole and button sewn on. Wow. She is good and did it all by herself--right down to cutting the buttonhole! It was a good day (and I was tempted to post since we were already in the studio).

And now it's Monday and the week is out of the gate with a leap and a bound. I have hired an assistant and she starts today. It's scary, it's exciting, it's an employee... it's a big step.

Today is bird-bath fusing (cool new technique incorporating frit and paint). I train Stacy and start her on inventory, moving molds, breaking down boxes, oh my. I plan the firing schedule for the rest of the year (with the orders I have and the work I need for upcoming shows--I also need to leave room to accommodate other orders as they come in) and I mail the international book orders.

Dee is coming down to help with continued studio set-up tomorrow. Tomorrow is also the first day of official, full production and the commensurate first firing of Big Bertha--got to finish setting up the counter-weight system for the lid.

Wednesday, Bill and Elaine are coming from Elliott Metal Works so we can design our booth set-ups for ACRE and the BMAC next year and look at our next collaborative design direction. I'm setting up a big conference table in the office and borrowing the card table chairs from the house. The first official gathering in the new studio.

Thursday is a Kavarna day and I will be writing my two articles for Glass Patterns Quarterly (birdbath project) and Profitable Glass (start-up issues: can you price your work to make a living?) and working on all my websites. Completion? No. Progress? You bet!

Friday is slotted for mop-up on anything that doesn't get done on the other days and general settling into the saddle of the new studio. And maybe shopping. Shopping would be fun. Shopping for floor lamps for the office, a printer for the studio, shelving for back stock for the One of a Kind Show (Dee convinced me that there is no need to carry the bezillion lb commercial steel shelving units up to Chicago and back just to hold my back stock. Duh.), etc. It's always good to end a week with shopping.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Old As Dirt

Coffee was in the Barcelona Barista mug an hour or more ago, "I Want To Be Your Girlfriend" by Mary Chapin Carpenter on the iPod. I have already been putting up shelving and leveling it, organizing frit and emptying boxes in the studio this morning. It was only 47 degrees inside when I arrived and I just couldn't bear to sit and post in the cold so I turned on the furnace and worked until it was warm enough to write. Now I am toasty snug and enjoying a well-deserved break. Heck, the break would be well-deserved if I took it all day--Dee and I moved about 1500 lbs of frit yesterday (2/3 of it) and I woke with an aching back this morning.


I left the computer for a few hours and moved the rest of the frit. Boy am I SORE! I am clearly old as dirt. Early this evening I am going to soak in the whirlpool tub with some Epsom salts mixed with scented bath salts... and a glass of Roederer Cristal champagne. Tonight we officially celebrate the release of the book (even though I still have never seen it in a bookstore). Jessie has a sleepover at a friend's house and Dave and I are going to veg with champagne, pizza, and Netflix (I love Friday). Yes, clearly we are old as dirt--and I wouldn't have it any other way.

More pics next week as the studio comes together (big comfy green chair in the office. yum.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Live From the New Studio!

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Far, Far Away From My Heart" by the BoDeans on the iPod. I'm live from the new studio and the view from my desk is of a billboard with the picture at right on the side of the building next door. Oh boy. Every time Jessie comes over she cries. She wants us to adopt the dog in the poster, Angel. "I would give her chocolate every day--if dogs could have chocolate but they can't because it would make them sick. And I would love her more than anyone else does. And if I had two chocolates, I would give them both to her--if dogs could have chocolate, but they can't because it would make them sick." Oh boy. Sadly, we live in a neighborhood where many people treat their dogs this way so the billboard is well-placed for its target demographic.

It's cold in the studio this morning! I think there's a problem with the thermostat--it reads 54 degrees when it's sweltering hot in here so I can't just leave it on all night, but these mornings are chilly (she says squeezing her warm coffee mug). My parents in Montana and my in-laws in Chicago must be laughing themselves silly to read that I think southern fall mornings are "chilly".

All the books but the international ones went out yesterday (yea!). I have to take the international ones to the post office today. I tried to send them UPS, but the most economical way to send a a 3 lb 12 X 9 X 2 package costs $85 to send to the UK... !!! It's still going to be expensive via the post office (probably just less than the cost of the book). I hope the recipients think it's worth it, if not I have personalized three copies for nothing.

Now Dee is here and it's time to keep putting together the studio. Till tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Back to Earth

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Hands Like Rain" by James McMurtry on iTunes. So okay, blogging from the new studio is not quite ready for prime time. Yesterday was fully occupied with the book. Got another call from Ed Hoy. He wanted to let me know that the response to it in their showroom has been overwhelmingly positive, and they have a couple slots in their teaching schedule for next year, would I be interested? Heck yes! Got a poke from my editor on getting the supplies list to them for their website, I am sooo behind on that. Good thing I have a whole day dedicated to on-line work coming up. But I can't feel too bad--they don't have my book up on their site yet either. Everyone's behind. And then there's Borders.

Last night was date night and we went to Pura Vida for tapas and pisco sours and then on to Borders to look for new books (and pick up a copy of Ratatouille on dvd). With the mellowness engendered by a couple of pisco sours in my belly, I had the bright idea of offering to sign the copies of my book at Borders. I figured between my driver's license and the author photo and bio, I could convince them I really did write it. And I could bask in the public I'm An Author glow. Oh you know where this is going...

I waltzed in the front doors and sashayed over to the craft section. Glass, glass, glass. Hmmm. where's glass? Oh there it is, the little section squashed between jewelry and something else. Not very many books in it, and certainly not one of mine. Somewhat chastened, headed for the computer to look it up. Huh. Still in pre-order status. Well they need to fix that! Strode boldly to the info desk and asked the young man when the book would be in! He tapped and he typed and he peered intently at the screen. Where else have you seen it, ma'am? Well, Amazon and some local Barnes and Nobles have it listed as in. Hmmm. Regretfully he informed me that he couldn't even find a Border's number associated with that particular book so they probably weren't even going to be carrying it. Not carrying it! But I could order a copy for you and you could pick it up when it comes in. Sniff. Shoulders slightly hunched, I slunk over to the new hardback books table to drown my sorrows in a new book or three.

Books are always good for whatever ails me. Jezebel grabbed my attention--as much for the beautiful cover as for the content (I am a sucker for neo-classical paintings. My favorite being Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme). On the way home Dave consoled me with the idea that they would probably carry my novel, if I wrote one. And heck, I've already written one book so how hard could the second one be? Isn't that what young couples say to convince themselves that a second child is only marginally work work than the first? Hah! I didn't believe that one either! (Well, I did, but Dave talked me out of it.)

Today I continue studio set-up--several hundred pounds of back-up frit to move--and I might even fire a load in Big Bertha. Tomorrow, studio blogging for sure.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Studio History

Coffee in the Washington D.C. skyline mug, "Punish the Monkey" by Mark Knopfler (new music!) on iTunes. I was going to post form the new studio this morning, but there is a little more set-up to get done (including moving over my desk chair) before I'm ready for that. I did get the painting finished in the office yesterday and Dee got all the shelving units built (listen to the sound of check marks appearing next to to do items) AND she unpacked the new case of glass so I am ready to formally move in. Tomorrow, "Live from Siyeh Studio mark... 11! Wow. I am on my eleventh "studio".

I had to put the quotes around studio in the last sentence because I remember the first studio was a corner in the great room in my grandparents basement. I didn't do any kiln forming then, it was a stained glass only studio. I wonder if my Uncle Ed still has the big round window of a mallard flying in front of a lake? It was my second piece and the only one I ever did from a pattern. There was a piece for each feather and I remember being amazed when it actually all fit together. I was never much of a copper-foiler so it was a huge round leaded window.

Then I went off to graduate school in Chicago in my 1967 GMC Suburban with the backseat removed. That car was *big*. It seated 20 and I had a small paragon kiln in the back, a case of glass tied to the back of the bench seat, and boxes of tools. Oh yeah, I also had some clothes and books, but those were thrown in as almost an after thought. The "Studio" in Chicago was most of my graduate student apartment: the bedroom was the glass studio, the kiln was in the kitchen and I slept on a pull-out sofa in the living room.

Studio three was in an old coach house in the Kenwood area of Hyde Park by the University of Chicago. I finally had a 20-amp circuit so I could get a bigger kiln. I bought a 20" X 20" Glass Glow from Phil Teefy and tucked it under the stairs in the garage area of the coach house (the little Paragon stayed upstairs in the bedroom/studio). Production firing back then meant two firings a day and for the second one, setting the alarm to get up every time the power needed to be adjusted for a new firing segment (slow ramp, fast ramp, cool, anneal, etc.). Chicago in the winter in the middle of the night in a drafty old coach house. Brrr. I feel so spoiled now.

Yesterday I shipped from the new shipping room. It was heaven--no more crowded, dark corner in the studio annex (aka the garage). I am still a little concerned about putting my packages out for pick-up on the front porch. I would feel better if it were screened in. Construction round two.

Today I sign and ship all the books people pre-ordered and change the Glass Incarnate web site from "pre-order a signed copy" to "order a signed copy". I'm already getting inquiries about suppliers so I need to get a list together for Lark and one up on my site asap. Maybe I need a Kavarna Day...

Monday, November 05, 2007

The First Review!

Coffee in the Los Angeles mug, the sound of dogs chomping kibble and the in-laws chortling at the cat for music. The studio is (mostly) moved, the signed copies of the book go out tomorrow (when the boxes for them arrive), I did not have to go for jury duty today, and the first review came in on Amazon over the weekend. No, it's not a plant, and I am over the moon!

While I took the weekend off from glass, the electrician finished the last of the studio wiring including the gallery room. As I don't have jury duty today I am going to finish painting the office, put together the rest of the shelves, put away the rest of the 5-lb jars of frit and unpack the case of glass that arrived last week (the week before?). I'm also going to move the finished inventory over to the studio and ship the last two orders I made before the move. And I don't even have to work alone! Dee is coming down again today to help me get set up. I am truly a fortunate one.

I have decided not to have a studio open house/book signing party this weekend--it's just too much to pull off in too little time. If I had an assistant and a good mailing database I could do it no sweat, but I just don't have time to get the studio up and running and organize a social event. then there's the fact that I don't currently have *any* finished inventory so I would have to make all the work for the gallery this week too... Bleh.

Now off to take the in-laws to the airport and mail off a copy of the book to be reviewed for the next issue of Glass Craftsman. Gulp.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Mystery" by the Indigo Girls (in honor of the week) on iTunes. It wasn't a random choice and I considered "Building a Mystery" by Sarah McLachlan--which might have been more appropriate--but you can never go wrong with the Indigo Girls. Aggravation. I was all set to post pictures of the tumultuous week up to and including the first kiln load in the new studio and I can't. find. the camera. transfer. cable. I can't find the fly-swatter either and we are *infested* with little fruit fly-like things. I can feel myself getting wound up. Breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It's Friday now. Yesterday's move wrap-up and install went well. Bertha is level (and wasn't THAT a job in this 90 year-old house with very Un-level floors!) and has a counterweight pulley system hung for the lid, the Styrofoam peanut dispenser is hung, the frit storage racks are mounted, and the middle kiln has been loaded and fired even before the computer control panel has been mounted on the wall. Why did I fire after two long, chaotic, stressful days of moving? Well it's like this...

Jessie is in a new school this year and at her school they have a ritual for celebrating childrens' birthdays. I found out that, yes, the date for her in-school party really is *today* yesterday at 1:00 pm, and I had none of my assigned prep for the party even begun--much less completed. The first step was the cake. The kids make a cake in class and the birthday child decorates it with flowers she brings from her garden. Our garden yielded a couple of impatiens, a few marigolds, some ivy and a lacy white flower. It wasn't really enough so Jessie and her Gramma (newly arrived from Chicago) went off on a walk and gathered the last of the season's roses growing through neighboring fences.

Meanwhile back at the studio... The moving wound down and the helpers went home after hugs all around. I dragged my very tired and sore body home and sat down to start the little story about the milestones of Jessie's life that her teacher will read in class today when I remembered that part of the celebration includes the birthday child giving a little hand-made gift or natural object to all of her classmates... I had planned to have Jessie make little glass sun-catcher ornaments, but that was before the painting and the move dragged out for an extra week. What to do, what to do. As we are fresh out of Popsicle sticks, little magnets to glue and other ideas, Jessie and I headed back over to the studio to see what we could do.

Picture, if you will, a glass studio at the tail-end of the most random, unprepared, chaotic move imaginable. Jessie saw a scrap of clear irid with black streamers in a box on the coldroom floor. I found and assembled the pieces of the Morton cutting system (the cutting oil was the hardest part) and cut the scrap into two-inch squares that we washed and dried. J sprinkled multi-colored frit on them... and then it was time for dinner.

As I was waiting for J to finish dinner, with memories and input from Dave and the grandparents, I finished J's story and emailed it to her teacher. Then Jessie and I headed back to the studio where she put little copper loops in the corner of the ornament and covered them with colored circles. It took about 20 minutes to find the computer controller for the kiln (it was still hanging on the wall in the old studio) but eventually it all came together.

And the day ended. Well, there was also a hot bath and a white Russian with Bailey's instead of cream in it.

Postscript: I found the camera cable AND the fly-swatter so you get pictures and I get dead flies. Enjoy!

Moving Bertha:

Moving glass:

New Studio in chaos:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Insurmountable Obstacles On the Road to Imminent Disaster

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug (in honor of the in-laws who arrive later today to celebrate their granddaughter's birthday with us), the quiet ticking of the clocks for music. I just noticed--after months of writing in this same spot every morning--that I am sitting equidistant between two clocks and they tick a fraction of a second off from each other. Time in stereo. (Makes sense that it would be just a fraction wouldn't it as they each tick every second.) And that pretty much sums up October: Time in stereo.

I promised pictures today, but I also thought I'd be (more or less) moved by today. Not so. Pictures tomorrow and a full status report. I might even have an idea of the status for the report by tomorrow... But before I go any further, Thank you, thank you thank you!!!! to Dee Janssen for helping with the move yesterday and for committing to come back today for more. So the move, how'd it go? Well...

Moving into a new space of any kind is... difficult for me--the title of the post says it all. I see it empty and waiting and I see all of the wonderful possibility in it, and I want to realize that possibility. So I paint and I build and I prepare. And I run out of time. In years past, running out of time meant that whatever was done at the moment time ended was what would get done--I never saw the possibility of work on it/finish it later. (I would have been a lousy candidate to paint the Sistine Chapel--for so many reasons!) In smart times I scaled my ambitions to avoid the disappointment of not being able to finish before the time allotted for prep was over. In not-so-smart times I rushed to finish and did a poor job at the end. With the new studio I've done something else. I started all the painting and prep--every room but one has been touched with a brush and the paint has been purchased for the final one--and when the time for prep ended, I put it down to go on to the next step, the move. I calmly set aside brushes and rollers and picked up the dolly and the UHaul.

Even though the space looks even more haphazard than my spaces usually do on moving day (there were immovable objects placed in front of raw plaster in one room), it feels right. I will pick up brushes again again and paint this winter. In only the instance of the raw-plaster-room will I be painting around objects. Every other unfinished space can be painted easily after moving. And all of the weaving words so far in this post has led to that idea, to that kernel of wisdom that it took me till now to get: Things don't have to be completed in perfect blocks. You don't have to eat all of your peas before you eat your steak and all of your steak before you eat your potatoes. I don't have to finish all the painting before moving--just the painting on the critical path of the move (hallways and the bathroom, e.g., can be done equally easily at any time).

Let's extend this thought in the next couple of paragraphs, and we will get to the genesis of the New Move.

A big part of the stress of the new studio for me has been that I couldn't wrap my head around moving all of the studio contents--even 200 feet. For a move to be a success for me, I have to have mapped out exactly where everything is going. And let's be frank, I don't even know WHAT everything is, much less where it is now, much less where it will go! I have over 20 years of equipment, experiments, tools tried, tools purchased on a whim to try, molds, stands, other materials, and glass sheets, glass scrap, glass, glass, GLASS!! It would take a year to plan the campaign of the move for everything.

Then Dave, who got me through the book, who gets me through life, said "Why are you moving everything now? Why don't you just move what you need now, and move the rest over time?" "Well, Because!", I stammered. Because I eat all my peas before I eat my steak. Because I completely finish one thing before getting on to the next. Because it's never before been practical or even an option to do a partial move. But now it's not an option, it's a necessity. Yesterday with five people focused and dedicated (and a sixth when it came time to move Big Bertha) we moved maybe 1/3 of the studio. We moved three cases of glass with 12-13 to go. We might move one or two today, or we might not.

Today the whole crew maybe minus one will be back to do it all again. The crew is all over 40 years old and I know I'm feeling every year this morning. I can only imagine how the guys--who did all the major lifting and carrying--feel. They'll be here in 45 minutes, and I'm no closer to a picture in my mind of what's going to happen when, what's going to get moved, where it's going to get moved to, where the stuff that's not getting moved is going to be stored, than I was for all of October. And yet, the move will go on nonetheless. It will go on competently, smoothly and efficiently. How? I don't know. It's a mystery.