Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No Art Emergencies

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, the hum of the refrigerator for my music. It's been a busy morning already and I'm not even out of my jammies yet. Today I plan to begin the 2-3 firings per day schedule that I need to do in order to catch up. However much I enjoy writing for Glass Patterns Quarterly and Profitable Glass, there is no denying that it takes a lot of time and often puts me behind in my production. Add four days of ikebana for Japanfest last week to the mix and I am seriously off my game. Breathe in, breathe out. There are no art emergencies.

Thank heaven I have an assistant. Becky will keep me on track as I get back on the production wagon AND plan for November's multi-artist show in the studio AND work on my ERP system AND plan what and how to teach the seventh grade students from J's school... Breathe in, breathe out. there is nothing to hyperventilate about--it all sounds pretty much like life as usual.

Today is my spouse's birthday (Happy Birthday honey, I love you!) and we are celebrating tonight with dinner at Calavino's, a local restaurant owned by our friend Calavino Donati. I think Dave has already picked out what he plans to eat--I groggily remember him saying something about it either just before I slid into sleep last night or as I was blearily waking this morning. I am looking forward to it not just for the great food, but because it means I will have another day behind me as I climb the mountain of production.

Now off to shower, dress, brush teeth and hair, wash face and greet the studio day.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday and Sidelights!

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Come on Home" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. I sense a theme. Sidelights are in, article is on its way to being written. Japanfest and its attendant ikebana responsibilities are over for another year. Oy, I am sore and tired. The middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks have GOT to stop. Being caught up on my production schedule with no more unusual projects ahead of me will help.

Quite unintentionally, the sidelights make me think of Marc Chagall and his bright, lovely colorwork. It's good to have some of my own work in my own space. Now if I could just get the backsplash done for the kitchen... Soon.

This week is all about production. Several orders are due to ship and a few more came in last week. Once I get the current batch done I'll have a break till the middle of October--and none too soon. I still haven't finished organizing the multi-artist show we're having in the studio in November and it'll be October in just a couple of days! And the Filemaker Pro ERP system I started writing a few weeks ago has languished as I worked on the sidelights and orders.

It's almost 9:00. Time to start the work part of the day. Glad I don't have a commute as there is still very little gas in Atlanta.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Harem in Tuscany" by Gogol Bordello on iTunes. It was a good concert, but again this week, I feel old--too much noise, too many people (where *did* those other 1198 people come from?!?), out too late, a little too much hard cider and hot sake (and isn't THAT a combo to conjure with). Blech today, and looking forward to more firing. More shipping. More orders to process. And sidelights to do the final fuse on. I say final, but due to unfortunate time constraints the final also will be the first with all the components together.

Up till now I have been working piecemeal on the sidelights--making gems, doing simultaneous design and layout (the way I work best), making more gems, cutting more raw elements, and doing more design--adding to the final work a little more every day. Today, instead of the planned tack-fuse, I am going to have to Very Carefully full fuse all the gems, cut elements, and frit together as the sidelights are scheduled to be installed on Saturday morning and they will need a long time to cool.

Better hop to it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Kiln? Genius!

Coffee in the New York skyline mug (yes D, I switched for a Gogol Bordello theme), "Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello on iTunes. Gogol Bordello is a Ukrainian gypsy punk band based out of New York. They're playing at the Variety tonight and D and I are going to see them. Live music in a club two weeks in a row, think I'm going through a mid-life crisis? Naw.

It's my favorite time of year. I love fall with its cool mornings and sharper light as the heat and haze of summer fade away. The studio is nice and cool at 70 degrees when I arrive in the morning--even after heating up from the kilns the night before. Obviously "cool" is relative. If I were still in Montana it would be a downright midday balmy temp. But here in the south after the dogs days when the temps don't dip much below that outside in the night and the studio is almost 80 first thing every morning... Bliss. Chilly even!

Much to do in the studio today--including looking at getting another kiln. Oh I'm not planning to rush out and buy a new one, but if someone decides to sell a used one in my area I won't dismiss it out of hand. While Bettina and Bertha are great for big production loads, I am finding myself cramped on space for small fix loads like a re-slump of one piece, or a fire-polish of another, or a repair fuse of another. With the increased number of pieces being fired every day I have a commensurate increase in pieces that need a bit of tweaking--and tweaking delays shipping in an already tight schedule.

Okay, almost 9:00. Off to the studio!

A final note:
iTunes played a really weird random mix this morning. I started with Gogol Bordello and then it went into "Decoration Day" by the Drive By Truckers, then "Night, Pt. 1: Snow" by George Winston, and ended my blogging set with "Shake Your Groove Thing" by Peaches and Herb... I am clearly getting used to the new Genius playlist generator in iTunes 8.0 and have forgotten what really random means. I think I'll start Geniusing my morning posts...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Out of Kiln Room!

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Theme From a Summer Place" performed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra on iTunes. Though I keep being pulled into the far, sad corners of the internet, I need to get on with my day. UPS says my glass order from Bullseye is Out For Delivery! And it's none too soon--running out of yellow last week put me seriously behind. Sidelights to tack-fuse today, platters for the Art Institute to slump (and ship tomorrow)... and then I'm out of kiln space. How does that happen? Here I got Bettina and thought that four production kilns with 41 sq ft of firing surface would be enough. So how am I pinched for space *again*?!? Well, best take what I have and get filling it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Week Begins

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Real Good Thing" by Marc Broussard on iTunes. And we're off! Another week has begun with its deadlines and tasks and treats. The weekend just passed was glassless in action but full of glass planning (and ERP system creation). I also ruthlessly whacked at all the trees and shrubs in the front yard and followed that up with taking J for a haircut--but that's all another story.

Deadlines this week include several orders for shipping and the sidelights for GPQ. For tasks, I have the final artist organization for the open studio, working more on the ERP system, and making sample sets for the galleries that have requested them. My big treat this week will be preparing the studio to host 24 7th graders on a fieldtrip from J's school. This fall I have the privilege of teaching them basic glass cutting and kiln-forming and then helping them make glass ornaments/sun catchers for the school's holiday fair.

And now the deer hound is stirring and telling me it's time to head to the studio.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, but should'a been in Austin, "Bayou Tortous" by James McMurtry on iTunes. Wednesday night--the night before my lost day yesterday--Dave and I drove to Athens (GA) and saw him live (first time for me). The crowd was sparse and with no effort I was front and just to the right of the mic stand. Bliss. What a great concert. I can't believe I didn't hang at the Continental Club every Wednesday night at midnight to see him play when I lived in Austin. And I can't believe he isn't firmly entrenched on the top of the list of the hottest singer/songwriters in America. His voice, his writing, his music... magic. Now back to glass.

After two nights of little sleep I was exhausted, but yesterday saw me on the road to Commerce at 7:00 am to meet Bill and get a load of metal work. Back in the studio I fired a full load with the penultimate yellow frit #02--have to hold on the rest of the pieces that need it till next week--including the sidelights I'm doing for GPQ. Unfortunately, though I have a little left, the rest of the pieces I have scheduled need more than I have. Ended the day with a bit more data modeling/database implementation (Filemaker Pro arrived Wednesday and I know just enough to be dangerous). Today I'm rested, I'm slumping a load, and I'm going to look into an on-line class/tutorial for Filemaker. I could just read the book I got (Filemaker Pro the Missing Manual), but that would be too easy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday in a Handbasket

Two small bottles of San Pellegrino (tender tummy this am--can't throw anymore coffee at it), someone singing la-la-la-la-la-la then yee-oh-ee-oh-ee-oh in the background... It's another Kavarna Day! Yesterday went stunningly well--except for the whole firing thing. UPS managed to destroy another of my shipments to Hoypoloi--that makes two in a row, two in a week--which ate up a good part of my afternoon, and the rest was spent shipping, placing glass and packing supply orders, and taking orders.

I could have fired yesterday in spite of the fullness of the afternoon, but I discovered that I only have about a pound of medium yellow frit left. Yikes! I just got a big glass order a week or so ago. I am blowing through glass at unprecedented speed. Got another order in to Bullseye--just in time to beat their across-the-board 10% price increase. While I was at it, I also placed the beginnings of an order for mid-October that includes 90 more sheets of clear irid. The frit is scheduled to ship today so I ought to have it by mid-week next week.

Today I finish up my data modeling for the ERP system-just in time for Filemaker Pro to arrive this afternoon so I can begin the implementation. Yesterday I did the design for the order process. Today I need to put the finishing touches on it and then figure out the client data model. If I have time, I might begin layout for a materials management module--but that's definitely a phase II component. I want to have some system up and running asap that will keep to a minimum the number of pieces I go to ship and find I didn't fire, or for which I didn't order the metal--or orders that I forgot to schedule at all.

The first horizontal lattice piece--a double-wide too--is done and shipping to California today. It's just shy of four feet wide and two feet high. Can't wait to take it to Philly in February!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday at Kavarna!

Dancing Goats blend in a white paper cup with a recycled brown cardboard sleeve, someone who sounds like a cross between Bob Dylan and a strangling cat warbling to thumping drums in the background... It's a Kavarna day! Or at least, it's a partial Kavarna day--this afternoon will see me fire a load in Bertha and do the next firing on the sidelights in Bettina. It's going to be a productive day. I started it early in the studio--writing up a to do list for Becky, signing the pieces that will ship today, and checking the status of yesterday's kiln loads (the gems are *perfect* this time).

Now at Kavarna I am going to flow out an ERP system for Siyeh Studio. I spent a considerable amount of time last week evaluating POS (point of sale) software and other pre-built business process management systems, and even the most expensive of them don't meet more than 50% of my needs. Time to build. I ordered a copy of FileMaker Pro for the Mac (the Bento box I bought is cute and sleek, but it's like trying to run the Indy 500 in Dave's Mini. I'll save it for home project and data management) and it will arrive tomorrow. Before I get lost in the details of making, I need to design. I don't do software the same way I do glass. In software, a detailed design is actually a Good Thing.

Sound like an ambitious day? It certainly is. I don't think I'd have the nerve to even say I planned it if I hadn't already had two big cups of coffee and a chocolate croissant--sugar and caffeine make me daring. Maybe tomorrow I'll post about my experience with UPS claims yesterday early evening--or maybe I'll just let it go and not get all riled up again. I just have to say that any business model which has the first point of contact in a claim situation automatically being "Your claim is denied because your package was not packed according to UPS guidelines" is inherently evil and wrong.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Happened to Friday? I'm So Confused

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Spanish Caravan" by the Doors on iTunes--a completely random chance, though the lyrics resonate (heading for Portugal or Spain right now has more than a little appeal). Last week had a Friday, it was a studio day, why didn't I post? I don't know. It's a mystery. I must have headed for the studio first thing--or started my day some other way. Today is more traditional; I'm in my jammies, the family is newly out the door for school and work, and I organize myself with a post.

Yesterday I fired the "gems" for the studio sidelight project--over 350 of them made up of over 700 glass squares (that I also cut yesterday). It sounds like a lot, but it goes surprisingly fast with the Cutter's Mate and the Morton System. Today I get the fun part of designing the windows. You might think I would have drawn the design before creating glass elements for it, but that's not the way I work. I did calculate how much of the design I wanted to be "gems" and how much I wanted to be "other" (frit or maybe solid pieces), but for me the flow of the piece can only be done in real size and in color and texture. This project is for a how-to article in the next issue of Glass Patterns Quarterly and I'm combining several basic techniques for a whole new look--fingers crossed that it all turns out!


Time has passed and I was not able to add the pics I was going to put on this post this morning as the gems were not fully formed and I had to refire them--the photo at right shows what they looked like before they were fired. Design, too, has to wait till tomorrow so I will ship and fire a full load in Bertha today. I suppose that will have to be enough!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Lost Wednesday, Did You Find It?

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug (with pumpkin pie creamer--I love fall!), no music this morning. There's no music because iTunes for Leopard requires Quicktime for Leopard which I apparently DID NOT GET as part of my OS upgrade! I hate software. I spent the entire day yesterday (over 10 hours) upgrading my laptop's operating system (what with cleaning up a back-up drive and backing everything up to be safe first).

Why now (why ever?) you might ask. Well, I am fed up with the way I currently manage my business is a series of Excel spreadsheets and Word docs. I wanted to get a real database and the one that looks best for my needs is Bento by Filemaker Pro--only available for Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard). I had 10.4 (Tiger) (at least the names are better than Windows--I'd rather have "Tiger" or "Leopard" than "Windows" or "Vista"). Does this all sound way complicated? It is. And it probably won't be finished 31 minutes from now when Quicktime 7.3 finishes downloading and I install it.

My struggle yesterday is a perfect highlight of the jack-of-all-trades requirement for making a living as a sole proprietor of any business--art not excepted. Many lifetimes ago when I was in IT at Northwestern University (the last time I worked in an office with people around every day) I didn't fully appreciate the rich resources I had at my disposal... No, I am just whining. No matter where you work, or what you do, you're probably pushing the envelope which means you have to figure things out yourself. Yes, there might be someone there you can ask for help, but it's not like I don't have that kind of help from friends now (thanks JY for the pointer to SuperDuper and your IM support yesterday during my upgrade!). I'm just huffy because I spent an entire day on the computer and have barely anything to show for it (it's not like I've even *installed* Bento yet!).

Today, more computer nonsense and firing. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What Day is It Again?

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "So Long, So Wrong" by Alison Krauss & Union Station on iTunes. Chicago? iTunes? Hey, what about Kavarna Day? Sadly, canceled. However I am working this morning on the website and other computer projects just from home and not Kavarna. I would go to the studio, but I would end up chatting with Becky and I want to work undistracted. (Of course as soon as I updated iTunes this morning I was nothing BUT distracted!). Enough! Time to update the website and file a damages report with UPS (who CRUSHED a delivery to a gallery this week).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Taking on Tuesday

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. It's 8:00 am and I am beginning my work day. Jessie started school a couple of weeks ago and, true to small child form, brought home a horrible cold last week. I succumbed yesterday and spent the day moping around with a headache and no energy. Today, in preparation for a big Kavarna day tomorrow, I have to fire lots of pieces--probably three full loads. Tomorrow at Kavarna I finish the designs for the hanukiah and the studio sidelights, and I update my website.

I have to wonder, as I re-read what I just wrote, how many times I have written those exact same items on my must-do-today-or-tomorrow list. There is a tidal motion to work in the studio, a great surge of things that MUST be finished followed by the gentle susurration of water on sand or breath exhaling when the rush is over and they are done. Then, after an all-to-brief pause, the momentum builds again culminating in another thunderous rush of froth and pounding surf. Days like today I wish I could run a business/have a life that was a little more regular and calm and a little less fits and spurts.

But enough whining. As Dave likes to say, No solution, (therefore) no problem. Off to heat up the studio.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Do I Have To Work Today?

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug (in a sloppy metaphor for life as we head in to this year's presidential election, the mug was dirty when I took it from the cabinet so I cleaned it up) "Willin" covered by Steve Earle on iTunes. I took the whole weekend off. In truth I even kicked off early Friday as I had a very old friend in from Paris for the day and we went for lunch and a blueberry lager (or two) at The Glenwood. Now it's Monday and I am theoretically back at work ("Jungleland" by Bruce Springsteen just came on iTunes. iTunes has a very good sense of humor for software.)

There are orders to fire, orders to ship, pieces to design, a studio multi-artist show to plan, bills to pay, invoices to send... in short, all the normal tasks for the studio. And the Sky Chair and my newly returned Kindle still call to me. Maybe I shouldn't take days off. Maybe work is like dieting or exercising: It's easiest to do when it's a daily routine--no breaks.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday Equals Fused Glass

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Racing To the Red Light" by James McMurtry on iTunes for Paul Tarlow on the launch of his new fused glass site. Way to go Paul, very nice! I would've saluted him with the Austin skyline mug, but I had already poured Chicago before getting on-line this morning.

It's Friday and I'm pooped. Last week 1525 lbs of raw glass came in, and this week I shipped out 429 lbs of finished work--286 lbs of it yesterday. I am tired of toting that barge and lifting that bale. Lucky for me, no shipments go now till next Tuesday.

Today sees the three biggest kilns firing full loads (Bertha, Bettina and Middle Ground). I almost got all the base pieces cut for them yesterday and should be able to whip the rest out as soon as I finish posting. I have to pause now for a second and roll on the floor laughing hysterically at the idea of whipping anything out--I'm a full day behind in firing again (after putting in three solid days over the holiday weekend last weekend). I seem to be incapable lately of expediting tasks and keeping on top of everything.

I am reminded, as I lag ever further behind in my ideal production schedule, of the article I finished recently for the upcoming issue of Profitable Glass in which I referenced a panel I participated in for the Arts Business Institute at the last Buyer's Market. One of the topics we discussed was the amount of time we actually spend in production. Most people starting out calculate their potential income based on full-time production and this week further proves to me that full-time work does not even close to equating to full-time production. I am lucky to spend 25% of my time producing work (and realistically, it's probably a lot less).

But I am not going to let the inevitability of a full inbox when I die ruin my weekend! I am Not Firing This Weekend. I might work on designs and the upcoming studio open house, but that's the closest I'm going to come to Siyeh Studio work. There's a Sky Chair on the front porch with my name on it, and I am going to spend much of the weekend in it reacquainting myself with my Kindle.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Coffee in the Denver Architectural skyline mug, the somewhat overwrought music chosen by Defenders of Wildlife to accompany their new Sara Palin video on iTunes for music. I would've got Howard Shore to whip something up had I been them.

I am bobulated again! (Or at least I was until I got sidetracked by that video this morning... see Stranded in the South for the details on THAT.) I managed to ship all but one scheduled order yesterday--and the only reason I couldn't do that one was I had to re-fire one of the pieces. Today I ship that order and three more, and I begin firing next week's orders. Of course I still have the sidelights to design and fire for Glass Patterns Quarterly and the Hanukiah to design (and fire) for the store at the Jewish Museum of New York, but, hey! I'm getting there!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Rapidly cooling coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Least Complicated" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. I am the title of this post this morning, and I need my life (and by extension, my work) to be the song title. How to get from here to there... Spent 20 minutes I can't spare updating the blog template this morning. I was still on the original version of a customized Blogger template and never moved to their new click and drag pretty edit system. I was persuaded to finally make the jump this morning with the idea of adding the Followers widget... and it's not available to me yet. Ah well. I'll keep futzing over the next few days till I get a look I like.

Shipping didn't happen yesterday. Firing was a little slump and some firepolish/re-fuse fixes. They got moved to the top of today's schedule.

Normally posting calms and centers me which is why I do it first thing in the morning. But today my anxiety level just keeps rising with every word I type and that tells me I need to do instead of write about doing. Back tomorrow in a calmer frame of mind.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday Tuesday... Monday

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Goodnight America" on iTunes. It's 8:00 am and all is well. For all intents and purposes, it's Monday. Yes, yesterday was Labor Day which is always on a Monday, and yes, I did do two full big kiln loads so it can safely be said I labored, but today is when the week really begins. I kissed the sprout, kissed the spouse and sent them off to school and work, and the division between weekend and week, summer and fall is a sharp, clear line at the top of the steps.

I am curious to see how Bertha fired this morning after her last failure when she ran simultaneously with Bettina. I was careful yesterday to start Bettina's slump well ahead of Bertha's fuse so that they wouldn't be drawing full power at the same time (in case that was the problem). When I peeked in the studio in the late afternoon Bettina was off and Bertha was at 1450 (her full-fuse temp) so I think everything went well.

Today, the Monday that is not Monday, I have ikebana and five orders to ship. Tomorrow two more will go out, and then I begin on the ones scheduled to ship on 9/9. I have hopes and dreams to take the weekend off this week (what a radical idea!). I need a day off. But sidelights, sample sets (now there's a project I have really been dragging my feet on) and hanukiah patiently wait and I have to find time for them this week too. Better get to it...