Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday After Waldorf Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Till Tuesday

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Windy Day

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, Music of the Spheres alto and soprano Japanese scale windchimes for music. It's a windy fall morning here in Atlanta. The weekend has ended and another week begins. I succumbed to fall madness and acquired several lots of weaving and knitting yarn on eBay yesterday as well as weaving cotton and other weaving supplies from the Village Spin and Weave online store on Saturday. Today I begin to knit a poncho for the J (why finish an old project when you can start a new one?). Next weekend I warp and weave.

I also fired all weekend--three kiln loads yesterday and one on Saturday. Today I need to firepolish two pieces I had hoped to ship (they'll ship tomorrow) and I'll finally make the sample sets I have been dragging my heels on for the past several months.

It is an interesting year. It has been a good one for me--the biggest one yet--and in spite of its goodness, by the end of this week I will finish all my open orders for the year. I have nothing scheduled for November and December. Last year at this time I was starting to prepare for the One of a Kind Show and Sale in Chicago (I'm not going this year) and when I got back from it I began the 114 pieces for Washington Mutual... and look where they are now. It wasn't my fault. I worked for Enron for 10 weeks too about 10 years ago. That one wasn't my fault either. My Mom wants me to do some work for Exxon--she's still sore that they haven't paid their fines from the Valdez spill yet. And speaking of my Mom, today's her birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! She's here visiting for a month and we're taking her out for calamari tonight.

This year, by the end of October, I'm... done! Looks like I have a perfect opportunity to get my website up to date and to finish my artist ERP system. Or maybe I'll sleep a lot. Or read. Or weave. Nope, I'll do the website and the ERP. Really.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Frustrations

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, the answering matching message for the City of Atlanta solid waste division in my ear for music. My recycling wasn't picked up again this week and this time the cardboard is all soaked form the rain and the lid from the bin was halfway down the street in front of the bus stop because someone went through it looking for aluminum cans and just tossed it off. Already this morning I have misplaced my big, cosy black sweater, broken a chopstick and discovered a box that should have shipped to a new client on Monday that didn't go out. Ho boy. The day can only look up.

Firing will warm up the studio, two other orders will ship, and another big load of Jessie's Jewels will be fused today. Tomorrow I sleep in--though it's a work day for both me and Dave. The poor spouse has to work 8:30-5:00 tomorrow and Sunday and the same for both days the following weekend (and every day in between--if not more). Neither of us can wait till this election is OVER!

Next week I take my studio on the road and do another ornament session with the Waldorf 7th graders. They are going to figure out what they want to do and I'll take all the materials and tools and we'll work in their classroom Wednesday morning making pieces to sell. They kept everything they made last week and need to make some ornaments to sell at the holiday fair.

Now off to ship and put in another supply order from Hoy's. Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Mysteries

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, no music. I am poised to hear the front door open and my child come in screaming about the way her sleeves feel weird, one shoe is smaller than the other, the socks don't feel right, and she hates her overshirt--basically the same sounds she made as she went out the door with her father on her way to school in the midst of an apocalyptic meltdown. The "I told you so" I got from the spouse as he went out the door didn't help. (He told me I wouldn't be able to solve an irrational problem with rational means. It didn't matter if J tried on all her clothes--old and new--in a calm frame of mind and said they felt fine. She would still melt down out of the blue some mornings with oversensitivity to some perceived bump or tightness or itch or SOMETHING. I hate that he was right.) *sigh*

Shaking off the nerve-shattering start to the morning and moving on... Stacy is heading to Commerce this morning to meet Bill and get my latest load of stands (once a studio assistant, always a studio assistant ;-) as I have to get a kiln load in before a 10:00 meeting in Decatur followed by an 11:30 meeting in Buckhead to help Elaine with her Washi Arts blog. Back in the studio at 1:00 to get the second kiln load in and ship a piece to Asheville. Then of to get J from school at 2:45 and then her friend Grace (also Stacy's daughter) from her school so they can have a playdate this afternoon while I get the third and final kiln load in... It's a full day.

And now, as promised, the scoop on Jessie's Jewels. I previously mentioned that I'm doing the Holiday Craft Fair at J's school in mid-November as a way of cleaning out a bunch of old work and pieces with slight flaws from the studio. Jessie likes to make things in the studio too and is always asking me if she can make "dewdrops" (that's what she calls the ubiquitous glass blobs you can buy anywhere these days). The other day I let her make little fused pieces from shards of scrap and scraps of dichro. They turned out really well and I thought they would make nice children's jewelry. So yesterday I priced some findings for necklaces, bracelets, rings and pins, and found she can make a tidy little sum for college on $3-$5 jewelry pieces and $.25 pieces of fused glass. I ordered the findings, and yesterday after school she and her grandmother whipped up another small kiln load full of little fused pieces. We'll see if she maintains the interest and focus for it. It would be a great way for her to build a savings account without having to work at Burger King or some other more traditional high school job (and as she's starting when she's 6, think how much she could have saved by the time she's 18!).

I close with the tale of the assistant. I am reminded yet again of the scene in "Shakespeare In Love" when the Geoffrey Rush character explains the nature of the theatre business to Mr. Fennyman the apothecary (also the money man for the play and a bit-part actor in it). Some time ago I paraphrased and adopted that monologue as my studio motto:

"Allow me to explain about my business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. So what do we do? Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. How? I don't know. It's a mystery."

My continuing tale of assistants is the same way. First I needed help and mentioned to my friend Stacy that I needed to start looking for an assistant. She told me that coincidentally she wanted to pick up some part time work and so began the first assistantship. We fit beautifully and life went on well. But her her business got too busy for her to continue splitting her time so she let me know I needed to find someone else. She and Becky (another old friend who used to own the first gallery I was in in Atlanta) met as they helped me setup for the Decatur festival in May and Stacy reminded me that I really needed to start looking for a new assistant in front of Becky. Becky said she needed something for the summer until her new job started and I was set again. Then last week Becky reminded me in front of Dee as we were preparing for the field trip that I needed to start looking for a new assistant as she starts her new job at the end of the month. And guess what? Dee wants to be my assistant now! Am I lucky or what? It all turned out well and I don't know how. It's a mystery.

Now off to get the first kiln load in before my 10:00.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday is GONE!

Diet coke in the can, the sound of the microwave reheating blue cheese gnocchi and peas for lunch for my music. It's a late posting day, but it has been full of glass already.


It just got (a few hours) later--I have already picked up J from school and she and her Gramma are out on the studio porch making the glass for "Jessie's Jewels". I've still got one kiln load still to put in today and it's 4:30 so I have got to run. I'll post tomorrow on Jessie's Jewels and my new assistant!

And, yeah, photos real soon. ;-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is It Only Tuesday?

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Joy" played by George Winston on iTunes. I am filled with joy this morning--though not for anything New Orleans oriented. That choice was incidental. Dave worked until 10:30 at CNN last night--got to love those 13+ hour days--so he doesn't have to go in right away this morning. He is dropping the Sprout off at school and then home to code for awhile. I am looking forward to a little time together, just us and our laptops. And tonight my Mom gets in from Montana for a month-long visit! Joy, indeed.

I should probably run over to the studio and turn the heat on before Becky gets there. It was really cold in there yesterday. I had to take a break in the afternoon to come home and treadmill just so I could warm up and wake up. At least I remembered to get the orchids in yesterday (it's 43 degrees out there again this morning!).

Today, firing, shipping, and unpacking glass--all the things I didn't get done yesterday. Becky gets to sort the last of the student projects into their boxes so I can deliver them to the school this afternoon. I am sure they are anxiously waiting for them.

Stacy harangued me (again!) about not posting pics from the fieldtrip, but my house is so clean I can't find the gizmo I need to transfer the files from the camera to the computer. Maybe tomorrow. :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug ('cause to my wimpy now-southern self it feels that cold this morning), "A Long December" by Counting Crows (to continue the frigid theme) on iTunes. Last night I hauled the big black sweater (knit for me by my Father-in-Law) out of the depths of the closet and cuddled up in it. This morning I resisted turning the heat on to take the chill off (it was 62 degrees in the house) and am buried again in the sweater with a chenille throw over my legs and feet. I am reminded of my time in Chicago when the temps would dip in October and the powers that be wouldn't turn the heat on in the big buildings because there would be a few more days of Indian summer heat before winter settled in for good and they couldn't switch easily back and forth between heat and air conditioning (or they just wanted to save on utilities). Outside it's 41 degrees. I hope my orchids didn't die. I hadn't realized it would get so cold so soon (it's been in the 70's and will be 74 again tomorrow). Got to bring them in this week.

I never got around to posting about the field trip over the weekend--too busy at home. I didn't treadmill either, but I should have carried a pedometer yesterday as I did nothing but walk all day. While D was at CNN (no days off till the election has gasped its last), J and I cleaned and straightened the front porch, the front hall (there has been an old kitchen table in it for the past several weeks and you know how much stuff I can put on an empty flat surface...), the breakfast room, the kitchen, the living room, and the dining room. Unsurprisingly it took all day. The breakfast room has been my pseudo office for a couple of years, and I found bills and other papers from its inauguration as I cleaned up. I banished them all to the real office--and hope to get that great snarling pile of unusable room straightened out next weekend.

I did go over to the studio a couple of times over the weekend to fire and move stuff to there from the house. It, too, is clean, tidy, and spacious thanks to Becky, Dee, and Todd--even after the whirlwind that was 30 people-as-locusts! While we waited for pizza to be delivered Friday after the fieldtrippers had left, everyone put away all the materials--Becky is dangerously organized. Then we came over to our house and had lots of pizza and a couple of bottles of champagne. I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all--and we only needed a bandaid for one student (Todd went through three during clean-up, but the actual fieldtrip was safe).

Today, back to real life. There are 115 sheets of glass and 660 lbs of frit left to unpack and move into the studio. Before that, an article review, a firing, and ikebana, with another firing to follow. Tomorrow, more of the same. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives--too bad I never had the time or interest for soaps.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Almost Ready For Friday Fieldtrip

No beverage--just back from dinner where sauvignon blanc played a role though, the sound of the dryer for music. I was harangued (HARANGUED!) by Stacy for not posting earlier today, but, hey! I was busy! Today was the dress rehearsal for the 7th grade field trip in the studio tomorrow. Actually it was both the dress rehearsal AND the planning meeting... some of us aren't very good at doing things in advance. After J has gone to bed I will head back to the studio and put the example pieces we made today for tomorrow in a couple of kilns to fire. The fieldtrippers are going to do both tack and full fuse projects to observe the effects of time and temperature on the way glass melts and fuses.

For the concerned out there, I have eliminated the vitrigraph part of the program for the day. I figured that it was not a good idea to have 24 12-13 year olds playing around with molten glass on their first day in the studio when their parents haven't signed any release forms for them... I replaced it with painting--glassline paints and mica gum arabic mix. Should be exciting.

I wish it were still light outside as I would love to take and post a photo of the way Becky's friend Todd wire-wrapped my trashy treasures from the studio and hung them on the fence. It is so much more artistic a presentation than just using Ace Hardware plate hangers would have been. Todd is the one who was roped into presenting the painting sessions tomorrow.

So the fieldtrippers will be in the studio for 2-1/2 hours. I am going to do a half hour at the beginning of the visit on studio safety, an intro to kilnforming, a brief demo of cutting and making a Morceaux de Verre piece including a side-by-side of pre and post fired pieces, and I'll finish with a tour of the studio. I'll also make sure they know that my book is sold in the school shop, if they're interested in learning more ;-). Then the 24 will break up into four groups of six to through three 1/2 hour work sessions and lunch. Todd, as already mentioned, will lead the painting session. Dee is going to demonstrate combining strips, shards and circles together to fuse into open pieces (no base glass under them). Becky will show how to use base squares of clear irid to hold shards, stringer, frit and dichro chips either tack or full fused onto them. All the ornaments made will either have loops fused into them or be wire-wrapped after firing. I'll float from group to group and answer questions. All of the pieces made tomorrow by the fieldtrippers (four or five each) will be sold at the Waldorf School of Atlanta Holiday Market on November 15-16, come on down...

The glass arrived from Bullseye today, but there was no way we could get it unloaded with all the studio prep for tomorrow. I was all sanguine about leaving it out as the sky was blue as blue could be all day today, but I just saw it's supposed to rain tomorrow. Grr. Got to find the tarps to cover it tonight.

Dave is going to run buy a couple bottles of champagne for me now--I promised Dee, Becky and Todd that we'd have it at 1:30 tomorrow when the field trip ends. I may not post tomorrow, Stacy, but I'll get photos and a day-in-review up over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ride 'Em Cowgirl!

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Invisible Man" by Joe Jackson on iTunes. It's from the workout playlist--I am anticipating the day. Vacation's over and I'm almost awake enough for it. The glass might come today, it will probably come tomorrow. Dee will be in the studio tomorrow and Friday to help with the prep for the fieldtrip and fieldtrip itself. So will Becky, and I am hoping I can get a friend of Becky's and potential new assistant Todd (a wire-wrap artist) to help. If he can come help, I can add an extra dimension to the work the kids will do, and I'll be free to float from group to group.

I really need to sit down and plot out the flow of the two and a half hours they'll be there. Tour of the different areas of the studio, intro to fusing including examples of the different stages of fusing from tack to full and slumping, brief touch on the physics (COE, viscosity, surface tension, etc), cutting glass, demo of making a morceaux de verre piece ending with opening a kiln and taking out a finished morceaux de verre piece for comparison. Then break into groups and go through the stations: lunch (outside at the picnic table), vitrigraph, cutting, and assembling ornaments for me to fire after they're gone. Sounds about right, except that there's no way I can fit 24 12-13 year olds in the kiln room at the same time and even making it work in the cutting room is going to be tight. We'll work it out. And I need a bunch of tools too from cutters to wheeled nippers, bottles of glue. Yup. Need to do a step-by-step with Becky and Dee.

Talk about being back into the thick of it right away! No easing back in for me. I guess that's what yesterday was for, unfortunately it was also a little girl playdate at our house so my studio time was limited. Life choices. Glad I get to make them.

Becky won't be in till 10:30 today so I am going to head over to the studio now to get today's kiln loads prepped. I hate having to pull from my extra-wide sheets, but I have got to get pieces fired for orders.

A last note: I am physically, mentally, emotionally and every other way incapable of throwing out pieces that didn't turn out. I even have all the pieces that have broken at galleries, in shipping and at shows. But I can no longer have them cluttering up the floor or shelving in the studio. The pieces fall into three groups: finished work that doesn't fit my current commercial series or has a slight flaw in it, pieces that aren't/can't be finished or are broken and the glass is not re-usable, and broken pieces that can be reused in a melt of some kind. Yesterday Becky and I hit upon a genius solution for all of it. The slightly flawed/not my current work I'm going to sell at Jessie's school's holiday fair for bargain (and I mean *bargain*) prices. The unfinished/unusable pieces will be affixed to the fence in the back of the studio with plate hangars and nails or arranged on the ground in the front garden. I've already had one piece stolen from out there, but I don't mind--if someone finds it beautiful enough that they want to keep it, it's better than my throwing it out. The meltable scrap will all be consolidated into storage one bin. I look forward to having a lot more room to store actual production work by the end of the year!

And now back in the saddle...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Terrific Tuesday (Yawn)

No coffee yet--I eagerly listen to it brew, "Feel Good Time" by Pink on iTunes. Happy Anniversary to me! (and to Dave, of course) The perky music is beautifully juxtaposed with my languid, somnolent self. This five-day school break of Jessie's has really taken me out my regularly scheduled programming. Jessie's pre-teenager and my inner teenager both like to sleep late (and mine likes to go to bed early too). I find myself dozing in the filtered fall sunlight a lot--the only energetic adverb that can be applied to my activities of the past four days is "voracious" and it is only linked to reading on the Kindle. It's been a lovely little unplanned vacation. Today I really need to get back to the real world--glass to make, glass to ship, the schedule for a 7th grade field trip in the glass studio to plan.

My glass order from Bullseye is due this week and I lucked out and they were able to send me 120 sheets of clear irid. Glass ahoy! Time to go grab a mug of coffee... Ahh, Austin mug and sweet Italian cream coffeemate (one of my little perversions).

One last subject change before I head off to the studio to ease back into work: Inspired by Dave, Stacy and Becky I got back on the build-a-healthy-body wagon again last week. It wasn't a lot of fun--sometimes you get endorphins, sometimes you just get tired, last week was just tired for me. But I made it through the week and have added a new goal for this week: Increase my treadmill time by one minute every day. This tiny adjustment is very unlike me. I have always been a woman of big sweeping strokes and bold action ala "let's double the time this week!". I think the lack of endorphins generated from last week's workouts and my current extreme laziness enabled sanity to prevail. A minute is nothing, as I proved yesterday when I tried it out the time extension for the first time. And yet, at the end of a month I *will* have doubled my time. Small steps, big goals. I have this lavender dress...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Off Day

Coffee in the New York skyline mug (it surrendered my spouse without a fight), the sound of the washing machine for music. I bask in the bosom of my family. D is working from home today after returning from the election dress rehearsal at CNN New York late last night, J is off for Columbus Day and a spare (tomorrow too). Even Becky the assistant is taking the day off to recuperate from the Oakhurst festival--her first outdoor art fair--on Saturday. I too, am going to take a lazy day. I may fire, I may ship, I may not do more than peek my head in the studio, we'll see.

My order from Bullseye should have shipped last Friday so I am anticipating glass soon--I used all 90 sheets I got at the end of August... whew. That's a lot of glass. In addition to 90 more sheets of clear irid I am also expecting over 500 lbs of frit with this shipment. That ought to keep me for awhile. Now it's time for raspberry danish.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Finally

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Gone Again" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. I did a playlist of all the songs in my library associated with "gone". Whah. My spouse is off to New York till Sunday. I miss him already--and his little car too. I should've driven him to the airport and kept the Mini for the weekend. Heck, I (we) should've gone with him! In 10 minutes I'm dropping J off at a playdate for the day. Sadly it looks like it won't be a sleepover, but then I don't know what I'd do if I were alone a day and a night. I can't remember the last time I was home with neither J nor D... Must have been before J was born so almost seven years. Weird. I spent over half of my adult life living alone, and now I can't even remember what it feels like.

But glass, you say. What about glass? Wednesday I took some of the clear irid scrap that I suspected to be contaminated with yellow and fired it to fuse temps in the little kiln. I suspected it because it looked like it might be a bit more yellow or off in some way from the rest of the scrap. I fired about 10 pieces--all identical pre-fire--and only one of them changed, but it struck to a bright yellow. The good news is that it was only one. The bad news is that it was only one. If all of them had struck I would feel more confident about my ability to spot the problem glass. But since I was only about 10% right, I have no way to tell which scrap (morceaux) might be a problem. Becky and I identified about 20-30 lbs of morceaux on Wednesday (up to six 5-lb jars) that could contain contaminated glass... What a massive headache. Bullseye wants me to fill out a standard form of what I did, how I combined the glass, the manufacturing dates and sheet numbers of the affected glass, ya de ya de ya. While I can see the value from their viewpoint, all it means from mine is wasting a lot more time on an expensive and time-consuming problem caused by someone else's mistake. I am not paid to do quality control. I understand their desire for some evidence that the glass was contaminated, but the data I have provided already--written up by my rep, not me--should be enough. The information requested on the form just irritates me.

Shaking it off. One of my galleries called yesterday about an order for 150-250 pieces for a client by Mid-November. On the one hand, I would love to have an order this size as the year slows down, on the other, it's a short amount of time in which to do that many fused and slumped pieces, and the client (understandably for an order that size) wants pricing closer to wholesale, and the gallery wants to make their normal cut, and I can't really go lower in my pricing... I feel a bit squeezed. Got to work it out today to see if it makes sense or if I should just walk away. This is a gallery with whom I have a really good relationship and I want to do it if I can, but I don't want to lose money. Bullseye has raised their glass prices 10%, my prices will not go up to compensate till after the first of the year, shipping has also skyrocketed this year, and I'm being asked to go even lower than my regular wholesale pricing.

Okay, I need to find a happy place! This week has been filled with gloomy posts. I am going to end with a ray of sunshine... I'll let you know when I find one.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thursday, Things Looking Up?

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug. "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me" by Karla Bonoff on iTunes. Dave heads to New York tomorrow for the dress rehearsal of election night at CNN over the weekend. J begins fall break at school tomorrow with no classes Friday through Tuesday. Good thing my firing schedule is light right now. One of her friends from school and her family are off to Bermuda for the break. I wish we were going--I need a beach.

Lost two more large pieces to the contaminated clear yesterday--the replacements for the first two ruined by it. And I was very careful when I laid them out to check for any suspicious looking chunks of clear. I did find a couple of pieces of scrap that have obvious yellow streaks in them (already made into morceaux and mixed in with all the rest) so I am solidly confident I have identified the problem to be yellow contaminating one or more of my clear sheets. As the current Bullseye yellow formula darkens on firing it can be difficult (if not impossible) to see it against the irid surface. It is also reactive with turquoise resulting in brown where they touch and ruining my pieces which are in shades of turquoise and blue--no browns allowed--ordered by a new gallery.

*sigh* Remaking again and wondering how many more pieces I am going to lose to the contaminated sheet(s). Considering I cut over 20 sheets of clear irid for my work last week I am lucky to be able to identify a range of production dates the glass could have been in, and there is no chance I can come up with a sheet number. I am, however, sending the scraps I did find with yellow in them to Bullseye. Of all the colors that could be accidentally mixed in with the clear I can't think of one that could be worse than the yellow.

In answer to the question posed by the title of the post: No.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wednesday Woes

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, the sounds of the rain for music. I read the news on before posting this morning. The big stories are the debate last night, and the fed and other central banks worldwide joining to enact emergency rate cuts. Scary times. Today's post, to the sound of the rain, is all about the economy. I hope I can feel good by the end of it...

I got a call from one of my galleries yesterday about a past due invoice. They were frank and honest about not being able to pay it till at least the end of the month because their credit line is frozen, their rent is past due and all sales have to go to pay rent before paying artists.

Another gallery called and asked to exchange two large pieces of work they've had for over a year for several smaller pieces so they can stock new work in hopes of holiday sales without having to come up with as much cash for them.

About a week ago I contacted the only non-local gallery where I have work on consignment (almost $1,000 of work) about terminating our relationship as they have only sold one small piece during the past year they have had my work. The owner asked if I would be willing to leave the work till the end of October as they have a big event in October and more work might sell. A comment she made during the conversation referencing them having sold "a few pieces" makes me begin to fear that the time between now and the end of October is less for them to sell more work than to use to come up with the money to cover the work they've already sold and not paid me for--sales that will be obvious when I get the remaining work back. Or worse.

Finally, the gallery that closed its doors in the spring still owing me money has not made any payments on the outstanding amount yet, nor have they communicated any intention to. I know that most people are as honest as they can be, and they do what they have to do to minimize the impact of their losses. I just wish that, for once, I would not be in the last of the bottom pile of people who get an exhausted shrug and a dazed apologetic look when the financial dust settles.

I am especially focused on finances right now as I just ordered over 700 lbs of sheet glass and 500 lbs of frit from Bullseye that I have to pay for at the end of the week. A net 30 manufacturing type business means you are at the mercy of payment cycles while having constant expenses. In order to float it all you either need to have a big bank account or a big line of credit--either of which remain basically constant with the fill-ups and drains in the cycle. I don't have a big bank account, and, unfortunately, I think my line of credit might also have been frozen by the bank even though they never said anything to me about it.

However, I end on if not an optimistic at least a resolute note. I don't have time to be Chicken Little. Yes, the sky may be falling, but running around and flapping my wings about it won't change anything at all. The best I can do is to keep on going, follow my long-term plan, be happy with stability if not growth, and be able to weather (hopefully small) losses. This is not the time for radical, panicked changes and hoarding. This is the time to stay the course with grace, determination, and calm.

PS--Thank you, thank you to Ren for the lovely artwork above. I hope it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission because, well... *blush*

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday Trials

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug (Ren, get posting!), "Finest Worksong" by R.E.M. on iTunes. In honor of yesterday's successful treadmilling, I searched for "work" in my music library this morning and found many good songs. Unfortunately, the treadmilling was about the only success from yesterday--except for the new mermaid piece.

For the first time in a very, VERY long time the irid on the back of the Bullseye glass in my pieces reacted with the thinfire on the shelf and ruined two of three 16" X 24" panels fired on Saturday. If that wasn't bad enough, three of four 16" rounds had a brownish streak in the the clear area of the glass that wasn't there before the glass was fired. It's definitely in the sheet glass--not a contaminant on the surface, but it must have been a striker color because I couldn't see it before I fired. I assemble on white paper so any discoloration would show glaringly before the piece ever made it into the kiln.

So today I have to remake all those pieces. But before that, the dentist. But before that, treadmilling. *sigh* doesn't sound like a fun day, does it? At least the pictures are pretty.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fall On Me

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Falling In and Out of Love" by Pure Prairie League on iTunes. I am my own Genius today and did a search on my music library for all the songs related to "fall". It's Monday morning, the start of the week (ooh, now I get "Goodbye I Love You" by Firefall from "Elan"--we're in the older section of the library apparently). Today is another big shipping day--probably the last one of the year. Orders are tapering off, which is just fine as I am ramping up to doing ornaments with the 7th graders at J' school for the holiday fair, and then helping them come up with and execute their own personal projects. So many possibilities, so little time!

I am also preparing to wish Becky good luck and good bye (just as an assistant, not as a friend--though I do also wish her good luck as a friend) at the end of the month as she embarks on a new full-time job. I shall be assistantless again, but it'll all work out. It always does. ("Fall On Me" by R.E.M.--I may have to save this playlist!)

With all the will in the world I did not get the Chanukiote designed for the Jewish Museum of New York again this year. Time trumps will every time. I think the best thing to do is just keep working on them so I'll have them for next Buyer's Market. ("Tourniquet" by Evanescence from "Fallen"... I think that's all the possible axes for "fall": song title, artist, album with 36 more songs on the list.) If I take both the Chanukiote and an apple and honey plate--done by February, Elise might forgive me for not having them (again) this year.

The post today ends with inspiration--it's not glass and should arguably be on Stranded in the South instead of here, but, whatever.

On Saturday I saw Stacy for the first time in a few weeks and I was amazed: This weekend she will realize her goal of going from couch potato to 5 K and she looks fantastic! Sure, she's lost weight and toned up (exercise will do that to you), but more importantly, she *glows*. I was completely awestruck at how great she looks.

Closer to home, my own spouse has taken up the sledgehammer (also known as the shovelglove) and his upper body now has dents in it. No, no--not from dropping a sledgehammer on it, but from the workout carving out and defining his muscles. He's been at this for three weeks now (in addition to lunchtime walks carrying a big weight in his backpack) and, like Stacy, is looking awesome--he glows too! I told him when he started that if he got in shape I would get up off my lazy behind and follow suit. Both he and Stacy have me so motivated that I actually walked on the treadmill yesterday and did my own sledgehammering! This morning I'm going to treadmill in jammies before getting dressed and heading to the studio. Thanks Stacy and Dave!

The post ends to "Fall Down" by Toad the Wet Sprocket from "Dulcinea" on the playlist. Pictures of the new koi, and float ovals and the first mermaid piece tomorrow!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Fusing and More

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Ada" by the National started to play after I found it in the library for iTunes. Closer inspection revealed that iTunes was completely broken--it didn't remember that I moved the library from the laptop hardrive to the external drive--and I had to reset the location and rebuild the Library. So it chugs along rebuilding and I blog in silence. Did any of the preceding sentences make sense? The same technology that allows us to listen to any music we want with the click of a mouse also makes our lives needlessly complicated... And I just realized that the reason the Library was broken is that I renamed the external drive where it lives from "Austin" to "Missoula" so I could name Dave's new external "Austin"... I am a moron. I broke it. I fixed it too, and the National play on.

That's enough about things other than glass--today is all about the glass. I have already been to the studio to open kilns and check the status of the *four* (count them, FOUR!) firings I did yesterday. Three will be cool enough for Becky to unload when she arrives, Bettina--who is already slow to cool due to her extra insulation and the big cordierite kiln shelf--is still over 500 degrees. It'll be several hours before we can open and empty her. When I looked at her controller I noticed that the firing took over 11 hours! It usually takes 5-6. I must have maxed out the electrical consumption and created my own mini brown out yesterday.

Today I fuse, I ship, I slump, and I photograph all the cool new work that's been coming out of the kilns before it heads out the door. One of my galleries requested large oval pieces of glass (instead of rectangles) for several of the large stands, and they also wanted the Elliott Metal Works Mermaid done as a stand for another glass oval. That piece won't be done till tomorrow, but it's going to be stunning. Maybe I'll have time over the weekend to update the website with pics of all the new work.

Now time is awasting, got to head back to the studio. This time I think I'll get dressed first.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thursday Begins in Commerce

Pike's Market coffee in the Starbucks travel mug, "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye morphing into Frank Sinatra, followed by Buddy Holly and the Crickets... I am at Starbucks in Commerce waiting for Bill to bring me a whole bunch of metal. I think I have just enough battery left to post--my borged out system takes considerably more juice than just the laptop does.

Production goes apace and I hope to be completely caught up by Monday. Sadly, I will need to fire some this weekend to make that goal, but being caught up will be worth it! Thanks to the 20 sheets of glass I blew through for this week's kiln loads, I need to get another order into Bullseye by tomorrow. I think I'll up my order to 120 sheets this time. I can't even begin to imagine how much frit I'm going to need... And this time I need to remember to ask my rep NOT to have the entire shipment banded together. The last order I got was over 1500 lbs and the driver and I together couldn't get it on the pallet jack and off the truck (the truck was parked on a tiny incline--just enough so that I had to get a couple of guys from the autobody shop across the street to help unload).

Good things were accomplished yesterday on the ERP system. Too bad I won't be able to market and sell it, but I think it's too mesyncratic (like idiosyncratic, but more personal and less Greek). Ah it's good to sit in the sun and listen to Elvis guilt-free. Even if I were back in the studio there's nothing I could be doing as all three kilns are too hot to unload. So I'll post, work on the ERP system until my battery dies, and then read from my Kindle as I wait for Bill. I'm all technology all the time!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'm a Borg

Dancing Goats blend coffee in a paper cup, some whiny guy music playing in the background, it's a Kavarna morning! Both Bertha and Bettina were fired with full loads yesterday (thanks again to my spouse who patiently waited for me while I worked late on his birthday!) and they are still cooling. I have all the pieces that will fire this week cut (I went through about 20 sheets of glass yesterday) and both kilns will be loaded up again this afternoon. It's a full production week.

Now I just need to make the mental shift to data modeling, database implementation. It's been awhile since I've had time to work on it, what with the many hats of the small business owner. As is apparent from the photo, I am now equipped for the computer work--I am borged and blinged. My Mac only has an 80 gig hard drive and it's full. Solution? A 230 gig USB-powered hard drive velcroed to the top... whoo hoo. Thanks to Guarav Malhotra for snapping the pic and emailing it instantaneously to me with his iPhone (my iPhone's battery was dead).