Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wrapping Up

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, the sound of pencils scratching as the in-laws furiously sudoku as my background music (interspersed with my father in-law saying "Lay down! in a stern voice to Seraph, who has no intention of obeying anyone but me and even then only on good days. Ever been nose-to-nose with a deerhound?). We leave today for California and Dave skittered away to work this morning to avoid Brenda in full organizatrix mode. He is a wise man.

There is a firing to be done today, two shipments to pack, one of them to ship. There is still an annoying swarm of little tasks to get done--in addition to packing--and I promised the afore-mentioned spouse that I would have a calm, relaxing day. I am not going to break my promise. I WILL BE CALM, dammit.

The glass order is off to Bullseye. The metal order is off to Elliott Metal Works and delivery will happen during my absence (thanks to Stacy, Wunder Assistant and the Amazing in-Laws). Vacation is good. Rest is good. Seeing the far-flung friends will be good. I WILL RELAX. To aid in that effort, I'm off to have a facial. No thinking, no stress, and I'll look 10 years younger at the end. See you (with my virtual pen) next week!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


No coffee, no music, no electricity—wait! I have iTunes on the laptop, I can have music! Naw, I'll just keep listening to the rain. Don't know when I'll get to post this, but I doggedly write anyway. I'm just glad I charged the laptop last night so I have a few hours of juice. Maybe they'll have the power back on by then, maybe I'll have to find a coffee shop. Jessie and Dave got out the door, the in-laws still sleep, the house is quiet. Guess this it the bad thing about such close proximity between the house and the studio—when we lose power to one, we lose power to both. But for now I sit and enter orders form teh show into the laptop. They're already in the firing schedule, now I enter them onto electronic order/invoices. Maybe I should think about streamlining my entry process. I seem to remember something about an artist erp system... time to resurrect it?

There is much going on chez Siyeh Studio, many little things are getting ticked off lists. And yet I am still scattered. Two more post-show orders came in unsolicited yesterday—both ship asap—and it will take some creative juggling to fit them in. Yesterday I never got the packing supplies put away, or unloaded the van from Philly, or had a meeting with Stacy, or even got together a list of tasks for her to tackle in the studio while I'm gone (It's time for a short break and a little vacation in northern California Thurs-Mon). Today. Today sees organization, and firing, and cleaning… if Georgia Power gets the POWER back on.


The power is on, coffee in a little studio mug, "The Tennessee Stud" by Johnny Cash on the iPod. The day rocks on. Inventories to do before getting the Sprout and lists to make before Stacy gets here at 1:30 pm. The van is unloaded, the inventory forms are printed out. No more time to sit and write. "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash just came on the iPod to get me on my way, and I'm off!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Taking Stock

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Last To Die" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. It's the first day of a normal schedule in two weeks. Dave is off to work, J is off to school, and I have a full day in the studio. Stacy (my assistant) and I are going to pow wow this morning about next steps forward. I am being featured in the summer issue of Profitable Glass in their studio profiles and I need about 15-20 photos to go along with the article. I also have the first installment of what is planned to be a regular column in the magazine and I need photos for it. I don't even know what to use for the last one. In order to take photos in the studio, I need to finish setting up the studio. Oh Bruce (Springsteen) has got it right this morning--it's a gonna be a Long Walk Home (still from the Radio Nowhere album).

The website is up in rudimentary form. Now I need to keep the momentum going and get photos of all my work up on it--including the four new wall pieces and the three new symbol pieces. I have my show schedule for the year more or less ironed out (I might consider another retail show but I don't think that's where I'm going to focus my energy), and my firing schedule is done for the next couple of weeks (not tough as I go on vacation Thursday). But there's still plenty to organize!

I don't know why every time I go to a show I have to completely destroy the studio in the process, but there it is. I got a delivery of shipping supplies right before I left and now I have huge rolls of bubble wrap, bags of Styrofoam peanuts, and stacks of boxes everywhere--in addition to the usual nope-I'm-not-going-to-take-this-I'll-just-leave-it-here-in-the-middle-of-the-floor piles. Whoops, there goes the doorbell. I may not be getting to the clean-up today after all. Looks like the in-laws are here. Deep breath. Organization is going to have to wait till tomorrow. Maybe my post will be less scattered too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Another Review...

No beverage, no music or even background noise. All is silent and still in casa de Griffith- -surprising since there is a little girl playdate raging upstairs. Good insulation. It's Saturday and not a normal post day, but I ran across this article on and had to preen and post:

"Griffith, Brenda. A Beginner's Guide to Kiln-Formed Glass: Fused, Slumped, Cast. Lark, dist. by Sterling. 2007. c.128p. illus. index. ISBN 978-1-57990-909-3. $24.95. CRAFTS

Studio glass artists and hobbyists find that melting crushed glass in a kiln rather than heating it over an open fire is a practical option for making raw glass. Kiln-formed glass is molded, not blown, providing the opportunity for finished pieces of many shapes and colors. Glass artist Griffith provides the fundamentals of firing and finishing along with projects of graduated difficulty for novice and experienced crafters. A good selection on an uncommon topic for public libraries."

Thank you Constance Ashmore Fairchild! This might even get me past the first four star review on Amazon. And the person who wrote it seemed to really like the book--what was THAT all about?

I have taken the day off. The first full day off in... well, weeks. I shouldn't even be posting because I'm not working. And I will stop now as Dave has just returned from Borders with "Succubus on Top" by Richelle Mead for me. Ah the complete bliss of a day to wallow in Urban Fantasy (um) literature! More on Monday...

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's Fun Friday!

Coffee (yes, coffee!) in the Washington DC skyline mug, "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie on iTunes. The week ends with a bang, even though I haven't been out of my jammies since my return on Tuesday. I will dress today (I did laundry) and go to the studio happy in the knowledge that the new website is up! Oooh baby! Not one page that says "Under Construction". True, it's a bit light in content, but as it's a content-management-based site, it's easy enough to get new content up there. Thank you Christian Sass of Digitiris for effort above and beyond yesterday to get me live.

I also finished my article for the summer issue of Profitable Glass. I intended to write about start-up costs for a glass business, but the article had a mind of its own and it turned out to be all about product viability instead. Now I just need to edit it and send it in. Then I'm off to the studio! Fusing, fusing, fusing--and shipping.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Congratulations Bill Zweifel!

Lapsang Souchong tea with cream in the Montreal skyline mug, Jessie practicing her puppet show on the coffee table as my background music. There is no reason to post today. Yesterday I spent in the big chair writing, analyzing sales data, and drinking hot tea to get over this wretched cold. Today I am back in the big chair finishing my article and working on my website with Christian. I also hope to get a firing in, and J has gymnastics and ballet. Immediately post-show I am still catching up on correspondence and viewing with dismay the whirlwind disaster I left in the studio trying to get out the door for Philly. Add the cold to that, and I do not scintillate.

Personal (as opposed to business) highlights of the BMAC will wrap up the post for today. I'm sorry that I didn't get to the Niche Awards this year as Bill Zweifel won for Drift! It was good to visit with Nancy (however briefly), to hug Marty, to chat with Bill for a couple of minutes twice, to have other artists buy signed copies of my book, and to trade for kaleidescopes. I missed seeing Sara for more than a couple of seconds, and I didn't get over to see Patty Hulet at all either. Something I did see this year however, that I had managed to miss for the past four years was Loy Allen's work. She has been exhibiting at the show for the past 11 years so I don't know what was up with my eyes. Probably missed her because I have never completely walked the glass aisles--much less the whole show. Maybe in August. Having found her this year, I have already begun a collection of her work. The first piece in it is the large mantis for Dave. No, I'm not trying to tell him anything!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Quick BMAC Recap

My special blend of Tropical Rooibos and Jade Pearls teas in the Austin skyline mug, the Japanese alto Music of the Spheres windchimes on the back deck for my music this morning. Even with the beginnings of a looking-to-be-nasty cold, it is so good to be home!

Today I write and organize. I have a 1200 word article due for Profitable Glass and I have the firing schedule to finish building with the orders from the show and I need to make a list of buyers I didn't see at the show. My current drop-dead-go-live date for the new website is Friday, and I will start making calls next week, telling the buyers I didn't see at the show about the new site, saying I missed seeing them at the BMAC and offering them an incentive for ordering before the middle of March.

Bill commented on yesterday's post "Having mostly new customers sounds pretty good, actually. Isn't that supposed to be the point?" No, for a wholesale show it is the OPPOSITE of the point: If you're going to go to all the trouble of a show for a one-off sale instead of establishing an ordering relationship, then you want to sell at retail where you make twice as much for your work as you do at wholesale. My ideal wholesale show would have about 30% new buyers and a retention rate of 80% of the previous buyers for 10% growth in accounts... Reading over that I have a feeling I've done some fuzzy math, but the goal is the same--some new, strong retention, and then increased order size across all for another 10% growth.

To finish today, here's a report card for this year's February Buyer's Market of American Craft:

Hargrove Logistics (specifically Tracy Crea) A+, responsive, professional, human, timely--a tough mix to pull off and she was excellent.

Hilton Garden Inn: A, the staff, service and facilities were excellent, the only negative is their choice of pay-tv providers--when you pay $14 for an in-room movie you should be able to pause and rewind as necessary.

BMAC site staff: varied from A (Laura Bamburak, the Mixed Media manager) to D (whoever dropped the ball when I asked to speak to whomever has taken up ownership of the Wholesale Matters blog since the departure of Daniel Waldeman--I might as well not have existed)

Aramark Food Service: B, expensive but not bad quality and variety, good service

Java City (coffee place in the convention center by the entrance to the halls): C, slow sullen service, expensive, poor selection

Attendance: C-, I don't know what the attendance figures were, but I saw far fewer people there than I have in the past and there were too many artists who said they didn't see their regular buyers there for my low viewing numbers to be a fluke.

Sales: A, In this weak, scary, empty market, I managed 15 new buyers, 7 repeats, and 61% sales growth over last February's show. Last February was not as good for me as last August and I'll have to look at those numbers too, however I'm comfortable saying my business is growing steadily at the BMAC. Now off to write some more!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Home, I Love My Home

Coffee in the Dunkin Donuts go-cup, "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers on my iPod. It's the road home from Philadelphia! Elaine is driving and she and Bill are in the front seats listening to their iPod through the car speakers. J is in her carseat next to me in the back and she is watching a dvd through the car system and listening through her headphones. I have the sunscreen up on the window to my left and I'm listening to my iPod and writing up this post to upload later. It's a technology marvelous day!

Yesterday was just too full of stuff to post. First there was packing and getting out of the room, then I stayed busy enough at the show that I never even got the chance to get coffee, much less post. The show ended at 3:00 and we broke down and packed up until 9:00. It's a grueling job. The new booth is gorgeous—we need a few tweaks, but it's mostly just stunning—but it's time-consuming to assemble and disassemble. Most of what we had there we packed up into crates and into my new pallet—which was just the right size—and it'll be shipped off to Vegas for the ACRE show in April.

All that's coming home are a few pieces I am going to swap out and all my pedestals. I need the pedestals for the studio gallery and the Decatur Arts Festival in May. Yes, it's after Vegas, but I don't want to have to deal with shipping them back. I need a display solution I can use and store in Vegas, and I'll keep driving back and forth to Philly with my regular pedestals. Why not get more pedestals you might ask. Well, they're nice, but they're sinfully expensive. I can't afford another $2,000-$3,000 in pedestals. Not only that, but looking at our booth, I couldn't help but feel that the pedestals were a weak point.

So how was the show? Well, it was unexpected. I am still analyzing the figures and the concrete sales numbers (more of that business/marketing speak... I wonder if I'm coming down with something?), but I already know that most of my total orders were for sculptural decorative glass and metal pieces instead of the functional glass pieces, and the vast majority of my new clients bought the glass and metal. I only had one new gallery order a broad body of work spanning functional glass and decorative glass and metal, the rest of my functional glass orders came from existing customers--and I saw few of them.

In the end, sales numbers were solid and the due dates are spread out between now and the middle of June, and that's really all I could have hoped for.


Now it is several hours later, we're home (having dropped Bill and Elaine off in Greenville), we're clean (well bathed), we're fed, and we're ready for bed. Tomorrow more show and industry musings. G'night!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

BMAC Day 3

Coffee is a French roast with an extra shot of espresso in a Java go-cup, the sound of wind chimes from the booth kitty-corner to me and artists kibutzing on the couches across from me for music. It's the penultimate day of the Buyer's Market of American Craft, and I am feeling my age. This is a MUCH easier show than any retail show I do, and I'm still exhausted. Time to stop drinking anything with alcohol or caffeine in it, to lose weight, and to take up walking, yoga and meditation. Artificial stimulants and depressants can only carry you so far. Then in a couple of years I can write a book about how those lifestyle changes affected my life and my art and I can go on the talk show and book tour circuit... Clearly I'm delirious. I want to go home.

And it's a good show! Or good enough so far (talking about sales here). After I posted yesterday I took seven more orders. The orders are unusual in that they're almost all for the new wall sculpture and tabletop pieces in stands--it seems almost an afterthought for the buyers to throw in a few small rectangular plates or a shallow dish or two. And the buyers are almost all new--I'm not seeing very many of my regulars. I was talking to another artist in mixed media this morning and she said she hadn't seen many of her regulars either. She hasn't moved from her usual spot and she is attributing not seeing her regulars to them not being there.

The best news on the orders I've taken is that no one is in a rush to get anything so I can have a bit of a breather when I get home. The only I-want-it-now order I got was from a Personal Shopper (someone who has a business and uses it to gain entrance to this wholesale show to buy for herself at wholesale prices pretending to buy for a business). I am not thrilled with PS's, but if they are polite, wait until I am finished with whatever real buyer I'm talking to, immediately step aside if a real buyer comes into the booth, and cop to being a PS right up front, I'll deal with them. This woman was/did none of the above--she actually interrupted a conversation with a real buyer and it didn't become clear till the end of the order-writing process that she was a PS. I just didn't have the energy to confront her about it so the order stands--though I have plenty of personal outrage now, after the fact. Whatever.

Good thing I get a firing break when I get back as I have to finish my article for Profitable Glass and get the website live this week. I have been sporadically working on the site over the past few days and I am *almost* ready to go live. I have Christian now on Skype...

...And I lost Christian so I'm going to finish up this post and get it up. Then I'll enter my orders into the firing schedule and my show data into Excel, update the to-do list for the website, and start uploading images. Maybe I'll have lunch--and maybe I'll write some more orders (that would be nice--only one today so far).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

BMAC Day 2

Water in a Dasani bottle (it is dry and hot under these halogen lights), a slightly-less-muted chatter of buyers for music. Day 2 of the February Buyer's Market of American Craft--historically the biggest wholesale show for my craft demographic, and I have written one order today. Add that to the two from yesterday, and things are not looking good. Yesterday Bill asked in a comment if could say "Economic Downturn", I may have to learn to.

So far the universal consensus (among the artists contributing to the discussion) is that there are fewer buyers, more lookers, and the orders placed are uniformly small. Does it have anything to do with this being an election year? My first year at this show was the last election year so I don't have good sales figures for comparison (I expected not to do well as it was my first time here and I met my expectation). Is it being in Inspired Interiors? Today I am more comfortable about my decision to move as the one order I did get was from a new (for me) gallery in New Hampshire and the owner said how nice it was to find me outside of glass--the glass section is just too overwhelming. If I don't see my regulars here I am going to follow up and offer them the show special for all orders placed by the end of February. However, while on the one hand I feel good about having a post-show sales strategy, on the other I know that most buyers will have used up their spring budget by the time they get my pitiful little bid for their business so I am not likely to get many (any?) takers.

I am beginning to think that making a living in American craft now is going to require a much more diverse strategy than it has in the past. Instead of being able to rely on one or two big marketing pushes (and the visibility garnered from a wholesale show qualifies as a big marketing push), I think I need to focus on a constant, diverse flow of marketing. And I think it will be beneficial to outline marketing goals and target specific buyers--less scattershot and more focused... Good grief, I sound like an MBA candidate. Further proof that it isn't enough anymore (if it ever was) to be just an artist.

The highlight of the day so far was the two visiting community college students who came into my booth and said my work was "righteous". I think their names were Bill and Ted.

PS--The show isn't as gloom and doom as my posts have seemed. There is more to doing a show than orders written at the show... and if I think about it long enough, I'm sure I can tell you what that more is...

Friday, February 15, 2008

BMAC Inspired Interiors Day 1

Coffee in the Philadelphia Convention Center what-passes-for-a-Starbucks-Java-thingie go-cup, the muted chatter of strolling buyers for my music. It's Day 1 of the Buyer's Market of American Craft, and I feel like a fish out of water. It's my first year out of the glass section and in Inspired Interiors, and while logically I know it's the same buyers for the whole show, my gut is telling me that I don't know any of these people and they don't seem to be interested in my work. My unease was just further cemented when one of my regulars walking by the booth did a double-take when he saw me and said "This isn't the glass aisle, I'm not ready to do glass yet!" He'll be back tomorrow… I hope.

Four hours left to go and I can pick my bunny rabbit up from Camp Buyer's Market and take her back to our room to watch "Enchanted" and cuddle. J is a bit… overwhelmed. While it sounds exciting to go to Mommy's show with her, and Daphne and the rest of the Camp Buyer's Market people are wonderful, it's also long days with no normal routine, lots of rushing and stress… and a mostly absent Mommy. I took a break and took her to lunch today and when I returned her to camp she clung and cried—something she's never done before. Five minutes of tucking her in to rest and watch Peter Pan and I could go back to the show floor, but it was a wrench.

Picked up two new galleries today in two orders, but the traffic has been very light. I hope it's because I'm in the middle of the hall instead of on the side (the glass section is all along one wall) and people will get to me tomorrow. If not... Hmm. I don't have an if not scenario so I had better not need one.

And calloo calay, the best part of being in Inspired Interiors up by the front doors is that I am on-line with free internet! Haven't had that happen in about four years. I close with a Hello to Maria the potter and lurker who stopped by my booth today to tell me how much she likes reading Glass Incarnate.

Show Time

No coffee yet, "Come Pick Me Up" by Ryan Adams on iTunes (thank you Keith, I love the album). The J continues to sleep, I post quickly and then get on to line sheets and price labels. Oh what an optimist and a fool I was yesterday! I tempted the gods of set-up and said aloud (twice!) that I thought I could be done setting up by noon (we started at 8:00 am). I walked off the floor at 8:00... pm.

I am so glad J and I are staying across the street as by 8:30 she was in the bath, room service was ordered, and I was off my feet for the second time of the day. The Hilton continues to be MARVELOUS.

The new booth design (grid wall panels with foam core over them all cable-tied together) is fantastic. It's clean, bright, well-laid-out, and has great flow through. It took a lot of time to put together this first time, but I am confident/hope/pray/implore it will get faster and eaisier with practice. As with all good booth designs, breakdown will be *much* faster than set-up.

I am almost too tired this morning to be coherent, and I really got up to work, and not to ramble on, so I will sign off and continue tomorrow. I think there was something I said I'd post today, but darned if I can remember it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

No coffee, the sweet snores of a six year-old *in the other bed* for music. The in-the-other-bed part is significant. Last night as I was posting, J was snuggled in my double bed next to me. She fell asleep there, and when I came back from he last trek to the bathroom before sleep, I found her sprawled asleep in the middle of the bed with the effective weight of ununhexium. She's a very small child, but she has a very big sprawl that evidently weighs more when unconscious. I was about to spatula her over into her bed when I thought, what the heck, these are identical hotel beds. I'll just take the other one with Wolfie and Dolly (she had Bun Bun with her in my bed). Problem solved, a relatively good night's sleep acquired! It was only relative as I don't sleep well in hotels anymore--most of them have too many covers and I sleep really hot.

Back to the show... At the end of loading the car Tuesday I got a bit sloppy. I managed to leave behind my show wastebasket, carpet vacuum, carbon paper, clipboard, black folders (sort of on purpose), and my toolbox. I ws unconcerned about the toolbox as I am right next to Elliott Metal Works and figured that Bill would have a complete toolbox. I was right, but the one esoteric item he doesn't carry is an engraver--hope no one wants to trade for a new piece! Today, in addition to doing my line sheet and other show documents (business cards? I am undecided. I might hand out postcards instead), I need to get a wastebasket, and toothpaste, a toothbrush and socks for the J (the sock monster LIVES in our laundry room and feeds entirely on small child socks). I think there's a K-Mart I can get to without ever going outside of the Convention Center at the end of the underground mall.

Panic attack: I don't have enough work to display. I don't have either the tables or the bookcases or the corner sales cabinet I have always had in the past so I only brought enough work for 13 pedestals. I don't have any of the hanging panels that made my booth so dominant and bright last August. No wonder my car was so empty on the way out--I didn't bring anything!... Breathe. Less can be, no, less IS more. Think I'll work on the line sheet some... Damn--last thing I remember that I forgot: the Joomla book Dave got me. I need to work on the website. Oh well, I have it electronically and can just muddle through with that (I hate reading on a laptop screen).

Happy Valentines Day all, got to go start pulling the day together!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom

AJB Zinfandel in the glass from the hotel bathroom, Law & Order SVU on the tv. Yes glass fans, it's Live from Philadelphia! The drive was uneventful, if long--we didn't get on the road till 4:30 pm on Tuesday. J was a trouper and even got up this morning at 5:30 am with no complaint. Actually she got up at 5:40 because we didn't get our 5:30 wake-up call. When I brought the lack of call to the attention of the front desk person as I was checking out I was told that I couldn't possibly be 100% satisfied with my stay because I didn't get my wake-up call. And their goal was 100% satisfaction so, would I be 100% satisfied with my stay if they comped my room ($90)? Sure I would!

Unloading went damply smoothly--nothing worse than a light drizzle--and set-up progresses apace. I should be doing my line sheet right now (the shiny paper with pretty pictures and prices that I will hand out to buyers at the show), but I am going to post and sleep. I have faith that set-up will fly tomorrow and by noon (!) I'll be back in my room working on printed materials and my website...

And pigs might fly out my... ears... too. I can always hope! More on our great room at the Hilton Garden Inn (far from last year's disaster) and the rest of set-up tomorrow. Nighty night!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Philadelphia Bound

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, the sounds of the husband saying "Jeez, you're blogging?" and the spin of the cd drive writing an audiobook for me to then convert to MP3 so I can play it on the iPod for my music. That last tech may be beyond me. Trust me to find the only audiobooks of my hottest new releases available for Windows and Windows Media Player only.

So I take a break from packing to post. It's going to be an exciting day. I started it off on the wrong foot by messing with technology, but I'm back on the right path now and J and I will be on the road to Philadelphia by this afternoon. Yep, you read right, the J and I. The spouse's work schedule is just too uncertain with all the primary and caucus hoopla so she is going with me. My work schedule is full, but definite, and the Buyer's Market has a kid's camp during the hours that I need to be on the floor either setting up or selling. The big question is can I fit all my stuff, Dee's stuff, J and a seat for her, and a seat for another passenger on the way home, all in the back. The dolly might just push us over the limit. Guess I'll have to leave the J home. JUST KIDDING (it would be funnier if she could read).

I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone at this show! The once-a-year-dinner on Saturday with friends (sadly not Morimoto's this year), seeing all the beautiful new work... Enough looking forward to it, time to GET TO IT!

Monday, February 11, 2008

T-1, Ooh Baby I'm Counting!

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Choctaw Bingo" by James McMurtry on iTunes. "Strap them kids in, give 'em a little bit of vodka and some cherry coke, we're goin' to Oklahoma for the family reunion." Well, not Oklahoma exactly. Going to Philadelphia. And I might be strappin' the kid in to go with me, but I'll refrain from giving her either vodka or cherry coke. Primaries, caucuses and the Waldorf mid-winter break are all poorly timed. And then there's this whole get-out-of-school-at-1:00 thing. Got to call the BMAC this morning to see how much mercy they have for me to throw myself on (there is a kid's camp which is good as J is too young to be allowed on the show floor, but the deadline for registering was some weeks ago).

T-1. Tomorrow minus one day day. Tomorrow, of course, I leave for the Buyer's Market of American Craft. I have one more big kiln load to do--the slump of all the functional pieces I did for the show. Let's hope the fuse yesterday turned out okay. And what else is hopping today... No ikebana (no time). Thought about drawing a chalk outline on the studio floor and putting everything in it to see if it would all fit in the new crate (to go to Vegas from Philadelphia), but what's the point? It'll either fit or it won't, and if it doesn't there isn't a whole lot I can do about it. I'll just have to fill the crate till it's full and ship the rest in boxes from Atlanta in April. C'est la vie.

Before skittering out of town, today I meet with my accountant to go over my books for the year (finally). I am also stepping out for something new and at the nagging of a friend, I am having an energy reading. It was that or a facial and Fabu is closed today.

Last night I made HUGE progress on the new website and I hope to finish it up today... and that's enough to do to get me out of town. If you want to take a peak now you can see it at And if I can get on Christian's calendar, tomorrow it will be live. Also for tomorrow, my "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" pieces should be arriving at their destinations in California. I am going ahead and putting up pics today as I don't think I'll have time tomorrow. Hope Jane and Brenda are reading the blog... The hearts (about 3/4" thick) are fused in the same firing they are tackfused to the plate and the plate is slumped--one stop firing!

Finally, last week Siyeh Studio received the Grovewood Gallery's Award of Excellence for Best New Artist in Glass, 2007. Whoo hoo!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Fried Day--No, Friday Firing Day

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Soul Meets Body" by Death Cab For Cutie on iTunes. Today finishes up the work week... just typing that sentence makes me roll on the floor laughing hysterically. Today BEGINS the firings for the Buyer's Market. I have seven new collaborative pieces with Elliott Metal Works for this show--four wall pieces and three symbols--to do and assorted other platters and bowls to round out the display. I also have one more gallery order to do before leaving. Not a bad amount--definitely do-able without killing myself--but not a weekend off either.

So far today the glass artist has disputed with the City of Atlanta Solid Waste Services about responsibility for the construction debris on her studio curbside, dragged the construction debris from the studio curbside over to her neighbor's curbside, made a run for cat food, set up an appointment with the accountant for next Monday, and finalized the number and placement of the collaborative pieces in the co-booth at the BMAC. Some some business, some glass business, no glass. Off to rectify the lack of the latter. Happy Friday work-week workers!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thursday Thoughts

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Know Your Onion!" by The Shins on iTunes. Perky Pop. I post from the library this morning, the little nook at the top of the stairs where we put bookcases and a couple of comfy chairs. I post from Dave's big leather chair because the sun streams in through the window and shines on me as I type. I need the sun today. Perky and Sun. Yeah, it's one of THOSE days. I need THOSE days to be over. So does Dave. I catch him looking at me like he's expecting something, something... bad... to happen. Think the alien popping out of the chest in the movie of the same name, think Linda Blair in the Exorcist, think Tom Wilkinson in the boardroom in Michael Clayton...

Okay, stop thinking of ALL of those things and think of sunshine, and daffodils, and The Shins. There. That's better.

The website's not done. After a five hour video conference with Christian yesterday it's a bit closer, but still far, far away from where it needed to be, oh, a week ago. Move along. The dinnerware I have fired three times now did not turn out as I would have liked--the BE cranberry pink devitted and could not be fixed. *sigh* Move along.

Happy thoughts. DHL shipping is gong really well. I got an effortless delivery of bubble wrap, boxes and Styrofoam peanuts and boxes delivered yesterday afternoon. The sun is shining. My new plastic shipping crate is in South Carolina. The Shins are wonderfully, relentlessly, perky. Tonight is date night--dinner and a movie. In a hundred years, no one will care if I had a good web site today. Good-bye THOSE days!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wednesday is Web Day

Coffee in a skyline-shaped mug but with a big red poinsettia on it instead of a city, music is "Killer Parties" by the Hold Steady, Dave thinks it's off Separation Sunday. I don't know what it is (and it's kind of mopey, I have to say) cause the music is on cd, LIVE FROM KAVARNA! Now to work.

So what is the point of a Siyeh Studio website? Why not just have one great big site with a constant streaming outflow of information—blog posts, photos, articles, publicity--everything currently on Siyeh Studio and Glass Incarnate? Nope. Won't work. The photos I want on Siyeh Studio are finished work—not experiments, not my sweetheart swap pics, not the studio cam. Speaking of the studio cam (no, I don't have one), I want a live studio cam. Drop in, listen to the music, see what's happening at that moment in the studio (is it shipping? Is it grinding? Is it CREATION? The problem is I'd need to mount the camera on me (like the light on a miner's helmet) as I move constantly from room to room doing different things… But back to the website.

Maybe the reason I keep ending up with a never-finished website is that I don't really know what I want it to be when it grows up. I slap some haphazard things up and plan to do more later. Well boys and girls, 'later' is now. Got to, got to, got to GET IT DONE. The postcards are going to start hitting galleries TODAY and the curious might (hey anything is possible!) pull up my website to check me out.

Every time I have sat down to work on the Siyeh Studio site in the past couple of weeks I have been lured away by the Glass Incarnate site. I *know* what I want up there and I keep slipping into putting it up. When I do determinedly focus on the Siyeh Studio site I get lost in some little arcane detail like how to put up a Google maps version of my gallery locations instead of a static list. Who cares?! Just get something up now. Something. Anything but an interminable "Under Construction" page.

So what to put up on Siyeh Studio? Well, an obvious answer is a somewhat manipulable slideshow with examples of all of my work on the front page. Draw them in. Also on the front page should be a listing of upcoming shows, awards/publications or other news. I was accepted to the Decatur Arts Festival for this year today (yea!) so maybe I need to have a retail corner to let people know when I'll be doing a retail show or having an open studio.

The items in the last paragraph all feel like the vaguely fall under the heading "news", and isn't it a nice coincidence that my Joomla template has a Content item type called "News"? Also on the topic of potential "news"… What about all the donations I do? I don't take a tax deduction on them (for some reason the idea of doing so makes my accountant shape her fingers into a ward against the evil eye) so what about putting in a plug for both the event and my altruism by writing up a news blurb each time I donate a piece and include a picture of it with details about the particular auction?

So on the front page so far, upcoming wholesale, upcoming retail, upcoming charity events to which I have donated work for an auction and a slideshow. Four is a good number. I like four.

What other kinds of content? Well, an artist bio is a good thing. As is a statement of techniques and materials. The there is the work itself. I need pictures of the various series and color ways within them—and for gallery clients I need a password-protected price list and ordering mechanism. I need a contact me form for inquiries, and I could use a registration form for eventual e-mailings. Last for the moment, I need a listing of all the galleries that carry my work (in a Google maps form would be nice, but I can wait).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's Tuesday and Anything is Possible

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, and purely by random chance, "The Invisible Man" live from Islington by Joe Jackson on iTunes. I have been listening to his new album "Rain" this morning as I organize. 'Bout time to head to the studio--paperwork took a lot out of me this morning and I need to get firing.

The postcards went out yesterday, which makes it imperative that I get the new website up... well, NOW. Spending money on advertising that inspires people to check out your same old tired website does not make good business sense. Yesterday was also a good day for getting all kinds of little things and little firings off my plate. There are still a couple of little onsie twosies that I have left for today--review the Profitable Glass studio profile article and send my corrections to the author, order shipping supplies, tweak the BMAC display for lighting requirements and send them to Bill, finalize the materials handling process for the show with Hargrove, make a deposit, update my outstanding invoices list, review my inventory and put together a firing schedule for the show, update the firing schedule with the pre-show orders, fire today's fuse load, ship my "let me call you sweetheart" exchange pieces (oh I hope they turned out!), grind a window consignment and ship it to Texas, and THEN get on the website...


Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday Run Day

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "The Invisible Man" by Joe Jackson on iTunes. Is it only Monday? I think I spent the whole night running and doing in my sleep. I hate that kind of night. I am now in the long downslide of the cold, the worst (I hope) is over. And today I start with a new shipper--DHL! They say all the right things, they charge the right amount, now let's see if they show up.

I spent the weekend trying to match the color blend on a set of custom plates I did two years ago. I have two of the original pieces here for comparison, and it's a good thing as the first fuse came up too washed out. Did the second fuse yesterday and I am betting I got devitrification on the cranberry, I never even took the pieces out of the kiln from the first fuse--I just added more blended frit on the problem areas (since I don't have to kiln wash or otherwise prep my kiln shelves there was no reason to remove them). When I finished adding the frit I noticed a little haze on one part of the cranberry (a solid element surrounded by frit and so not covered by the color adjustment). It's only going to get worse in another full fuse. So I'll see how the color turns out today and either do a superspray surface correction and one more color tweak--or I'll redo them from scratch.

FedEx just called, they have pretty much lost any chance at my small business account. they recommend I just call the day before I have a shipment going out and request a pick-up. My volume is too little for them to do a weekly pick-up. They must really deal only with the big fish if 6-12 boxes at a time requiring a dolly to pick-up is not worth their while to stop the truck. Please DHL, don't let me down.

Hargrove finally got me an official paper quote for the pick-up of my crate--and they upped the amount another 25% over the verbal making the shipping *double* the cost of the crate and 2-1/2 times what a regular freight company costs. Time to get creative on logistics again...

And now it's off to work. Miles to go before I sleep, glass to fuse, and orders to ship. PS--Wonder when Blogger will get the spellchecker fixed--or if it's even broken for anyone else...)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Stick It To Me

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, on-hold music from FedEx in my left ear. You know this story can't go anywhere good... Is there ANY good shipping service out there? I have years of poor experience with the USPS so even though they're aggressively trying to move into the package-moving space, I am uber wary to try them. We all know where UPS stands in my estimation, now FedEx has twice failed to get me set-up for pick-up service... Who's left? DHL?

Continuing in the poor service thread this morning, I am not confident that my shipping to and from the BMAC (Hargrove's pick-up of a pallet and delivery of it to the show and then their caravanning of the entire booth to Vegas) is going to go off smoothly either. Yesterday afternoon I called to find out how best to get the collapsible crate I am buying (to ship and store my work and display) to Philadelphia for the show. I was told to fax over the shipping form, they would fill it right out and fax the quote back. I let the person I spoke to know that I was talking about a pick-up next Monday for delivery to the advance warehouse (which is in itself ironic as I don't care when it gets there as I don't even need it till after the show anyway, but they have a delivery cut-off of next Friday so I want to make sure I get in for it). I was told no problem, they are pretty caught up, they'll get right on it.

Ok. I fax my form. I wait. I sleep. I check the fax machine this morning and nothing there--without the quote, I can't place the order. I call. I say, "Hi, I sent you a fax yesterday afternoon and I never heard back." The person I speak to is quite affronted that I expected him to get back to me right away and that annoys me because I had that expectation because THAT IS WHAT HE TOLD ME WOULD HAPPEN. Then he tells me someone else would be handling my order and getting back to me. I inform him that I spoke to that particular someone else yesterday afternoon and was told that HE (the person I am speaking to) would be handling it. He tells me *someone* would get back to me within a half an hour. Guess how long it's been since then? Less than a half an hour? I think not.

Why do I need to ship with Hargrove in the first place, you might ask. Surely the vendor for the crate has a shipping service. Yes, they do. Are they more expensive? No, they actually charge 45% of what Hargrove will charge. Can they not get it shipped? Oh yes, they could have had it go out today. So why am I shipping with Hargrove? Because if I don't Hargrove will charge me the equivalent of TWICE the shipping charge from the manufacturer just to move it from the loading dock to my booth. They call it a ($180) "material handling fee". The crate only costs $137. The whole why-am-I-not-shipping-it-here-to-Atlanta story is just as long and convoluted so I am going to skip it. Suffice it to say that some days it feels like everyone you deal with is out to stick it to you somewhere, somehow.

Now I wait for Christian to call about the web stuff...