Saturday, December 29, 2007

Topsy Turvy Week

Coffee in the Washington DC mug, a clock ticking and the refrigerator humming are my background music this morning. Is eggnog good in coffee? I'm afraid to try it to find out. I am the parent of a six year-old teenager. Yesterday she deigned to rise at 10:00, who knows when she'll grace me with her presence this morning (afternoon?). So it's Saturday and I am posting, what can I say? It's been a topsy-turvy week. Dave is already at work, and I will spend at least a couple of hours in the studio today. And where have I been the rest of the week? I took Thursday and Friday OFF. Oh, I still fired three loads in two days, but the big loads were just slumps of the long rectangular platters and I only spent about 45 minutes a day in the studio to do them. I took a much-needed well-deserved rest and READ A BOOK. Today I finish the last of the cutting and I fire a fuse load, crack that whip.

I think I'll also put the shipping room (which holds all the finished work) back together. It's still upside down from my trip to Chicago. The rest of the glass work I have looming will be done on the computer. Website, finances, logistics for upcoming shows (hotels, shipping choices, storage options, etc.), class offerings for the coming year, the suppliers list and actual supplies list for the book, and a column on start-up costs and considerations for Profitable Glass are all due in the short to mid time frame. If I'm really good, next week I'll finish painting the studio.

The J has awoken and nestles next to me on the arm of my comfy chair, jostling my elbow (and lecturing me about the size of germs--"They're not invisible, they're just so small you can't see them"--after having sneezed on my gingerbread). She squiggles so much it's hard to write or concentrate, it's time to get on with the day. Later I'll try to write a review of last year and a plan for next. Some call it resolutions. I call it a call to battle and a girding of the loins.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Glass Artist Solders Electronics

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "You Sexy Thing" covered by the Tom Tom Club (from Ren's Happy Happy Happy Mix) on iTunes. Is it a new year yet? It feels like a new year, and at the same time, it's the same old, same old. Though I didn't post Christmas Eve or Day, I fired both (and Saturday and Sunday). I'm back in the no-days-off-till groove again. This time it's for the gift order of 114 long rectangular platters due January 10. Oh man is this mix HAPPY! "Bongo Bong/Je Ne T'aime" by Robbie Williams now playing on iTunes. If it doesn't spice me up for a full-throttle day, nothing will. (Thanks Ren!)

It's Boxing Day. I wish we were celebrating in the time-honored fashion (laying around drinking, eating, and watching the telly). But I sent Dave off to work today sporting his new CinnaBoost (shown here attached to the backpack with carabiner and the saga of the creation of which is narrated in today's Stranded in the South). The hanging jump ring sets mine apart from all the other Minty and CinnaBoosts: Dave asked if there was a way I could make it a hanging tool for his backpack, and a hammer, two sizes of nails, a keyring and a couple of pairs of pliers later...

Already today I have fired two orders in one kiln load and ordered some frit from Hoy's as I discovered over the weekend that I don't have enough of the sky blue transparent for the big gift order. Gack. Now to finish posting and get on to wading through a year's worth of finances. No rest for the wicked.

Friday, December 21, 2007

All is Calm...

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Peace Child (O Come Emmanuel)" by The Normals on iTunes. The shuffle's battery was dead this morning so I'm back to listening through the computer's iTunes again. At least I have finished the audiobook that wasn't in audiobook format so wouldn't mark where you stopped and restart from there (oy) on the iPod so I can use it again. As I write my post, J is working on the last of the Christmas presents she is making. I have to get them in the mail today to Illinois. My UPS driver told me yesterday that he thought Monday was a holiday for them, which gave me quite a scare. Luckily for me, he was WRONG.

This morning Stacy comes and brings her daughter Grace--I have the apex of a flexible, real-life, productive, powerful and fun business here. Stacy and I will work, Grace and Jessie will play. No corporate office with a dress code, rigid hours, and no children allowed for us. Which is not to say there won't be work--I fired 17 pieces yesterday of which two need to be slumped today to ship Monday. Today, another 20-21. I am experimenting with incorporating opal frit into my Morceaux de Verre style. I am trying for something more substantial in color weight without sacrificing the depth of the transparent glass. I also have the "Enjoy" bowl commission to spur me on. The first effort was not as vibrant as I'd hoped. The opals--even with a lot of clear large frit included--were just too flat feeling.

In addition to glass (and another playdate for Jessie this afternoon with one of her Waldorf classmates--next I'll put on pearls and a lace apron, bake cookies, and cement my role as June Cleaver) I have a Christmas gift to... assemble, another one to *start* knitting, and some home electrical work and plumbing to do (one fried dimmer, one dimmer to put back, one major leaky faucet to repair and two occasionally leaky faucets to give the fish-eye... I may just buy a laundry tub when I'm at Home Depot getting the dimmer and hire the plumber to take care of all the water work--I know that's the solution Dave would like best!).

Christian has begun the work on the websites and I think I'm just going to bite the bullet and do it all the way I want instead of cobbling and making due. Blog, group list, catalog, everything all incorporated into the site as appropriate and all the sites seamlessly in one place for management. Wish us luck.

J is calling for breakfast, actually, no she's not--she got the cream cheese out of the fridge, the bagel and the knife and she's making her own breakfast. I love having an autonomous child! Just six years old and self-sufficient! Next she'll be driving herself to school. Oh wait, she can't reach the pedals. Oh well, in a few years. Now off to glass.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Vacation is Here (For Some...)

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "What Child is This?" covered by Sarah McLachlan on iTunes (no, Jessie, the song isn't from the movie XXX... too much media in my child's diet perhaps?). I begin my stream-of-consciousness (and send warm thoughts to Bill in cold Minnesota). UPS, those wily boys in brown, are up to their tricks again. I really hate it when my regular driver, Al, is either on vacation or supplemented by holiday help. The Next Day Air package I scheduled to go out yesterday to Seattle did not get picked up. In spite of repeated calls to USP customer service, repeated assurances on their part that it would get picked up, and the driver entering into the on-line system that it HAD been picked up, it was still sitting on the porch at 6:30 this morning. LALALALA, It's beginning to look a lot like disembowelment, uh, I mean CHRISTMAS. "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" (covered by Bing Crosby) is on the iPod. I particularly like the line "And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again...". It's nice to see some things never change.

Today for J is the first day of Christmas vacation. Today for me is the first day of cutting and firing the 114-platter order. For Dave it is just another day in the run-up-to-the-Primaries hell (his team is working on rewriting CNN's election software and the move-up of the democratic primary dates has really boogered things up--everyone wants to be first, and, really, Iowa and New Hampshire deciding the candidates?). We still haven't even put up the rest of the Christmas decorations (outdoor garland and lights, lights on the piano, decorated J's tree... oh I am a bad Mom!). At least the presents are bought and (mostly) shipped.

But glass, glass, glass. This morning--and every morning except Christmas--for the next couple of weeks in the studio. This afternoon--and for many afternoons over the next two weeks until she goes back to school--a playdate at our house for one of J's school chums. During the playdate I will be at home instead of in the studio, and I will be working on end-of-the-year finances, class offerings, a supplier's list, marketing plans, and websites. The days are full.

But first, a quick run to the post office to pick up a package. Stay safe, stay warm, stay happy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Glass is Here

Coffee in the Washington D.C. mug, "Agnes and the Hitman" by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer on the iPod. Yep it's an audiobook! Started it on the way home from Chicago with Mom, then listened all the way to and from Greenville yesterday--and going to Greenville's the reason I was up so early yesterday. Today I am going to finish listening to it--and cleaning up a bunch of loose paperwork ends. But first I am going to receive and unload a delivery of glass from Bullseye and begin the cutting on the first load of platters for the gift order (114 Pacifica long rectangular platters... whoo hoo!).

As nice as all the little to-do items are, I have been thinking a lot lately about posting and the purpose of this blog. I write every morning as I'm getting organized for the day, and my postings reflect this action of mental organization. Boring. By mid afternoon I usually think of something that would be really interesting and pertinent--at least for other glass people--and that I culd write much much more eloquently. But I don't write in the afternoon so my postings consist of organization in the morning, and we're back to boring. I think I'm going to experiment over the next few days with alternating posting times to see if I can write the more interesting things I'm thinking about instead of the stream-of-consciousness organization that is my every morning.

Now off to fire. Keep warm all!

(I had to turn off the audiobook to write all that as I can't listen, concentrate on it and on what I'm writing, and type all at the same time. What a wuss!) PS--thanks, JK, for the info on QB for Mac...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


No coffee, it's brewing... a lot of it, the gurgle of the coffee maker--soon to be replaced by an audiobook in the car--is my music. Off to Greenville today to work on my new display for the February Buyer's Market with Bill and Elaine from Elliott Metal Works. Maybe pics tomorrow. We are sharing a 20 X 20 space and need to optimize the layout for our individual and combined needs.

But right now it's only 4:25 am and I am not awake enough for a really coherent post. Maybe more later when I get home, maybe more tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2007

'Tis the Week Before Christmas

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug (in recognition of the newly arrived cold weather), "The First Noel/ Mary, Mary" by Sarah McLachlan on the shuffle (coming through the stereo receiver). It's 27 degrees out there! Last week 72, this week 27... that's a pretty major flip.

Tis the week before Christmas and all through the studio,
Not a project is firing, though many are due.
The kilns are all waiting, patient and true,
They know that the artist soon will be through...

And it's true, this afternoon I'll be grinding and fitting two lattice panels to prepare them to ship tomorrow from Greenville. Before I tackle the lattices, there are two orders to ship out along with all the last-minute gifts for our family in far-flung parts of the world (destinations today:Polson Montana, Montgomery Illinois and Chatou France). But first, ikebana (mizuhiki today!) and wrangling finances for both home and business. Ugh.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fun! Friday!

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Emmanuel" covered by William Ackerman on iTunes. Two days have passed since my return from Chicago and I am finally slipping back into the groove. I fused a couple of pieces in Middle Ground yesterday and will slump them today. Today I will also fuse two Cosmos lattice panels--the last of my show orders and do a little experimenting with an opal bowl in frit. I return to opals from time to time to see if I can work out a series like Morceaux de Verre that is predominantly opaque glass. The timing of today's experiment is driven by a commission I got yesterday as a follow-up to the One of a Kind Show. A man wants a gift for a friend in the colors of the Red Rock Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Pumpkin, paprika, and pea, with a dash of gray, white and black. The closest matches I have for the colors are opals so I'm off to blend and play again.

Stacy is coming to the studio today too, and I want to plan the next steps for finishing it up (painting, furnishing, etc.) and spring marketing with her. All this needs to happen before 1:00 as I pick J up then and we are going to make little Christmas ornaments before she goes to Fun Friday. While I am not taking official vacation time over the next couple of weeks, I am planning to work less. My glass order from Bullseye comes next Wednesday, and Thursday I need to begin firing every day to get the corporate gift pieces done for January. I hope to be able to do the kiln loads first thing every morning so I can spend the rest of the days with the J while she is on winter break. And I will take off Christmas Day completely.

Oh yes, and in the next couple of days I need to knit J a pair of fuzzy slippers for school. She has a pair of fuzzy store-bought slippers, but she doesn't like them and so wears the "borrowing slippers" from school everyday--they're a much-worn, much-loved pair of big-yarn knit slippers. That'll give me three active projects on the needles--Dave's sweater (from several years ago) J's coat and now socks. Hands gotta be busy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Alone Again

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Blue Christmas" covered by Dean Martin on iTunes. It was a random selection, but I am nonetheless a bit sad today. Yesterday was supposed to be a tri-generational crafting, bonding, relaxing day with the women of the family. And it almost was. I started the morning by beginning the Christmas shopping on-line. Jessie and Mom got a leisurely start on the day and then Mom went to print out her boarding pass for today, but she couldn't because *her flight had already left*. And the day went to hell in a handbasket after that.

How did we *both* have the wrong departure day? We were both so sure she was leaving today. My Dad had already left Polson for Missoula to pick her up so I couldn't reach him to let him know she had missed her plane (cell phone? don't make me laugh). The Missoula County Airport at Johnson Bell Field in Missoula Montana does not have a paging system. It has very nice people from the luggage handlers to the counter staff to the airport police--and I talked to many of them in an effort to get a message to my very hard-of-hearing-almost-80-year-old Dad. Northwest found Mom a place on a Delta flight connecting with Alaska Airlines through Seattle and we got her to the airport and checked in for a 4:45 pm flight.

About two hours after Mom's original flight arrived in Missoula I got a collect call from the airport--which didn't come through ("Yes I'll accept the charges. Hello? Hello? Dad?".... silence)--but with three more phone attempts on their part and mine I *finally* got connected to my Dad and passed him the message to get a motel room for the night and to pick Mom up at 11:00 pm when she arrived in Missoula (neither of them can see well enough to drive the mountain roads at night).

It was an exciting, stressful day, and not recommended. Now I am alone listening to Christmas carols and posting. This afternoon sees the last day of gymnastics and ballet until after the new year, and late this morning I'm going to see about heading to Olympic to check out their big kiln. I am more and more dubious that I will be able to make it fit, but I owe them a look see.

next week and I'll begin on the Big Order. And seeing as it's December, I need to start all of my expenses from 2007 in Other than that, I am tying up loose ends and last orders. My glass should be in from BullseyeenteringQuickbooks... Oh I hate that job. If I had been better about doing it all year it would be... easier. Now I don't think I even can get all my PayPal transactions downloaded--I don't think they maintain a long enough transaction history. *sigh* *sigh* *sigh*.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Studio (and Life) Marches On

Coffee in the Montreal mug, "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues (Dave's new Christmas anthem) on iTunes. Got the van unloaded yesterday and everything mostly stowed. It's a bit dismaying to realize that with all the space in the new studio there's still nowhere to put the show supplies (tents, pipe and drape poles, walls, shelving, lights, stands, etc.). As I was walking across the yard I thought about putting in another shed--this time there instead of in our backyard. Oy.

Yesterday was a studio-thinking day in other ways too. I had a conversation with the head of business development for our neighborhood association and Thursday evening I am going over to meet briefly with him, his wife, and a couple of newly-arrived-in-our-community lawyers who are also interested in developing the small businesses here. Unlike many neighborhoods, ours is a diverse and complicated little inner-city hood that consists of more than manicured lawns and two-car garages--in fact I'm not sure we have any manicured lawns and two-car garages. So the concerns of the association and its mandate also differ from the typical neighborhood/homeowner associations. We have businesses in our neighborhood--all around the new studio as a matter of fact--and helping direct what kind and how they grow is the provenance of the neighborhood association. I will need to get the studio property rezoned if I want to formally operate a gallery and teaching studio there, and meeting with the neighborhood association is the starting point for that long road.

Yesterday I also measured the kiln room for Bettina and there is no way the Olympic kiln with the measurements given is going to be doable. Yes, it would fit in the room, but there would only be a 1-1.5 foot walkway between her and Bertha. I am going to see about going out to Olympic tomorrow and looking at her in person to see if there is any way to adjust the width.

Today, however, is a Day Off (more or less). I do need to fuse a couple of pieces for orders that I need to ship this week from the One of a Kind Show and a gallery, but other than that I am spending the day with my mom and my daughter. Mom goes back home to Montana tomorrow so Jessie stayed home from school today to spend some time with her. We are going to make little Christmas ornaments for packages, decorate Jessie's tree (a little live Virginia pine that I am going to plant in the backyard in the spring), hunt for acorn caps for the little dolls I am going to try to make, and just hang together.

It's going to be 72 degrees here today and "White Christmas" covered by Rosemary Clooney is on iTunes... my live is just chock full of dichotomies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Home" by Marc Broussard on iTunes. Trite, true and not random. Home is where the heart is and my heart being with Dave and Jessie, my home is in Atlanta. Damn glad it's not Arkansas. Neither this five year-old, nor his grandfather nor his father should be at all proud that he killed a 445 lb bear. From a blind in a tree with a rifle for no purpose other than sport--and because they had a tag... I'm from a hunting family and I'm ashamed of and for them. But this story is not going to sidetrack me from my morning or my post!

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" covered by Sarah McLachlan is now on iTunes. That's better.

Got home and (mostly) beat the ice. The load out was about an hour and a half yesterday--longer than in previous years, but it didn't stop us from making it through the beginnings of the ice and freeze in Indiana and on home. We had everything packed up and ready to go by 9:30 on Sunday, then went back to the room for a bottle of red (one less bottle to pack!) and room service sandwiches before crashing. Crashing hard but not for nearly as long as either of us would have liked. Poor Mom got a cold not too long after our arrival in Chicago but carried on like a trooper nonetheless.

So how was the show? It was Okay. I did a brief, informal survey of other artists at after the end on Friday and the unanimous response to the question, "How was your show?" was "Okay." As was the case last year there were artists--a lot more then there should have been--who didn't even make expenses. I hope the show provides them some other value than immediate income--exposure, recognition, credentials, future income... something. The ones that I saw who looked busy throughout and who had a product that I thought would do well were the ones who said "Okay". Even the gourmet food vendors said "Okay". Money is tight for everyone, and shows are just tough right now. I'm glad I got the first of the corporate-gift orders to provide me with a decent income for January as I wouldn't have it otherwise.

I had the same sales as last year just about to the penny, but my expenses were a lot higher--$1,000 in hotel, $4,300+ in booth and then there's gas, parking, and meals. Of course it's not over till way after it's over, and I still might still get a couple of big orders. But this time my response to the show is really not about the money--it was only okay because I was too tired from all the work I had to do to prepare for it (and move the studio) and missing my family too much to get into the spirit of it. I grumbled and groused my way through the week and was a general sour puss (internally, if not obviously).

It was good to see old customers and friends. It was good to get to talk about my work with people who had never seen it before, it was great to sign the book, demo a piece and watch people frantically taking down everything I said as I did... but I was (am)... tired. At the end of the show one of the staff came around to ask me if I was planning to do it again next year and I said I'd have to think about it. If I had had to make up my mind right then I'd have said no. But Dave made me promise not to make any decisions there, to wait till I'm rested and not so... broken... anymore.

So now I rest and mend. And soon I paint (the rest of the studio) while I wait for my next glass order from Bullseye to get in next week. Oh yes, and I do Christmas crafts with my daughter, and I make, buy and wrap presents. I might even post on Stranded in the South. I'll still be on Glass Incarnate for the rest of the year, I just won't BE glass incarnate for awhile.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Day Interminable

No coffee, much heater humming (what is it with these noisy room heaters?!?) for music--that and Mom's dulcet, genteel snores. We are both way tired. I am letting her sleep in this morning as today is the Big Day and we have to pack everything up after the show finishes at 5:00. Lat year the pack-up took us till 10:00...

Yesterday afternoon I did a little kiln-forming demonstration in front of the demo stage and thanks to Christian, I have photos! Yesterday was all about the schmooz. I sold a modest number of small pieces and one or two medium and big pieces, but the big talk was The Book. I had several people come in to tell me how much they liked it--one of them the owner of a a store selling supplies and materials for stained and kiln-formed glass. She said several people have told her what a great book it is, and I got a warm fuzzy glow. She also asked if I teach classes... I need to get that class list made up!

Dinner last night was sushi with old friends/customers who came down from Wisconsin to do the show. I gave them free passes to it a couple of years ago and now they are regulars who break their piggy bank on beautiful art and craft annually. On a happy-I-am-not-staying-out-in-the-suburbs note, we left the restaurant last night in the freezing rain. Freezing rain that had coated the sidewalks and was encroaching on the streets. The walk back to the hotel was treacherous enough--I can't imagine what it would have been like to have to drive somewhere (and to have to drive back in this morning...).

Yesterday was the birthday of my neighbor across the aisle, Royal. We're southerners together, he's from Birmingham. (Did I just say I'm a southerner... whoa.) It was also Jeff's wife Jessie's birthday. What are the odds that I meet two new people at this show and they both have the same birthday AND it's during the show? (C'mon Dave, what ARE the odds?).

Getting on towards 9:00. Best be getting my charges authorized and getting gussied up for the show. (A Southerner!)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Day Three of Four... Gulp

Coffee was hours ago and came out of a little machine after I picked kind, strength and cup size... why do I have the feeling it wasn't really "brewed"? The sounds of happy shoppers are my music this morning. Day Three of the One of a Kind Show dawned at 10:00 (we all have our own version of dawn) and is now waning into afternoon. Yesterday turned out to be a very good day culminating in the sale of one of the wall lattice pieces. I also found new homes for one symbol piece (Carolina in Love) and four large round pieces in stands. Christmas is saved! Shoes for everyone!

Today I am having a great day seeing friends--both old customers and other artists--and talking technique with beginning kiln formers who have come to buy my book. But I am not having a good day selling my work. Today is the day of the Christmas gift shopper, and not for BIG pieces. Can you say "sushi plate"? Good thing I brought a lot of sushi plates. I need to go raise my blood sugar--lack of food is making me cranky.

The day started with a bang--I was asked if I had a big piece to put in the fine art gallery area to replace a piece that sold yesterday. Said piece--Cosmos in Love--is strategically placed at the entrance to the gallery in front of James the bartender (Hi James!). I will be visiting James the bartender later today... Hopefully after selling many more large pieces and no more "Would you take price - 30% for it?" questions.

I have a presentation on making sheet mica and fusing it into glass on the demonstration stage at 4:30 so I had better run. Oh yeah, and I'll take care of that blood sugar thing too.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Day 2--Too Bad I'm Not Selling Gourmet Salsa

No coffee, more kept consoling myself with the thought that "It's only a half day", but it wasn't. It was nine hours and the people around me who weren't selling gourmet food didn't selling anything. I had a few small pieces go, but not enough to make the rent. Fingers crossed today will be a MUCH better day.

On the plus side, it was slow enough that I got to chat with old friends and make a couple of great trades--content-management-based web service set-up for FeSiO and Siyeh Studio from Christian, and a psaltry (with music, a tuner and some harp music cd's) for Jessie for Christmas from Jeff. Heck, I gotta get that wine in the car somehow. If I can't sell the big pieces I'll at least trade them for something smaller!

On the minus side, I would rather be home with Seraph the red-antlered reindeer and the rest of my family. This may well be the last year I do this show. The winter travel can be very dodgy, it takes place at a time of the year I would like to be preparing for Christmas, Love and Good Cheer with my family and friends, and so far the sales just don't warrant the effort. Okay, that's enough negativity loosed into the world.

In spite of the slow sales, we had a fun night last night. Got out of the show about 9:30 and jostled in the snow for a cab. You might wonder why we needed a cab when we're staying across the street, but the answer should be obvious: The Quest for the Harold's Chicken Holy Grail (Harold IS the Chicken King). We took the cab to north Milwaukee arriving just in time to get our order before they closed. I could have placed my order over the Internet and paid with PayPal, but that just would have been wrong. I called it in.

When we were so late picking it up they called me on my cellphone to see where we were and to let me know they were closing in 15 minutes. Is that great service or what? Back in the room with our Harold's feast (tell me why I ordered *four* six-wing dinners again?) smothered in Hot AND Barbecue sauces, we opened a bottle of wine club red (if I can't fit it in the car to get it home, I can at least drink it!) and watched (chose and paid for, even) Evan Almighty on the t.v. Hey, I know! I should just think of this as a vacation instead of as a business trip...

Now off to the show!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Getting Ready to Go To The Show

No coffee (yet, of course), more hum of heater for music... it's 6 degrees outside. I'm glad I don't need to venture out today. Ooops. Got the obligatory show run to Staples ahead. Darn. I guess I'll freeze after all. Or maybe I'll send Mom--she still lives in Montana so she's used to the cold. Heh. It's weird to be all set-up (and mostly on time! We were out by 8:00 last night.) and not able to get back on the floor to fiddle until 11:00 this morning--an hour before opening. I'm sure I'll manage to fill the time with some kind of putzing.

I did not get the order for 400 pieces yesterday afternoon. The male client decided to go with electronics as the gift instead. The woman wanted art, the man wanted tech toys. Go figure. As a result, I can get the 114 pieces I did get an order for done in Big Bertha so I am putting the decision on the new kiln on hold, again. There are strong pros and some cons to both options and I am just not comfortable making such a big decision while on the road and unable to measure the space for the seventeenth time and not having even seen one of the options.

The One of a Kind Show begins today. I am wondering if it is a reflection of the tough economy in the arts and crafts market that I am seeing more artists from the Buyer's Market doing this show than ever before (the Buyer's Market is a wholesale show where artists sell directly to galleries and the One of a Kind Show is retail). Or maybe it's just that everyone has heard what a good show it is and wants to jump on the bandwagon. I have my hopes that it will be a good show, but I admit to being more nervous about it than I have been in years past. Part of my nervousness is due to the enormous quantity of work that I have that I don't want to schlep back to Atlanta with me! Got to have room in the van for all that wine...

Now it's time to make the price labels and send an invitation email to everyone I can think of with free passes for the show. In case you are reading this post and don't get email from me, here's a link to the on-line free pass. Drop by if you're in the neighborhood! Pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


No coffee, the hum of the heater as music. Last day of set-up before the show will begin with a run to the hardware store and Starbucks. Too much Greek food and wine last night at a lovely dinner with my in-laws at the Greek Islands Restaurant. It's a favorite. Dave and I celebrated our engagement there with Bill, Bridget, and a horde of other friends--Stuart and Andrea met at that dinner. Nostalgia wafts. After dinner, in the gently falling snow, my in-laws transferred a ton of wine and 100 of my books--both that I had had shipped to them--to my mini-van and Mom and I brought them back to the hotel. I had better sell a whole lotta stuff or I'm not going to have room in the car to get everything back to Atlanta!

Snow. I am so woefully unprepared. I have my wool overcoat, a remnant from the days when I lived here, and the thick leather and wool gloves that live in its pockets. And I brought two pairs, flat and heeled, of stylish leather boots. But I didn't bring *snow* boots and this morning we need to run to Ace Hardware (there's a huge one just down the street--takes up about a whole city block, all underground)... in the snow. And today, being set-up, I need to wear my lime green Crocs. Crocs in the snow. Oy.

Dan the carpenter took up the kiln room floor yesterday and reinforced it for the new kiln. The Olympic kiln that I am looking at (GF15E) is side and top firing with independent controls for all the elements. She is substantially heavier than Bertha, and needs 68"-74" clearance from the wall--tight for a room that already holds Big Bertha. She's also only 60" long, but she's 12" deep (Bertha is only 9" deep) and she's kiln brick with a solid lid so she can be fired to 1700 degrees F--helpful for doing melts. It's my recollection that Bertha is only supposed to be fired to 1600 degrees--and I know her front buckles in at really high temps (I love her anyway). Timing for the Olympic is good--I can have her next week on my return from Chicago--and she's a local girl so I can probably get Thomas the tow truck guy to pick her up and deliver her for me.

The Denver kiln I am looking at is Big Bertha's twin (just like this one but 72" long instead of 60"). She's lighter, and a known quantity--fiber blanket sides, ceramic board lid, top-firing only--but she can't be here for 4-6 weeks. Delivery will also be an issue as she's too big for a lift gate and I don't have a loading dock. Price and electrical requirements are the same for both... Oh the kiln room will be really crowded if I get the Olympic! On the other hand, it will be well-nigh impossible to do the big corporate gift order if I don't as I did get the "little", initial corporate gift order for 114 due by mid-January (Christmas is saved! Shoes for everyone!).

Now it's time to get my Bullseye order put together with numbers both including and not the big order. I find out at 5:40 PM today about the big order. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Then it's Off to the Show! The last time a pre-show was this fraught for me was the Buyer's Market in February 2006 when I was negotiating my book contract. Yee, yee, yee.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


No coffee--going to have to fix that--and no music. Soon there'll be another audiobook in the car. Left Atlanta almost exactly 12 hours ago. Yep, do the math; finally got on the road at 5:45 PM. Made it as far as Elizabethtown and crashed--no, not the car, just the bodies--at the Hampton Inn. Hope to arrive in Chicago about noonish.

Let me explain the trials of yesterday, no, there's not enough time--leaving in five--so let me sum up: For the first time I couldn't fit everything into the minivan. In supreme overconfidence I canceled the Econoline on Sunday, sure I would be okay. he new plastic shelving we bought at Home Depot on Saturday was the casualty--it got replaced with a couple of small tables that are probably going to need to be augmented (and I have no idea where I'm going to put all the work and boxes at the show).

I found one kiln and am waiting to hear on the second. I did hear that the 110 pieces are a probable and the meeting for final approval on the 395 pieces is Wednesday afternoon. The one kiln I found is 1700 lbs and the lid-lifting system makes it 68" wide--a tough fit for the kiln room and no way for the floor. My carpenter is going to go in today and cut the existing plywood floor out, put a new floor support system in and put in a new 3/4" plywood floor... just in case. My wonderful assistant Stacy is going to supervise (and deal with the studio security alarm) in my absence. Yee Haw.

Made a commitment to do both jobs based on the availability of the first kiln (I can have it the day I get back from Chicago, it's almost built). Finally got to see the specs on the web just now... and it looks like there's no lid reinforcement to keep it from torquing, and, more importantly no lid elements--side-firing only. Oh great. That won't do at all.

The road to Chicago, something about insurmountable obstacles and imminent disaster. At least it didn't snow... oh wait.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Packing, Packing, Packing...

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug (of course), "Racing to the Red Light" by James McMurtry on iTunes. I should be ready to hit the road in the next, oh, six or eight hours. Won't make it to Chicago today. Might even have to get Mom to do some driving so I can work on the laptop and make some calls. Would have had pics of Seraph the red-pronged reindeer on this quick post but my Eye-Fi card chose this morning to futz out and not upload. I love technology... when it works.

Now off to pack clothes and other necessities, finish signing work and packing it, and then start loading the van. If you're in Chicago next weekend and would like to go to the show, let me know and I'll send you a free pass. And I'm in booth 7056... I'll also be selling signed copies of my book (flog that book!). Live from Indianapolis tomorrow am...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Deck the Halls and Hit the Road

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, the sound of J clearing the breakfast dishes as my background music. Ah, it's good to have a child old enough to do chores and get an allowance! The kilns are open and cooling in preparation for the final three loads before the show. I canceled my reservation for an Econoline van this morning. Yesterday I bought plastic utility shelving at Home Depot that I think is going to be strong enough--and that is definitely light enough--to hold all my backstock and packaging. Whether I'll have enough room for both packaging and backstock (with any storage system) remains to be seen. Since J is staying here (and not taking up space with a seat, a car seat and a body) and I have a lighter display, I am going to stick with the mini-van

I sat down yesterday and counted up all the work I have for this show and it is the same (by value, not by piece count) as it was last year. And last year I didn't fire nearly as much. What the heck? Then I looked at the pieces and now I get it. Last year I took everything I had--old series, fill-in work, whatever. This year I am only taking the most popular work--Morceaux de Verre and only certain colorways. As a result, all but about three pieces were made in the last... 12 days. Over $20,000 in glass in two weeks. I feel somewhat better about feeling like a corpse.

Now off to sign all the pieces, inventory the final total, get the last slump loads in and begin the packing. I watch Dave and Jessie bringing all the Christmas ornaments and other decoration down from the attic and I know that my day is just beginning.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Next Level

Coffee was long ago, "River" by Mary Chapin Carpenter on the iPod. I am in the studio. Pain au chocolat from Trader Joe's for a family breakfast then we acquired two Christmas trees--one cut for the living room and one live Virginia pine for J's room now and the backyard in January, a wreath that we'll decorate with pine cones, nandina berries, acorns and other findings from the yard, and the shelving I need for the show in Chicago next week. It was a great morning.

I wait for the kilns to cool so I can load them for the day. The last fuse load I think, even though Bertha is already loaded with molds for a slump. That'll give me tomorrow to finish any edges that need it and clean the pieces from the fuse. Later this afternoon we'll put up the outdoor Christmas lights and garland and do the wreath. Tomorrow we'll decorate the tree--after the branches have fallen. It was interesting explaining to Mom why we would wait to decorate the tree. Dad always cut our trees and we brought them home from the forest (western Montana, remember?) so the limbs were never bound up for days on end necessitating time for them to relax and fall naturally again. Now my parents have an artificial tree and, again, no need to let the limbs fall.

I am as ready for this show as I can be, and the price--while high--has been acceptable. When I finish this post I'll count up my pieces to see what I actually have for the show. As usual, I made a plan weeks ago, I followed it, and I have no idea (right now) what it was.

For the curious out there, I met the rep for a company that provides corporate gift ideas to corporations. They initially contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing 100-150 shallow round dishes (7-1/2" round) in some color for a client here in Georgia by mid-January. I sent samples, and when they were presented to the client, she loved them. She loved them enough that she asked if I could do a bigger piece instead, say, the long rectangular platters (15 X 7). I said "Sure!" Then (in yet another phone call--all of them taking place between 3:00 and 4:00 pm Friday; the end of the business day and week for my suppliers) she asked if, instead of the 100 odd for mid-January, could I do 400 for the end of January for another event. I said (after a bit of quick exhaustion-hazed math), "Sure!" thinking I would be able to get another big kiln quickly. I compounded my absurd optimism by calling back a couple of minutes later and offering the possibility of doing BOTH the 100 for mid-January and the 400 for the end of January. Now keep in mind these are the same style (though not color) pieces I do for the winter gift catalog for Art Institute in Chicago. I have more than a little experience in whumping them out (and, no, Dee, no ground edges!).

After I got off the phone with her I did a quick pass of the manufacturers of the kilns I have been eyeing to supplement Bertha (I am going to name the new girl Bettina--Betty for short). I wasn't able to get a final answer from anyone at the end of the second Friday after Thanksgiving crouching before the impending December madness, though the initial response was 6-8 weeks as they all need to be custom built. But I am not worried. If I *had* to do it with just Bertha and a prayer, I could. I'd like to kill myself doing it, but I could. And the new kiln would arrive in time enough to provide some help.

In the meantime, I am talking to people on Monday about getting me a new kiln soonest. I'm talking to them from the road to Chicago. At Siyeh Studio the natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. So what do we do? Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. How? I don't know. It's a mystery.