Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Otherside

Coffee just finished brewing-need to run get some, "Otherside" by Red Hot Chili Peppers on iTunes--like yesterday by pure random chance (well, within the confines of the Chili Peppers playlist). Again appropriate as I am on the Otherside Of the Postcard! It only took *six hours* yesterday to design it. I futzed and I putzed and I putzed and I futzed. Every time the phone rang I barked at the caller and told him/her I would call back tomorrow. Now if Image Media follows through on their promises, the Rosen Group will have my postcards in time for the cooperative mailing next week--and I will have postcards to hand out at the Atlanta's Mart show. I look at it and see a couple of things I would change, but I give a philosophical shrug and move on. I just hope the font on the back doesn't have raggedy edges or it was a wasted effort. (Image Media only accepts pdf and Photoshop [of the formats I can produce] and I work in Canvas--the export to pdf looked a bit squodgy [skwo-jee]).

Today shipping, and firing, and shipping and more firing. I managed to scrounge up a dusty old sheet of dense white to use for one last Christmas gift and, wouldn't you know, it doesn't react with French Vanilla! Maybe it was a sheet of curious, or maybe the formula was changed between 2004 (when it was made) and now. I suppose I shouldn't even say it was old. I was talking with Patty from Bullseye a week or so ago and I randomly (randomness plays a large role in my life) pulled out a sheet of Bullseye glass to check the data on it and it was made in 1988. Oy, I hold onto things forever! But it's not like it goes bad, right?

One last note and then off to the studio to meet with the two Beckys. I met with Becky the accountant yesterday and she has me just about completely convinced that putting EVERYTHING into Quickbooks will meet 90-95% (my numbers, not hers) of my needs. I was telling Dave this over sushi last night and that I would probably abandon the ERP system in favor of Quickbooks as my development window (December) is almost over with no progress made. I said it was too bad as I had all the workflow and datamodeling sketched out. He said it would only take him about 15 hours to do about 90-95% of it in Grails with the workflow and datamodel sketched out--and it would be web-enabled so I could access it from anywhere... Now I have a quandary. With the Quickbooks solution I will still have to manage my production cycle separately (firing schedule, frit inventory, and maybe mailings). With the ERP system I can manage my business entirely in it, but I'll still need QB data and entry for my accountant, account reconciliation, expense management, etc.--lots of double entry. Oh the choices!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Monday New Year!

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Otherside" by Red Hot Chili Peppers on iTunes. How randomly appropriate. I have moved to the otherside of Christmas--one major event down, one (two combined) to go. "How long will I slide... I don't believe it's fair..." So say the Chili Peppers, so it goes.

Got lights for the upcoming shows on Friday. I still need to put together the gorgeous back wall display that Bill from Black Cat ArtWorks (fka Elliott Metal Works) made for me to take to the shows so I can paint it. I think I'll get the spouse to help me with that one. I also have to figure out how to hang all the hanging work on the foamcore walls. Oh yeah, I also need to *get* foamcore walls for Dallas. There was no one at the Dallas exhibition services to help me with that on the 20th when I was getting the rest of my forms in. Hope I have better luck today or I'm in Barney (rubble... trouble).

I also hired a bookkeeper on Friday and she comes today to begin the task of desnarling my mess. Now there will be two people working in the studio named Becky. Maybe it should be a policy that your name has to begin with "B" in order to work there... or maybe I'm still groggy and delirious from a night of glass dreams (glass shows, glass display, glass production, swapping out glass from galleries, etc.). I am lucky that she is also a friend and is giving me her non-profit rate. Or maybe that's not so lucky--let's hope it's not prophetic.

Worked on the postcard last night. I think I can get it designed, submitted and proofed before 3:00 today meaning I can have it in time for the Buyer's Market mailing program--if I can get them to let me split the shipment and have it delivered to two addresses ground. I looked into just having it overnighted, but the UPS charge the postcard company lists for overnight from Florida to here for a box of postcards is $209. I think not.

Fired a full load yesterday, two to do today. Also cleaned the studio big sink and the top of my desk. Wow. Other people may wait till January 1 for the new year to begin, but for me it's the Monday after Christmas. My loins are girded (or they will be once I've gone upstairs and performed the morning's ablutions and dressed) and I'm ready for it.

Shown are some of the new gem drops and gem stake drops from Todd at Bentwell Metals and me. Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Woe, Woe!

Coffee was brought to me in the Barcelona mug, I lost it without ever having taken a sip. It's somewhere in the house, but I have searched every room--2-3 times. I ended up pouring another cup in the Denver mug. No music. 'Tis the day after Christmas and life is a mess, though better for me than for others, I guess. And that's as much as I'm going to attempt to rhyme.

So far today there has been no glass. There has been a massive house straightening--and the aforementioned loss of the coffee--and I have dropped and irreparably broken my Kindle. Now it's time to cut my losses and get on to glass.

The last gift I made for Christmas this year that I couldn't mention on the blog (because my spouse reads it) was a backsplash for Dave for our kitchen. It's one solid piece of glass 30" X 20" of white-backed Morceaux de verre Trout (it has black speckles in it which this pic does not). Photos to be posted when it gets installed.

One last rant before I go off to make the LAST ORDER OF THE YEAR and prepare the first firing of pieces for the Atlanta and Dallas shows. Last week UPS did not bother to come and get a pick-up I had scheduled for orders that were requested by Christmas. That story ended ok--though the local service center never called about it, apologized about it, even acknowledged it (though the customer service representative said they would)--as the packages were all delivered before Christmas. However I overnighted an envelope to Montana on Tuesday with guaranteed delivery on Wednesday... and UPS just left it their facility in Kalispell after it arrived at 1:48 pm. They didn't even try to deliver it. When I called to ask what happened, the representative said she was very sorry, she had no idea why it hadn't been delivered, and sadly, she was unable to process my request for a refund of the overnight fees because they don't guarantee anything between 12/22 and 12/25. I would understand if the delay was weather-related. I don't expect them to cover Acts of God. However it was beautiful, clear and sunny in Montana when the package arrived and it arrived in the middle of the day. Did people just decide to knock off early that day?

I slough off the Kindle woes (the replacement will arrive Monday). I slough off UPS (they are as dead skin to me). I buck up, cheer up, mount up and start firing glass. Glass always makes me happy. May You and Yours be happy too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Day Before Christmas and All Through the Studio

No coffee, no music, what kind of Christmas Eve is this? I intended to post yesterday as I was in the studio firing, but my fingers were too numb to type--it was 36 degrees in there when I started my day. I think it was warmer outside by then. It had warmed up to 46 (after the furnace had run full-blast for a couple of hours) by the time I left. These old southern houses were not built for cold weather. They have lots of air flow, which is great in the summer when you want the hot air to rise out of the chimney, but it's, shall we say, less than optimal in the dead cold of winter. But enough whining. It's not like I wasn't prepared for it--I wore two big sweaters layered and a scarf over. Just wish I had me some of them fleece crocs... (wink).

I thought I'd write a Day Before Christmas post this morning, but I lack the energy. So then I thought I'd fall back on a Stranded post from last year, but it turned out to be the day after Christmas *two* years ago. Whenever and whatever, it's better than anything I could come up with this morning. But back to glass, glass incarnate. There will be firing today, and the continuing Christmas present crafting (I decided yesterday to knit scarves for a Jessie's friend Grace and her American Girl doll). There had also really better be some photography and postcard design or I am not going to have a card ready for the Buyer's Market's co-operative mailing program (they have to have my printed postcards no later than January 5).

Compartmentalizing. It's all about compartmentalizing. Dave did it before the election. Every time I asked him about doing something or making a decision for something that occurred after November 4 he told me that that was negative time and we could talk about it after November 4. Basically, for him there was no time after November 4 until after November 4. I feel much the same about Christmas, and then about the January shows, and then about the Buyer's Market, and then about ACRE, and then about BECon, and then about Summer Camp and everything else. If I had to look at it all at the same time and plan it out, I'd go blind and my brain would burst.

A friend just called, her car won't start, and she needs a jump so I am wrapping up here and heading out. Have a safe and warm Christmas everyone, hug the ones you love and give thanks for them. The rest, too, shall pass. (And thanks, Ren, for all the goodies that came yesterday! Christmas music and Guinness truffles--I'm guessing, huzzah!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tra La La La La

Coffee in the Montreal skyline mug, "Wassail Song" performed by Philip Aaberg on iTunes. Panic attacks over, mysteries solved, projects nearing completion, open studio over, fusing tests done, presents to wrap and send with Jan back to the rest of the family in Illinois. God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

It's a clear sign of over extension that I shot up in bed with a shriek at one minute to 3:00 am on Saturday morning--waking myself and Dave in the process--with the realization that I hadn't faxed my exhibitor services forms in yet for the Dallas FINDS show and they were due by midnight Pacific time. I threw on a nightgown and groggily hurried to the studio (Baxter didn't even wake enough to come with me). When I got there I found the forms and the send confirmations for them nestling comfortably in the fax machine... then I remembered that I had faxed them at 9:00 pm the previous night before watching (sleeping through, really) "The Ref". I hadn't even woken enough to question my panic, I just acted on it in the desperate hope that if I were only three minutes or so late they would give me credit for getting my forms in on time (midnight Pacific time being the same as 3:00 am Eastern time). I trudged back home to bed and apologized profusely to my long-suffering spouse.

I think I briefly mentioned that the hard drive on the house iMac died last month. I was sanguine about it as I was absolutely, positively certain that I had a back-up of all the photos for the past seven years, the complete iTunes library of all our cd's (laboriously ripped to the hard drive and then stored in a closet), and every other important document and file we had ever stored on a hard drive. I was wrong. When I finally went to restore the data to the new drive in the iMac, I found nothing but an empty external drive where all the back-up data should have been. It's been a couple of rough days, but I think I have solved the mystery of where it went and the data *may* still be recoverable from the alleged back-up drive. I am going to wait till after Christmas to work on it more--no reason to add more stress to life right now..

The weekend saw the completion of a few more Christmas presents--though I can't talk much about them as the recipients read this blog. This afternoon I make the last of the gifts that will be done before Christmas (everything going to France is going to be late this year--as usual) and begin the great wrap-a-thon.

The final open studio was on Friday and most of the pieces were picked up yesterday. I have a couple of orders left to get out this week, and a present still to do, but glass is done for the moment. Of course I haven't even started firing the pieces for the Atlanta and Dallas shows that begin on January 6... but that panic is being safely compartmentalized until *after* Christmas. I also fired my last reaction test with Bullseye glass and was saddened to find that the translucent white 0243 does not react with French vanilla. So far the only whie glass that has the cool reaction with French vanilla I want is the now discontinued dense white 0313.

Now off for my one and only trip to a retail establishment during this Christmas season for a last-minute spousal gift. Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too, and God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday is Such a Final Day

Coffee in the Pike Place Coffee mug, "Walking In the Air" from the Snowman by George Winston on iTunes. The week before Christmas comes to an end. Two more orders to get out, odds and sods still left to make, and vacation has already begun--at least for most of the other members of my household. Dave's sister Jan was supposed to come for the weekend and arrive today, but she was flying in from the Midwest and they were due for ice storms today so Air Tran suggested she fly a day early--at no additional charge. Wheee. She got in last night and will attend J's winter assembly at school with us today. Then the J is off until some time in January... right about when I am heading to the Atlanta's Mart for the show there I think. Oh it looms.

But there is no panic, only Christmas joy. Lots and lots and LOTS of Christmas joy... I wonder if Dave put spiked eggnog in my coffee this morning, I am feeling just a bit too relaxed and happy. Today is the last day of open studio and it's a long session--double the usual length and with double the number of people I wanted to have at any one time. It will be fun, and jolly, and other things that end in "olly", of that I'm sure.

Sample pieces of two of Bullseye's new reactive glasses--reactive ice and reactive cloud opal--arrived the day before yesterday and I have already run a test strip for each of them with some of my current reactive glasses--including a small bit of the old dense white I had on hand. As I expected, they do not react to French vanilla, nor do they react to the dense white either as I had thought they might. I didn't fire against the full range of the reactives I have on hand, but of the ones I did fire I was surprised to find they don't react to the 0305 pink either (as French vanilla does).

The reactions I got from the new white were more subtle than they were from the new clear (reactive ice). That is one stunning piece of glass! It looks at first pass just like the 1101 clear--I'll need to remember to check today to see if I can tell the difference at a closer look (like I can between the 1401 clear and the 1101 clear). If not it's going to be fun keeping them separate. Anyway, the jade green and the Egyptian blue really popped against the clear with a solid black line of reaction between the colored and clear glasses. Another interesting point with the new clear--something you don't notice with the other reactive glasses unless you use a base of, say, 1116 turquoise with French vanilla pieces on top (something I have never done)--is that everywhere the glasses touch there is a reaction so from the underside the piece looks like clear and black. When you flip it over it's clear and all the other opal colors. In reacent years I have moved away from production series using reactive glass, but this new clear looks like it's going to make it into the regular rotation in at least frit and maybe more. Wonder when they'll have it out in irid sheets?

Time to get to the studio. I'll daydream about the summer camp plans and BE Con later when I have more free time (kilncasting this year--wonder if I can manage the trip out?).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Master Li and Number Ten Ox

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. "I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world." Thus begins the epic tale of an ancient China that never was in Barry Hughart's classic novel "Bridge of Birds". It is good that I start my morning clutching serenity to my breast like a talisman to ward off the evil that is the day, week, month.

Almost every year about this time I am faced with the reality of winnowing. Christmas cards (for the first year in five)? Nope, no time. This present I was going to make (and that present and the other present)? Probably not. The orders keep coming in and show prep for January is relentless. Add that to open studio and the normal time demands of a wife/partner, mother, pet wrangler, household manager and there are not enough hours in a day. Deep breath, bow again. Ah, I can feel the serenity trickling in.

Today I will reset my schedule and to do list and check the delivery expectations of a couple of galleries (you told them they could have it WHEN?!?), and then I will focus on gliding through the remaining time between now and Christmas with as much grace and poise as I can muster. Display from Elliott Metal Works to unload from minivan so dogs can be taken to groomer. Dogs to take to groomer. Cleaning service is here--they were supposed to come tomorrow. FedEx has tried twice to deliver a package that needs a signature. Today is the final attempt and I have a day of not hanging around the front door waiting for the driver to show up scheduled. Deep breath. Ahhhh...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Diet Coke was in the can when I started this post, but that was before I had to talk to the City of Atlanta Dept of Watershed Management because we have no water at the house, and before open studio started, and before I had to get an order (instead of three orders) shipped. Two orders need further firing. A friend needs an investor for her business and I said I would call someone I know who might be interested. And it's sitter night (with no water). And and and AND! Brain full. It has NOT been a good day.

Not that nothing good happened--Bill made me a gorgeous 15' long display wall for our stand pieces at the Atlanta's Mart and the Dallas Finds shows. We got it broken down and loaded in the van... and then the day went to... heck.

Now I go to bed (it's many hours since I started this post). I'll catch up tomorrow

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nine Days and Counting

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "O Thou Joyful Day: O Little Town of Bethlehem" performed by Liz Story on iTunes. The day is full of glass, one might even say it's incarnate. I have two full big loads of last-minute-can-we-get-them-by-Christmas orders. While I'm happy for the work (and the income), I too have my own can I get it (done) by Christmas issues, and the answer to my question looms increasingly dubiously. But no whining. I'll knuckle down and get what I can done. I finished two scarves--one knitted one woven--for gifts yesterday. If I didn't have to ship anything I would be golden. Ah well, no time to worry, just do.

Funny story I forgot to share yesterday: Sunday afternoon at 3:00 as I was weaving, the home phone rang and the call was from a phone number I did not recognize in Tacoma Washington (I love caller id). The caller was a very polite man who had bought my book and wanted to ask me how to make one of the pieces shown in the book--a bowl I named Cailleach's Cradle. The blue lace wall sconce is based on it, but the instructions for the bowl are not given. He was reverse engineering it and thought, since my phone number is openly published with directory assistance, that he'd just call to get some things clarified. I gave him detailed instructions and wished him well. I wonder if Stephen King gets calls like this. Or Dr. Mike Adler. He's a famous author too.

Yesterday ended with a little impromptu open studio, and as soon as the attendee comes to review her pieces this morning before I slump them (I'm shipping one of them for her tomorrow and she needs to pick which one of the three she made she wants to) I'm heading down to Todd to drop off more glass and pick up more ornaments and jewelry. If I'm really lucky I'll have a little time to work on my Christmas presents after that. Ho ho ho. We'll see.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hello Monday

Coffee in the Washington D.C. skyline mug, "Mistletoe and Holly" sung by Frank Sinatra on iTunes. The morning--and the week--began as all mornings and weeks do with snuggling followed by nurturing. Now Dave and J have left for work and school, the fishtank has been cleaned and the fish fed, the ferret is fed and watered, the dogs have been petted and out (and Baxter is now glued to the window watching the squirrels). It is so good to be at a place in life where I don't dread Mondays! Not that it won't be very busy...

No open studio today, but Becky is coming this afternoon to see how I'm doing it so she can run Wednesday's session until I get back from Greenville. Bill E. is building the back display wall for my booth for Atlanta including making special metal brackets to hold the wooden frames so I am heading up there for the day Wednesday to put it together and bring it back.

The show crunch is looming. I signed up (at Dee's utzing) for the Rosen postcard mailing program--which means I need a postcard designed and ordered, which means I need photos of Todd's work. No rest for the wicked. I'll see Todd tomorrow and get ornaments and jewelry from him and whip out some pics.

Also to get done today is the last of the exhibition services paperwork for Dallas. Got everything in to Atlanta Friday, now I just need arrangements for Dallas (electricity and walls for the booth, a hotel room, etc.).

Another rash of orders came in last week that need to be shipped by Wednesday (when I get the metal pieces from Bill E. at Black Cat ArtWorks). I'll fire it today and the few glass Christmas presents I'm making.

Now the day is screaming my name, time to get on with it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We Chug Along

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi on iTunes. Yay! I have music again on the laptop! I scarpered D's USB cable for his external drive until my new one comes. He said he could do without, and I, well, can't.

I began the day with a "simples presente, mas de coração" from Edna and Anchieta--and a mutual Portuguese-English lesson. I love Christmas (though all the cookies and salty nuts have made me... swell).

No open studio today--no one signed up--but I do have my apprentice Kevin and I need to figure out what I'm going to have him do. If it warms up it would be a good day to plant pansies and kale in the front garden bed. Not very glasslike, but a studio chore nonetheless.

I have three orders to fire today and Dee is coming down to get some frit and drop off some glass. It's also the deadline for the Atlanta's Mart exhibition services forms and reserving advertising space. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork--and I don't even get to do it at Kavarna in the company of my spouse! That's going to have to change next week...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Kingdom For a Cable

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, no music this morning as my personal iTunes library lives on the external hard drive for my laptop and the USB cable end is bent so I no longer have connectivity. The main iTunes library for all of our music was on the office iMac--whose hard drive died and had to be replaced while my mother was visiting (it wasn't her fault, really). However I have a backup of the iMac's contents on another external hard drive--including all the music--and I figured I could scope the music off of it. No such luck. It looks like everything is saved in a back-up format not readable except by the computer that backed it up (at least that's my hope because if it's not readable at all I have lost all our family pictures for the past 10 years, all our music, all the email Dave wrote me when we were first dating and being apart for 10 minutes was too long--in short, everything digital that matters).

I would love to test my theory about the second hard drive only being able to be read by the iMac, but unfortunately when the iMac came back from the Apple Store it was without its power cord so cannot be started up. I just need to power down my amygdala (here's my real-world reference) for a few days till the new USB cable arrives from Western Digital for the laptop's external hard drive and Dave picks up my iMac power cord from the Apple store for me. THEN I can fall apart if need be.

Today I walk between the raindrops to get the dogs to the groomer, glass to Todd, ads and exhibition services ordered for the Atlanta and Dallas shows, and pieces in and pieces out of the kilns. I finish the day by throwing wide the studio doors for open studio. I hope I can follow James McMurtry's advice and stay dry as a bone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thought I'd Forgotten To Post, Didn't You?

Not drinking anything, not listening to anything. It's late. Baxter bit a hole in the babysitter's shirt tonight. *sigh* It was a very full day with feet running from the second they hit the ground this morning. I took a day off from glass today to bake cookies with my friend Becky H. It's been about four years since we last did this, and I have to say the cookies are always better in memory than in reality--I am spoiled by my abundant access to professional pastry chefs.

We each baked two batches each of three kinds of cookies for 12 batches of cookies which we greedily split into big ziploc bags at the end of the day. I chose peanut butter thumbprints with milk and dark chocolate kisses, Mexican wedding cakes, and spritz (butter press cookies). Becky chose anisette crisps, key lime filled cookies, and gingerbread cookies. We have bags and bags each, and the kitchen is clean again!

Towards the tail end of the baking session I had open studio for two seventh graders and one of their mothers. It was--again--a lot of fun and I need to find a way of incorporating the practice into my regular studio day. Sadly I did not get pictures--even though I told Mike Z. who is working on my website for me that I would. Tomorrow. I have another session scheduled tomorrow and I'll remember then.

Just after Dave came home from work, the open studio ended, Becky and I finished baking, and Dave picked up J from school (but a bit before the babysitter arrived for the evening), another friend dropped off his dog for us to watch for a few days while he is out of town. Dave called the whole thing writhing chaos, and, much like "Shakespeare in Love" and my usual business day, it all turned out fine but how it did is a mystery.

Tomorrow I take another batch of glass to Todd, fuse the two orders I got today, prepare a piece for Patrick from Taylor Kinzel to pick up, deliver open studio pieces to school, and preside over another open studio for two. It will be a fun, exciting, rewarding, exhausting day--just like today.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" performed by Sarah McLachlan on iTunes. The meeting with the accountant is behind me. Whew. As Bill so accurately pointed out in a comment some days ago, it WILL take me weeks to get all the year's financial data entered. For yesterday I had one of the two business checking accounts entered and reconciled and the statements for most everything else printed out. It was enough for her to tell me to get ready to pay taxes through the nose in April. But that's good, right? It means my business had a really good year and I'm doing my part to support the economy, keep money flowing, and contribute to a 10 million dollar bonus for the CEO of Merrill Lynch. Well two out of three ain't bad.

Today is the first open studio day and I am excited. Got to remember to go over and turn the heat on about noon--don't want to make studentsicles. While I'm there I'll check my stock for the two glasses I want to play with for Christmas gifts. I was really panicked when I found out Bullseye was discontinuing one of them, but I got an email from them yesterday and they have replaced it with a new reactive glass coming out in January. In fact I heard yesterday that they have several reactives coming out including a reactive clear! I can't WAIT to get my hands on some of that.

Todd called last night and demanded more glass to wrap. He is on a roll and the latest work is big necklaces like he one he made me to wear to the show on Saturday. Speaking of the show Mary sent me more pics and I feel just jolly enough this morning to post them. The necklace doesn't show too well in the pics, but you can get a feel for it.

Now I need to get the list of pieces for the Atlanta and Dallas shows done and faxed to Bill, and to put the finishing touches on the new display layout for them. The biggest issue is now making sure I can get everything in the minivan. Ho boy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blue Monday

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" performed by Frank Sinatra and backup on iTunes. Either Frank was a rebel or the monkeys who wrote up the album and song titles were lazy. He clearly and definitively sang "It came upon THE midnight clear...". Well I have better things to worry and obsess about today so I had better get on it. (Baxter has better things to obsess about too, like the squirrels on the back deck eternally taunting him through the window.)

My day, sick again with another stomach thing, is going to be spent on the couch keeping my books until my meeting with the accountant at 1:00. No one signed up for Open Studio today so I am off the hook there. I'll either work on Christmas things or do invoices and lists of pieces for the Atlanta's Mart and Dallas Finds... Or I'll sleep some more. Oy. I feel battered. Again.

The show Saturday went very well. We all had new exciting work, but I think Licha wins the prize for the best with her two-reactive-glass pieces. They made me think of winter and I am dying to try some out. Unfortunately Bullseye just discontinued one of the glasses needed so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do. I think I have a sheet or two in the studio--just enough for a friend's Christmas present.

The ornaments and garden stakes (gemdrops and gemstakes) were a hit--as was the large Moonrise piece that Patrick talked me into taking down from the wall in the studio office and putting up in the gallery. Well, to be fair, he put it up.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Open Studio!

Coffee in the Denver architect series mug, the sounds of spouse cleaning kitchen for music punctuated by the sprout asking if Alexander Graham Bell is a real person (He's in Magic Treehouse). The web is a wonderful tool. My book has been reviewed on eBay, twice! What a nice start to the weekend. (Is Dr. Pasteur a real person?)

The not-so-nice start to the weekend was the previous hour and a half I spent on Quickbooks. Yep. we're at THAT time of year again. I, Brenda Griffith, do solemnly swear that I will not leave all my bookkeeping till the end of the year ever again (again).

Orange rolls for breakfast--Dave and the sprout both just affirmed (out loud) that they will not burn them or turn them into asphalt (again). I will never live that down. Ahh, the soft wafting scent of pastry and melting frosting.

Today is the Taylor Kinzel Glass Show, and then next week it's full steam ahead into Open Studio Afternoons for the Waldorf 7th graders. One of the parents called me yesterday to ask if it would be possible for her son to make some more ornaments to give as gifts. I had been considering starting an open studio program so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to pilot it.

From 3-5 every weekday for the next two weeks the studio will be open for up to five people at a time to make ornaments, small plates and bowls that I will then fire and deliver to school for them. I have set the costs for the pieces very low for the pilot program, and it is initially just open to the 7th graders as they have already been to the studio and know the procedures and safety rules. They can bring family and friends if they are willing to sponsor them (show them the ropes and mentor them through). I will be in the studio, but I won't be hands on teaching as I do not have the time right now.

Depending on how the next couple of weeks go, I may put together a permanent set-up for open studio and start a formal program. I certainly haven't been using the gallery room in the studio as a gallery. Might as well make it a teaching space that can host gallery events as appropriate.

Now off to get the last work out of the kiln for the glass show and then primp. I'll shower, dress nicely, and maybe even wear make-up! Oh yeah, and I'll brush my teeth.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Finally Friday

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Talkin' At the Texaco" by James McMurtry on the iPod. On the Ipod (as opposed to on iTunes) means I'm already at the studio. Wow. Not even 8:30 and I've trekked two loads of stuff over already. Why am I here so early in December with all orders shipped? Tomorrow is the Taylor Kinzel glass show and Patrick is coming to the studio this morning at 10:00 to pick up my new work for it. With the best will in the world I still don't have it all done, but I have a good selection to send with him, and I'll take the rest of the pieces up with me tomorrow after they've slumped. The details are in the pic at left, you'll need to click on it to see it though.

Carried the box of donuts over from home this morning thinking I'd have the last couple with my coffee while I blogged. Here's a hint: Entenmann's "Softees" aren't so soft after a week or so. Hard a rock. Really. Well, maybe only hard as wood. They crunch. (Why are you continuing to eat them then?!?). I'm hungry. I'm lazy. I'm busy. They're here. They're not green.

I'm glad I said "details and photos soon" in my post yesterday referring to the new work with Todd. If I'd said tomorrow I'd have been sorry and embarrassed as there's no way it's going to happen today--too much to do before 10:00. Got work to catalog, lists to make, whips to crack over... no one. The studio is empty for the day but for me and Baxter the spaniel. I guess I could crack a whip over him, though he would just ignore me in his sanguine spaniel way.

Happy weekend all. Time to start making those Christmas, Hanukkah, solstice and other holiday presents!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Is For the Books

Chai latte (what has become of me?!) in a cup made from recycled paper, the Juno soundtrack playing the background. I'm at Kavarna this morning still frantically playing catch-up from the weekend/early week illness. Blech. The meeting with Todd yesterday went great--details and photos soon. Took the work to some friends house last night for a reality check on product design and pricing. The consensus was we're priced too low on most of the work and right on for the bigger stuff. The ornaments were so well received that the reviewers took as their pay first choice to purchase some for their holiday shopping. I took that as a good sign. We still have over 50 for the show this weekend. Now off to work on the books.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An Ode To Bridget

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon on iTunes. I passed briefly through the office this morning (the room in the house with a desk, a file cabinet and a bookcase--nominally an office though really just a place to pile paper crap and keep a ferret) and wistfully thought of what I could do to clean it up and make it usable if I just had some free December time. Then I realized that it's not about an actual real amount of time--it's all about perception. Take my friend Bridget. She may angst about many things, but I doubt not having enough time is one of them. If Bridget had been in the Donner party, she would have made it through--and not by killing her companions. Oh sure, she'd waste not want not after natural causes took 'em, but she wouldn't hasten their demise. The point I'm trying to make is that Bridget just rolls up her sleeves and gets it--whatever "it" is--done. No muss, no fuss, no whining. This is not to say she's superwoman and she is on top of everything, but I am pretty sure she spends a lot less time whining about what she wishes she could get done than she does just getting it done. A pre-New Year's resolution: In 2009, be more like Bridget.

And let's not wait for 2009, let's just do it right now. The sample sets went out yesterday, and while I was waiting for the UPS site to come up so I could ship them I whipped up an info sheet and subscription form for additions to the set (with pricing and everything). Some time in the next couple of days I need to get a good photo and write up an article for the website on their availability. I don't like doing sample sets. I'm not charging for them what I would charge for an equivalently sized piece. But, like shows and marketing, I believe them to be a necessary evil for business growth.

Today I fuse the additional pieces I need for the glass show this weekend--after I figure out what they will be. I mostly mulled it out while I was anxiously waiting to get to sleep last night, I just need to write out the firing schedule before heading off to the first appointment of the day at 10:00.

The second appointment of the day is with Todd. Today I get to see what he did with two kiln loads of glass shards, scraps and squares and a whole bunch of wire and bamboo. With this new line of work, I am much more focused than I have ever been on the importance of marketing and advertising. When the economy is tough it's even more vital to aggressively bring yourself to people's notice and differentiate yourself. I believe that these new pieces fill a perfect niche. They're beautiful, bright, whimsical, handmade by professional American artisans, very reasonably priced, and made from recycled materials. What demographic did we miss there? Next step: Photos, a story written up, and ads/postcards/info cards/a web page created.

Friday I am scheduled to meet with my accountant to review my books before the end of the year to see if there is something I need to do for taxes, payroll (what's that?), etc before 2008 scurries away. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Now that I'm all motivated for pulling together a new product line, I am even less inclined than usual to work in Quickbooks. But needs must when the devil drives.

Side note: I was compelled to look up that idiom when it popped into my head--hence the link--and was vastly amused to find this additional reference to it from an article in the Times from 2002. "Applied conscientiously in the rush hour it [the rule ‘women and children first’] would ensure that no male adult would ever reach his office on time, if at all. Needs must when the Devil drives is a more realistic motto for the Underground." I read that quote and picture Dave shepherding Jessie off to school every morning with a harried look on his face. I have to grin. Now I have to work.

Go forth! Be Like Bridget!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday, Again. Funny How It Keeps Coming Around

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Tears Of Love's Recall" by K. D. Lang on iTunes. I wear the red chopsticks of war and cut a swath through the enemy list of chores that await... or I would if I were not still victim of the Great Stomach Bug of 2008. Let the anxiety attacks begin! Ugh. Coffee may have been... over-ambitious this morning. I could just sit on the couch and watch the critters outside forage all day--if I were someone else. Instead there are a million tasks clamoring to be done and the election-season-that-just-won't-die has claimed my spouse for another day into the night (Georgia senate run-off). Who knows when I'll see him tonight, or what I'll burn for dinner.

The sample sets (which also wouldn't die) are finally packed and ready to ship! Now I'm going to take a deep breath, gird my loins, write up the terms (they aren't free sets, but they are exchangeable), and make them available on my wholesalecrafts.com page. With them to the kindly UPS man will go the last two orders of the year (I keep thinking the orders are done and they keep trickling in). THEN it's on to the all the administrivia that I have neglected, put off, avoided, dodged, turned a blind eye to--you get the picture--for the past, um, year. Really.

Really, really.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanks Be That It's Dec

No coffee (just the thought makes me ill), Seraph munching kibble for music. Baxter isn't munching kibble. He's sitting in his kennel raptly staring out the window, attention fixed on the squirrels munching on the deck. They taunt him, as squirrels will do. He wants to munch on them, as spaniels will do.

I give thanks that Thanksgiving weekend is OVER, and that the most strenuous things I need to do today can all be done from a comfy chair. Between Jessie getting strep AND an intestinal virus AND a possibly breaking her foot--and then passing the intestinal virus on to me... Well, suffice it to say we've been pretty miserable here.

It's Dec 1 (pronounced deece). Dave says that a lot; Dec 1, Dec 10, Dec whatever. I don't remember any Novs, and there were certainly no Octs... I'm rambling. Delirious with the almost lack of pain perhaps? But to the point. It's the first of December which means I am staring down the barrel of the Taylor Kinzel glass show this weekend, a meeting with my accountant to go over my books on Friday (I haven't entered anything for the year yet), and a list of the work I will need from Black Cat ArtWorks (formerly Elliott Metal Works) for the Atlanta and Dallas shows due today.

Yesterday as I wallowed in bed in pain, I realized that I can no longer comfortably rely on the foamcore wall and pedestal display system I used at shows before teaming up with Black Cat. A significantly large percentage of what I plan to show in Atlanta and in Dallas is the collaborative work with Black Cat. It needs to be hung on the walls and needs a heck of a lot more than foamcore to support it. I scramble today in my newfound lucidity to design a display that will a) support the work, and b) fit in the minivan. In our current display (the foamcore and gridwall set-ups that we store in Philly and in Vegas), each 2' wide gridwall panel weighs 24 lbs. I can't see loading up enough of them for a 10' X 20' booth into the minivan... the tires would explode. Then there's also the expense. I need another solution.

And that's what's cookin' today. Now off to give the Sprout her Amoxicillin.