Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Blues

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Ada" by the National on iTunes. It's one of THOSE mornings ("Ada" is a strangely disquieting, mourning-opportunities-passed, melancholy, longing kind of song for me--akin to "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston). But no time--and certainly no reason--to mope. Got glass to fire, an article to finish, a display to design, and orders to ship. Too bad the day is grey and mopey too. It'd be a lot harder to resist bright, warm sun.

Yesterday was a much more up day for me--and there are great photos of the new work on yesterday's post--so I think I'll just disgruntle off to "The Fields of Pelenor" by Howard Shore. I'll perk tomorrow. Promise.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

New Work and a Gallery!

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Ada" by the National *was* on iTunes, but then we had to have a big family discussion about breakfast. Looks like they're having cheese danish. I'm going to have a toasted everything bagel with creamy Jiff peanut butter. Back to "Ada".

It's Sunday, I post because I write. I finish my web article for Profitable Glass and send them all the photos for both the Siyeh Studio profile and the print and web articles on product market viability. Yesterday I fired several new pieces that I hoped would be three new colorways for the Morceaux de Verre series. I peeked in Big Bertha when I was at the studio a couple of minutes ago and was less than thrilled. I hope they look better out in the light and cleaned up. It's true that I'm stretching my comfort level and going to combinations that are more edgy and complex and less obvious and safe. I just hope I don't have a kiln full of failures.

The glass in the piece above right is a revival of one of my first color combinations, "Conundrum", reworked for flow and with a bit of black added. I was so excited about how it turned out that I may have gone a little overboard adding black to other pieces (specifically the ones in the kiln right now). I'll have to wait till Bertha is cooler than 248 degrees to really see. The "Conundrum" above is in a new collaborative piece with Elliott Metal Works called "Locked". It's about 28" tall and 18" wide based on the glass size--I haven't measured it yet for final dimensions.

Another new piece that came out of last week is "Float", shown at left. The glass in it is 24" wide by 16" tall and the entire piece isn't much bigger--though over two and a half feet of glass 3/8" thick is already pretty big. "Float" is a fun piece because it gives me a huge open canvas to flow color over. Colorways like "Cosmos" (shown) work especially well because there is enough room for all the colors to get a turn to romp around. My previous pieces of this size were the hanging panels and they had to have holes drilled in them to display them. Holes for the sake of hanging rather than beauty feel like desecration to me and I'm glad to be able to avoid them in this piece. Thanks to Debbie Suchy of Eclectic Galleries in Jacksonville for the request to do a big horizontal piece in a simple stand. I can't wait to take this one to ACRE in a couple of weeks.

The work over the past week to get ready for the Profitable Glass photos had an unintended bonus--it brought me a lot closer to being ready for a studio grand opening. Probably the biggest feeling of accomplishment and completion came with the painting and furnishing of the gallery (shown at right). When you walk in the front door of the studio, it is the first room you enter. The walls are a soft grey with a subtle white glaze over them and the lighting is all low-wattage halogen. Once the floor is cleaned and mopped with Quick Shine it will really look like a professional public art glass gallery. Time to have an open house...

But now it's time to get writing, photo-editing and planning for the display at ACRE. It's only a few weeks till the show and I still have to figure out what I'm going to display my work on besides the walls. Ho boy.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Touch and Go" by The Cars on iTunes. Yeah, it was a random choice that again shows the omniscience of the iTunes player. Today is the final photoshoot in the studio and we are to the point that I think the studio and work shots will be easy. The difficult part is going to be getting the lighting and staging right to take pictures of the new work. I am working for a cover shot for the magazine, and I'm not a professional photographer. I almost wish I had thought to hire Bart and have him come in for the day, but it wouldn't matter because he shoots slide film and I have to have digital images uploaded for the Profitable Glass staff by Sunday--no ifs, buts, or maybes.

Thanks to Dee yesterday and Dee and Stacy on Wednesday the painting is all done but for the bathroom. The bathroom is still in a condition such that my child asks me if she can home and use ours instead of going at the studio. *sigh* So there's a dead spider or two in the corner and some little dead bugs in the tub. What's the big deal?

There was no post yesterday as my normal writing/organization time--around 8:30 am--was taken up by back-to-back phone calls and then it was time to paint. And then it was time to fire. And, whoopsie daisy no gymnastics or ballet today! And then it was time to eat, get the Sprout bathed and read with her (she finished reading "Go, Go, Go" her first Dick and Jane book last night) and get her to bed. I planned to write an 800 word web article, update my firing schedule with all the new collaborative work and catch up on other computer administrivia after that and instead I fell into an exhausted sleep.

Now it's almost 9:30 and I need to hit the ground for another full day. The picture at top right is my paperweight from my class last weekend. It stands about 6-1/2" tall and I love it, but I have no plans to quit my day job--glassblowing (even if you just manipulate it and don't really blow it) is really hard and it takes a long time to gain proficiency. But a hot shop with a little furnace and glory hole for the studio... Just kidding.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Australia" by The Shins on iTunes. Painting! The theme of the day is Painting! Yesterday the theme was Collaboration and the pic at right is of Bill and me discussing two new pieces that we'll debut at ACRE ("Float" on the left and "Locked" on the right). I missed Elaine yesterday. Bill had to come down without her but he came with her new set of drawings (koi and poppies, poppies, poppies!). Wow they are great! I can't wait to see them in metal. We are going to have eight new big pieces for ACRE. But painting, I said...

Dee and Stacy are both here today and the first goal of the morning is to paint the gallery in the studio before everything goes you-know-where in a handbasket and it doesn't get done... again. I will need to take a break at some point in the day and go pick up my glass piece from the class I took over the weekend at Duckbill Studios. While Bill was here yesterday he hung the metal frames for the original big Moonrise pieces and today I'll get the glass in them so Stacy can photograph them tomorrow, er, soon. Tomorrow Dee will be here again and we'll hang and place all the new work in the gallery to photograph.

Besides looking over Elaine's gorgeous drawings, yesterday Bill and I also put together our making and shipping schedules for ACRE at the end of April. Oh boy. I still hope I get this weekend off, but I might have to squeeze in a firing. I know I have to go to Greenville next week to deliver all the glass so they can ship everything to Vegas. And I absolutely, positively MUST figure out my display and get the components ordered (and hope I have enough time to get them there...). There was flat ocean for awhile after the BMAC, but now the show-surf is building again and if I don't get crouched on my board and ready I'll be rolled coughing and spitting, face first, into the sand at the water line.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Coffee in the new York skyline mug (I have a New York minute to write this post), "Racing to the Red Light" by James McMurtry on iTunes. Bill from Elliott Metal Works in Greenville SC will be here sometime in the next 40 minutes for a day of intensive collaboration and photography. I am pushing the limit on extensions to my deadline for photos for the Profitable Glass articles. If I don't get them in by Sunday, the studio profile will get bumped till the fall issue.

Anxiety and depression are needlessly intruding on my life and managing them through diet, sleep and exercise--while ultimately better than prescription drugs and hormones--takes time to be effective. I am getting my orders done on schedule (some of my best work, actually--maybe there is something to the connection between great art and mental instability!) but I am struggling to be happy and enjoy it (or much of anything). Life is *really* good right now, and it's annoying that my emotions aren't in sync with that reality. Leave it all up in the air... Got to stop listening to Karla Bonoff and Sarah McLachlan (both random choices from the set of my entire library, and both played sequentially just now on iTunes).

Deep breath, move on and out. And to move me along (also completely randomly) J. Geils Band "Just Can't Wait" came on. It's a sign. Let's all have a great day.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Not Such a Fun Day

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Radio Nowhere" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. It was going to be "Red Rabbits" by The Shins in honor of Easter and my parenting faux pas (detailed in Stranded in the South), but it was too slow for the kind of day today is shaping up to be. I'll be honest. I'm not looking forward to this week. There are too many moving parts, too many outside-the-box events required (mainly in prep for the Profitable Glass photo shoot), too much by-the-seat-of-my-pants "stuff" going on.

ACRE begins to loom--I still don't have a table-top display system picked and ordered (pedestals or something like them), nor have I arranged storage for the booth, nor have I set up my exposition service needs with Champion. I will not sink into a slough of despond. I will not sink into a slough of despond. I will not sink into a slough of despond. I will look to the light: It will be a great show with lots of new work, a record-busting number of orders, a drop-dead gorgeous display... I just need to get there. The work Bill is bringing tomorrow will help get me in the mood. I just have to get through today.

On the positive side, production is going really well. I'm on-schedule and managed not to work yesterday--and I have left next weekend free too. Fingers crossed I can follow through on the time off. Tomorrow Bill is coming in from Elliott Metal Works and I'm going to get him to help me hang two of our big pieces in my office (photo shoot, of course). Brian the electrician was here last Saturday and got the medium and small kilns moved to the mudroom in prep for Bettina's arrival. I will call Denver Glass and bug Holly about a firm ship date for her--too bad it won't be in time for the photo shoot.

Wednesday and Thursday are big painting days. Yeah, I know. I've been saying "painting days" for months and not following through. This time, though...

And now it's time to hit the road for ikebana and a host of following small annoying tasks until I can get back in the studio at 1:30. Pics of the studio mosaic (can you pick out the words "Siyeh Studio"?) in the drive, the new sidewalk and driveway end, the path through the yard with the pad for the shed on the left, and the ramp up to the deck (Hey Bettina, come on up!).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter, Bunny!

No coffee yet (crime!), Jessie chortling as she eats Easter Bunny loot and watches an e-card from Gramma Marcia as my music. The Easter Bunny was very tricky this year and hid eggs all over the house, partially enabled by being up anyway due to a 4:00 am anxiety attack... I had hoped those were over, but they appear to be a cyclical thing. My wonderful spouse wakes up and hangs in there with me--he patiently waited while I worked off anxiety filling all the plastic eggs with candy and hiding them and the real ones in every obscure nook and cranny I could find. He met his daily requirement of Easter Bunny duties by procuring the candy and dying the eggs with the J while I was blowing glass yesterday.

I had to post today as Janet Thompson sent me her photos from a paperweight class we took at Duckbill Studios yesterday. It's been seven years since I have done any hot glass work and it was great to get my hands molten again, so to speak. I'll get my piece back Tuesday or Wednesday after it's annealed (I made a huge egg-shaped paperweight). Tadashi is a natural teacher and it's very tempting to go back for more--but maybe on a cooler day in a cooler month. It went from winter to summer in the span of a day here.

The concrete at the studio is all done--complete with a little glass mosaic I did at the top of the drive and family handprints in the back ramp. I haven't been over to see if the path is completely done yet, but one section of the fence is down and the entirety of the used-to-be-two-is-now-one backyard is now dog-proof. I'll look when I put my kiln load in later this afternoon (no Easter rest for the wicked!).

Friday, March 21, 2008


Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Rush Across the Road" by Joe Jackson on iTunes. The end of the week has arrived at last and not a moment too soon. As I posted in a comment yesterday, my landscaper got right up in the face of the cement guy, told him he did a crappy job, that she'd have fired him days ago, that she's been doing this as long as he has so she knows what she's talking about, and finished with (really, truly right in his face) why didn't he do it right the first time?!? *sigh* I had already worked out a solution with him to the slant in the driveway that did not entail taking it all up and doing it again, but after that tiff I shrugged to the inevitable and his crew is re-pouring the driveway today. And pouring the shed slab. And pouring the rest of the ramp. Why do I think it won't all get done?

Dave and J just headed out the door to school and I looked down and saw Dave's laptop on the coffee table. I had a moment of panic and wondered how he could have forgotten it and then I remembered he has had Fridays off since mid-February because his team had to work so much over the Christmas holidays. Hey, I was working a lot then too, can I have the day off? Not likely. Yet again a feature of small-business ownership/self-employment. But I am not bitter--there are really many more ups than downs to owning your own business. Perks like being able to set your own schedule (i.e., work all the time), no set limit to your compensation (you can have everything that's left after the bills get paid, if there is anything) and no boss to answer to (only clients). Move along, nothing to see here.

On this fine Friday Dee is coming to help out in the studio and Stacy is in all day too. Besides firing and shipping, we are going to paint, hang work and curtains, put together shelves and get things stowed for the photoshoot. Maybe I can even get Dave to come over and paint this morning... hmmm. The landscaper and the concrete guy will both be back doing their things. I hope their "things" keep them at opposite sides of the property or at least me on the opposite side of the property from them. I'm such a conflict-avoidant coward!

New pieces done. Can't wait till Bill gets here Tuesday with the new metal for the glass. Okay, the dogs want in, and I have finished my first cup of coffee. Time to dress and face the contractors and the day. Happy Easter bunnies!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring and Hats (and Royalties!)

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Fake It" by Seether on iTunes. I have started this post before the Sprout and the Spouse are even out the door--maybe I'll get it up before late tonight this way.

Contractors. Working with them is always a crap shoot. Even if you only deal with well-recommended people they can still be blind squirrels and their recommendation to you the occasional acorn. The torrential rains yesterday--falling as they did before all the concrete work at the studio was completed--left a beautiful muddy trail that shows exactly the path the water takes to get off my property, and it's not down the drive all the way to the street (and then to Mexico and freedom) as I was promised. No, it's halfway down the new part of the drive and then off like a shot straight across the flowerbed-to-be and into the two neighboring yards. I'm pretty sure that's against code. It's definitely un-neighborly, and it annoys the heck out of me because I don't want the topsoil to be continually washed out of the flowerbed.

In addition to his lack of leveling skills, in the process of putting in said driveway and the accompanying sidewalk, the contractor nicked the water line by my water meter. Oh boy. He called a plumber to fix it, but the leak is on the city's side of the meter so he can't touch it. His assistant said he called the city to tell them, but I have my doubts. I also have my doubts as to whether he pulled the necessary permits for doing any of the work in the first place. More oh boy. And more proof that being an artist who is also a small business owner means wearing lots and lots of hats. Today's hat is the tough contractor-wrangler hat a la Crocodile Dundee. I am woman, here me roar.

Today's kiln load is a slump for orders shipping tomorrow. Yesterday's fuse load had three new collaborative piece in it--new in both shape and color, and I can't wait to see them today. One of them is hot pink, garnet red and black. It might be too dark, it might be stunning. It's definitely a stretch.

I close with the big news of the week--I got my first royalty check for A Beginner's Guide to Kiln-Formed Glass! I understood I wouldn't be seeing any royalties (on account of the advance) for a long time, but the first half of the advance was paid off with some to spare based on sales through December 31. Christmas is saved, shoes for everyone! Here's hoping the trend continues. It would be cool if royalties would pay my concrete, shed, and landscaping for the studio.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday, Hump Day? Yep.

La Croix raspberry fizzy water in a can, the rain for music. The five cu yds of screened topsoil I had delivered this morning are mostly history, washed down the slope and down the street. All the red Georgia clay fill dirt the concrete man brought in is washing right along side it--the part that isn't flowing down my commercial neighbor down the hill's drain. Oh boy. Can my contractor say "erosion fence"? Evidently not.


Hours have now passed, it feels like days. The kiln loads made it in, the shipment went out, and many (many!) contractors were wrangled. Tomorrow is another day.

I have been asked to do an artist-in-the-gallery weekend at Pop Gallery in Disney World. Looking at my calendar I see, oh yes, spring break for Jessie is just three weeks away. Hmmm Disney World... Spring Break... Six-year-old... Oh yeah, Road Trip!

And now to bed, perchance to sleep, perchance to dream.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Concrete 'R' Us

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug (I am firmly grounded in the HERE today), two phones open and live right now (both business) with different conversations in lieu of music. Siyeh Studio is hopping this morning. The mulch is here, the landscape timbers are here, the soil has been postponed till tomorrow as the concrete is still not all poured--80% of the driveway, the ramp to the deck and the pad for the shed are still waiting. The electrician was here and put down his conduit for the electricity for the shed and the landscapers will bury it for him. Last I looked the concrete crew was assembling, but still no sign of a dump truck to haul away the remains of the oak tree stump or the old concrete, nor any evidence of the arrival of the cement mixer to pour. In time. It will all happen in time.

Today I am going to do a room by room assessment of the work and supplies still needed in the studio. Dan the carpenter is coming either tomorrow or Sunday to shore up the workroom floor and the wall between the workroom and the coldroom. Good thing too as the spaniel running across the floor (23 lbs) makes the whole thing shake. Ah I hear the sound of the cement mixer. Time to go put down the little glass mosaic in the driveway. Till tomorrow!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Waiting for the Concrete

Coffee in an Atlanta Botanical Garden go mug, "Walking on the Sun" by Smashmouth on the iPod. It's a late post from the studio this morning at the beginning of a Big Week. The sidewalk and driveway were taken up on Sunday, and today the new sidewalk in front of both the studio and the vacant lot next door will be poured.

My neighbors and the neighborhood association should be thrilled. I could have done a cheap job and just replaced my sidewalk to where the oak tree came out--leaving a broken sidewalk in front of the vacant lot and a break between the two, but I had the oak tree stump drilled out completely (the city was supposed to do it and did a half-assed job) and everything leveled for a smooth new sidewalk all the way down the street.

I also had the driveway widened a bit at the bottom so it'll be easier to get in and out. In the backyard they will pour a slab for the shed and a big smooth ramp for the deck to the kiln room--just in time to roll Bettina up it at the end of the month.

I'm late posting this morning as I went Home Depot after dropping J off at school and finished ordering the shed and picking up a few odds and ends. You can never have too many odds and ends from Home Depot. Tomorrow the landscaper timbers, dirt and mulch will be delivered, and the Georgia Gardens crew will start the yard renovation that will culminate in the removal of the fence between our yard and the studio yard, and the installation of the shed. Whoo hoo!

On a side note, the GG crew will also be cleaning up our yard for spring and I am having them cut down all the bamboo that's leaning into the yard. Then I'll take those bamboo poles and construct a dome hut in the back corner of the studio yard with the lashed together poles. Add a mulch floor, some flowering vines climbing the sides and voila--playhouse at the studio! The hut is the perfect solution for what to put in that corner as the bamboo grove is right next to it and will continue to spread into the studio yard. Eventually the hut will be surrounded by living bamboo and we'll have a path through it to the secret, hidden hut.

Though all of the proceeding verbiage pertains to the studio, it has nothing to do with glass, and glass must be done today. I thought I was going to have a week off from firing to work on the studio proper, but a couple more orders came in and it turns out I have a full schedule for the next couple of weeks. I'll still paint and organize all week, I'll just fire too--got to pay for all that concrete somehow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday From the Place That Doesn't Freeze Over

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by (covered by?) Jimmy Ruffin on iTunes. Oh yeah. I hesitated posting this morning as I know my spouse is going to read it and there's no way he won't feel distressed and guilty. Dave, honey, it was the universe--not you. You have a good time listening to great music, talking code smack, and drinking frufty beer with wheat, oats, orange peel and coriander interspersed with vodka. Think fondly of me.

It was a tough night bleeding into a tough morning and a heavy schedule in the studio today. Highlights include the deerhound going out at 1:30 and 3:30 am--after not quite making it out at 2:30 and my cleaning that up at 3:30, the Sprout aggressively cuddling in the night and biting my back hard about 4:30 followed by flinging out her arm and poking me in the eye about 6:30. The spaniel decided the deerhound was getting too much attention by being sick so he threw up all over his dogbed while I was wrestling with mulch and finances this morning. Oh yeah. There's my prep for the day.

I'm a Mommy and a glass artist/small business owner all day today--the J doesn't have school. So far this morning I got the mulch and soil for the studio yard ordered and delivery scheduled. I have a call in to the concrete guy about redoing the end of the driveway (now that the oak tree that warped it all out of shape is gone) and putting in the new sidewalk. I have picked out the shed and the options that I want and I'm heading to Home Depot within the hour to get it ordered along with the 4X4X8 landscape timbers to border the path from our yard to the studio. I have the landscape people scheduled to put out the soil, timbers and mulch, and I have the carpenter coming (soon I hope) to shore up the floor so I can get the rest of the glass moved out of the basement. When he does that he'll also put me on his schedule to screen in the front porch. Since DHL basically forgot to pick up my shipment on Wednesday, getting the porch screened--and therefore the shipping area secured--has moved to a priority.

Four orders go out today, and two--maybe three--full kiln loads go in. Bill (and maybe Elaine) are coming down in a week to bring the metal components for and to look at the new pieces we have for ACRE--including a 16 X 24 horizontal panel on a stand. I'm really excited about the possibilities of that last one.

Yikes! It's after 11:00 and the shipments have got to be ready by 2:00. Got to run. Tonight J has Grace over for a sleepover (Grace is J's best friend and the daughter of Stacy the Assistant extraordinaire). Stacy and Grace's sister Alice will be bringing Grace and staying for dinner. I can already taste the first glass of red wine...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Single Motherhood and the Glass Artist

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Nightswimming" by R.E.M on iTunes, both for my spouse who is IN Austin and who will probably see R.E.M. tonight. *sigh*

I finally cancelled the oh-so-horrible EZNet website and when it went away so did the header on my blog. Got a new one up last night. It's not perfect, but it'll do. Like it? Also got more markers on my gallery map on the studio website. Waiting on the afore-mentioned spouse (java coder extraordinnaire) to figure out how to get the gallery urls and phone numbers to show up in the info boxes, and how to get the info boxes to show on mouseover. Maybe I'll send him a link to the googlemaps api docs.

Yesterday was a hard day for the J. First she got up at 6:30 am to take her daddy to the airport, then she was supposed to have a playdate with a friend after school (the friend's mother was to pick them both up) and the mother didn't pick up the friend, the grandfather did and he didn't take Jessie. So she had to wait for me at school till I could get there for her. Then I bumped into her in the kilnroom and she fell into the side of the kiln and scratched her neck. Too much trauma, not enough sleep. She curled up in the big, green studio chair under a fuzzy blanket and napped for a couple of hours. I got the kiln load in in peace--and DHL didn't show up till I called to remind them I had a shipment to pick up. Shades of service to come?

Today is the once-every-five-week-Thursday-from-hell+cleaning people and it's scheduled from first thing this morning till ballet ends at 6:00 pm. Add two firings, shipments to prepare for tomorrow and the big Home Depot list to make (I have too much going today and have to reschedule the run till tomorrow--with the J as she HAS NO SCHOOL!)... I'm going to be hopping. I don't know how single mothers do it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Middle of a Full Week

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers on iTunes. The firing schedule is done through April 1 and, lo and behold, I don't have anything scheduled for next week! Zip, zilch, nada. Oh what I can do with a week of no firings! Of course I could do the following week's firings in advance, get them done and packed and hold to ship them. But that just feels wrong. Much better to seize the time and finish painting and setting up the studio. I've been in for there for several months now and it's time to have it done. I probably will do some firing--pieces for the studio gallery which I will get set-up for the photo shoot for my studio profile--but I can see dedicating the whole week to paint and finished storage.

Tomorrow is my big run to Home Depot to order the coldroom countertop, a shed, and landscape yada yah. Oh yes, one other thing I'll get there will be the supplies the carpenter needs in order to shore up one of the beams in the floor. Yesterday, as I was arranging the new frit and loading the glass cases in the coldroom from my Bullseye shipment, I had the occasion to see the base of the wall between the coldroom and the workroom. On one side of the wall are three full cases of glass, on the other, a steel rack with about 800 lbs of frit. The wall used to meet the floor. Now there's a one inch gap between the floor and the bottom of the wall. Oh dear, sag, sag. The carpenter had looked the floor over before I moved in and told me it was all shored up to support the weight, but I think he was thinking more the weight of the kilns in the kiln room and not the glass and frit. Now I just hope he can fix it before the beam cracks and the floor falls in...

It's Wednesday, another shipping day, two orders to go out and a fuse load for Bertha to get in. The spouse is off to Austin for the SXSW Music festival. He (likely) gets to see REM at Stubbs Barbecue tomorrow night. I'll be Sprout tending. There will be payback. (Though I will probably get to see the performance too as they're filming it for Austin City Limits).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Glass Is Coming! The Glass Is Coming!

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Edith Wharton's Figurine" by Suzanne Vega on iTunes. This time change thing is hitting me hard. I am DRAGGING again this morning--and my glass delivery is due today. Thank heavens I have help coming--both Dee and Stacy will be here today.

Had an interesting call on Friday that I am still mulling over. I did a trade with another artist couple at the BMAC in February. They ordered a Cosmos in Love (Cosmos in the Love stand--Green Lantern in Love shown for reference to the right). I made it and shipped it out, and the couple that got it loved it. But they called on Friday to let me know I had sent the wrong piece. They ordered a wall piece--not a table-top piece. Well, I don't have a wall piece like this and I couldn't figure out where the disconnect was, then it hit me--we displayed these pieces on the front vertical pillars of the booth on little shelf brackets that Bill had made to hold them.

Now I have to wonder how many other people either didn't order them because they thought they were wall pieces or ordered them thinking they were going to get wall pieces. And, hey, maybe we need to start selling the brackets so they can be wall pieces! The bracket is a cool little invention of Bill's where the base plate on the stand slips into a slot on the shelf so it won't fall off. You end up with a very little footprint for the shelf and it looks like the piece is floating on the wall. It was made for the show environment, but why not market them for customer use?

Got my four orders out yesterday. Got the firing schedule re-jiggered so I could keep firing full loads and not need any turquoise #2 until the glass comes in. Today more firing, unloading glass--and planning the studio front and back yards! Home Depot, bless their big boxy hearts, is having a 12 months (no payments?) no interest event from 3/13 to 3/19. Can you say a countertop for the coldworking room, a shed, mulch, topsoil, landscape timbers, and pavestone for outside? Everything I need to furnish the outside of the studio (and the last big purchase for the inside) on a deferred payment plan. Oh I'm all about that. Now if I could just get the rest of the inside finished. I need one more week of painting, a little more storage and layout organization and a trip to Target for wastebaskets, toilet paper holders, towelbars, etc. It's not totally out of reach... but then there are the other seven case of glass to move over. Ugh. Maybe I'll just keep firing.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday Morning Does NOT Look Fine

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Last To Die" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. Ugh. I hate daylight savings time, and it's just too damn early to be springing ahead. Good thing the spouse always wakes early or the Sprout and I would have slept right through the start of school. Big news of the day is that I got Google Maps integrated on my website over the weekend! I have a couple of things to work out so that the gallery weblinks and phone numbers show up and the info box comes up when the pointer moves over it, but I got the basic map up all by myself. Whoo hoo!

Today is Monday so there are orders to pack and ship and kiln loads to do. I also got the metal for a new piece from Elliott Metal Works over the weekend and I'm looking forward to making the glass. It's a very alien, retro-80's Terminator piece. You'll see when I put up photos.

Okay, almost awake (grumble, grumble, grumble, mutiny, mutiny, mutiny). Time to call Roadway and find out when they are going to deliver my glass (won't be before tomorrow). I am out of turquoise #2 frit and almost all the pieces I have scheduled for today require it. Going to have to move things around on the schedule and fire everything that doesn't have turquoise in it today so I don't get behind (again).

Friday, March 07, 2008

What Is This Handbasket? Where Am I Going?

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Call Me On Your Way Back Home" by Ryan Adams on iTunes. It's a day. I have a big order to ship to a new gallery this morning. Problem is, I don't have their address, phone number, zip, zilch, nada except an email address--and the email I sent bounced. Oh boy. But the Internet is a mysterious and powerful device whose power is only exceeded by it's mystery. I looked up the gallery in Google. Hmmm, nothing there. So I looked up the owner's name in the 411 listing for the town and voila! The complete company address and phone listing was there. I had spelled the gallery name wrong in my initial search. Whew!

Got a note from a client this morning, I have a piece featured in a buy American blog! It's not that I have a problem with people in China making a living, but the problem with the idea of a a global economy is that you don't live globally, you live locally--and that means paying local prices for living. I have to make an American wage in order to pay American prices for food, housing, insurance, health care, etc. So I have to charge American prices for my work (making it hard to compete with the Chinese manufacturer who pays $.25 an hour for his labor).

Another little note on shipping. Bill, I'm not sure people do realize the cost of shipping. We get a lot of mail order stuff from Amazon through their prime service--we never pay shipping. Others who don't use prime (with Amazon) often wait two days to get their stuff with free shipping. My Mom in a tiny town in Montana got a vacuum cleaner shipped to her from Amazon with free prime shipping. I can't imagine what the shipping would have been otherwise on it.

And the USPS is cheap. People who sell on eBay ship through them with low postage and free boxes too. But they are just too risky for business shipping of glass--it's hard enough to get UPS's insurance to pay up (and now I wait for the eventual claim I have to make with DHL to evaluate their claims service). USPS in my experience doesn't even pay up when they LOSE they package completely, so I have to go with a more expensive shipper. It's all a question of risk management. Another artist told me yesterday that he lost a client this year due to his shipping costs (the same one that charges $5 per box).

I do use recycled materials where I have them (thanks for the suggestion Maria!), but I don't go out of my way to get them as volume packing takes a lot of time and goes much faster with uniform materials--bubble wrap in rolls always the same size, boxes in a predetermined set of sizes, etc. Stopping and futzing to get non-standard materials to fit just so takes time--and time is money for a small business. The answer is clearly hiring someone (Stacy the Assistant!) to do all the packing, but the cost of her labor also needs to be built in then--even more than mine. A business owner can work for free, but employees must be paid. (Whip the serfs!)

Storage for shipping materials is going to be a little shed behind the new studio. I'm going to scope one out at Home Depot next week. I had one in our backyard built by a local company a couple of years ago and I'm not going that route again. The yahoo didn't even get the door to hang right. No, it wasn't worth fighting with him about it. I made him fix the gaps, level the unlevel and get the doors to at least close. This storage will also hold old glassware (stock for etching that I no longer do) and my display supplies (tents, tables, etc.). Too bad I won't have it by the time I need to do the photo spread for the Profitable Glass studio profile.

Okay, off to ship and fire. Have a great weekend all.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday Which is Hump Day As Monday Was Vacation

Coffee in the San Francisco skyline mug "Ada" by The National on iTunes. California dreaming indeed. We are obviously still on California time here in Casa Griffith as we didn't wake till almost 8:00 this morning. It was a rush to get everyone out the door on time. Now I sit at the kitchen table (my later-life desk) laptop in front of me, papers and files arranged fan-like around it. I post, I make calls, I post some more, I buy a song on iTunes, the day continues.

The kiln load went in so late yesterday it won't be ready to take out till late this morning or early this afternoon so I have a couple of hours to get through line items on the List. The BMAC is still a fresh memory and now it's time to start gearing up for ACRE in Las Vegas. I have already shipped my booth and work in the Hargrove (exhibition services) caravan from Philly, but I didn't send my pedestals--I don't want to store them in Vegas as I need them for the gallery and shows here. Now I need to find a replacement for them. Do I go to the cardboard pedestals? Or do I try for shelves that hang off the grid walls? Maybe a combination of both?

But the display conundrum can wait. A more pressing issue is shipping. (This is a true stream-of-consciousness post...) Yesterday I spent four hours packing and shipping pieces. I am pretty sure the cost of my time was not figured into the work, nor was a complete and accurate accounting for the supplies used for shipping (Styrofoam peanuts, boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and fragile stickers--it all adds up). But how to charge for shipping? It doesn't make sense to try to make it a percentage of the piece cost because the actual shipping costs vary wildly depending on how many pieces are in a box, the box size, etc.

Another artist told me yesterday that he charges $5 per box for packing materials, etc. I haven't done anything like that yet as I have felt bad about adding anything onto my shipments--shipping charges are already so high--and that's still just materials and not labor. But maybe the labor charge could go into the piece cost as a fixed percentage--it doesn't vary from shipment to shipment like materials do. If I had Quickbooks for Mac right now I could just whip over and look up how much I spent on shipping materials last year to see how much of a hit I'm taking (the bubble wrap flowed like water yesterday), but since I have it for Windows I would need to launch Parallels, start Windows, then wait for Quickbooks to open. Too much time. So I'll fret instead.

No, I'll not fret, I'll get on with my day. Good luck with your surgery today, little Allie. Good Speed to everyone else.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What Day Is It Again?

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Radio Nowhere" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. It's 34 degrees out there this morning, chilly! I lived through yesterday after almost no sleep on the plane (Dave would disagree, he'd say I snored across eight states. He'd be wrong) and fired two full kiln loads. From those loads, I'll ship five orders today. By Friday I'll have three more orders shipped and another on Monday. The schedule continues on like that through late March with a bit of a break for....


And the day went to hell in a handbasket. Four of the five orders were shipped, the fifth was packed and will ship tomorrow. The kiln was loaded and fired. It was a day of one damn thing after another. A day when there was no schedule to follow. A day of flying by the seat of my pants and trying to get through a To Do list as long as, well, I don't have one of those, but you know what I mean. And I did get through the necessaries. I got the orders shipped and the kiln loaded.

However I didn't get any analysis done (am I making ANY money at this glass business thing? I should look at my shipping costs and my credit card handling charges and my materials costs and my prices...), nor did I get anything done in marketing, website improvement, studio cleaning, business process improvement, planning for the year. All in all, I end the day filled with disquiet. My bottom-line was not all that I could have hoped last year. Yes, it as another Growth Year where I poured everything back into the business. But somewhere along the way I need to find out that I can pay a mortgage, support a family or even just myself (no, Dave, I am not trying to tell you anything--I'll love you forever and be your life partner at least that long), a time when I can say I MAKE A LIVING AT THIS GLASS THING. Why is it so hard to be a professional American craftswoman?

Okay. Deep breath in, let it out slowly, and hope for a better day tomorrow. Goodnight, sweet dreams.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Home! (Studio!)

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Punish thee Monkey" by Mark Knopfler on iTunes. My monkey feels punished alright, a red-eye flight will do that to you. Landed at 5:33 am this morning from CA, walked in our front door at 6:18. It was freaky. We got to the train at the terminal just as it came (to take us to baggage claim). We got to baggage just as our luggage all came around the conveyor at the same time. We drove up to pay for parking just as the slot in front of us emptied. We were one block from home--after hitting all green lights--when I said how freaky it was... and the last light turned red and it started to rain. Be careful whose favors you dis.

A small business owner/sole proprietor gets home to voicemail, snail mail and email. The last one is light as I had my laptop with me, but it took a little time to wade through the former two this morning. And it's March. Yea March! Bettina should be coming home (the new big kiln) in a couple of weeks. Need to check in on her progress today--along with so much more. You'd think after all night in a plane I'd have planned to sleep today, but no. Have to fire, must fuse, cannot avoid firing today. Must ship tomorrow. Must go get boxes tomorrow. Must, must, must!

Delirious though I am from fatigue, dreary grey though it is outside, wonderful as California and seeing friends were, it's good to be home.