Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review

It seems like all I have to do to find myself in interesting times is to mention them. The events of the past four days that prohibited me from getting this post up as intended on 12/31 (though I am setting the effective post date as 12/31/09, we all know it's really 1/4/10 today) will have to wait till I get the backlog out. Here is the promised Year in Review for 2009 begun over a week ago and finished this am:

On this, the last day of 2009, I look back on the Interesting Times that made up the previous 364 days and I fervently hope for less interesting times to come. Here were the monthly highlights of 2009:


January:
  • Todd joined me on the road to do shows
  • Did the Dallas and Atlanta gift shows for the first time
  • Got first department store client—and resultant headaches
  • Leased a permanent showroom in Dallas in Hemisphere Design Gallery
  • Decided to host a summer camp in the studio for 5th graders and up.
  • Signed up to attend BECon 2009.
February
  • Had to implement UPC codes for department store client and plan for EDI (electronic data interface) implementation.
  • Dave was laid off from CNN and took a new job for a significant pay cut … in Austin. (Since then CNN has experienced a 40%* drop in viewership. We do not think this is coincidence.)
  • Upped my liability insurance to $1,000,000 (at the behest of Hemisphere in Dallas).
  • Developed new small format glass and steel pieces for product line.
  • Did the Buyer's Market show in Philly-it was down 64% from the previous February.
March
  • Had my first full month of single-Momhood as Dave started work in Austin
  • Went back to Dallas for the real set-up of the showroom in Hemisphere (Dallas).
  • Redesigned the office and sorted seven years worth of business and personal financial papers
  • Invited to Bullseye's instructor workshop
  • Decided to begin selling supplies and teaching formally out of my studio
April
  • The crawlspace under the studio flooded and took out the hotwater heater in the process.
  • Attended a roll-up workshop from Johnathon Schmuck--the first multi-day class/workshop I'd taken in years (ever?).
  • Worked with the Waldorf School 7th grade class to make their big auction project
May
  • Decided to build my own hotshop for blowing glass at the studio
  • My storage facility in Las Vegas informed me that they had dropped my crate of glass after the last show, breaking much of the work I needed for the upcoming ACRE show.
  • Did the ACRE show: Worst set-up *ever* and sales down 75% from the previous year.
June
  • Postponed my planned summer camp till summer 2010
  • Picked up the furnace for the hotshop, tools, cullet, glass, etc., from Sara and David in New Mexico.
  • Began building the hotshop.
  • Attended BECon in Portland--met Cynthia Morgan in person... ooooooh!
  • Took the second class in forever--a casting workshop from Linda Ethier
July
  • Broke my leg tripping over the dog and had to have surgery and stay off of it for a couple of months...
  • The same dog caught my laptop usb cable with her tail, pulled it off the coffee table and broke it.
  • Headed back to Portland on crutches for the Bullseye instructor workshop
August
  • Went directly from the instructor workshop in Portland to the summer Buyers Market in Philly... still on crutches.
  • The summer Buyers Market followed the trend I saw at ACRE: tighter rules, pissier union workers for set-up, fewer buyers, fewer artists, less money (sales down 34% from the previous summer).
  • Got back to Atlanta and began the process of applying for an ARC (America's Recovery Capital) loan from the Small Business Administration.
  • Took my third class of the year/ever, this time on pate de verre from Delores Taylor.
September
  • The crawlspace at the studio flooded again--this time all the way to the top (over five feet of water at one time) and it took out the furnace this time.
October
  • Became the proud feeder/supplier (never "owner") to Ernie the Monstrocat--a by-product of my visits to Portland.
  • Opened Siyeh Glass Resource Center--an official Bullseye kiln glass resource center--with a weekend-long event.
  • Had the new Waldorf 7th grade class in the studio and the hotshop for a field trip.
November
  • Had my first-ever artist open house and holiday sale--Siyeh Sleigh Ride the First--at the studio with five other artists.
  • Launched the teaching component of the Resource Center with the first six-week-long beadmaking class.
  • Finalized the ARC loan (after a 105 page fax...).
December
  • Hosted Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel--another artist open house and holiday sale.
  • Started hosting Date Nights in the hoshop--wine, cheese chocolate and blowing glass for two people for two hours.
Just listing it all has exhausted me. I'll further evaluate my choices and growth directions next post.

*Actual figure** should probably be researched by someone somewhere.

**Dave did the research and it's 30% of total primetime audience.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Night's Date Night

A quickie--pics to come later. Got the following via email this morning from last night's date night in the hotshop participants:

Brenda,

We had an amazing night with Lee tonight. He taught us at a pace that we both were comfortable with and was extremely patient with us. The wine was great and the cheese was delicious. It complemented everything we were doing and definitely made us feel warmer in the cold (and the glory hole helped too :D). This was beyond what we both imagined and it really made it a very special night for us. I can't wait to pick up the glasses we made. We can stop by on the morning of the 31st before Vivienne leaves for Singapore. Thank you again for the wonderful and memorable date night.

Sincerely,
Sung & Vivienne

Yep, this is why I do what I do.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back Before the End (Of the Year, Of Course!)

Coffee in the San Francisco mug, the sound of Dad microwaving his breakfast for music. I just finished the longest break I have taken from posting in almost four years... Wow. Time to get back in the saddle, take stock of the year passing, and plan for the year to come. But, you might ask, where you been? Oh, here and there. Mostly there. I was in the hotshop obsessively blowing Christmas presents, entertaining family in for the holidays, preparing for Christmas before the 25th, and playing Dragon Age since (thanks, Dave, just what I needed--an XBox game to add to take up all the time I got back when I quit Mafia Wars [and more]!). Yesterday I reluctantly dragged myself back to work (people want to take classes in the resource center, they want schedules, descriptions, and costs--the nerve!). I have five orders/projects left for this year that I will finish this week and count as done in '09. Then I start 2010 with a clean slate.

What shall I write on this pristine slate? Goals, plans to achieve those goals, a means to avoid seat-of-my-pants business management. In fact, let's not just write them on the slate, let's write them here in the blog. To ease myself back into blogging (organizing myself), I think I'll take the next few days to do the year-in-review and the year to come. It will be interesting to see if I can plan my studio growth and goals out here, and review and evaluate my success (let's avoid failure if we can--it's just another "f" word) as the year goes along.

(NOTE: Since I wrote this Tuesday and it's now Wednesday I'm going to go ahead and post it for Tuesday and get on with the meat now on Wednesday!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Too Much for Tuesday

Homemade sangria in a Riedel stemless red wine glass (and a big one at that), "Radio Nowhere" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. I have missed the comfort and routine of the drink-and-song opening for my postings lately. I have been discombobulated and running the Red Queen's Race (even more so than usual) for the past month. "How could this be?" you might ask. Well, it's complicated. I mean, it's not like I've been swamped with orders. No, it's more a juggling of a little bit of many, many jobs. Right now I wear a lot of hats.

We had a *great* Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel over the weekend--people really came to shop. Last time people came to nosh and schmooze, this time they came with wallets at the ready and many angels got their wings as we cha-chinged the cash register (at least metaphorically) all weekend. Tomorrow morning (because I am just too tired tonight) I have to reconcile all the sales for everyone, make up the spreadsheet detailing everything from our sales to our credit card fees (paid to Dee as we used her wireless swiper for instant transactions) and sales taxes. Then I have to write up checks for each of our shares. It's a tight time of year and we are all waiting for our little shot in the arm from this show.

Today I had two open studio people in--one a seven year-old doing his second small plate (for a gift) and the other another Waldorf parent making a clock for his father for his 80th birthday. Both will come back tomorrow or later this week to make another project. For my part I hope to make it to the hotshop for another lesson or two this week, and I have Christmas fusing to do (and another last-gasp holiday order to get out).

Now it's after 10:00 pm, Bruce just finished belting out "Further On (Up the Road)", and I need to get to bed to collapse into my eyelids. Goodnight, and God bless us every one. Pics tomorrow from the weekend... Maybe.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Siyeh Glass Date Night in the Hotshop!

I was more than a little worried when temperatures plummeted at the end of last week and we went into our first date night in the hotshop with temps the mid 30's F. But our participants showed up in long-sleeved layered shirts (all natural fibers, of course), hats, and down vests for the standing around time. Lee had also put up clear plastic panels on two side walls of the hotshop so it was a bit warmer inside than outside. (It's amazing what a 2300 degree glory hole can do to warm even a mostly open outdoor room!)

Great fun was had by all--I can't wait to do the next one!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pooped

There always has to be someone in the bunch to ruin it for everyone. In this case, it's this person who has been posting spam links in the comments of my blog. The first time I just deleted the two comments, but there were *seven* spam comments up again this morning so now I'm moderating comments. Apparently this person has nothing better to do than plod through the word verification system in order to post comments. *sigh* Sorry real commenters.

Today is the first day of set-up for Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel, and I found out yesterday I also inadvertently scheduled a class on Sunday at the studio for ornament making and I have 12 people signed up for it. Time to expand the studio again! There is a 10' X 10' deck off the kiln room and what else do we artists who participate in shows have that is commonly 10' X 10'? Tents! So we're putting up my lightdome tent, screwing the poles to the deck and attaching them to the walls so it's sturdy, putting walls on three sides and opening the french doors to the kiln room on the fourth side to heat it Sunday if it's cold. Voila, instant classroom!

___________________

The day ran away with me--setting up for the show and putting the tent up off the deck (tent footprint 10 X 10, deck footprint 9-1/2 X 8... And yet we got it done). Details, and more, tomorrow. Time to go home I'm pooped!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Quickest Of Quickies

Today's post really should be about the difficulty of staying on top of ANYTHING once you add a retail supplies space, classes and open studio, a hotshop (where YOU play too), a torchwork classroom, and artist open houses to your production studio and schedule. And it would be about that topic in all its whiny glory if I wasn't already late to get out to the hotshop and blow before the studio opens to the world at 1:00. Later!

P.S.
When I posted this entry to the blog I got the confirmation screen shown at right. I just bought a Jim Moore Tools puffer yesterday--scary how accurate Google's ad targeting is...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Join Our Mailing List... Please

Is it really only Monday? I feel... old today and like a lot of time has passed since I last posted. I moon nostalgic this morning and think of the long-gone days (before I was even born) when a small business owner had a little shop, worked hard, and only had to know their business and be honest, efficient, friendly and have a desirable product of good value to wildly succeed. *sigh* I spent last night and this morning setting up an account with Vertical Response to manage the studio newsletter and emails. Yet one more technology and business practice t master. Then I sent my first batch email about Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel (hurtling towards us this weekend). While I was at it I also created a widget to "join our mailing list" (shown at right in the administrative section of the blog). I haven't even posted this blog yet, and someone has already signed up to join the list from the widget!

Now I had better get a couple of kiln loads in--it's not all internet and web work here at Siyeh Studio!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

New Work, New Day

I type my post as I eat my cereal. Symmetry would have me eating Post cereal, but it's Kashi. If Dave hadn't eaten all of the Honey Bunches of Oats, it would have been Post. Today is the Taylor Kinzel annual Glass show and yet another Siyeh Studio artist has joined this year's show--Lee will be exhibiting some of his blown glass pieces (in addition to our joint roll-up pieces) and we will have Siyeh Studio paperweights for sale! Todd made wreaths as his new work for this year, and they are STUNNING! Dee is right, I promised pics, and as the camera is still on walk-about (since mid October now) I had to take them with my iPhone. The quality of the photos is lacking, not the quality of the work.

As you can see from the roll-up pic, the Pop Art work is enjoying a come-back. We did two more in the hotshop last evening and they went even better than this one. The only thing that didn't go as I had hoped was that the shape of the last one was not an urn (big at the top and small at the bottom). There is a special tool blowers use to get that shape and it allows them to blow the piece after it has been moved off the blow pipe onto the punty and is called a soffietta or puffer. We don't have one, we need one, it's not free. *sigh*

Okay Lee is here to polish a few last paperweights and to label everything. Got to go!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Night In the Hotshop

I instant message with Mike about the Siyeh Glass website updates and wait for Lee to get back to the studio so we can do two roll-ups in the hotshop tonight. We don't have an oxy-propane torch set-up out there yet so I am a bit nervous about how well our seams are going to turn out. This effort may be doomed to failure--Johnathon and Tadashi both spent a LOT of time torching the seams on the roll-ups. But both the pieces we're doing tonight have a clear layer on top so maybe they'll seam up better than the mixed opal/transparent-many-colored-surface rollups do. He's here! Off to blow.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Quick Post Before Tuesday Ends

You might have noticed that there have been no posts so far this week. I have been consumed by Mafia Wars for my web warm-up time and weaving in the evenings. Yes, it is fall and the textile jones has kicked in bad. So far I have finished three scarves and am warp speeding through a fourth (oh so pun intended). I have also been taking private glassblowing lessons from Lee in the hotshop a few hours in the afternoons, and, though I may never make anything professionally, I am having a GREAT time working up gifts for my Christmas list.

Orders have been sparse for the past few weeks. I took one at the end of the week last week for one platter to be dropshipped to a customer, and I took another today for several pieces to ship to a gallery in Scottsdale asap. I had to scrounge for stands for that last order as Black Cat is slammed with orders through the end of the year. Add those two orders to the custom sconces I am working on and a few remakes from the summer's big awards order and you have my current paid kilnforming. I am, of course, making pieces for the Taylor Kinzel glass trunk show this weekend and Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel next weekend, but work I do for both of them is on spec and I am having difficulty working up ambition for spec work right now. End-of-the-year brain drain.

For the first year in memory I actually have time in December for fusing Christmas gifts. In fact (as you might have noticed from the beginning of this post) I am making many of my gifts for 2009-in spite of the fact that I am staring down the barrel of 39 straight days of houseguests (and their pets) starting this Sunday!

Now off to bed to fall into my eyelids.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey in the Kiln

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! (And thanks to Colin and Chris for the wonderful smoked turkey which was NOT cooked in the kiln--we just kept it warm in there for a couple of hours.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Second Post Today

To make up for the lack of post yesterday--and because it's just too funny NOT to share--I post again this morning. While many kilns will be taking Thursday off as their owners celebrate Thanksgiving, Middle Ground--my 22" clamshell--will be called into service as a second oven to keep the turkey warm. For the first year in about 10 Dave is not deep-frying the turkey. Instead, our friend Colin is smoking one (but how do you keep it lit?) (I couldn't resist) at his house and bringing it over. Colin and Chris have lots to cook, we have lots to cook, and our house here (unlike the one we had in Austin) does not have two ovens and an extra-large cooktop so we are cooking in our respective houses for the first part of the day. Dave is almost obscenely excited at the prospect of almost cooking in the kiln. I can't imagine what he'd be like if I'd actually let him cook with it. (Before we moved here he had a steak at a restaurant in Alpharetta that cooked their steaks in a kiln and he said it was one of the best steaks he'd ever had.)

Rip Van Winkle

A large Dancing Goats coffee with a shot of chocolate and some half 'n half in a Batdorf Bronson mug, laconic jazz on the sound system. It's a coffeeshop morning! I feel like RVW after the 20-year sleep: I have woken up and the world has moved on. Summer has been and gone, fall is almost over, and what have I been doing? Sure, I can list a million things that got done, but I hardly remember doing *any* of them. Now I wake up and I have a hotshop, seven mega-minor torches and the accompanying great big whanging tanks (plural) of oxygen and propane, a glass resource center, a new permanent official part-time employee, and three new business associates/partners in my ventures. Wow!

The orders--but for one that came in yesterday--are done for the year (or at least the time being), now it's time to play and plan. This afternoon--and every working afternoon for the next few weeks--I will be taking a couple of hours to blow glass. I have had three lessons from Lee, and I am up to small blown vessels. I am going to practice this form for the next few weeks till I, if not master it, at least become relatively proficient at it.

Planning is for the new booth at the BMAC in February. Bill and I had planned to plan some months ago and it just never happened. First I was busy, now he is. We also didn't go to Philly to get our booth and work that's up there now to bring it home. Should've done it in September when we had the chance (though I don't remember much of September either...).

Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel in 2-1/2 weeks, the Taylor Kinzel annual glass show the week before that. Let's see what new and creative work I can get done between now and then--and I'll try to stay awake.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And On The Fifth Day She If Not Rested, Relaxed--A Lot!

Coffee--with Ghirardelli sweet and dark chocolate in it--in the Chicago skyline mug, "Rockin' In the Free World" by Neil Young on iTunes. I am back on my game!! Ernie and I celebrated with a little Mafia Wars on Facebook after I took Jessie to school and now I'm ready to move on with my day. And a beautiful day it looks to be , indeed. Dave gets home from Austin tonight (whoo hoo!), J has a sleepover at a friend's, (whoo hoo!), and the house is CLEAN.

But this blog is supposed to be about GLASS so let's get back to there. The new postcard is on the presses as I type and should be shipped out this afternoon. A hint for all you artists who do postcards through one of the online places: Begin the order process, get as far as the "upload your images" step, and then put the project on hold and wait. Very likely your phone will ring within an hour and it'll be someone from the printing company who wants to know if you need any help. When you tell them that you're under the gun and need your postcards quickly, and in order to get them quickly the shipping will cost more than the printing so you're trying to decide whether to do them at all, they'll likely offer you all kinds of perks like one day turn-around at no charge and personally moving your proofs through the process as quickly as possible so you can use ground shipping instead of UPS' outrageously expensive one or two day service. Just my (frequent) experience. If you're one of those people who plans their printing weeks or months in advance, ignore it as we have NOTHING in common!

Today in the studio sees the completion of all those pesky little tasks (like pay the IRS last year's taxes... oops) that have been accumulating since, well, since June when life accelerated to warp speedier than usual. My inbox will be--if not empty--seriously depleted, papers will be appropriately sorted and filed, and I will begin the end of the year fresh. I can't believe December comes in a week and a half. Not only are the days in December some of the shortest of the year, it's also the shortest month because of all that we try to cram into it. Well not me folks! Not this year! Sure, my parents are coming from Montana to visit over Christmas with their bird and their dog, and my sis-in-law is coming the weekend before to make a gingerbread house with the J, and we have Siyeh Sleigh Ride, the Sequel the weekend before that, and Taylor Kinzel's annual Glass Trunk show the weekend before that, and Thanksgiving the weekend before that, and that's NEXT weekend... Heck, I guess I better enjoy the quiet of this weekend, hadn't I?

Seriously, it feels good not to have ANY work scheduled for the rest of the year. My orders are done, and I get to play and make gifts and fun things for the rest of the year (blown glass tumblers anyone?). Maybe the most exciting thing on the end-of-the-year horizon is that MY BOOKS WILL BE DONE AND UP TO DATE thanks to V the bookkeeper extraordinaire. For once I won't have to spend the weeks after Christmas sorting through little bitty slips of paper and trying to remember what all I spent money on (and what money all came in) during the past year. Whoo hoo!

The last pic in this post is from Lori and is me being crowned Queen of the Sleigh Ride at the first Siyeh Sleigh Ride. Around my neck is one of Todd's new, gorgeous wreaths (the blue "ice" wreath), and he is crowning me with a, um, wire tree... More fun and frivolity sure to occur at the next Sleigh Ride too so I expect to see More Of You There!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm a Woman

Sprout up and to school? check. Dave's car dropped off for service? check. Laundry folded and put away? check. Kitchen cleaned? check. House straightened? check. Cat box cleaned? check. Fruit flies decimated? check. Post card made for Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel? check. Little girls picked up from school for playdate? check. Orders shipped? check. Bunny cage cleaned? check.Classroom set up for beadmaking class tonight? check. Dinner and Top Chef at Keith and Mike's? check. It was a fully rounded day. It was an Enjoli day. May there not be another one for awhile.

Dave comes home tomorrow for another three weeks--I can't wait. Back in April when he took this job and was gone Monday through Friday *every* week, I looked forward to the time when he would only be gone one week out of four (what we have now). But now that we are there, I find that one week gone out of four is still too much. I miss my spouse and I dread (i.e., count down to) the time he leaves and count again with great anticipation till he comes home. Tomorrow the new postcard--it couldn't compete with Enjoli today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Goeth

I wasn't planning on having any wine tonight (AJB Syrah 2003 in a Riedel stemless red wine glass). Nor was I planning on being in the studio till almost 9:00 pm again (especially and not get everything done). Add them to a list of things I wasn't going to do/that weren't going to happen today, and you'll have my day.

I woke with a spring in my step and (finally) the ambition to clean the kitchen (a bomb went off in it Sunday and left the dregs of Thai take-out for six and wine bottles strewn everywhere), slay the laundry monster (the hulking skulking pile of clean in the laundry room from the weekend), and get caught up on major bills and finances. Oh yes, I was also going to go to Commerce to meet Elaine to get metal pieces for orders that need to ship, and I was going to put in a couple of simple kiln loads (a firepolish and a slump). Easy peasy, I thought to myself.

I breezed through getting the Sprout up, dressed, fed, kitted out with lunch and snacks for her brownie troop, and safely deposited at school. I sailed through the Commerce run--and picked up a big order from Black Cat with an asap ship date. I figured I'd be able to squeeze it in today and ship Thursday (it's a two-fire order). Hah. The gods despise hubris and trounce all over it at every opportunity.

The afternoon--back from Commerce--started well. I got a call from Stephanie at the Oakhurst Community Garden that my holiday dish class for tonight only had one person signed up so it was going to be cancelled. I say "started well" not because I wasn't looking forward to teaching the class but because I was looking forward to an evening relaxing with the J at home, rewarding her for being so patient last night, and relaxing a bit. Then things started to speed up.

Brian arrived and I really needed to talk glass bead classroom set-up, tools and class details with him (and to help him incorporate his business online). Then Lee showed up (expectedly) and I needed to talk hotshop tools and equipment, classes, etc. with him. I also had to settle up with both of them from the past two shows and their equipment expenses to date. Then the phone rang and it was a woman who had just called the garden about tonight's class and had two--maybe four--kids who wanted to take it. So I called the other person who had been signed up and told her the class was on if she was interested. Then I realized it was 3:30 and I still had pieces to get out of the kiln, a couple of orders to ship, and my easy kiln loads and the new order from Black Cat to get in before 5:00, the J to pick up at 5:00 AND a class at 6:00 to set-up and prepare for!

Some things had to be put off. I'll talk to Lee tomorrow. I'll ship tomorrow. I'll talk to Brian Thursday. Black Cat's order will go in tomorrow. The class turned out to have seven people in it (two adults, five children), it was great and everyone left enthused to come back and do more open studio projects before Christmas--and maybe to take some classes too. The priorly-scheduled kiln loads got in, the J was acquired from school... and we made it home late again. At least tonight I fed her before heading to the studio.

Tomorrow Dee comes down to settle up from the shows and get her stuff back (she did a show with Brian yesterday--he took her work). We'll also start the planning for Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel on December 12th and 13th. Bill was right: If there were no pictures, it didn't really happen. Since it didn't happen, it needs to! And before anyone roundly chastises me for overdoing it again, know that this was not my idea; it was Mike's. As it was Mike's, it can be counted upon to be a good, sound, sane idea--not me taking on too much (again).

I sip my Syrah, and life is good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Cometh

Just enough time to dash off a quick post before falling into bed. It's a late night and I am a bad mother. It's Dave's week in Austin so I picked J up from school at 3:00 today--and then continued to work in the studio straight on through until 8:30 (she wrote drew, and read to while away the time--after playing a bit with her bunny). Then I whisked her off to the pet store to get dog food, to the Wendy's drive-through for dinner (she was so patient while I worked that I gave her the choice of dinner and she picked Wendy's hoping to get a new audiobook), and finally a stop at Kroger to get the snack for her brownie troop tomorrow (turns out it is my turn and I just found out today). She's showering nowwhile I take care of her pet duties for her (and post), and then we're both hitting the hay to fall asleep to one of the Magic Treehouse books on her iPod.

That's the life side of the coin. The studio/resource center side of the coin is just as harried, varied, and rich. I'll have time to post about it tomorrow--though I won't have any photos of the Siyeh Sleigh Ride (artist open house) we did over the weekend as I still haven't found my camera and thus took no pictures!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good Morning From Joe's!

Coffee in a big white mug, something by Mono on the sound system *lots* of chatter from the locals for background music. The sun shines in Atlanta again. After 2-3 days of straight rain from tropical storm Ida, we can see blue sky today. Whew. I was getting moldy. Today we start to prep for this weekend's artist open studio sale--the Siyeh Sleigh Ride. But before that I need to get some computer work done. V the bookkeeper has finally convinced me to put all my work as items in Quickbooks. I am desperate to avoid QB, but as I seem to have no other viable options, I succumb. The task is especially prominent with the newly opened Resource Center and all the additional things to sell and track.

What a short post today! I thought I had a lot to say, but then I ran out of steam. Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Did Somebody Say Something About a Saddle?



What

• GET LOOTED! shop 6 local glass and metal artists' work

• GET BURNED! studio tours + demos of beadmaking and glass blowing

• GET NOGGED UP! wine & horses' doovers Friday night, munchies throughout

• GET YOUR OWN ORNAMENT! Make your own kilnformed glass ornament




When

Friday November 13th: 6 pm to ?? Artist Reception and much nogging
Saturday November 14th: 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday November 15th: noon to 4 pm

Who
• Brenda Griffith: kilnformed glass vessels , tabletop and wall art
• Dee Janssen: dicroic glass and fine silver jewelry
• Lee Ritchie: blown glass tumblers, bowls, and decorative pieces
• Brian Renoud: torchworked pendants and ornaments
• Todd Briske: whimsical wire sculpture and jewelry
• Rebecca Sizemore: torchworked bead jewelry

More info

___________________________

Coffee in the New York Skyline mug, Ernie snoring gently beside me for music. I'm back in the saddle after a dentist appointment in the morning and an afternoon off yesterday. Finally got off my duff (with much prodding and help from Dee) and got out the announcement for the artist open house (i.e., Siyeh Sleigh Ride) this weekend at the studio. Dee uses Vertical Response for her bulk mailing program and I have to say I was impressed with it. It's easy to use, gives good statistics, is reasonably priced, and most importantly sends out email in a pretty format with uniform text and pictures. Next time I might size my final draft a bit bigger, but this was a great effort for under the gun.

Today I wrap up from the Waldorf Holiday Festival last weekend and figure out everyone's cut of the proceeds. Tonight is the first night of our first 5-week glass beadmaking class (yea!). Tomorrow we start cleaning up the studio and preparing for the Sleigh Ride this weekend. Slow down much? Today is also payday for my official new permanent, part-time employee Judy who is AMAZING. Hope V gets her all set-up.

Now off to ikebana with a bunch of Siyeh Sleigh Ride flyers clutched in my eager little fists.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday is Actually a Relief

Dee is on her way down with a grande pumpkin spice latte (and maybe a pumpkin scone) from Starbucks for me, "Missing" by Everything But the Girl on iTunes. My fingers fumble at the keys as I try to find my rhythm again. Last week was beyond tough for personal reasons and busy, busy, busy too. This week life is settling back to normal and it's busy, busy, busier for the studio. This weekend is the Siyeh Sleigh Ride and Dee is coming down to plan and to help me (finally) get the invitations designed and out. Late much?

The Waldorf Holiday Festival was this past Saturday and, as always, it was a lot of fun. This year the Siyeh Studio booth had work by Lee (blown glass paperweights and glass flowers), Brian (torchworked heart and goddess pendants and icicles), Dee (fused glass jewelry), and Todd (plant stakes, ornaments, people and jewelry--much of it with my glass incorporated). I had a last minute 8 year-old, after-school birthday party/sleepover Friday to whip up for the J--both before and after the 2-hour long adult preview for the holiday festival--and then a memorial service to attend the first half of Saturday so I didn't have any of my own work at the festival.

Yesterday I was was originally scheduled to have a Make a Holiday Dish class at the studio through Oakhurst Community Gardens but when the week went to hell in a handbasket and there was only one person signed up for it, I asked the director of the gardens if she would mind rescheduling. I'm not sure what happened, but it was a very lucky set of circumstances for Skippy when he and his mother showed up at the studio yesterday at 1:00 for the class (it's amazing they got there at all--Memorial Drive was closed Friday night through this morning just on the block in front of the studio for street repair) and I happened to be there. They had gone through so much trouble that I didn't have the heart to tell them the class had been rescheduled so I did an impromptu holiday dish class for Skippy and then he and his mother got to watch a little glass blowing in the hotshop. It was a good save--and renewed me more than I would have thought possible.

Now I need to get back to updating both websites, seeing if I can fill the last couple of spots in the 5-week glass bead making class that starts Wednesday night, and running a glass resource center. Hurry up Dee, I need that coffee!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just Need To Get Through the Next 48

It's been a rough week--the kind of week where I could have used 15 minutes of Mafia Wars on Facebook right now instead of blogging (how sad is it that blogging takes almost too much energy?). But Mafia Wars is down for 30 minutes for maintenance (how dare they?!), and so I post. It has been a week of life: birth, death, birthday, family calls, friend calls... intense. It has also been a week of work: the Waldorf holiday festival is this weekend, the Siyeh Sleigh Ride is next weekend, and there were the usual orders to make and ship. I have class descriptions to get written up for the web and for a flyer, and class cards (of the Buy 4 Get 1 Free! variety) to create for sale this weekend. There is an open studio schedule to finalize, and a glass order (for the resource center and for me). I'll get through the next 48 hours, and then I'll be human (and post) again.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuesday Marches On

It's a beautiful, chilly fall morning, I need to focus on the beauty and be reminded of life by the chill. Building a retail business is a series of waves. First you get it open, then you promote it to get people in to it. When the people come, you make sure you have everything in place for them to have a positive experience that makes them want to come back. Then you need more people so you expand your promotion mechanisms. A resource center offering supplies and classes is a vastly different beast than a production studio. If what you're selling is your work, there are retail and wholesale shows, ready-made on-line venues (like WholesaleCrafts.com and Etsy), and there are trade magazines in which to advertise for the wholesale market. If what you're selling is classes and supplies, how do you build that business? Retail of this sort is completely new to me.

The resource center is open, we've had our grand opening weekend that Bullseye kindly promoted through their vast mailing list, and we've begun a modest mailing list of our own. Now what? We have a great class line-up, how do we get the word out more? It's a whole new set of things to think about and I have got to get comfortable with the idea that I don't need to do them all *today*. It will be enough for this week to get the class descriptions up on our website in their own page, to have postcards made of our class offerings and drop them around coffee shops, restaurants, bars, etc. in the little neighborhoods surrounding East Lake, and to get a form created for people to sign up for them on the web.

This is why I blog. I sat down this morning in a vast funk of what to do, what to do, and worked through the broad brushstrokes of it here before. Now I'm ready to get dressed and on with the day!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Just Need To Get Through

The morning and the week have begun. Both will be busy. I finally have to face 2-3 months worth of papers piled hither and yon, there are several orders that came in over the weekend that have to scheduled, some redos on the awards project from the summer to finish up, and I have both the Waldorf Holiday Fair and a holiday dish class through Oakhurst Community Garden this weekend. Oh yes, and it's our annual Ichiyo ikebana retreat this week Tuesday through Thursday and J's birthday is Wednesday. Dee is coming down this morning to plan for the artist holiday open house next weekend at the studio (Mike has dubbed it the Siyeh Sleigh Ride).

Every year right about this time I start letting things drop off the plate. Last year it was the holiday artist open house. Let's see if this year I can keep morale and energy and power on through. Even though it is my favorite time of the year (right after daylight savings time has ended), it won't be easy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas on iTunes. Time to bust out of the apathetic, lackadaisical state I've been in and Get It Moving! Today I'm gearing up to... take tomorrow off. Not the way I took yesterday off which was unplanned and unexpected (brain and body got together and both decided to shut down forcing the Me that was left to follow), but a planned day of doing things Other Than Work. Sure, there might be some of the reading and sleeping that there was yesterday, but there'll also be a PEDICURE (I think--thanks to the broken ankle--the first one this year).

If I could squeeze in a massage and a facial (I have gift certificates languishing for both) I would, but the spouse is getting home at noon! I'm going to pick him up at the airport, take him to lunch, and maybe go for a drive with the top down on the Mini Cooper (wink, wink).

But before I stray to far into the future, let's revisit the pre-comatose past. Tuesday I had the Waldorf School of Atlanta 7th grade class in for a morning field trip. True to field-trip-in-the-studio-weather form, it was pouring rain as they trooped from studio to hot shop and back again.

However the rain couldn't dampen spirits and everyone made a small fall leaf window panel, got to see and maybe take part in a glass blowing demo or two (Lee made several projects with them), and saw a bead making demo and maybe got to make a bead with Brian. Oh yes, and they also learned about the history of glass blowing, kilnforming glass and glass bead making. Yesterday after school I dropped their projects off and I was a bit late as they were still a bit warm at 2:30 so I didn't get to see their reactions to them. I hope many of them will be back for open studio time this fall--I love when they bring their parents back all excited about what they know and make pieces with them.

Having the 7th grade in during fall quarter is always a good kick-off for pre-holiday open studio--and I need to get that schedule set-up on the web asap. Also need to get a web guest book and a sign-up for email updates/newsletter created. Hope Mike has time for me this week. Thanks to Dee for both the pics of the field trip and for incredible help during it (she managed one of the two leaf panel project tables and did lots of set-up). After the field trip we cleaned up, I trained Judy (the new assistant) on shipping and close-up procedures, and got three shipments out before picking up the Sprout from Brownies. Thus ended the pre-comatose part of the past. Then came the next part...

I almost posted yesterday. The Post would have been titled, "Discombobulated, Or, If It's Not On the Calendar, Don't Do It!". I knew I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning but I couldn't remember whether it was at 10:00 or 10:30 and I couldn't find it on the calendar so I decided to just go as if it were for 10:00 and maybe get to read in the waiting room for a half hour (no problem there!). On the way I turned down the wrong street and had to go around the block. In the building I got off the elevator on the wrong floor and had to get back in and go down a couple more. Once in the office I signed in, and settled in for an illicit read (stolen time and all). The receptionist called me up about five minute later and asked me why I was there. I told her for a cleaning and an exam and she told me my appointment was on 11/10 at 10:30. She then kindly validated my parking and I toddled off home.

Once home I started working on the backlog of paperwork I have, and sometime around 1:00, I fell asleep. When I woke up at 2:15 I had to scurry to get the field trip projects unloaded, cleaned and off to them. When I got to school I found out I had three little girls (one of them my own) for a playdate, and at that point I just decided to let the rest of the afternoon--the sunny, gorgeous, perfect fall afternoon--take care of itself.

Today I am enthused and renewed again--just in time for V to come and work on my books. If there's anything that can harsh my mellow, that'll be it. *sigh*

__________________________________

Right as I finished writing, before I could add the photos, V came and hijacked my laptop for Quickbooks. So I got my kiln loads in for the day, cleaned up a little, trained Judy a little, and had my first formal glass blowing lesson in the hotshop! (How many people do you know who have a hotshop and don't know how to blow glass?) I made a flower and a paperweight, and learned the first techniques for feeling the glass from a glassblower's perspective. Then I finished the post. Pics are from the open house (the pretty, staged ones) and the field trip (kids with heads in hands, hands in pockets, etc.).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Exhausted to the Bone

Nothing to drink, the sound of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" for music. I'm exhausted. It was a GREAT opening weekend for Siyeh Glass Resource Center, but I think I finally tried to get too much done at once. Tomorrow at 8:30 am is the Waldorf 7th Grade field trip in the studio so we have another intense four hours ahead of us. Becky is off to a full-time job and her beadmaking classroom duties have been taken over for the time being by Brian Renoud--another good friend and great torchworker (he usually works in borosilicate but is doing all Bullseye work for me). I also have a new assistant, Judy, who started today and looks like she'll whip me into organizational shape in no time. Lee has the hotshop off to an incredible start--we had our first private lessons in it yesterday after the open house was over (two customers from Saturday).

For the fieldtrip in the morning, Brian is demoing glass bead making, Lee is demoing glassblowing, and Dee is helping me do a two-part fall leaf fused project. She came this afternoon to help me prep. I had asked her for a couple of hours and she was still there helping till 7:00--with a dead early start panned for the morning. Dee, you have been the greatest over the past week, thank you.

Now if I can just make it till Friday...

More pics in the next couple of days (hope I can find my camera).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Glass Resource Center Opening Day!

No coffee as I'm not yet sure why I'm up, the heavy throttle of Ernie's purrs and occasional grumbles (as I stop petting him to type with both hands--it's bad enough that I'm a four finger typist on a good day, going down to two is just too much) for music. Day One of the Siyeh Glass Resource Center Grand Opening is over, now is l'aube of Day Two (literally--and I don't mean the cassock). Day One went perfectly save for one hitch, and even that one was minor enough we didn't break a sweat over it.

The studio day started for me when the phone rang at 7:10 as I was in the shower (of course I got out, hair dripping wet, and answered it). It was Lee and he had the news that something happened with the program in the glass furnace and it had shut off and was back down to 745 degrees. I finished up, dried off and hustled over only to not be able to figure out why the temp wouldn't go higher in the ramp/hold program. FInally I broke down, switched the controller over from automatic to manual (sometimes a real person just needs to take the controls), and fired that puppy up. If I have time today (I hope not), I'll putter with it. But, really, the best thing to do is just leave it going on manual and futz with it next week.

I didn't get to stay at the studio then, I had to rush back home, make Jessie's lunch and breakfast, and get her off to school. THEN the studio day really began, and it began with a vengeance. With the best will in the world, I had not been able to get all the pricing sheets and other papers done the night before. I collapsed at 11:00 so tired I was almost hallucinating. Come to think of it, that's how I was last night too! I sense an unfortunate pattern that must end. We also didn't have the last of the straightening, any of the sweeping, or a host of other things done so Becky, Lori, and Todd set to with a vengeance. Then Christie came and took Todd grocery shopping for all the munchables and he made a BEAUTIFUL spread.

And we swept, and cleaned, and carted boxes of stuff to the shed and the shipping room, and printed out price lists and cleaned off the desk and the counter, and by the time the first visitors arrived, we were ready! And the traffic was slow and steady all day. I had enough time to interact with everyone, give tours, talk about glass, write up sales and graze the lovely buffet. It rained, but who cares?

Today should be a gorgeous, cool, fall day. Dee is coming to help (in fact she's calling right now from Starbuck's where she is acquiring the box of coffee) and Todd is still here. Brian Renoud will be doing beadmaking demos today, life is good.

Now I had better get dressed and get over there to prepare for another big day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Physical and the Mental

Coffee is brewing--a big strong pot, I got J to school, Lori is on her way, Becky will be in after 3:00. Song of the morning on iTunes: "The Beat Goes On" by Sonny and Cher. I think I may have finally hit the limit on organizational tasks that I can juggle in my brain. Tomorrow at 10:00 I will have a physical space all set-up, sparkling clean and welcoming. Yea. Let's revel in that accomplishment for a minute. Four days from production studio to Glass Resource Center including basic classroom setup (six of the seven mega-minor torches are hooked up, still waiting on the teacher torch--#7) and an entire retail area *built* and stocked with almost 5,000 lbs of new glass, frit, rods, confetti and supplies. Yes. I feel good about that. (All the glass will be cut this morning).

Of course being me, I am still fretting about all the infrastructure bits that I have not had time to get to like the open studio schedule and pricing for kilnforming, torch work and blowing, creating the order write-up slips, finishing the retail pricelist, making all the pricing boards for the glass (everything is stickered with a price code instead of a price so the customers can know the cost of each thing up front and we can still change the prices as we need to (sales, etc.), etc., etc., etc.

Then there's all the food to decide, purchase and arrange. I think I'll put Todd in charge of catering. V the bookkeeper is bringing some of her deviled eggs (the best you've ever had, literally--she makes some with salmon, some with caviar, some with creme fraiche... *sigh* yum.)

Mike Z is on the gift certificate and last web site details but I need to come up with what we're going to give away, the demo schedule, and when we're going to give things away. And mustn't forget the mailing list! Got to collect names for classes and events. I know there are a bezillion good ideas that people have dropped like pearls in my ears over the past week and (to mangle as many metaphors as I can) it was in one ear and out the other. Time to start carrying the little moleskin notebook again to capture them. Now off to the studio to crank the tunes and start cutting glass.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Penultimate Day

Kenwood Chardonnay in a Riedel stemless glass, the sound of the dishwasher running for my music. This is a five-minute post. Today was an all-out balls-to-the-wall day in the studio. The first shift--Dan the carpenter, Becky the assistant, Lori the partner and Dee the friend--showed up between 7:30 and 8:30 this morning. Diane from Southern Flames came at 10:00 and helped Becky set-up the torches and equipment in the beadmaking classroom. Lori, Dee and Diane left right before Lee the glassblower came (about 2:00). Dan left, Lee left, Ray the HVAC guy, Brian the electrician, and Brian the torchworking friend who is going to demo for me on Saturday all arrived about 5:00, and all but Brian the electrician left the same time as Becky (about 6:30). Brian the electrician is still there putting up the new lights in the beadmaking classroom, moving the phone and data jacks and making sure I have enough power in the retail room outlet to run all the behind-the-desk stuff (can't be blowing a fuse every time I want to make a cappuccino!).

Took Dave to the airport at 6:30 this morning--he's going to miss all the opening weekend ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, and last minute panic attacks. But Todd will be here--he's coming to stay with me and take care of Jessie through Monday. Whew. Speaking of panic/anxiety attacks; last night was the first night in memory I woke up three separate times with panic attacks. I'll be glad when the weekend is behind me. And that's my five minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roasting In the Depths of the Slor

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug (as I would rather be hanging with Bill & Bri in CA than facing my day today), The sounds of Ernie's snores as he lounges next to me for music. The Great Glass Migration of 2009 happens today as we move the rest of the 5,000 lbs I got from Bullseye into the studio and cut it up as needed. Running through my head is Rick Moranis in Ghost Busters as Louis Tully talking about the coming of Gozer the Gozarian "Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you". For some reason I have the word "migration" in the quote, hence the reason the glass migration triggers it for me. Either that or I'm just likening the day to being roasted in the belly of a Slor.

Now one more spreadsheet to make to organize the process, and off I go! Pics tomorrow of the almost finished state (and we hope it will be).

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Don't Like Mondays

Black, tarry, thick coffee with Italian Sweet Cream creamer in the Alaska skyline mug, "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats on iTunes. Starting the post in the traditional way this morning, gearing up for another marines-on-the-beach day getting ready for Friday. It would be pointless to list all the things that need to be done. Besides, I don't *have* the list done yet. Every time I start the end-all-be-all comprehensive list, I get overwhelmed and have to go play Mafia Wars with Ernie.

Dan the carpenter will be here in about 20 minutes with Kenneth the laborer and the day will begin. No ikebana today, no leg wax tomorrow. Oh the sacrifices I have to make!

PS--There's Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode from season six called "Once More With Feeling". It's the musical episode and one of Jessie's favorites. It's also the episode where a guy dances so fast he spontaneously combusts (which Jessie REALLY likes). Today I might be that guy. Becky kept saying last week that there were boxes of 5-lb jars of frit in the big order we just got from Bullseye and I kept saying no there weren't--I didn't order any 5-lb jars of frit. Hah. I was dancing so fast that I managed to order 5-lb jars of every single frit color in coarse instead of 1-lb jars. No wonder my order cost so much. And what am I going to do for 1-lb jars of coarse this weekend? I guess I'm going to be FLEXIBLE.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday, First Class Day!

Early on Sunday morning (8:30 counts as early on Sunday), huddled in my big sweater on the couch with Ernie wishing I'd put on my fuzzy slippers this morning. We haven't turned on the heat yet and I'd be surprised if it's even 60 degrees in here (yep, it's only 57). Can't wait to get to the studio where it will be even colder as it is much more poorly insulated. At least the sky is blue and the sun is beginning to peek out for a change--it was rainy, soggy, and muddy all week during our move of STUFF from studio to shed in anticipation of the great glass migration of 2009.

Today I teach a class at Oakhurst Community Gardens on making fall window panels. We'll paint leaves with glass powders and fuse them between two layers of clear glass. I think I'll also take some frit for additional color if anyone wants more pop. I was inspired for this project by the leaves, crayon shavings and wax paper window projects my Mom and I did with Jessie last year (the year before?) and that I also did as a kid. You know, you arrange leaves on a sheet of wax paper, grate crayon shavings of different colors over them, place another piece of wax paper on top and iron it all flat (putting a towel between the iron and the wax paper, of course). Then you put them on your windows for temporary little fall stained glass windows with leaves. If the weather stays nice and it warms up, it'll be a fantastic class.

Yesterday Dave-as-Igor accompanied me to Target, Sam's Club and IKEA and I got shelving, lighting, chairs, under desk storage, and a host of other almost-last-minute items for the studio cum resource center. Becky gave up her Saturday afternoon to help me assemble the shelving and move more things from studio to shed and vice versa in the cold, damp drizzle. I hope she enjoys a warm and sunny day off today, she deserves it!

This morning I finally make my countdown lists of everything that remains to be done in each area of the studio to get ready for Friday. Tasks are diverse and include things like shoveling 3-4" of silt sludge into 10-gallon buckets and carrying it out of the crawl space/basement before digging out the sump pump well and filling the whole basement up with 14 tons of gravel. Once that's all done, Ray the HVAC guy can get in an pull the old furnace and replace it--in case it's cold and rainy next weekend I need to make sure we'll have heat from a source other than the kilns. Moving indoors, there's finishing (i.e., putting more coats of finish on) the glass storage furniture and my desk/countertop, and arranging all the scrap glass and tools on the new worktable shelving in the workroom. I won't even try to list everything here (that's what the list is for, after all) because it would take far too many lines and I'd just have to do it over again in Excel.

Oh yes, I am using Excel for the list because a single column list won't work--I need a column for each area with tasks under it and writing it this way I *might* be able to get it all on, oh, 3-4 pages.

Done posting, off to list!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday... What More Can I Say?

I think I have finally gone off the deep end. Grand opening is in one week. Do I have even a *list* of what needs to be done? No. I have a glass of some white wine--I didn't even read the label on the bottle before I poured it, but I think it's a chardonnay--and a scribbled list of things people have been telling me all day I still need to do.

I have a gravel delivery tomorrow morning (that would be *Saturday morning*) at 8:00--14 tons, a full dumptruck load--to shovel (have shoveled) into the crawlspace/basement after we get the sump pump squared around. Dan finished my worktable and the beadmaking classroom table today and he also brought another worker, Kenneth, with him who put the first coats of polyurethane on the salesroom furniture.

Mike (my webmaster) called midday today to tell me about some anomalies on the studio calendar--seems that somehow when I set the time-zone on the calendar page it also changed the times on the open house from 10-6 to 6am-2pm... whoopsie daisies!

I feel like I've been running in place like a headless chicken (and with as much effect) all day. There was no organization, no master plan, not even any progress that I could tell. I chatted with Craig at Arrow Springs for almost an hour this afternoon about ventilation systems and ended up completely redesigning the ventilation system for the beadmaking classroom--and losing a day of construction on it in the process. I have got to get a grip (and a plan) soon. Sunday is my first day teaching and I still have the prototype pieces to make and all the materials to assemble. At least I'm not trying to teach in my studio!

But for all the the crazy weirdness of the day the highlight happened when I wasn't even there. I ran out to make a bank deposit and get everyone Subway sandwiches for lunch, and when I came back there were two people in the hotshop with Dan and Lee that I did not know. Their names were John and Colleen, and they had received Bullseye's email about the open house and came down for it... today. They came from Greenville SC and didn't discover the mix-up on the dates till they were already to Atlanta and then they thought they'd go ahead and come by to see if I happened to be open already.

Wow were they surprised by the mess that is my studio. But we had a lovely visit, I gave them a little tour of the chaos, and when they saw how truly overwhelmed I was, they offered--several times--to stay and help. I thanked them for the offer, but with all the crap I have all over the floors from the moving around, there was barely room for all of us who were already there working without adding two more bodies (Becky arrived not long after they did). So they'll come back next weekend for the real grand opening (and I expect lots of oohs and ahhs when they see the studio in its finished state!).

In the meantime, there are shipments to unpack, stuff to pack up and move out to one of the (nearly overflowing) sheds, a grip to get. You know, real life! Oh yeah, and lots, and lots of lists to make and last minute stuff to buy. That'll be fun--let's smoke the Visa card some more.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going Live

Welcome to the morning! Version 1.0 of the new Siyeh Glass website is up thanks to web designer and very good friend Mike Z. This is not a replacement site for the Siyeh Studio site, it's an additional site for the new Glass Resource Center and will contain all the info about our classes, supplies, my book, etc., etc. Let me know what you think.

Yesterday saw much accomplished in the studio and the arrival of five pallets of glass and misc from Bullseye--in the drizzling rain. I hope it dries out SOON. Today is overcast, but it's not actively raining at this time. Good thing, too, as I have got to get the crawlspace/basement pumped out so I can redo the sump pump set-up, fill the whole floor in with 5-6 inches of gravel, and get the furnace and the hot water heater replaced. Ungh.

Dan the carpenter is in the studio today to set-up the beadmaking table, build a new worktable--even if it's just a 4X89 sheet of plywood on a couple of sawhorses as I have order due and can't be without a table. The old work table is being reborn as the beadmaking table--it's perfect for it. Now that the units to hold the cut sheets of glass from Bullseye are in, it's time to get everything sealed. I'll be finishing off the day with the Minwax polyurethane.

Dee lent a hand all day yesterday and we got the sandblast cabinet stripped down and ready to move (we took out the long bar that's for supporting doors and large pieces of glass as they pass through the cabinet--I neither have room for it, nor have I used it in the past five years). We also moved one shelving unit and all the stuff on it, and more than half sorted another one (so THAT'S where those extra dinner plates and salad bowls from the house ended up. Dave will be so thrilled to get them back!). I am debating the wisdom of a quick run to Home Depot for another shelving unit and a day laborer to move the rest. there *is* a lot of frit that needs to go out there, and I half put my back out yesterday... I'll keep it in mind.

Now off to see how much I can get in the kiln before Dan arrives.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

Coffee's brewing--the sound it's making my music (it and the rain...). I have a feeling I can use all the help I can get today. Dee is on her way, the glass delivery is on its way, Mike has a first run of the new website to run by me later today before it goes live tomorrow, Bullseye sends out the ennouncement about my grand opening tomorrow, and it's warp factor nine, full speed ahead. (Oooh, I smell the coffee--it's done!).

Today, everything gets moved around in the studio... again. Shelving units--and everything on them--get moved from the first shed to the second, shelving in the studio filled with five lb jars of frit (a little over half a ton of frit... no kidding) gets moved to the first shed, and everything that has been haphazardly stored under the work table for the past 2+ years gets moved to wherever it will fit. Oy. The big wetbelt sander finally gets placed, and then it's off to buy more lighting for it and the lap grinder and more shelving for, well, more stuff!

The big engineering task of the day is the design of the ventilation system for the glass beadmaking classroom. I found a great site by Mike Aurelius and it is just chock full of math and physics. Now I just need some slow and quiet time (and a Grainger catalog) to decipher it. This paragraph from the example that seems closest in size to mine also brings up concerns:

"This particular example also presents us with a problem. When the system is running at full capacity, it will be exhausting 3000 plus cubic feet per minute of air. This is a huge amount of air, and it will have a very definite effect on the temperature of the air inside the studio, especially during the winter and summer months. Because, not only are we exhausting 3000 cubic feet per minute of air, but we are also bring in 3000 cubic feet per minute of fresh outside air. Let’s say the room is 20 feet by 20 feet with 10 foot high ceilings. This is a total space of 4000 cubic feet. We will be completely changing the air in the room every 1.33 minutes. If the temperature outside is -10 degrees, you can imagine that the room temperature is going to fall very quickly."

Oh boy, like I don't have enough problems already keeping the temperature bearable in the studio! At least it doesn't get to -10 degrees here in Hotlanta--but keeping it cool in the summer will be something else.

Okay, no more time to dawdle. The day has begun!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Franchises and Transitioning

Another Bad Ass Coffee morning, this one in the comfy blue chair at Lori's beach house with a mocha in a go-cup. Bad Ass Coffee is just down at the end of the block, and it was a nice walk for Dave to go get it for me (and a chance for him to get on-line too). Our long weekend out of time is coming to an end, we drive home today. I am already making the mental shift back to the real world--as is Dave (as evidenced by the fact that we were both ensconced with our laptops at 7:30 this morning).

Speaking of Dave, we had an interesting conversation on the beach yesterday (yes, I will just have to keep writing the "B" word to keep it fresh and alive in my mind) about having a small business in America today and how many more hats you have to wear and balls you have to juggle--and how much faster you have to move--if you want to succeed. The easiest way to start a new business is to buy a franchise. With a franchise you are given a manual of exactly how to do every part of the business and you're handed a ready-made supply chain for most if not all of your products. All decisions from how to display and package your product to how much to charge for it are handed to you in a binder. That's not to say it's easy to start a new business if it's a franchise, it just means you have to make fewer decisions yourself and you are likely to have a greater chance of success because you are following a tried and true methodology instead of making it all up as you go along.

What I am creating now in my studio is a hybrid between a franchise and a from-scratch business. On the one hand I have received a lot of help from Bullseye in the form of information and assistance on how to set-up and price classes, what to include in a stocking products order, essential technological components for a successful Glass Resource Center, suggestions on pricing product, and more. On the other, I'm building my own facility with my own vision of what it should offer and how it should run (and it's own unique decor). I hope (as I'm sure Bullseye does too) that by following a bit of the franchise model I'll also capitalize on it's success rate. Fingers are crossed.

There are an amazing number of details to wade through in the next *eight* days before we open our doors to the world, and my head begins to whirl with them again. I say whirl again because it was unexpectedly easy to slip into vacation mode last Thursday and let all thoughts of lists and orders and have to's and shoulds and who is working on's fly completely away. I have been so immersed in getting this new adventure going that I have literally been eating, sleeping, drinking and dreaming it. There have been very few moments when I wasn't cataloguing and planning. And yet, on the drive down to Florida for an unexpected very long weekend, the thoughts started to go away. By Friday, the only time I thought of what was going on in the studio was when someone called me or wrote me an email asking me a particular question about it. As soon I answered or solved the issue, I forgot all about it again and went back to my trash vampire novels on the beach.

I almost (I said "almost") feel guilty at how much I didn't do over the past four (five) days. I didn't plan, I didn't didn't scheme, I didn't dream. I just read, and slept, and drank pina coladas in a beach chair under an umbrella watching the surf and my child play. How odd! I was sure I'd never relax, but I guess my brain and body had other ideas. Today, though I am still in my jammies cozily typing from the beach house, I am already transitioning back. My head is not full, but the ideas and lists and thoughts are seeping back in and jostling for prominence in anticipation of tomorrow's all-out effort, D-Day, marines on the beach.

Tomorrow is also Dave's and my 14th wedding anniversary, and this past weekend (honestly, it felt like we were in Jurassic Park we were so far removed from our real world) was the best present we could have given each other. Happy anniversary honey!

Monday, October 12, 2009

At Last a Post!

Bad Ass Coffee iced mocha to drink, The Price Is Right or some other such game show on the tv for background music. Obviously I'm not at home or in the studio as we no longer have tv. Nope, it's a Bad Ass Coffee morning, er, early afternoon. As a plus, Bad Ass Coffee is across the street from the beach in Destin Florida--J is out of school for the fall break so we snuck in a long weekend at Lori's beach house. Nothing like a little tiny vacation break in the midst of the Resource Center madness. (Oh the screaming as a woman just won an enclosed hi-tech shower whirlpool bath unit--I am reminded why I don't have tv).

Four orders ship today (sans moi), and Becky does an exchange of glass for metal in Commerce with Elaine of Black Cat. Tomorrow should be a quiet day in the studio before the storm that will be Wednesday. Wednesday Dan is back, Lee is in, Lori will be down, Dee will be in, the big glass order arrives, and I will be there fully charged and ready to take delivery of the glass beadmaking equipment and the glass, and to direct the final stages of the Resource Center configuration.

Now back to the beach...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quickies!

A quick post since I missed the last couple of days last week--it's a zoo getting ready to open the Siyeh Glass Resource Center! Dan the carpenter has built and installed the counter/desk/1lb frit storage AND the rod storage cabinet in the new front retail room. Next week he tackles the beadmaking classroom worktable and vent hood and the new worktables in my production workroom--soon to be for both kilnforming classes and my production work too. We'll see how that goes. I have a feeling we're going to concentrate on beadmaking, glass blowing, and multi-technique (kilnforming/beadmaking/vitrigraph/blowing in one project) classes to start with and save the straight kiln-forming classes for later.

And that's enough for now. More on the new Siyeh Glass website, the rest of the build-out, and The Grand Opening next week! I'll be off-line Monday and Tuesday, back full-speed on Wednesday.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Very Early Bonus Post

Gran Marnier in a little handblown glass, the sound of Ernie snoring on the back of the couch for music. It's early to post, and the main thing I wanted to post about I would normally put on Stranded in the South, but Ernie seems to have hijacked that blog. Drat him. I'm going to have to put a lock on my laptop! I can't even get a shower without him sneaking onto it. And he thinks I don't notice. Hah. I am a mother. Need I say more? Though he did pull one on me tonight when he slipped outside on the heels of the dogs. Nearly gave me heart failure when I discovered he was gone. Even wearing the collar with all my info on it and being micro-chipped, I really didn't want him to spend a wet night outdoors.

Anyway, at one minute to midnight tonight as I was winding down from a looong day in the studio, I had an epiphany. The kind of books that I like to read depend entirely upon the circumstances of the reading! Okay, it's an obscure statement and a weird epiphany for midnight, but I was in the studio till 11:00 pm getting four full kiln loads in after a completely packed day, and my brain was/is zinging.

In the past year I have changed my reading habits. The change was facilitated by the Kindle, but it also came about because I have less and less time to read so I squeeze it in whenever--and wherever--I can. The wherever can be tricky. Often I have five minutes to read, but I don't have time to hunt up my current book and take it into the downstairs powder room. The solution? Keep a dedicated book in the powder room. Then there's the book for the master bathroom. Then there's the chapter book I read to Jessie every night. What's so different about this style of reading? I have *always* read only one book at a time. For better or worse, I have slogged through duds and rushed through favs One Book At A Time.

Until not too long ago I didn't even know there were people who read more than one book at a time. Then Ren wrote about all the books she was in the middle of. Then Bill of Black Cat mentioned reading multiple books at a time (I think it was Bill) and I was amazed. What a concept! So I started tried it out. Now, several months on, I had my epiphany. I have always tended towards books with lean description, fast action and faster dialog. These books are best read non-stop. They lose something if the pace of the reading is too different from the pace of the action. When I try to read one of these books in the five-minute powder room intervals, I don't enjoy it as much--and, more tellingly, I don't think it is as good of a book as I would have if I had read it all in an evening or two.

Then there are the kinds of books that I have always had to be dragged to; literary books. Books where what's happening is far less important than the words the author uses to describe it. Such a book is my current powder room selection, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (translated from French). What's happening in the book isn't nearly as interesting as the life observations of the characters and their monologues/dialogs/diatribes. Five - ten minutes is just enough to refresh me, pick my brain up, and send me back to work. But I couldn't read a book like that (or The Secret Life of Bees, or The Red Tent, or The Poisonwood Bible, or on and on) in an intense evening. When I sit and read for hours, I skim. The words are less important than the vibrant, fast-moving images I see in my mind. I want to get There. The leaner the prose, the tighter the action, the better. Those other books are too complicated for that kind of reading. If you read them fast for the action and you race all the way through, you end up scratching your head going, was that all?

A last note on this subject and then I think I'm tired enough to sleep. Maybe the difference in readers and their taste in books is not a difference in sophistication and literariness, but a difference in the speed at which they live their lives--and read their books. Later this morning (like, after I've gone to bed and slept) pics of the new counter/frit storage for the retail space at Siyeh Glass Retail Center!

Monday and Work for Three Days (Three, Three, Three Days In One!)

The day begins with rain, coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, and the alternating sounds of Ernie snoring and Ernie washing. Right now he's eyeing my chocolate donut as if trying to decide if it's worth the effort to get up, saunter over and demand some. He has already been working his magic on the occupants and guests of the house, I can't wait to see what he does to the customers in the Glass Resource Center. Just with a look he'll get them to sign up for five classes and buy $1,200 in glass and supplies.

Last night I finally gave Dave his birthday present--a checkerboard and checkers. Lest ye think it was some little project, let me assure you that this was a checker set worthy of my effort! The board is five sheets thick with squares (transparent and opaque) on the top and bottom and it has a clear edge strip all the way around. To make it perfectly flat on both sides I hand lapped it for a couple of hours and then sandblasted it. The checkers were cast from powder in my copper tubes and then sliced with the tile saw and ground on the lap grinder.

The board is opaque white and true blue, and the checkers are clear powder (which, of course, comes out white because of the grain size) and a mix of 10% cobalt blue (transparent) and 90% clear. By casting them instead of fusing them from sheet, they have a silky mat feel that is augmented by the fine coating of oil J put on them (and the board). Dave loved the set and is looking forward to playing checkers with J on it. I'll post pics of it when I remember to bring the camera back from the studio.

Now off to get the Bullseye order in (finally!), fax the revisions of the loan application in to Chase for the ARC loan, send the photos of the studio and me to Bullseye for the press release, send a high-res photo of the cover of the book to Delynn at Glass Craftsman mag (they are reviewing my book in the December/January issue), and write-up final class descriptions and prices with Lee for the glassblowing classes. Oh yes, and pump the water out of the basement/crawlspace AGAIN (the sump pump leaves about five inches), and fire two kiln loads, and redo the firing schedule (I slacked this weekend), and ship 5-6 orders when Becky gets in.

It's Siyeh Studio. It's ALWAYS busy!

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Studio Monstrocat

Another day, another Dancing Goats mocha, accompanied by "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins (on the Dancing Goats coffee house sound system!). Gotta love the slippery slide into fall/winter and caffeine. Maybe that's the way to go: every spring I detox from coffee and wine, and every fall I cuddle up with wine, snuggle in with coffee, and get all warm and cozy. But enough about me. I know the world is waiting to hear about Ernie.

Ernie got in early last night--though I'm sure not soon enough for him. When we got to the Delta cargo counter his carrier was snugged up against the desk agent's leg--not in the back room with the rest of the cargo. Jessie, with my driver's license (proof we were legitimately there to claim him) clutched tightly in her hand, marched up to the counter, waved the license in the direction of the desk agent (the counter was taller than she was) and announced that she was there to Get Ernie. Did the agent ask for a confirmation number? Was there any question who Ernie was? Of course not! Ernie the Monstrocat in all his rotund glory had captured another heart.

We were allowed around corner of the counter so Jessie could get to the carrier, but when I went to pick it up, the agent hurriedly said, "Let me get help". I was mystified--it was a a large carrier to be sure (Baxter would lounge in it comfortably), but it just had a cat in it. But I politely waited for a big, burly Delta cargo mover to come and pick it up to carry it to the car for me. He grunted when he picked it (gently) up. "What you got in here, a dog?" Uh, no. A cat. "Wow!"

We paraded out the door, me, then the cargo guy guy with Ernie, Jessie dancing anxiously around all of us chanting "Ernie, Ernie, Ernie." Parked next to us at the dock was a nice young man with a white cargo van waiting for a forklift so he could finish his load. He had been leaning against his van waiting when we arrived and hadn't even acknowledged Jessie and me as we went into the building, but as soon as we came out he was immediately and inevitably pulled over by Ernie Magnetism. "What have got, a puppy?" More amazement that no, that great grey shape did not belong to a canine, but a feline. The cargo guy tried to break off the cable ties securing the door shut for us and the van guy ran off to get a knife to cut them with. I just sat back and bemusedly watched. Jessie alternately chanted Ernie, Ernie, Ernie and cooed nonsense at him as she tried to thrust her fingers through the bars in the carrier. Ernie took all of the attention as his due and let us know *exactly* how trying the day had been and much he was Done with the carrier. Cynthia was right, he really is a talker.

When we got home, Baxter and Seraph were waiting eagerly to greet him. Unfortunately they did it in time-honored dog fashion by sniffing first his nose and then proceeding right to the butt. Ernie was NOT amused and hissed loudly at both of them. Neither dog was disturbed by the hiss--Seraph was raised in a house with an alpha cat and is well-trained in cat subservience and Baxter is subservient to Seraph so if she says the cat rules, the cat rules. It will probably take Ernie a couple of days to realize his power over the dogs, but I have no doubt he'll get there.

This morning he cuddled with Jessie and hung out with me a bit before taking himself away upstairs to avoid the noise and chaos of the cleaning people. This afternoon I'll introduce him to the studio and the studio backyard squirrels. More pics and video later, and thank you Cynthia for gracing us with such a marvelous fellow! (Dave just announced that the song we're hearing is "C'mon Every Beatbox" by Big Audio Dynamite, in case I was posting... he knows me so well :-)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ernie Has Landed!

Pictures and details tomorrow (excuse me, ma'am, is that a dog in there?).

Ernie... Today!

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug (apparently I don't have a Portland mug), "Hakuna Matata" by Ernie Sabella and others (from the Disney soundtrack of The Lion King) on iTunes. Both the mug and the song are to celebrate the imminent arrival of Ernie the Monstrocat! Thank you very much to the many people who made Ernie's voyage possible, I'll make sure once he gets here his saga will continue to be recorded and presented for his posterity. Too bad he doesn't eat kudzu. The other recent addition to the household (Jamine bunny) is very happy to help us avoid being overrun by the kudzu in the yard of the abandoned house next door. Even the caterpillar J brought me yesterday for identification has kudzu for a host plant!

The beautiful fall weather continues here in Atlanta and we keep the studio doors flung wide (and the screen door latched--Baxter bit the FedEx deliveryman yesterday) to profit from it. In a perfect world, I would sit in the skychair on the porch with the bunny frolicking at my feet all day. Hmmm. Maybe it can be a perfect day. Add a couple of phones, a laptop, a mountain of papers and voila--outdoor office!

Speaking of phones, if you left voicemail for me on my cell phone anytime between 9/13 and today and wondered why I never called you back, it's because I did not get your message til last night late (sorry Patty, Mary, Dee, Cynthia, Patrrick, Todd, Becky, and everyone else). Apparently the visual voicemail on my iPhone is honked and I didn't even know it till I tried calling it myself and got a 'mailbox full' message. Two calls with AT&T down--and a third to go this morning--'cause it still doesn't work.

Now I better go prepare for Ernie. Where did I put that kitty throne?

In non-Ernie studio news, Glass Craftsman magazine is reviewing my book in their December-January issue. I had a long (disjointed on my part) call from one of their writers yesterday. She interviewed me about my experience, teaching, writing the book, etc. I hope I didn't come across as a total moron. Some days you can talk better than others. Yesterday was not that day for me. Today might not be either.