Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Otherside

Coffee just finished brewing-need to run get some, "Otherside" by Red Hot Chili Peppers on iTunes--like yesterday by pure random chance (well, within the confines of the Chili Peppers playlist). Again appropriate as I am on the Otherside Of the Postcard! It only took *six hours* yesterday to design it. I futzed and I putzed and I putzed and I futzed. Every time the phone rang I barked at the caller and told him/her I would call back tomorrow. Now if Image Media follows through on their promises, the Rosen Group will have my postcards in time for the cooperative mailing next week--and I will have postcards to hand out at the Atlanta's Mart show. I look at it and see a couple of things I would change, but I give a philosophical shrug and move on. I just hope the font on the back doesn't have raggedy edges or it was a wasted effort. (Image Media only accepts pdf and Photoshop [of the formats I can produce] and I work in Canvas--the export to pdf looked a bit squodgy [skwo-jee]).

Today shipping, and firing, and shipping and more firing. I managed to scrounge up a dusty old sheet of dense white to use for one last Christmas gift and, wouldn't you know, it doesn't react with French Vanilla! Maybe it was a sheet of curious, or maybe the formula was changed between 2004 (when it was made) and now. I suppose I shouldn't even say it was old. I was talking with Patty from Bullseye a week or so ago and I randomly (randomness plays a large role in my life) pulled out a sheet of Bullseye glass to check the data on it and it was made in 1988. Oy, I hold onto things forever! But it's not like it goes bad, right?

One last note and then off to the studio to meet with the two Beckys. I met with Becky the accountant yesterday and she has me just about completely convinced that putting EVERYTHING into Quickbooks will meet 90-95% (my numbers, not hers) of my needs. I was telling Dave this over sushi last night and that I would probably abandon the ERP system in favor of Quickbooks as my development window (December) is almost over with no progress made. I said it was too bad as I had all the workflow and datamodeling sketched out. He said it would only take him about 15 hours to do about 90-95% of it in Grails with the workflow and datamodel sketched out--and it would be web-enabled so I could access it from anywhere... Now I have a quandary. With the Quickbooks solution I will still have to manage my production cycle separately (firing schedule, frit inventory, and maybe mailings). With the ERP system I can manage my business entirely in it, but I'll still need QB data and entry for my accountant, account reconciliation, expense management, etc.--lots of double entry. Oh the choices!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Monday New Year!

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Otherside" by Red Hot Chili Peppers on iTunes. How randomly appropriate. I have moved to the otherside of Christmas--one major event down, one (two combined) to go. "How long will I slide... I don't believe it's fair..." So say the Chili Peppers, so it goes.

Got lights for the upcoming shows on Friday. I still need to put together the gorgeous back wall display that Bill from Black Cat ArtWorks (fka Elliott Metal Works) made for me to take to the shows so I can paint it. I think I'll get the spouse to help me with that one. I also have to figure out how to hang all the hanging work on the foamcore walls. Oh yeah, I also need to *get* foamcore walls for Dallas. There was no one at the Dallas exhibition services to help me with that on the 20th when I was getting the rest of my forms in. Hope I have better luck today or I'm in Barney (rubble... trouble).

I also hired a bookkeeper on Friday and she comes today to begin the task of desnarling my mess. Now there will be two people working in the studio named Becky. Maybe it should be a policy that your name has to begin with "B" in order to work there... or maybe I'm still groggy and delirious from a night of glass dreams (glass shows, glass display, glass production, swapping out glass from galleries, etc.). I am lucky that she is also a friend and is giving me her non-profit rate. Or maybe that's not so lucky--let's hope it's not prophetic.

Worked on the postcard last night. I think I can get it designed, submitted and proofed before 3:00 today meaning I can have it in time for the Buyer's Market mailing program--if I can get them to let me split the shipment and have it delivered to two addresses ground. I looked into just having it overnighted, but the UPS charge the postcard company lists for overnight from Florida to here for a box of postcards is $209. I think not.

Fired a full load yesterday, two to do today. Also cleaned the studio big sink and the top of my desk. Wow. Other people may wait till January 1 for the new year to begin, but for me it's the Monday after Christmas. My loins are girded (or they will be once I've gone upstairs and performed the morning's ablutions and dressed) and I'm ready for it.

Shown are some of the new gem drops and gem stake drops from Todd at Bentwell Metals and me. Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Woe, Woe!

Coffee was brought to me in the Barcelona mug, I lost it without ever having taken a sip. It's somewhere in the house, but I have searched every room--2-3 times. I ended up pouring another cup in the Denver mug. No music. 'Tis the day after Christmas and life is a mess, though better for me than for others, I guess. And that's as much as I'm going to attempt to rhyme.

So far today there has been no glass. There has been a massive house straightening--and the aforementioned loss of the coffee--and I have dropped and irreparably broken my Kindle. Now it's time to cut my losses and get on to glass.

The last gift I made for Christmas this year that I couldn't mention on the blog (because my spouse reads it) was a backsplash for Dave for our kitchen. It's one solid piece of glass 30" X 20" of white-backed Morceaux de verre Trout (it has black speckles in it which this pic does not). Photos to be posted when it gets installed.

One last rant before I go off to make the LAST ORDER OF THE YEAR and prepare the first firing of pieces for the Atlanta and Dallas shows. Last week UPS did not bother to come and get a pick-up I had scheduled for orders that were requested by Christmas. That story ended ok--though the local service center never called about it, apologized about it, even acknowledged it (though the customer service representative said they would)--as the packages were all delivered before Christmas. However I overnighted an envelope to Montana on Tuesday with guaranteed delivery on Wednesday... and UPS just left it their facility in Kalispell after it arrived at 1:48 pm. They didn't even try to deliver it. When I called to ask what happened, the representative said she was very sorry, she had no idea why it hadn't been delivered, and sadly, she was unable to process my request for a refund of the overnight fees because they don't guarantee anything between 12/22 and 12/25. I would understand if the delay was weather-related. I don't expect them to cover Acts of God. However it was beautiful, clear and sunny in Montana when the package arrived and it arrived in the middle of the day. Did people just decide to knock off early that day?

I slough off the Kindle woes (the replacement will arrive Monday). I slough off UPS (they are as dead skin to me). I buck up, cheer up, mount up and start firing glass. Glass always makes me happy. May You and Yours be happy too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Day Before Christmas and All Through the Studio

No coffee, no music, what kind of Christmas Eve is this? I intended to post yesterday as I was in the studio firing, but my fingers were too numb to type--it was 36 degrees in there when I started my day. I think it was warmer outside by then. It had warmed up to 46 (after the furnace had run full-blast for a couple of hours) by the time I left. These old southern houses were not built for cold weather. They have lots of air flow, which is great in the summer when you want the hot air to rise out of the chimney, but it's, shall we say, less than optimal in the dead cold of winter. But enough whining. It's not like I wasn't prepared for it--I wore two big sweaters layered and a scarf over. Just wish I had me some of them fleece crocs... (wink).

I thought I'd write a Day Before Christmas post this morning, but I lack the energy. So then I thought I'd fall back on a Stranded post from last year, but it turned out to be the day after Christmas *two* years ago. Whenever and whatever, it's better than anything I could come up with this morning. But back to glass, glass incarnate. There will be firing today, and the continuing Christmas present crafting (I decided yesterday to knit scarves for a Jessie's friend Grace and her American Girl doll). There had also really better be some photography and postcard design or I am not going to have a card ready for the Buyer's Market's co-operative mailing program (they have to have my printed postcards no later than January 5).

Compartmentalizing. It's all about compartmentalizing. Dave did it before the election. Every time I asked him about doing something or making a decision for something that occurred after November 4 he told me that that was negative time and we could talk about it after November 4. Basically, for him there was no time after November 4 until after November 4. I feel much the same about Christmas, and then about the January shows, and then about the Buyer's Market, and then about ACRE, and then about BECon, and then about Summer Camp and everything else. If I had to look at it all at the same time and plan it out, I'd go blind and my brain would burst.

A friend just called, her car won't start, and she needs a jump so I am wrapping up here and heading out. Have a safe and warm Christmas everyone, hug the ones you love and give thanks for them. The rest, too, shall pass. (And thanks, Ren, for all the goodies that came yesterday! Christmas music and Guinness truffles--I'm guessing, huzzah!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tra La La La La

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Wassail Song" performed by Philip Aaberg on iTunes. Panic attacks over, mysteries solved, projects nearing completion, open studio over, fusing tests done, presents to wrap and send with Jan back to the rest of the family in Illinois. God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

It's a clear sign of over extension that I shot up in bed with a shriek at one minute to 3:00 am on Saturday morning--waking myself and Dave in the process--with the realization that I hadn't faxed my exhibitor services forms in yet for the Dallas FINDS show and they were due by midnight Pacific time. I threw on a nightgown and groggily hurried to the studio (Baxter didn't even wake enough to come with me). When I got there I found the forms and the send confirmations for them nestling comfortably in the fax machine... then I remembered that I had faxed them at 9:00 pm the previous night before watching (sleeping through, really) "The Ref". I hadn't even woken enough to question my panic, I just acted on it in the desperate hope that if I were only three minutes or so late they would give me credit for getting my forms in on time (midnight Pacific time being the same as 3:00 am Eastern time). I trudged back home to bed and apologized profusely to my long-suffering spouse.

I think I briefly mentioned that the hard drive on the house iMac died last month. I was sanguine about it as I was absolutely, positively certain that I had a back-up of all the photos for the past seven years, the complete iTunes library of all our cd's (laboriously ripped to the hard drive and then stored in a closet), and every other important document and file we had ever stored on a hard drive. I was wrong. When I finally went to restore the data to the new drive in the iMac, I found nothing but an empty external drive where all the back-up data should have been. It's been a couple of rough days, but I think I have solved the mystery of where it went and the data *may* still be recoverable from the alleged back-up drive. I am going to wait till after Christmas to work on it more--no reason to add more stress to life right now..

The weekend saw the completion of a few more Christmas presents--though I can't talk much about them as the recipients read this blog. This afternoon I make the last of the gifts that will be done before Christmas (everything going to France is going to be late this year--as usual) and begin the great wrap-a-thon.

The final open studio was on Friday and most of the pieces were picked up yesterday. I have a couple of orders left to get out this week, and a present still to do, but glass is done for the moment. Of course I haven't even started firing the pieces for the Atlanta and Dallas shows that begin on January 6... but that panic is being safely compartmentalized until *after* Christmas. I also fired my last reaction test with Bullseye glass and was saddened to find that the translucent white 0243 does not react with French vanilla. So far the only whie glass that has the cool reaction with French vanilla I want is the now discontinued dense white 0313.

Now off for my one and only trip to a retail establishment during this Christmas season for a last-minute spousal gift. Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too, and God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday is Such a Final Day

Coffee in the Pike Place Coffee mug, "Walking In the Air" from the Snowman by George Winston on iTunes. The week before Christmas comes to an end. Two more orders to get out, odds and sods still left to make, and vacation has already begun--at least for most of the other members of my household. Dave's sister Jan was supposed to come for the weekend and arrive today, but she was flying in from the Midwest and they were due for ice storms today so Air Tran suggested she fly a day early--at no additional charge. Wheee. She got in last night and will attend J's winter assembly at school with us today. Then the J is off until some time in January... right about when I am heading to the Atlanta's Mart for the show there I think. Oh it looms.

But there is no panic, only Christmas joy. Lots and lots and LOTS of Christmas joy... I wonder if Dave put spiked eggnog in my coffee this morning, I am feeling just a bit too relaxed and happy. Today is the last day of open studio and it's a long session--double the usual length and with double the number of people I wanted to have at any one time. It will be fun, and jolly, and other things that end in "olly", of that I'm sure.

Sample pieces of two of Bullseye's new reactive glasses--reactive ice and reactive cloud opal--arrived the day before yesterday and I have already run a test strip for each of them with some of my current reactive glasses--including a small bit of the old dense white I had on hand. As I expected, they do not react to French vanilla, nor do they react to the dense white either as I had thought they might. I didn't fire against the full range of the reactives I have on hand, but of the ones I did fire I was surprised to find they don't react to the 0305 pink either (as French vanilla does).

The reactions I got from the new white were more subtle than they were from the new clear (reactive ice). That is one stunning piece of glass! It looks at first pass just like the 1101 clear--I'll need to remember to check today to see if I can tell the difference at a closer look (like I can between the 1401 clear and the 1101 clear). If not it's going to be fun keeping them separate. Anyway, the jade green and the Egyptian blue really popped against the clear with a solid black line of reaction between the colored and clear glasses. Another interesting point with the new clear--something you don't notice with the other reactive glasses unless you use a base of, say, 1116 turquoise with French vanilla pieces on top (something I have never done)--is that everywhere the glasses touch there is a reaction so from the underside the piece looks like clear and black. When you flip it over it's clear and all the other opal colors. In reacent years I have moved away from production series using reactive glass, but this new clear looks like it's going to make it into the regular rotation in at least frit and maybe more. Wonder when they'll have it out in irid sheets?

Time to get to the studio. I'll daydream about the summer camp plans and BE Con later when I have more free time (kilncasting this year--wonder if I can manage the trip out?).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Master Li and Number Ten Ox

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. "I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world." Thus begins the epic tale of an ancient China that never was in Barry Hughart's classic novel "Bridge of Birds". It is good that I start my morning clutching serenity to my breast like a talisman to ward off the evil that is the day, week, month.

Almost every year about this time I am faced with the reality of winnowing. Christmas cards (for the first year in five)? Nope, no time. This present I was going to make (and that present and the other present)? Probably not. The orders keep coming in and show prep for January is relentless. Add that to open studio and the normal time demands of a wife/partner, mother, pet wrangler, household manager and there are not enough hours in a day. Deep breath, bow again. Ah, I can feel the serenity trickling in.

Today I will reset my schedule and to do list and check the delivery expectations of a couple of galleries (you told them they could have it WHEN?!?), and then I will focus on gliding through the remaining time between now and Christmas with as much grace and poise as I can muster. Display from Elliott Metal Works to unload from minivan so dogs can be taken to groomer. Dogs to take to groomer. Cleaning service is here--they were supposed to come tomorrow. FedEx has tried twice to deliver a package that needs a signature. Today is the final attempt and I have a day of not hanging around the front door waiting for the driver to show up scheduled. Deep breath. Ahhhh...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Diet Coke was in the can when I started this post, but that was before I had to talk to the City of Atlanta Dept of Watershed Management because we have no water at the house, and before open studio started, and before I had to get an order (instead of three orders) shipped. Two orders need further firing. A friend needs an investor for her business and I said I would call someone I know who might be interested. And it's sitter night (with no water). And and and AND! Brain full. It has NOT been a good day.

Not that nothing good happened--Bill made me a gorgeous 15' long display wall for our stand pieces at the Atlanta's Mart and the Dallas Finds shows. We got it broken down and loaded in the van... and then the day went to... heck.

Now I go to bed (it's many hours since I started this post). I'll catch up tomorrow

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nine Days and Counting

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "O Thou Joyful Day: O Little Town of Bethlehem" performed by Liz Story on iTunes. The day is full of glass, one might even say it's incarnate. I have two full big loads of last-minute-can-we-get-them-by-Christmas orders. While I'm happy for the work (and the income), I too have my own can I get it (done) by Christmas issues, and the answer to my question looms increasingly dubiously. But no whining. I'll knuckle down and get what I can done. I finished two scarves--one knitted one woven--for gifts yesterday. If I didn't have to ship anything I would be golden. Ah well, no time to worry, just do.

Funny story I forgot to share yesterday: Sunday afternoon at 3:00 as I was weaving, the home phone rang and the call was from a phone number I did not recognize in Tacoma Washington (I love caller id). The caller was a very polite man who had bought my book and wanted to ask me how to make one of the pieces shown in the book--a bowl I named Cailleach's Cradle. The blue lace wall sconce is based on it, but the instructions for the bowl are not given. He was reverse engineering it and thought, since my phone number is openly published with directory assistance, that he'd just call to get some things clarified. I gave him detailed instructions and wished him well. I wonder if Stephen King gets calls like this. Or Dr. Mike Adler. He's a famous author too.

Yesterday ended with a little impromptu open studio, and as soon as the attendee comes to review her pieces this morning before I slump them (I'm shipping one of them for her tomorrow and she needs to pick which one of the three she made she wants to) I'm heading down to Todd to drop off more glass and pick up more ornaments and jewelry. If I'm really lucky I'll have a little time to work on my Christmas presents after that. Ho ho ho. We'll see.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hello Monday

Coffee in the Washington D.C. skyline mug, "Mistletoe and Holly" sung by Frank Sinatra on iTunes. The morning--and the week--began as all mornings and weeks do with snuggling followed by nurturing. Now Dave and J have left for work and school, the fishtank has been cleaned and the fish fed, the ferret is fed and watered, the dogs have been petted and out (and Baxter is now glued to the window watching the squirrels). It is so good to be at a place in life where I don't dread Mondays! Not that it won't be very busy...

No open studio today, but Becky is coming this afternoon to see how I'm doing it so she can run Wednesday's session until I get back from Greenville. Bill E. is building the back display wall for my booth for Atlanta including making special metal brackets to hold the wooden frames so I am heading up there for the day Wednesday to put it together and bring it back.

The show crunch is looming. I signed up (at Dee's utzing) for the Rosen postcard mailing program--which means I need a postcard designed and ordered, which means I need photos of Todd's work. No rest for the wicked. I'll see Todd tomorrow and get ornaments and jewelry from him and whip out some pics.

Also to get done today is the last of the exhibition services paperwork for Dallas. Got everything in to Atlanta Friday, now I just need arrangements for Dallas (electricity and walls for the booth, a hotel room, etc.).

Another rash of orders came in last week that need to be shipped by Wednesday (when I get the metal pieces from Bill E. at Black Cat ArtWorks). I'll fire it today and the few glass Christmas presents I'm making.

Now the day is screaming my name, time to get on with it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We Chug Along

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi on iTunes. Yay! I have music again on the laptop! I scarpered D's USB cable for his external drive until my new one comes. He said he could do without, and I, well, can't.

I began the day with a "simples presente, mas de coração" from Edna and Anchieta--and a mutual Portuguese-English lesson. I love Christmas (though all the cookies and salty nuts have made me... swell).

No open studio today--no one signed up--but I do have my apprentice Kevin and I need to figure out what I'm going to have him do. If it warms up it would be a good day to plant pansies and kale in the front garden bed. Not very glasslike, but a studio chore nonetheless.

I have three orders to fire today and Dee is coming down to get some frit and drop off some glass. It's also the deadline for the Atlanta's Mart exhibition services forms and reserving advertising space. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork--and I don't even get to do it at Kavarna in the company of my spouse! That's going to have to change next week...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Kingdom For a Cable

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, no music this morning as my personal iTunes library lives on the external hard drive for my laptop and the USB cable end is bent so I no longer have connectivity. The main iTunes library for all of our music was on the office iMac--whose hard drive died and had to be replaced while my mother was visiting (it wasn't her fault, really). However I have a backup of the iMac's contents on another external hard drive--including all the music--and I figured I could scope the music off of it. No such luck. It looks like everything is saved in a back-up format not readable except by the computer that backed it up (at least that's my hope because if it's not readable at all I have lost all our family pictures for the past 10 years, all our music, all the email Dave wrote me when we were first dating and being apart for 10 minutes was too long--in short, everything digital that matters).

I would love to test my theory about the second hard drive only being able to be read by the iMac, but unfortunately when the iMac came back from the Apple Store it was without its power cord so cannot be started up. I just need to power down my amygdala (here's my real-world reference) for a few days till the new USB cable arrives from Western Digital for the laptop's external hard drive and Dave picks up my iMac power cord from the Apple store for me. THEN I can fall apart if need be.

Today I walk between the raindrops to get the dogs to the groomer, glass to Todd, ads and exhibition services ordered for the Atlanta and Dallas shows, and pieces in and pieces out of the kilns. I finish the day by throwing wide the studio doors for open studio. I hope I can follow James McMurtry's advice and stay dry as a bone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thought I'd Forgotten To Post, Didn't You?

Not drinking anything, not listening to anything. It's late. Baxter bit a hole in the babysitter's shirt tonight. *sigh* It was a very full day with feet running from the second they hit the ground this morning. I took a day off from glass today to bake cookies with my friend Becky H. It's been about four years since we last did this, and I have to say the cookies are always better in memory than in reality--I am spoiled by my abundant access to professional pastry chefs.

We each baked two batches each of three kinds of cookies for 12 batches of cookies which we greedily split into big ziploc bags at the end of the day. I chose peanut butter thumbprints with milk and dark chocolate kisses, Mexican wedding cakes, and spritz (butter press cookies). Becky chose anisette crisps, key lime filled cookies, and gingerbread cookies. We have bags and bags each, and the kitchen is clean again!

Towards the tail end of the baking session I had open studio for two seventh graders and one of their mothers. It was--again--a lot of fun and I need to find a way of incorporating the practice into my regular studio day. Sadly I did not get pictures--even though I told Mike Z. who is working on my website for me that I would. Tomorrow. I have another session scheduled tomorrow and I'll remember then.

Just after Dave came home from work, the open studio ended, Becky and I finished baking, and Dave picked up J from school (but a bit before the babysitter arrived for the evening), another friend dropped off his dog for us to watch for a few days while he is out of town. Dave called the whole thing writhing chaos, and, much like "Shakespeare in Love" and my usual business day, it all turned out fine but how it did is a mystery.

Tomorrow I take another batch of glass to Todd, fuse the two orders I got today, prepare a piece for Patrick from Taylor Kinzel to pick up, deliver open studio pieces to school, and preside over another open studio for two. It will be a fun, exciting, rewarding, exhausting day--just like today.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" performed by Sarah McLachlan on iTunes. The meeting with the accountant is behind me. Whew. As Bill so accurately pointed out in a comment some days ago, it WILL take me weeks to get all the year's financial data entered. For yesterday I had one of the two business checking accounts entered and reconciled and the statements for most everything else printed out. It was enough for her to tell me to get ready to pay taxes through the nose in April. But that's good, right? It means my business had a really good year and I'm doing my part to support the economy, keep money flowing, and contribute to a 10 million dollar bonus for the CEO of Merrill Lynch. Well two out of three ain't bad.

Today is the first open studio day and I am excited. Got to remember to go over and turn the heat on about noon--don't want to make studentsicles. While I'm there I'll check my stock for the two glasses I want to play with for Christmas gifts. I was really panicked when I found out Bullseye was discontinuing one of them, but I got an email from them yesterday and they have replaced it with a new reactive glass coming out in January. In fact I heard yesterday that they have several reactives coming out including a reactive clear! I can't WAIT to get my hands on some of that.

Todd called last night and demanded more glass to wrap. He is on a roll and the latest work is big necklaces like he one he made me to wear to the show on Saturday. Speaking of the show Mary sent me more pics and I feel just jolly enough this morning to post them. The necklace doesn't show too well in the pics, but you can get a feel for it.

Now I need to get the list of pieces for the Atlanta and Dallas shows done and faxed to Bill, and to put the finishing touches on the new display layout for them. The biggest issue is now making sure I can get everything in the minivan. Ho boy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blue Monday

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" performed by Frank Sinatra and backup on iTunes. Either Frank was a rebel or the monkeys who wrote up the album and song titles were lazy. He clearly and definitively sang "It came upon THE midnight clear...". Well I have better things to worry and obsess about today so I had better get on it. (Baxter has better things to obsess about too, like the squirrels on the back deck eternally taunting him through the window.)

My day, sick again with another stomach thing, is going to be spent on the couch keeping my books until my meeting with the accountant at 1:00. No one signed up for Open Studio today so I am off the hook there. I'll either work on Christmas things or do invoices and lists of pieces for the Atlanta's Mart and Dallas Finds... Or I'll sleep some more. Oy. I feel battered. Again.

The show Saturday went very well. We all had new exciting work, but I think Licha wins the prize for the best with her two-reactive-glass pieces. They made me think of winter and I am dying to try some out. Unfortunately Bullseye just discontinued one of the glasses needed so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do. I think I have a sheet or two in the studio--just enough for a friend's Christmas present.

The ornaments and garden stakes (gemdrops and gemstakes) were a hit--as was the large Moonrise piece that Patrick talked me into taking down from the wall in the studio office and putting up in the gallery. Well, to be fair, he put it up.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Open Studio!

Coffee in the Denver architect series mug, the sounds of spouse cleaning kitchen for music punctuated by the sprout asking if Alexander Graham Bell is a real person (He's in Magic Treehouse). The web is a wonderful tool. My book has been reviewed on eBay, twice! What a nice start to the weekend. (Is Dr. Pasteur a real person?)

The not-so-nice start to the weekend was the previous hour and a half I spent on Quickbooks. Yep. we're at THAT time of year again. I, Brenda Griffith, do solemnly swear that I will not leave all my bookkeeping till the end of the year ever again (again).

Orange rolls for breakfast--Dave and the sprout both just affirmed (out loud) that they will not burn them or turn them into asphalt (again). I will never live that down. Ahh, the soft wafting scent of pastry and melting frosting.

Today is the Taylor Kinzel Glass Show, and then next week it's full steam ahead into Open Studio Afternoons for the Waldorf 7th graders. One of the parents called me yesterday to ask if it would be possible for her son to make some more ornaments to give as gifts. I had been considering starting an open studio program so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to pilot it.

From 3-5 every weekday for the next two weeks the studio will be open for up to five people at a time to make ornaments, small plates and bowls that I will then fire and deliver to school for them. I have set the costs for the pieces very low for the pilot program, and it is initially just open to the 7th graders as they have already been to the studio and know the procedures and safety rules. They can bring family and friends if they are willing to sponsor them (show them the ropes and mentor them through). I will be in the studio, but I won't be hands on teaching as I do not have the time right now.

Depending on how the next couple of weeks go, I may put together a permanent set-up for open studio and start a formal program. I certainly haven't been using the gallery room in the studio as a gallery. Might as well make it a teaching space that can host gallery events as appropriate.

Now off to get the last work out of the kiln for the glass show and then primp. I'll shower, dress nicely, and maybe even wear make-up! Oh yeah, and I'll brush my teeth.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Finally Friday

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Talkin' At the Texaco" by James McMurtry on the iPod. On the Ipod (as opposed to on iTunes) means I'm already at the studio. Wow. Not even 8:30 and I've trekked two loads of stuff over already. Why am I here so early in December with all orders shipped? Tomorrow is the Taylor Kinzel glass show and Patrick is coming to the studio this morning at 10:00 to pick up my new work for it. With the best will in the world I still don't have it all done, but I have a good selection to send with him, and I'll take the rest of the pieces up with me tomorrow after they've slumped. The details are in the pic at left, you'll need to click on it to see it though.

Carried the box of donuts over from home this morning thinking I'd have the last couple with my coffee while I blogged. Here's a hint: Entenmann's "Softees" aren't so soft after a week or so. Hard a rock. Really. Well, maybe only hard as wood. They crunch. (Why are you continuing to eat them then?!?). I'm hungry. I'm lazy. I'm busy. They're here. They're not green.

I'm glad I said "details and photos soon" in my post yesterday referring to the new work with Todd. If I'd said tomorrow I'd have been sorry and embarrassed as there's no way it's going to happen today--too much to do before 10:00. Got work to catalog, lists to make, whips to crack over... no one. The studio is empty for the day but for me and Baxter the spaniel. I guess I could crack a whip over him, though he would just ignore me in his sanguine spaniel way.

Happy weekend all. Time to start making those Christmas, Hanukkah, solstice and other holiday presents!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Is For the Books

Chai latte (what has become of me?!) in a cup made from recycled paper, the Juno soundtrack playing the background. I'm at Kavarna this morning still frantically playing catch-up from the weekend/early week illness. Blech. The meeting with Todd yesterday went great--details and photos soon. Took the work to some friends house last night for a reality check on product design and pricing. The consensus was we're priced too low on most of the work and right on for the bigger stuff. The ornaments were so well received that the reviewers took as their pay first choice to purchase some for their holiday shopping. I took that as a good sign. We still have over 50 for the show this weekend. Now off to work on the books.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An Ode To Bridget

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon on iTunes. I passed briefly through the office this morning (the room in the house with a desk, a file cabinet and a bookcase--nominally an office though really just a place to pile paper crap and keep a ferret) and wistfully thought of what I could do to clean it up and make it usable if I just had some free December time. Then I realized that it's not about an actual real amount of time--it's all about perception. Take my friend Bridget. She may angst about many things, but I doubt not having enough time is one of them. If Bridget had been in the Donner party, she would have made it through--and not by killing her companions. Oh sure, she'd waste not want not after natural causes took 'em, but she wouldn't hasten their demise. The point I'm trying to make is that Bridget just rolls up her sleeves and gets it--whatever "it" is--done. No muss, no fuss, no whining. This is not to say she's superwoman and she is on top of everything, but I am pretty sure she spends a lot less time whining about what she wishes she could get done than she does just getting it done. A pre-New Year's resolution: In 2009, be more like Bridget.

And let's not wait for 2009, let's just do it right now. The sample sets went out yesterday, and while I was waiting for the UPS site to come up so I could ship them I whipped up an info sheet and subscription form for additions to the set (with pricing and everything). Some time in the next couple of days I need to get a good photo and write up an article for the website on their availability. I don't like doing sample sets. I'm not charging for them what I would charge for an equivalently sized piece. But, like shows and marketing, I believe them to be a necessary evil for business growth.

Today I fuse the additional pieces I need for the glass show this weekend--after I figure out what they will be. I mostly mulled it out while I was anxiously waiting to get to sleep last night, I just need to write out the firing schedule before heading off to the first appointment of the day at 10:00.

The second appointment of the day is with Todd. Today I get to see what he did with two kiln loads of glass shards, scraps and squares and a whole bunch of wire and bamboo. With this new line of work, I am much more focused than I have ever been on the importance of marketing and advertising. When the economy is tough it's even more vital to aggressively bring yourself to people's notice and differentiate yourself. I believe that these new pieces fill a perfect niche. They're beautiful, bright, whimsical, handmade by professional American artisans, very reasonably priced, and made from recycled materials. What demographic did we miss there? Next step: Photos, a story written up, and ads/postcards/info cards/a web page created.

Friday I am scheduled to meet with my accountant to review my books before the end of the year to see if there is something I need to do for taxes, payroll (what's that?), etc before 2008 scurries away. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Now that I'm all motivated for pulling together a new product line, I am even less inclined than usual to work in Quickbooks. But needs must when the devil drives.

Side note: I was compelled to look up that idiom when it popped into my head--hence the link--and was vastly amused to find this additional reference to it from an article in the Times from 2002. "Applied conscientiously in the rush hour it [the rule ‘women and children first’] would ensure that no male adult would ever reach his office on time, if at all. Needs must when the Devil drives is a more realistic motto for the Underground." I read that quote and picture Dave shepherding Jessie off to school every morning with a harried look on his face. I have to grin. Now I have to work.

Go forth! Be Like Bridget!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday, Again. Funny How It Keeps Coming Around

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Tears Of Love's Recall" by K. D. Lang on iTunes. I wear the red chopsticks of war and cut a swath through the enemy list of chores that await... or I would if I were not still victim of the Great Stomach Bug of 2008. Let the anxiety attacks begin! Ugh. Coffee may have been... over-ambitious this morning. I could just sit on the couch and watch the critters outside forage all day--if I were someone else. Instead there are a million tasks clamoring to be done and the election-season-that-just-won't-die has claimed my spouse for another day into the night (Georgia senate run-off). Who knows when I'll see him tonight, or what I'll burn for dinner.

The sample sets (which also wouldn't die) are finally packed and ready to ship! Now I'm going to take a deep breath, gird my loins, write up the terms (they aren't free sets, but they are exchangeable), and make them available on my wholesalecrafts.com page. With them to the kindly UPS man will go the last two orders of the year (I keep thinking the orders are done and they keep trickling in). THEN it's on to the all the administrivia that I have neglected, put off, avoided, dodged, turned a blind eye to--you get the picture--for the past, um, year. Really.

Really, really.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanks Be That It's Dec

No coffee (just the thought makes me ill), Seraph munching kibble for music. Baxter isn't munching kibble. He's sitting in his kennel raptly staring out the window, attention fixed on the squirrels munching on the deck. They taunt him, as squirrels will do. He wants to munch on them, as spaniels will do.

I give thanks that Thanksgiving weekend is OVER, and that the most strenuous things I need to do today can all be done from a comfy chair. Between Jessie getting strep AND an intestinal virus AND a possibly breaking her foot--and then passing the intestinal virus on to me... Well, suffice it to say we've been pretty miserable here.

It's Dec 1 (pronounced deece). Dave says that a lot; Dec 1, Dec 10, Dec whatever. I don't remember any Novs, and there were certainly no Octs... I'm rambling. Delirious with the almost lack of pain perhaps? But to the point. It's the first of December which means I am staring down the barrel of the Taylor Kinzel glass show this weekend, a meeting with my accountant to go over my books on Friday (I haven't entered anything for the year yet), and a list of the work I will need from Black Cat ArtWorks (formerly Elliott Metal Works) for the Atlanta and Dallas shows due today.

Yesterday as I wallowed in bed in pain, I realized that I can no longer comfortably rely on the foamcore wall and pedestal display system I used at shows before teaming up with Black Cat. A significantly large percentage of what I plan to show in Atlanta and in Dallas is the collaborative work with Black Cat. It needs to be hung on the walls and needs a heck of a lot more than foamcore to support it. I scramble today in my newfound lucidity to design a display that will a) support the work, and b) fit in the minivan. In our current display (the foamcore and gridwall set-ups that we store in Philly and in Vegas), each 2' wide gridwall panel weighs 24 lbs. I can't see loading up enough of them for a 10' X 20' booth into the minivan... the tires would explode. Then there's also the expense. I need another solution.

And that's what's cookin' today. Now off to give the Sprout her Amoxicillin.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Give Thanks and Ponder Electronic Display

Coffee in the Denver architect series mug, the sound of J chopping pecans for the Thanksgiving pie for music. Was she using the ceramic knife? No, the "sudoku" (that's what she calls the Henckels Professional "S" 7" Granton Edge Santoku Knife). I give thanks that my child is cooking with her father and still has all her fingers.

I began preparations today for next year's show circuit. Yesterday I mentioned to Bill from Black Cat ArtWorks (getting used to Elliott Metal Works new name) that I am planning to add "Whimsically Bent", the collaborative works of Todd Briske and Brenda Griffith, to our booth for Philadelphia. He asked what I'm planning on *not* showing. I hadn't thought of that, but I keep adding and adding new work--mostly the big steel and glass collaborative work I do with him and Elaine, and I have "retired" about as much work as I want to. My booth isn't getting any bigger--I really can't afford bigger than 10 X 20 either in terms of cost or set-up/break-down time. So what to do?

This morning I scanned an email from Amazon.com about black Friday electronic deals and a portable digital projector caught my eye. Hmmm. Maybe instead of bringing *all* the work, I bring a projector and run a slideshow from my laptop on the white foamcore walls. It was an idea worth pursuing so I started researching options and prices. It turns out that while there are cool, new, relatively inexpensive, wireless projectors that are the size of my iPod and hook up to it, they won't stand up to the 2000 watts of halogen light that will also be filling my booth. There must be something in the mid-range price, larger size that would work, but how to know which one? Maybe I could just rent a high-end projector until I figure out what I want and the price drops more. Nope. I checked local prices and 3-4 weeks of rental would just about pay for my own high-end one.

What about some other technological solution? Instead of a projector, what about a large flat screen monitor? Oh yeah, now we're in a better price point, and no worries about the picture not showing up in the bright booth. Monitors are a couple hundred $$, but they only go up to 22"-24". Oh hey, I already have a 20" iMac that is wiped right now because it just got another new hard drive last week. What about just using it? No additional cash outlay, it has its own storage and software so I could put all the pictures and slideshows right on it--no need for cables to the laptop... But it's only a 20" screen. The images are supposed to grab people walking by the booth better or at least as well as the actual work would do. To do that, the images need to be at least the same size as the work and bigger than would be better.

Even if I could afford a 36"-44" flat screen, would I want to hassle with shipping it around and worrying about someone stealing it at the show? No. So I'm back to projectors. I like this one, but for that price I'm really going to have to make sure I have a strong, valid need for it. It's too expensive to be just another cool slightly used gadget in my electronics cabinet.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'Twas the Day Before Thanksgiving

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, no music--iTunes is burning the 40th Magic Treehouse book to cd for J. I'm sure I could listen to music and burn the disc at the same time, but I'm moving slowly this morning. I need to fire today as I didn't either yesterday or Monday and I want to finish labeling and cutting foam separator sheets for the sample sets. Instead, I have two little girls upstairs--J had a friend sleep over last night--and D's at work so I'm on Mommy duty at home, not over in the studio. But all is not lost, I have a website and an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system to work on. I can be the business side of a glass artist here in my comfy brown chair. I plot, I plan, I post--maybe I even get my books up to date for my accountant (did I make money or lose money last year? Pesky finances!).

Whatever I do, I'm going to avoid reading the news on the web anymore today. Too much death, destruction, and hate. Too many parents doing horrible things to their children... I'm going to go give the Sprout a hug and get on with my day. Tomorrow we are heading to a someone else's house for Thanksgiving. No cooking, no entertaining at our home this year. I'm going to miss our traditional food, but D is just too relieved at not having a big effort tomorrow to miss anything. He's still recovering from working the election and gearing up for the runoffs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, What Tue Due?

Coffee in the Washington DC mug (my Mom's favorite one, sniff), "Soul to Squeeze" by the Chili Peppers on iTunes. I miss my Mom. A month-long visit just isn't enough. The year-end wrap-up, preparation for 2009 continues apace. Today more paperwork, a firing for an order I got yesterday, and another Bullseye order to write up. Somehow in the last order I managed not to order *any* 1116-03 (turquoise large) frit. I needed four 5-lb jars. I don't need any sheet glass, but I could go ahead and get in enough of an order to raise my discount level one notch higher for next year. (Can I afford it? Can I afford NOT to afford it now?)

Dee's coming for the day and bringing Sombra. Maybe I'll get her to do another frit inventory...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Threesomes, Foursomes, Fivesomes

Kendall Jackson sauvignon blanc in a Riedel stemless wineglass, "By the Way" by the Chili Peppers on iTunes. BTW, I'm finally posting today. Today's news: "Siyeh Studio presents Whimsically Bent in Atlanta, the collaborative works of Todd Briske and Brenda Griffith". Come and see us at the Taylor Kinzel 5th Annual Glass Show December 6th and 7th.

I took Todd 20 lbs 12 oz of glass in the form of 132 3" squares to turn into hanging ornaments (Christmas, window, ficus, creativity knows no bounds), and an additional 23 lbs of fire-polished shard scrap to turn into plant and garden stakes, wall hangings--whatever takes his fancy. The partnership is new, fresh, and exciting. I look forward to each meeting like it was a third date. You know what that's like, it's the honeymoon stage. And like any guy with any girl in the first flush of a new relationship, he's a bit overwhelmed with the way I'm all over him planning our future. But I'm already expanding us two into us three--not my normal third date behavior. Now I am envisioning what we can do with steel, glass and aluminum--solid strength, colorful depth, and shiny sinuousness/sinuoucity (the spellchecker barfs equally at both).

Todd has a delightfully twisted, laid-back outlook on life that is either going to lighten me up a bit or drive me stark staring mad. Fortunately our relationship is business casual so I won't have to worry about either me killing him or him boring me to tears after we've been together for a few weeks--unlike the real third dates I've been on. Instead, I continue to come home every day to Dave and I still have Bill and Elaine on the side for my other metal needs. Does life get any better? Pictures soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Software

Mocha in a Kavarna cup, the soundtrack from "Juno" just morphed into some crusty 60's-feeling acid rock. I miss the "Juno" stuff. Too much chocolate and cream cheese in my tummy... ugh, I am uncomfortably full. Yesterday I renewed my commitments to both the Dallas and the Atlanta January shows and to collaborating with Todd. Today I am ready to tackle schedule and project plans for both the website and the ERP system for the next month and a half. I have already diddled my way through two weeks of my anticipated dev time so it's time to get off the pot and create. First step in any good plan--get software to manage it!

Now, to work, to work (crack!).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Feeling Gravity's Pull" by R.E.M on iTunes--not a random selection. Yesterday I spent the day fighting the cold (weather), maybe fighting a cold, and questioning all my expansionist plans. I was Doubting Brenda.

I had more than half convinced myself not to do the Atlanta's Mart show but Grace (the Mart rep) called, soothed my fears, and held my hand through the paperwork and booth options. I am in and will commit formally by getting my paperwork in today. I did get my paperwork off to Steve in Dallas for the FINDS show there, committed again. The little voice in the back of my head that wanted to stay under the covers yesterday is snidely muttering that I *should* be committed and that I am going to fall on my behind and accrue HUGE debt for these shows. Voice, I ignore you.

I also fretted about my collaboration ideas for work with Todd as I puttered around the FREEZING studio, and I managed not to get any ornaments done for him to wrap today. But I'll take a couple of large pieces down for our meeting this morning to see what he comes up with on them. I say "down" as his studio is south of mine down past the airport. The same airport I am taking my mother to at 9:00 so she can fly home to Montana. *sigh* I prepare to be blue. I wish we didn't live so far away from each other. A month or two a year just isn't enough time together.

I hold tight to the plan for a Kavarna Day tomorrow. Something to look forward to and a positive step to getting the website and ERP system completed this year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday is FREEZING

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug (the dregs of cup #2), Sam calling "baby bird, baby bird" and chirping away on my Mom's shoulder for music. It's only about 32 degrees outside right now which means it's only about 32 degrees in the studio (I left the heat off as I haven't been in much). I am not looking to heading over there later. My list of things to do today is long and tedious--another reason I am still in the comfy chair with a blanket on my lap making lists and chatting on the phone. A quick post and then to work (forms, forms, forms, forms).

New business direction ideas from the show: Open studio and summer camp for 7th-12th graders. I had several people ask me (parents of the 7th graders and others who knew what I had done with them) if I opened my studio the same way to other people or groups--kind of like pottery places do where you can come in and paint pieces and have them fired for you to pick up later. It might be fun to offer making suncatchers, wind chimes, Christmas ornaments, etc. during very limited open studio time. I can add info and sign up area (including a calendar) on the web site (as I revamp it). Small groups only.

Several of the 7th graders (and their parents) asked me if I might offer summer camp sessions and I thought how fun it would be to do some mask-making sessions. I could do some research and offer a bit of education on the use of masks in various cultures. Then we could make some examples of simple bent rectangular and oval masks. The camp would culminate in the participants casting their own faces and making pate de verre style multi-fired masks that could then be decorated with wire, feathers, crystals, shells, beads, etc.

Now I just need a way of fitting these ambitions in with an increased production schedule from the new shows I'm adding next year--an assistant will help with that. Good thing I have a lot of applicants for that position right now (and for apprentices--and I don't have to pay them!). Oh yes, the high school asked me if I would do a fieldtrip/workshop for their students too... Better get to work!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Madness and Collaboration

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Snow (Hey Oh)" by the Chili Peppers (the Red Hot Fest continues) on iTunes. As promised yesterday, I write the saga of the new collaboration.

I love Wikipedia: "Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together toward an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Collaboration does not require leadership and can sometimes bring better results through decentralization and egalitarianism. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources."

Working with Elliott Metal Works has definitely been an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature and I strongly believe that we have both obtained greater resources, recognition and reward at our shows as a result of our joint work. I have been inspired to create new styles and colorways and my sales have increased dramatically with the addition of the new work--moving both my art and my business to new levels. The partnership has been so stimulating and lucrative that I am all fired up about forming a new one. There are still more directions I would like to take my work that are closed to me when working with steel--e.g., it's very challenging to overcome the rust issue when designing pieces for outdoors, and the steel work is predominantly two-dimensional.

Todd Briske is a local wire artist whom I have known for a number of years. He recently spent a couple of days in my studio helping out with the 7th grade fieldtrip. He was like a kid in a candy shop with all the broken discarded pieces I have lying around and during downtime, he'd grab up some of my junk, wrap it in aluminum wire and hang it on the back studio fence. I was completely enamored of the results and thought what a great potential collaboration I could have with him. Evidently my subconscious came to the same decision as after a couple of weeks of percolating, ideas for combined aluminum wire and fused glass work came pouring out of my head. Though the pieces we plan to do don't look anything like the work on the fence, they were a good jumping off point for my back brain.

When I met with Todd last week to propose working together to him, he was just as giddy about the potential as I was. To start us out and test the waters, I am making up 100 ornaments like we did with the 7th graders and he's going to wrap them in large gauge aluminum wire for added decorative interest and hangability. He's also going to time the process so we have a starting point for figuring out how many we can sell. Won't do any good get an order from, say, Neiman Marcus for 1500 of them if he can't produce that many without having a mental breakdown or losing control of his hands... and the same goes for me. I haven't tried to whip out 100 small ornaments at a time either. I haven't been much of one for small work at all, but helping Jessie with her jewelry over the past couple of weeks was fun. And wow is it easy to pack and carry!

On a more practical note, I will also gain the benefit of having a big strapping male to help set-up and break-down at shows. Delicate little me is just going to LOVE having an extra set of hands... (I'm getting too old for the physical rigor of the show circuit). Todd was initially interested in replacing Becky as my assistant, but I think collaborating on work is much more appropriate and a better fit.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Opportunity Has Come A Knocking

No coffee yet (surprised the Spouse by rolling out of bed at 7:30 on a Sunday--before he had time to wrangle the beans), dogs breakfasting for music (ah, kibble). So why am I up so early on a Sunday--especially a Sunday after a festival? I am up because it is a very cold morning (I am not heating the upstairs yet this fall and with our bedroom door closed our room hits refrigerator temps) and Dave already got up--taking half of the warmth with him. He did cover me with a down comforter from the closet before he went downstairs, but by then the sun streaming in the bathroom window and my whirring mind had prodded me fully awake

All through the day yesterday people asked me how the show was going, was I doing well. It's an indication of my mindset that every time I was asked, I didn't know what to say and stumbled out a meaningless "good" or a more honest (and puzzling to the questioner) "interesting". Why such difficulty with such an innocuous question? The question means is the show living up to your expectations, are you getting what you wanted to out of it--in short (usually) are you making a lot of money. For both professional and hobbyist artisans the main reason to do a show is to sell the work, i.e., make money. We're usually not just out there to have a good time. I don't know about the rest of you (except Ren, I think this is true for her too), but I have a good time by sleeping in, not by doing shows.

This morning as I lay pondering and puzzling (and shivering) in bed, I realized the reason I had such difficulty with the how's-it-going question was because I never thought of the Waldorf holiday fair/artist market as a show-as-usual and so I hadn't actually set goals. I hoped for good sales, but I didn't expect them. What I ended up getting from the show was ultimately more valuable and more exciting to me than one-time sales would have been (though sales were okay too), and because I hadn't planned or even thought about getting it (what I got), the way it played out really was "interesting", intriguing, and inspirational enough to motivate me out of bed and onto laptop this morning.

So what did I get?!? (you ask in exasperation--stop dancing around and spill it!) I got ideas for 2-3 for new business directions. Add this to the new collaboration I formed on Thursday and 2009 is shaping up to be a very motivational, expansive year! Tomorrow I'll detail the collaboration, and Tuesday I'll write about the business ventures after I've had a bit of time to flesh them out further. Now the day is over and it's time to Race For the Galaxy against my spouse while J plays Monopoly with Gramma.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday NOT Same Old Same Old

No coffee, no music. I am done obsessing about the holiday artist market I am doing this weekend. I don't know why I started in the first place. Between left knee twinges, I restlessly dreamed all night of not being taken seriously as a *linguist* (and wasn't that many lifetimes ago!) and my "friends" telling me I could go out with them that evening because for once I looked nice (apparently I was usually dirty, smelled bad, had ratty hair and wore filthy grungy clothes...). Oy. Talk about adequacy issues! So today I shake it off, go with the flow and have fun with it. And I post about the wonder that is the J on Stranded in the South.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Artist Market Cometh

Some chardonnay (Dave says it's the "king of wines") in the Reidel stemless white wine glass, Dave playing the Donnas' "New Kid In School" on Rock Band 2 for my music. I have my feet up and am posting after the opening two hours of the Waldorf School Holiday Fair Artist Market. I had a realization this morning as I was gearing up for the day. With my uber organized, detail-oriented personality, I am incapable of matching effort to event. It doesn't matter if I'm doing the Buyer's Market of American Craft or a tiny school craft show in a basement room with burned out florescent lights, I put 100% thought, planning and angst into it.

I also can't sell old work. Apparently I am not just bored by making it. I sold one piece tonight and it was a platter in one of the newest colorways (Tropical) cut-down from a large panel and slumped. What to do, what to do. I think I'll follow Becky's suggestion and take a bunch of new work in tomorrow too.

Jessie did very well tonight. She only sold two necklaces, but she traded three necklaces a pin and a ring for a really cool crystal, feather, leather and copper piece from another artist. That's my girl--already figured out the best part of shows is the trading. Pics are of her just after set-up and getting the first check for her work. Yeah she smiles now, wait till it bounces... (just kidding). Now it's 11:30 and I need to get to be to get some sleep before tomorrow when we get to do it all again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One Day and Counting...

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Snow" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (hence referred to as the Chili Peppers--we're that chummy now). It's not cold enough here to snow yet, but I am still on my Chili Peppers kick. Today the post is all about the glass--or at least the glass from a business perspective (ostensibly the reason for this blog).

Yesterday I got the latest issue of Profitable Glass Quarterly. Loy Allen's orchids are on the cover and I feel smug as I suggested they do the studio profile on her. She is a North Dakota boro artist from whom I bought a praying mantis for Dave at the last February Buyer's Market--gorgeous work. The issue also contains an article I wrote on pricing work for the artist. Today I get to wrestle with and eventually reconcile all of the factors involved with pricing as I prepare for the Waldorf Artist Market this weekend. These factors include my expectation that this won't be a high dollar show and my desire to move one-of-a-kind, limited edition, and retired series work.

Let's not beat about the Bush (unless we're really lucky and we have a big stick and the secret service is conspicuously absent), the economy is tight. I anticipate that the majority of the shoppers will be parents who already pay private school tuition in the aforementioned tight economy and won't be up for big ticket glass art. Add that to the fact that it's the school/church variety holiday craft show--not a well-advertised established art show run by either professional promoters or a strong neighborhood volunteer network--and I do not think I'll break a $1,000 this show. I might not break $500. Heck, I might not break $250.

On the other hand, I am pretty prolific and have a lot of work hanging around the studio that I can't market to galleries because the shows I do are order shows--not cash and carry. That means I would have to take these pieces as samples and I either can't or don't want to do them again. I just want to get them out of the studio so I can free up room for current work. I would like to recoup a bit of the cost, but I'm not picky as long as they just Go Away.

Add together my expectations and my situation with an abundance of work to move and the temptation is great to offer everything at wholesale or even below. Is this a good idea? Probably not. In Art (Craft, whatever...) perception is everything. This will be the first time most of these people have seen my work. Do I wish to set in their minds a perceived value of it based on the price I am asking for these pieces? There is nothing wrong with them technically or artistically, I am just bored with them. We artists have tiny attention spans. We get bored, we move on, we don't need old work around to remind us of what we used to do.

Yes, I can put out signage telling people what a great steal of a deal they're getting and not to expect these prices Ever Again, but do people really read? Will they remember? Even if they acknowledge their bargain intellectually, viscerally are they going to think that's what my work is worth? I really, really, really want to sell these pieces--and I wouldn't mind a quick fix of Christmas cash. I don't have room for both the old work and the new (I am sharing three six foot by three foot tables with Jessie and another jeweler--Dee and Todd aren't able to do the show so there'll just be the three of us and I expect to fill almost two tables on my own). Am I shooting myself in the foot? Mox nix, I'm going to go for it and just weather any pricing fallout.

Jessie will probably be the big hit of the show. Her work is perfectly priced and gorgeous--and it has the advantage of having been designed and created by a seven year-old (with a bit of expert advice from Mom and Dee on glass and jewelry making). How could you resist rings for $4 and a pair of dichro earrings for $8? I'm setting her up to take care of me in my old age. Note to self: Do Not Become a Stage Mom.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday What's This Handbasket Day

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Otherside" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on iTunes. Some days the glass is half full. Some days the glass is half empty. Some days you can't find the glass. Welcome to Wednesday. The Waldorf Holiday Fair/Artist Market is this Friday and Saturday. Guess I better root through the studio to figure out what I'm going to take.

Dee is coming down today and bringing her new family addition Sombra (a Bouvier de Flandres) to romp with Baxter and Seraph. I'll get her to help me root (and dust). One of the really big pieces I had to refire Monday because it had schmutz in it *still* had schmutz in it when I opened the kiln yesterday. After two firings there are a lot of air bubbles too close to the surface to fire it again (they rise a bit every time the glass goes liquid) so I can't fire it again it. Looks like it'll be a display piece for the new January shows (20" round panel for a stand) and I'll have to remake the piece for the gallery today. It and the sample sets are all I have left on the schedule. (And new work for the Taylor Kinzel Glass Show the first weekend in December and for the Atlanta and Dallas shows...)

Got another show solicitation yesterday, this one from the One of a Kind Wholesale Show in NYC a the end of January. I was tempted for a nanosecond--and then I remembered I am already doing *two* new big shows in January. No need to be nuts (nutser).

And that's it for glass. What I was really thinking when I started the post was that I still don't have the loom warped and I am only 1/3 of the way through knitting the first scarf for the Artist Market. Looks like my textile offerings are going to be a bit sparse. I need about five more hours a day--or I need to sleep less. But I like sleep. I need sleep. I am crabby if I don't get sleep. So I'm back to petitioning for five more hours in a day. Anyone else care to sign?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Week is Rushing Past Already

No coffee yet, the sound of it brewing for music. I'm up early this morning. Yesterday was a glassilicious, weaving and knitting-filled day--well nigh perfect in other words. I reviewed the layout for my upcoming sidelight article in Glass Patterns Quarterly and it's gorgeous. I committed to the Dallas Finds show and picked my spot (a 10 X 20 in the Atrium--prime, prime, prime). Unfortunately I didn't get the scheduled shipments out as a couple of the pieces were not perfect and I had to refire them. I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to ship all but one order today--and it can go out tomorrow along with all the sample sets.

When I have nothing left to make and ship for the year, what will I do with myself? I spent part of yesterday afternoon at Kavarna with the spouse and I just couldn't pick up the threads of the ERP system to date. Note to self: Do not start a software development project and then let it languish unimagined and untouched for a couple of months. I reviewed the requirements I wrote up on paper again and hope to be able to actually analyze the current database structure by next week. Development to follow?

Have you ever noticed how the minute it looks like you have some spare time something breaks to fill it? The hard drive on the home desktop decided to commit suicide over the weekend and now I look forward to the joys of taking it in, getting it replaced and having the data pulled from it... I roll on the floor laughing so hard my sides hurt. Scratch the having the data pulled part: It's always way too expensive to try to get data off a failed disk. Glad I backed everything up recently before upgrading the OS. Probably lost the complete collated iTunes, but the music is all safe on one of the laptops or the backup drive. Grr. What a time-wasting annoyance, and nothing to do with glass, weaving OR knitting! And speaking of knitting, I fringed the scarf I knit for J last night. Cute, cute cute and just little girl sized.

Many words are coming to me in threes this morning, wonder if it's a portent of the day. Now it's 7:15 and time to roust the Sprout for school. I'll think about the postcard I need to do before the winter shows later...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Abby Normal Monday

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on iTunes. I always thought thatb that song was called the City of Angels or somesuch. Found out the truth last night when I went to sing it on Guitar Hero 2.

I bounced out of bed with a smile on my face, ready to take on the world today--not a normal Monday. But yesterday I finished J's knitted scarf but for the fringe, and I wound a warp for seven chenille scarves on the warping mill. Later today I'll warp the loom for the first time in over six years (oh it's good to have the basement finished!). The scarves are to sell at the holiday fair this coming weekend. The warp (the length of the scarves) is in charcoal chenille and each weft (width) will be in a different contrasting color from hot pink to fern green. I will weave them in 12 basic tabby and twill patterns that all have the same threading and treadle tie-up. But glass first...

Shipping, shipping, shipping today (and one fuse load) and tomorrow and then all the orders for the year will be out. I also have the last batch of ornaments to clean up and deliver to the 7th graders for them to put ribbons on before the holiday fair. I should go through all the older work in the studio too to decide which pieces I am going to sell at the fair. I'll get Mom to help me with that task.

In celebration of the end of the election project for Dave and the final orders shipping for me, I am having a Kavarna afternoon with my spouse and working on either the studio books, the ERP system or the website. Whew there's a lot to do on all of them before the beginning of the show season in January This show season will kick off here in Atlanta with the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market and then trot on immediately to Dallas for the Dallas Finds show. Then I'll have a few weeks to rest before trekking to Philadelphia for the Buyer's Market of American Craft. More about THAT ambitious plan later. Now off to ship!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday My Favorite

No beverage, "Soldiers Chorus (from The Decembrists)" by The Soviet Army Chorus and Band on iTunes. I am serene. I didn't post first thing this morning even though it was a Kavarna day as I was out of juice on the laptop and so was Dave so I generously (quite generously) let him have the power cord first. I worked on my order from Ed Hoy's (nothing better than starting your day by flipping through a big, beautiful catalog). The order is in now--Jessie is adding glass buttons to her offerings for the Holiday Fair next weekend--and should be here mid-week next week (just in time to glue up the buttons!).

While at Kavarna I had a chat with the sales rep in charge of the handmade section of the Atlanta Gift Mart in January and I have decided to do the show. Then I will pack everything up and head to the Dallas Finds show... Big money, big goals for a big year.

This afternoon my new apprentice Kevin comes to the studio for a couple of hours. He is going to clean pieces, fill frit and then maybe pull a bit of stringer from the vitrigraph. Or I might let him make some ornaments, or some other piece. We'll see. Now off to pack up ornaments, unload kilns and get ready to pick up J and Kevin from school (Kevin is in 8th grade...).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday Already

Coffee in the Denver architect series mug (with pumpkin spice coffee mate--yum!), "Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M on iTunes. It's a good day to be an American. I noticed as I started to post this morning that I have 666 posts in this blog. Is it a sign?! No post yesterday as I was off to the 7th graders at l'aube of dawn and had all the Jessie-out-the-door things to do too (Dave was still at CNN making the servers run on time for the election). But he was home last night and we all had a non-burned home-cooked meal of chipotle chicken, rice, beans, fried plantains with sour cream, and tortillas. Ah comfort starch.

I am fueled for a big glass day--too bad there isn't big glass to do. I still have yesterday's loads to fire--life interrupted glass as it has so often lately--but I should have them in by noon. I realized this morning that I have an appointment scheduled with my accountant tomorrow to go over my books for the year to date. I am going to have to reschedule as I haven't entered anything into Quickbooks since January and there's no way I can get it all in this afternoon--life interruptions again. I finally broke down and bought Quickbooks for the Mac. I got it just after a new version was released and so far it hasn't been too heinous (of course all I've done is migrate my old data and attempt [and fail] to establish connectivity with my bank accounts).

It's good to have the election done. It's been Dave's project for the past three years and now that the climax is over he'll have a lot of Kavarna days between now and the end of the year. Kavarna days (days when we work from the Kavarna coffee shop in Oakhurst) are good for me as they focus me on the ERP system and my website. It's hard to go to the studio when there's nothing to fire. It's a wonderful, welcoming space, but so is my house, and it's too easy to putter at home if I don't have something that must be done in the studio. Some days (like many recent ones) even something to do in the studio hasn't been enough to get me out of home mode.

Today I will be in the studio at 9:00. That's my goal and I'm stickin' to it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tuesday--Get Out and VOTE!

Nothing to drink, elevator music from my mom's little cd player for music (I think it's the Percy Faith Orchestra). Happy Birthday Jessie! Dave didn't have to go in to work till 11:00 as he's supposed to be there until about that time tomorrow so he made a birthday breakfast of eggs and (unburned) orange rolls. J opened a few presents and hied off to school with the cupcakes her father baked and frosted last night for her classmates (chocolate with blue icing). I headed off prepared to wait in line for several hours to vote and was in and out in under an hour. Whoo hoo!

The load of Jessie's Jewels for bracelets came out this morning and looks great--my child really has an eye for color and design (and she can tell one side of the dichro from the other easily which I can't). Today I'll slump the fuse load from yesterday and try out applying kiln wash to the new shelf for a fuse with a cheap chemical sprayer from Home Depot (that Dave picked up for me while out on errands this morning--where does he get all the energy?!?). Little putterings in the studio. When the election is over Dave will have lots of Kavarna time and I'll work on the ERP system and my website. Right now I just want to get through J's birthday, the election, the Waldorf lantern walk, the last round of ornament making with the 7th grade, and J's Girl Scout Investiture ceremony--all before the weekend. Oh yes, and some orders to make and ship...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Late and Lazy Monday

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Burning Love" by Elvis Presley on iTunes to be followed by "Eden is Burning" by John Mellencamp and "Burning Down the House" by the Talking Heads in honor of the crispy dark bagel I had for breakfast--evidence that things really do come in threes (thing 1 and thing 2).

Another order came in over the weekend so there will be firing today. Jessie's Jewels are turning out beautifully--J and Gramma glued up batches of rings, pins pendants and a bracelet yesterday and they'll fuse up another bracelet batch today. Neither of them are thrilled with the smell of the glue--even with the front door of the studio open and the fan on--but it sure works well (Triolyse, provided by Dee).

Tomorrow is the election (yea, I get my spouse back!) and J's birthday. After a Saturday trip to the American Girl store I have presents, I might make cupcakes for school (got to find out what the birthday-celebration-at-school requirements are), and I'm ready for a quiet evening with cake, champagne, family, friends and CNN on the big tv.

Okay, best get my lazy self off to the studio!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Coffee... is brewing, the perking sound is my music (though it's not technically perking as the water runs through the coffee grounds once instead of bubbling up through them as it does in percolated coffee). I have the luxury of being exact this morning. I am not haphazardly getting done as I rush to do. There is little to do so I can take my time and thought for it. Either that or I'm just procrastinating about getting over to the studio to work on the sample sets some more--they just won't die. Really, I'm going to have to make a sample set bar every time I make a regular piece just so I never have to do six simultaneous sets again. I find myself tempted to retire colorways just so I don't have to make samples of them!

Glass calls to me in all seasons but fall. Fall is given over to textiles, and this year since the old studio (the basement) has been turned into a lovely room and central living space in the house (and is coincidentally the home for the loom) I have been in a froth of knitting, preparing to weave, and buying yet more yarn on ebay. The aforementioned yarn started arriving yesterday and life is now rife with possibilities and little projects. None of this yarn is destined for sweaters, oh no. This is a couple of days on a scarf here, a couple of days on a poncho there. It would be less than a couple of days but the knitting and soon the weaving all happen in the evening and on the weekends. Glass may not call, but it still demands.

Yesterday a lovely celebratory lunch with Becky--celebrating her move on to a new full-time professional position. It still escapes me why anyone would want to take a full-time well-paid position outside the arts when there is so much room to starve in creative poverty in the arts industry. I hope the new position works out for her. In this tough economic climate people are lucky just to have the security of jobs. I am going to be glad if all the galleries that owe me for work get it paid off before the end of the year. I had another one yesterday tell me the checks (multiple, post-dated checks) are in the mail--just tell me, not ask if they could change our agreed upon terms for their initial order. I am more than happy to work with people as they go through tough times--heck, I'm still owed a couple hundred dollars by a gallery that closed several months ago (and it's getting time to have another chat with them)--but I like to be asked for terms instead of having them dictated to me.

But it's Friday. It's Halloween. It's too wonderful a day to start out being crabby about money. Take care of the people around you and the rest will take care of itself. Today is the last regular day I have to wake up in the dark till next fall (yea for the end of daylight savings time!) and I am happy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday After Waldorf Wednesday

Rapidly cooling coffee in the Austin skyline mug, happy chugging furnace sounds for music. Yesterday I completely missed posting as I headed off to the Waldorf School at 7:30 am for another fun-filled morning of ornament-making with the 7th graders. The pictures are from their visit to the studio a week ago though, as I remembered my camera, but forgot to take any pictures at school yesterday!

I am so energized and renewed by the experience of seeing what vastly different and wildly creative pieces 24 people can produce with access to the same raw materials and canvas size. It is such a privilege to share knowledge with an enthusiastic group and it makes me wonder again why I don't teach more. I have one more Wednesday at Waldorf before the Holiday Fair in mid November, and I'm already looking forward to working with the 7th grade on their auction project for the spring--and maybe some individual projects. I may have to think about opening up studio time in the afternoons for students who wish to pursue work in glass... Maybe next year I should think about branching out and offering classes to students at the Waldorf High School.

In the meantime, I have another teaching/sharing opportunity coming up with my ikebana group. I am in the second instructor course now and one of my assignments was to do arrangements in personally designed containers. I took two vases to class that I made when I was researching projects for the book, and the rest of the group was so excited by them (and by the fact that they are the most basic of beginner projects) that they asked if I would teach a container-making session in the studio for them. Need to get that on the calendar for some time in November or December too.

The studio calendar is still beautifully clear after next week. I continue to slog through the first batch of sample sets, and today I begin the last two orders of the year, then... nothing concrete planned! Dave is working 70 hours between now and Wednesday morning and then he, too, is staring down the barrel of nothing but documentation and writing a few tests for the rest of the year. I almost wish we were going somewhere, but I hate to travel around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Besides, I think the spouse is going to be tired and brain-dead himself and need a little time just to be around home.

Becky's last day as studio assistant is tomorrow and then Dee takes over--though with my upcoming schedule I can't see needing any help until after the first of the year. Guess we can always play with the vitrigraph! Oh and she's doing the Holiday Fair with Jessie and me in November. And speaking of the J, she is so worn out doing projects and playing with Gramma every afternoon that she crashed in the car yesterday after running to Target to get her vampire teeth for her Halloween costume. (Like the stylin' rainboots?) Even after we got home and I opened the car door she still slept on, little dulcet snores emanating from the backseat.

Gramma is going to make her a cape today out of blue-satin-lined black polar fleece for the rest of her costume.

Now I suppose I had better stop chatting and get to the studio. I don't know why I am so disliking making the the sample sets--it's just like making actual pieces. Maybe it's having to do every single blessed colorway... Good-bye lunch for Becky today. Need to see if Stacy can join us (I never took her to lunch for assisting so boy is it time!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Till Tuesday

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, the furnace humming for music. The furnace is humming because it is 37 degrees outside! I still haven't turned the heat on upstairs and I might not this winter--the bedrooms stay nice and cold and good for snuggling under a down comforter. Maybe we should get a down comforter. We had one when we lived in Chicago (naturally), but we have a bigger bed now and it's small enough not to cover both sides--not a problem for me as I am the best cover thief I know, but Dave gets a bit frosty.

Dan and Dick are here this morning to raise one of the support columns for our front porch before it sinks through to China. they offered me donuts, but I resisted. I need treadmill more than I need donuts. Soon I will leave them to work and head off to the studio for another shipping and firing filled day.

Three orders go out today. Two of them should have gone yesterday but one had pieces that needed to be firepolished and I just ran out of time for the other. Today I fill at least one kiln--maybe both big ones--with sample sets. After two years of dragging my feet on them, I will finally have sample sets for the February Buyer's Market!

Tomorrow I am off to Waldorf for another morning making glass ornaments for the holiday fair with the seventh grade. It's a really light week. I could get used to light weeks like this. I actually have time to spend with my Mom. Usually she comes to visit and pull me out of whatever overcommitted hole I have dug for myself. This year I'm able to help Dave with his overwork (I am doing dishes and was doing laundry till my Mom arrived. Wow.) and still have time to get my work done and hang and chat with Mom. I love fall. I especially love this fall.