Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday

Coffee is a Starbucks tall in the Glacier National Park go-mug, music was "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane before I turned off the car. I sit in the sun sipping my Starbucks, munching a cranberry orange muffin, waiting for Bill from Elliott Metal Works (we are meeting halfway between our shops to exchange work for orders and I was early) and I post courtesy of ATT wifi. I found out the other day that I have free access to all ATT wifi spots because we have Bellsouth DSL... The things you learn.

A week without an assistant is like a week without Prozac--and just ask your nearest 21st century perimenopausal woman about what THAT'S like. Becky is off this week and it has been my busiest firing week of the year. I do two to three loads a day but have yet to do the magic fourth (Bertha and Bettina in the same day). And yet I am in the studio early every the morning, work without slacking all day and still don't get home till very late--exhausted, sweaty and grumbly. This situation has got to end never to be repeated. A regular assistant is now a necessity, no longer a luxury.

Yesterday--though I did not post here--I did spend much of the morning on Blogger. I helped my friend and ikebana instructor Elaine set up her blog on washi and ikebana.

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I started the above post on Friday morning, but before I could finish, Bill arrived at Starbucks, we planned, we traded pieces, and I got back to the studio. I did not get the second big load in, again. Saturday followed the same path of in the studio early, but deviated in that I *finally* got two big kiln loads in simultaneously. Unfortunately, when I went over and looked at them this morning the fuse load was underdone and I had to refire it. The only thing I can come up with is that somehow Bertha wasn't able to get enough electricity so didn't reach full-fuse temp--or reached it but wasn't able to stay there long enough... or I used the wrong firing cycle and I can't even imagine how I did that. Whatever it was, she seems to be firing fine now.

Tomorrow--Labor Day--sees me labor more with two full loads to do. Thank heaven Becky is back Tuesday! Shown at top right is Bettina's first fuse load on the new shelf.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wet Wednesday

Coffee in the studio Chicago skyline mug, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Deathcab for Cutie on the iPod. Key words in that sentence were "studio" and "iPod" (which lives in the studio). I arrived in the studio at 7:55 this morning to find the truck with my glass delivery waiting for me. The driver had arrived about 7:30 but never called. No one called. Someone was supposed to call. I'm just lucky I decided to head to the studio to wait for it and post instead of posting from the kitchen table at home as I usually do. After a half hour of slipping and sliding in the mud that is the vacant lot next door (three days of rain and it's a swamp here)--and with the additional help of two guys from East Lake Auto across the street--1525 lbs of glass was muscled onto the lift gate, lowered to the driveway and pallet-jacked to over by the back door. Now I sit, covered in mosquito bites (I never saw fewer than eight at a time feasting on my legs), and post. It's only 8:40 and the biggest line item on my list for the day has been checked off.

Yesterday was an... interesting day (in the Chinese sense). I arrived a the studio at 8:55 after having posted (and showered, washed my hair and brushed my teeth). I decided against cutting up anymore of the few extra-wide sheets of clear irid that remain in the inventory. Instead I figured I would get all my orders packed and sent and I'd do a little organizing. When I called to check on my delivery time I was told in the afternoon so I figured I'd be having a late firing day. Fate, it seems, had Other Plans. I worked solidly all day cleaning and packing pieces for shipping, fielding phone calls from almost everyone on the planet, and waiting. In the process I discovered a corollary to the adage that your stuff will always grow to fill the space allotted to it and that is work will always expand to fill the time allowed for it. I.e., I never get done early and yesterday was no exception.

The glass finally arrived about 3:30 but not in a truck with a lift gate. It said clearly on the manifest "Lift gate delivery". What, did they think the driver was going to lift 1525 lbs of glass off the truck with his hands? What I don't understand is why he bothered to come out at all. He could see the two cases of glass shrink-wrapped together and stacked high with cardboard boxes shrink-wrapped to them. He could see that they weighed 1525 lbs. Why would he even make the drive? Just so he could say he attempted delivery and therefore the service times were met? They weren't--4-5 business days for a shipment picked up Monday means delivery by the following Monday and yesterday was Tuesday. Deep breath in, deep breath out, let go the frustration. It's all over, the glass is here safe and sound, and I can unpack and start cutting it this morning.

Now a quick run to the post office and the bank and then I'm in the swing!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Tuesday

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby on iTunes. The song is the random play selection from iTunes and it couldn't be more appropriate. Fay continues to dump water and grey skies on Atlanta--great for the garden but reminds me why I couldn't live in Seattle.

Today my glass comes from Bullseye and I couldn't have made it any longer without it. I ended up not firing yesterday as the only sheets of clear irid I have left are a few extra wide pieces that I like to save for 20" round pieces. No glass to cut means no pieces to fire. This morning I'll pack to ship everything I got done over the weekend while I wait for the delivery. As soon as it gets here, I'll unload the cases (undoubtedly in the rain) so I can cut and fire two fuse loads--Bettina gets to go out for her first fuse spin today.

I have another try for my Niche piece in Middle Ground, but even without looking at it I've decided I don't like the colors I chose and I want to do it again. Tick tock, tick tock, the clock counts down to the Saturday postmark deadline.

The new school schedule is giving all of us a jump on pour days. It's only 8:00 and I've already finished my post and am ready to get dressed and slosh to the studio!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moody Monday

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Into the West" from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack performed by Annie Lenox on iTunes. The tropical depression formerly known as Hurricane Fay spread a cool rainy grey blanket over the weekend in Atlanta. This morning is still cool, still wet, still grey.

Jessie discovered the industrious spider's work on her way out the door this morning and I have not regretted more not having a good manual SLR camera. Digital auto-everything is great for capturing our fast lives, but it is lousy for focusing on the minute details of the bejeweled beauty of the spider's work. Time to dig out the old Olympus and polish it up? Probably not. Just the time-slowing effects of this weather.

The weekend was full of glass. I thought I would finally fire a fuse load on the new shelf in Bettina, but I was able to get everything into Bertha so Bettina was used only for slumping. One anticipated but lamented side effect of the new shelf in combination with Bettina's extra insulation--she's made for high-temp, long casting firings after all--is that cool down from a slump load in her takes even longer than cool down from a fuse load in Bertha. Timing is going to be tricky when I need to get a load a day out of each of them.

One of the pieces I fired this weekend was the first iteration of my idea for a Niche piece. With a postmark deadline of August 30 (Saturday) I'll barely have time for another iteration, but the design needs tweaking. The Beatles are whispering the words of wisdom on iTunes right now and saying "Let It Be", but I think my answer is to futz with it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Focus

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. Ahh, the quiet of a house empty but for me and snoozy dogs. Time to make some progress! I have been occupied with other than firing for the past couple of weeks since I got back from the BMAC and today, today, I begin the big fall firing schedule that ends in November.

Besides the regular production firing I have four special projects front-loading the schedule. Last weekend I finally settled on a technique to use for my Niche entry for the year--better late than never! Now I need to start testing pieces with it to see how it works. It's based on an idea I have been toying around with around since I started the book (first iteration from two years ago shown at right) and I think I have finally figured out how to add the last visual punch that will make it scale for larger work and translate into a good product line.

The other special projects are a backsplash for our kitchen (commissioned by my spouse as payment for childcare while I was in Philadelphia for the BMAC), sidelights for the studio (the project I am doing with the large kiln shelf from Ditore Glass Works to write up for Glass Patterns Quarterly) and the hanukiah for the shop at the Jewish Museum of New York. Let's get it started!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Welcome to Fall!

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Homeless" by Paul Simon on iTunes. I scratch my head at the randomness of iTunes. If there's a pertinent meaning to this one, I don't see it.

Some might say what Dan is doing over there at the studio right now is gilding the lily, but that bit or porch overhang that he is adding on will keep the rain off me and my laptop in the morning when I am unlocking the backdoor, and it will also keep the J dry when she runs over in the rain and struggles to open the door. As a last step he's going to put a little shelf on the right next to the door so I can set stuff down to get the keys out and into the lock. Some might wonder why I am having this trivial construction done, and I probably wouldn't have, but Dan was already up there putting new fascia board on the sides of the studio so I can get rain gutters mounted (got to have rain gutters in order to use the rain barrels doncha know).

Yesterday there was no post. I thought I would be able to do one when I finished my article for Profitable Glass. But I didn't finish until 11:00 last night. This article took a lot more time and effort to get right than the previous ones did. Today I am finishing the last editing (now that I am finally working--it was J's first day of school, first day of first grade... we started the day at the opening assembly) and (at last!) firing a couple of kiln loads. I am looking forward to getting a lot more done now that I don't have to break to make breakfast, make lunch, answer questions, tie knots, and other mommy activities throughout the day. Yes, part of me regrets the end of summer and its potential for lazy, sunny days. But a greater part sighs in relief at the focus fall brings.

Off to focus!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday's... Over!

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas on iTunes. Another day, another deadline looms. Full house again today, and four phone calls already done this morning--one more to go as soon as the dealership opens.

It's still summer for another two days (longer if you follow the regular calendar and not the school calendar) and I am already starting the planning for the studio multi-artist winter show...

Or I would've started the planning for the multi-artist show back almost *nine hours ago* when I started this post! But the day had other plans for me, and I finish it without having fired a single piece or made any headway on the article I have due tomorrow for Profitable Glass. Yes, there is shelving in the office closet and the rain gutter/rain barrel system has been exhaustively designed--and the former studio is much closer to done than it was--but otherwise the day has been almost a complete production loss.

The bright side to my cloudy day is that I am still on schedule with my orders because I can power up Bettina and crank through them starting tomorrow. I did get them all entered into the computer both on the firing schedule and on individual orders. Tomorrow I have *got* to find both uninterrupted writing and production time... and good luck with that!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Already?

La Croix blue fizzy water in the can, "Good Enough" by Evanescence on iTunes. Glass has not been Incarnate today. I did get a quick post in on Stranded in the South this morning before dashing off for my day, but everything since has gone pear-shaped. Now it's 4:00 PM and I am calling the day Good Enough. Tomorrow I fire--and I'm going to pull out the big guns and fire both Bertha and Bettina with full fusing loads. J has a friend from down the street over right now and they are playing in the pool so I'm working outside and watching them. I still haven't finished entering the orders from the BMAC into the computer, or updating the firing schedule and those tasks (and this post) will take me through till Dave gets home at 5:30.



In the meantime I got my book projects back from my publisher thanks to Becky the Wonder Assistant who went up to Asheville on Friday. While she was there she took a little gallery tour and checked out a couple of galleries I'm in. One, the Grovewood, has only one piece of my work in, but I have a big order to ship them this week or next. And they also use one of my pieces in the header on their website (shown above). The other, Blue Goldsmiths, has quite a few pieces--including the lattice shown at right which is already sold.

Today's big accomplishment was getting a shelving unit from the Container Store for the closet in the studio office. Becky has been grumbling about the piles of crap all over the floor, but I haven't had anywhere to put it all so it's just stayed on the floor. Tomorrow I predict deliriums of happiness from Becky with the installation of more storage space.

Okay, off to enter orders!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The End of Summer

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, the quiet click of typing keys for music. What the heck happened yesterday? There was no post! I hit the ground so fast in the morning that I never got a chance to sit down and post (that'll happen on days when I have nine people spread between the house and the studio to supervise). Suffice it to say, it was a big day, and I'm glad it's over (and I got caught up on the week).

I have reconciled myself to needing another day of transition before I get back into full production in the studio on Monday. Actually, it's three days, but I am really trying to take weekends off this fall. Heck, if the workers of the fine state of Utah get to go all French on us and go to a four-day work week, I should get weekends off. Sure, some of them are working 10-hour days, but who isn't?

And it's a good thing I am waiting an extra day before I begin full production (which requires cutting lots of sheets of glass) as my Bullseye order won't be in till the end of the week next week, and I am completely out of normal width clear sheets (just shy of 20" wide). All I have left are a few 21" wide sheets that were mixed in with my last two orders, and I like to save those for when I need to cut a 20" round.

Today the former studio will be carpeted and the water lines that used to run to the three-bin restaurant sink in it will be re-routed to a laundry tub in the garage. There is already a workbench complete with an 8' X 4' pegboard over it in the spot in the garage where Bertha used to sit. It will be like there was never a studio there at all!

Now off to contemplate the last week of summer. School starts next week, so even if the weather says differently, fall is here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where Am I Going and What Am I Doing With This Handbasket?

Dancing Goats coffee in a Kavarna go-cup, some Enya-like music wafting through the air. It's a Kavarna Day! Jessie is off to the zoo with Becky the Wonder Assistant and her nephews, Dan the Carpenter and Dick his Trusty Assistant are working on other projects today, and I am firmly ensconced in my chair ready to do web damage and beat the firing and order schedule and the to-do list into shape (and now listening to Rags to Riches performed by Tony Bennett... it's an eclectic musical morning here at Kavarna).

August is turning out to be the Lost Month. When I look forward to August, in my mind I see a Ward and June Cleaver kind of time where we all relax and enjoy the end of summer and prepare for the start of school. I see me wearing pearls and gingham and sipping a gin and tonic as I watch Jessie and the spaniel romp on the lawn. I can't quite wrap my mind around the image of Dave lounging in crisp slacks, white socks and wingtips and puffing contentedly on a pipe, but almost. Instead I'm off balance, off center, wobbly, anxious and grumbly. I can't find my happy place--or get anything done. There are too many one-off tasks looming.

I think it all has to do with change and routine. I do very well in a crisis--when the world ends, I'm the gal who will get you through it without falling apart. I also do well when life is all settled into a placid routine with no projects threatening, no travel, nothing unpredictable on the horizon. However I completely fall apart in the transition times--coming home from vacation and trying to get the home and hearth into the settled routine state, coming back from a show and shifting gear from presentation and sales to production and shipping. This post-BMAC is worse than usual--I think because we were only home from the vacation in Montana for a week before I took off again to do the show. July was essentially completely atypical time, off-schedule and out of routine.

I loved the vacation--couldn't have enjoyed it more, but I looked forward to getting home to routine (and my own bed) again. Then I had a good show and got my display and materials all stored in Philly for the February show--and I was ready to be back in the studio and in the daily routine again. But I'm home--been here a week--and I can't get my mind inserted into a routine! Okay, it's only been a week. It feels like a month, but it's only been a week. If I can keep it to a week and GET BACK ON THE HORSE IN THE GROOVE, I'll probably be okay.

Time to go look for a horse.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer... Are Over

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "I've Been Thinking About You" by London Beat on iTunes. The dog days of summer. If one were talking about the weather it would mean (here in hte northern hemisphere) the hot sultry days of July and August--and I would be accurate in my nomenclature. However the dog days (according to Wikipedia) also refers to a time period that is hot or stagnant or marked by a dull lack of progress. Bingo. The dogs have come to roost in the studio and the house. Everywhere I look I see projects in a state of languish.

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In the past several hours since I started this post, ducks lined up, and ducks broke rank. Ducks lined up, and ducks broke rank. Wash, rinse, repeat. I have failed to ship for the third day in a row, and I did not fire a fuse load either. However I got carpet chosen, paid for, and scheduled (for the former-studio-now-basement). The pool (one of those above-ground Target things) is drained and ready to clean. The to-do list and the day tomorrow are organized (and Jessie is set to go to the zoo with Becky and her nephews away) so I can have a Kavarna day and maybe get caught up on paperwork. And, finally, the glass order is in to Bullseye and reviewed, I hope they'll be ready to ship soon. Tomorrow the supports for the new kiln shelf are also scheduled to arrive so I can do the break-in fire on Bettina's new shelf.

Quack.

Some weeks really do seem to jerk along in fits and starts and my evaluation of my performance changes every half hour. Time to move along with the evening.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Deadlines and Birthdays

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Morning Has Broken" by Cat Stevens on iTunes. It's August 11th today, Monday, and I feel the weight of the month pressing down on me. The deadlines begin to pile up starting Friday and reach a crescendo of effort the day after Labor Day (early this year--September 1). Some of it's production--the least scary and most comfortingly predictable of the things I do--but a lot of it's writing, designing, webbing and other hard-to-time-quantify activities. Activities that could go easily and quietly into the "done" pile or that could turn into a day (week?) down the rabbit hole at a mad tea party. I don't have a week to spare.

And while I am dwelling on upcoming scary things this fine morning, I am going to be help-less again come September: Becky the Wonder Assistant is heading back to corporate America for a Real Job. After almost a year with steady help, I can't go back to a one-person shop--I need to hire someone new. And this time it won't be a friend helping me out on a part-time temporary basis--it'll be a Real Employee. I am hoping for a mother with little kids in school who just needs something with flexible hours and a little extra family income (not the rent).

But let's end the post on a positive note. Friday was Dan the Carpenter's birthday and we had a little party in the studio for him. I didn't taste the cake, but I trust Southern Sweets. I'm sure Dave will get an evil chuckle out of the singing cake plate being inflicted on someone else for a change.

video

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Saturday Studio Day

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Choctaw Bingo" by James McMurtry on iTunes. The rest of the family is enjoying a cool breezy Saturday in the sky chairs on the front porch while I gear up to go to the studio and fire two loads (Dave is hairless). I didn't get a single load fired during the week so I have three to do this weekend. I should start out Monday back on schedule.

Now I wait with my fingers crossed to see how soon Bullseye can get me more clear irid sheets. I ordered 90 on Thursday, but they are completely out right now and I don't have a production date. I am not panicking yet.

Projects for next week include designing the backsplash for our kitchen (which will also be written up as a how-to project for GPQ using the new kiln shelf from Ditore Glass Works), designing a hanukiah or two for the Jewish Museum of New York, and figuring out what I'm going to submit for a Niche piece this year. Oh yes, there'll be one Kavarna day for web work and writing up the next article for the Studio Start-Up column for Profitable Glass. And then there are the daily firings--if I don't run out of glass...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Green Paint That's Red

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Fast As I Can" by James McMurtry on iTunes. I thought I'd have a little time to edit the movie I took of my booth at the BMAC and get a good post up this morning, but life already has other plans. I need to get a kiln load in and then I'm off to Home Depot to get paint for the former studio. We're going with Freshaire paint--an eco-friendly paint with no VOC's--in "Evening Peruvian Lily" in the Botanicals collection. The paint is more red than it looks on the web--it's a warm terracotta color.

So the first paragraph of the glass blog is about paint for a no-longer studio. The reason for that is easy to see--the work of today is shipping, firing, and more paperwork catch-up and I already wrote about that on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tomorrow is officially movie day, let's see if I can get through today with no catastrophes and make it happen!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday Tradesman Day

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Vacation" by the Go-Go's on iTunes. The carpenter and his assistant have finished the drywall and trim in the former-studio-now-basement and are priming everything and painting the trim and ceiling today. The dryer repairman is here replacing the igniter on the dryer (fried by lightning). Becky the assistant will be here any second and she will take inventory of all the frit so I can get my Bullseye order in this morning. I think I'll also have her do a quick box count before I order shipping supplies for the day. Both of those tasks should have been completed yesterday, but the day was already full, full, full. Didn't fire either.

Now off to wax the legs and then get back to everything I didn't get done yesterday. It would have made more sense to make yesterday's task list the list for the week instead of the list for the day...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Back From Philly!

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug (I would have picked the Atlanta as I am soooo glad to be home, but my spouse brought me coffee in bed this morning--he's soooo glad I'm home too--so he picked the mug), there is no music as iTunes is updating. I am home, life is good.

The BMAC this summer was very small--fewer artists and fewer buyers--but it was still my best BMAC yet, edging out this past February by a hair. I also had a *great* time participating in the Arts Business Institute's panel discussion on the impacts of wholesaling for the visiting artist program. I hope I can work more with them.

To quantify sales for the show's bottom line, I picked up 10 new galleries and took orders from five existing clients. I had a few more personal shoppers than usual, but overall it was a great show. I am really looking forward to working with the new galleries, and I'm glad my existing customers were also able to place substantial orders. Best of all, two of my existing clients requested new pieces so I have fun design work ahead.

Also on the fun list, I got a call from Marlene at Ditore Glass Works yesterday and my new kiln shelf has shipped! I can't wait to get it in Bettina and try it out. The week while I was at the BMAC was pretty rough for Dave and J and Dave says his cut for it is getting the new backsplash for the kitchen bumped to the top of the firing queue. The timing ties in nicely for the article I am doing for GPQ on using the Ditore shelves for firing large pieces. The only downside I can see to the shelf is that I won't be able to get it in and out of the kiln by myself--it will probably need to be a permanent fixture (it is 30" X 71" and weighs 144 lbs).

Today I have to type up and email out all the orders from the BMAC, desnarl invoices with a couple of galleries, write up an order for metal for Bill, and figure out and submit a glass order for Bullseye. Oh yes, and I have to update the firing schedule, fire a full load in Bertha, and order shipping supplies... Nothing like hitting the ground running!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

BMAC Day 1

Coffee in the Starbucks go-cup, the hum of artists and buyer voices for music. I have been lax in posting the past first of days--first due to lightning, then travel, then set-up for the summer Buyer's Market Show. Now the booth is done (I actually had everything priced and the lights adjusted *before* the show opened for once!

So what's been happening the past few days? Oh boy. We had a severe thunderstorm in Atlanta on Tuesday night. We had 2200 lightning strikes in a half hour in a very small area. It was exhilarating, and I didn't know enough to be afraid. It's not like I went and stood outside in it or anything, but I did sit right by the window on the second floor working on my laptop. I was lucky. The alarm system in the house and the studio and the new 3-in-1 fax machine were not so lucky. I spent over two hours on the phone with alarm company and ended up replacing the panel in the studio (for over $300) because the dialer was fried, and then rewiring all three keypads in the house system. Then the phones worked again--but the DSL did not so I had to completely reboot the modem and router (and I recabled the whole system). It was exhausting, hot stressful and took forever so I did neither glass nor web work the entire day.

Then I left for Philly and had the first day of set-up. I thought I'd have either the time or the energy to post, I was wrong. It was 91 degrees and humid the first day of set-up and it was all we could do just to get through it and collapse at the end. the second day of set-up (yesterday) was a bit cooler outside, but still stifling in the convention center hall. I managed to do price tags for the show after a room service dinner (with white wine) and during Con Air on TNT. They're showing True Lies tonight and I have to say it's more appealing than going to the Museum of Natural History for the Buyer's Market party. On the other hand, it would be a good business move to go to the party and mingle with fellow artists and buyers. I just don't think after the week I had that I have the margin to spend on my business.

And speaking of business, this afternoon I am on a panel of speakers for the Arts Business Institute Visiting Artist Program discussing The Impacts of Wholesaling. I am really looking forward to it. Becky the assistant is participating in the visiting artist program except during the panel (someone has to mind the booth) and I am looking forward to picking her brain on everything she heard after the show.

It's the middle of the first day. I've written two orders--one new gallery put a toe in the water for three pieces and one repeat customer filled the empty stock spots. Time to get selling and come back to write more later.