Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Too Little For Tuesday

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, waiting for iTunes to reboot for music. Ah, there it is, "Moondance" by Van Morrison on the Apple TV. It's another dark Tuesday. Last week it felt like we lived in Seattle it rained so much, and this week is shaping up to be more of the same. April showers indeed. Grey weather makes me want to hibernate, not go forth and conquer the glass mountain.

Speaking of glass, my latest order shipped from Bullseye last Friday so I should have it later this week. Good thing too, as I am completely out of clear irid--again! I still have enough frit to sink a battle cruiser, but I sure go through the clear irid quickly.

Got a call yesterday from a gallery owner I met at the Dallas show and she would like to propose my work to a corporate client for a series of eight large wall panels--short-term timeline. The work would be interesting, and I'm getting to the end of the Buyer's Market orders so the additional income would be welcome--as would the opportunity to put off the inevitable shift back into cerebral glass activities--like planning the teaching I would like to do and new directions for the studio that comes at the end of the heavy production cycle. Direction shifts--like all change--are very hard. My body in production motion prefers to stay in production motion. Or it prefers to curl up on the couch with a good book. Neither are viable options so I heave myself out of my chair and head to the studio.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Office and Official!

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Leaving on a Jet Plane" covered by Me First & The Gimme Gimmes on iTunes. Yes, it is a sad Monday. The Sprout and I took the Spouse to the airport this morning. But he'll only be gone for four nights. He'll be back to us Friday night (for the entire following week!--It's spring break, doncha know).

Finally today I get to share pics of my main super-secret project of the past couple of weeks. I did it as a surprise for Dave but he said J and I dropped hints like anvils and he had pretty much guessed. But the visuals are still pretty impressive. Some might wonder why photos of the home-office re-do would show up in a glass business blog. The state of the home office for the past several years has had a serious impact on my ability to actually run a business. I thought businesses had to have files, file folders and file cabinets--as did well-run households. Turns out I was wrong.

For people like me--people who don't even bother to take the time to put on make-up in the morning, much less regularly file all the scraps of paper that accumulate on our desks--the optimal solution to having all the paper I need, having it in a place where I can put my hands on it without too much troubles *and* maintaining the organization with minimal effort is to have paper-sized plastic boxes labeled with home or business and the year. Sure I need a couple more boxes than that (like ones for owner's manuals, J's medical stuff, J's school stuff, J's art, Christmas cards, and photos) but I don't need all the fussy little manila folders I used to have languishing almost empty in green hanging folders in a dust-and-paper-covered file cabinet.

Both my bookkeeper and my accountant convinced me I need to keep all the old invoices and receipts from previous years, but I didn't need to sort them by vendor or month or anything other than year. If I get audited (knock on wood) I can deal with sorting the appropriate years. In the meantime, I can get on with Real Life.

The craftsman oak furniture that used to fill the office is mostly now over at the studio (where I do have a lot more "stuff" I need to store--like trade publications, more office supplies, etc.). I need nifty surfaces over there to put stuff on, and there was exactly the right amount of room in the office for everything but the old desk. Never fear though, it found a good home as a donation to a non-profit.

Now for the big news of the day! My partners Bill and Elaine Snell and Todd Briske have come through again (though Todd doesn't know it yet--he'll find out when he gets back in town on Wednesday). In June Bill and Elaine are going to Dallas to represent Siyeh Studio and Black Cat ArtWorks at the Dallas Market summer show. When you have a showroom there you have to be on-site for the two big markets of the year in January and June. Bill and Elaine are going instead of me because the market overlaps with BECon and I am attending it for the first time ever--and taking a really cool looking workshop on lost wax casting, "MYSTERIES OF LOST WAX REVEALED with Linda Ethier". But this is not the big news, this is old news (it's still big, it's just old and big).

The big news is that I have been invited to participate in an instructor workshop at Bullseye this summer. Bill, Elaine and Todd are making my attendance possible by taking on the entire set-up for the summer BMAC themselves--the instructor workshop is only held the week before the BMAC. I wish I were attending BEFORE I teach two sessions of summer camp, but I will at least have the summer camp to talk about in my 10-minute presentation on my studio, teaching, experience, etc. (they would like a presentation with slides or visual aids of some sort and everything. Wow.)

The instructor workshop will enable me to continue expanding the scope of my studio from solely production work and writing to teaching and even retailing and wholesaling glass. Yes, I think it's finally time to step up to the Big League and start selling materials and supplies and teaching regular classes. Gulp. Now off to get today's production kiln loads in and shipments out.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, SUNDAY!

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug (cause my sweetie is coming back to Atlanta TODAY!), "Going Home" by the BoDeans on iTunes. It's part of the all "home" playlist--which also includes Eddie Money "Take me Home Tonight/Be My Baby" with Ronnie Spector. There was no post yesterday. I didn't have time to make coffee yesterday. No coffee, no post. Simple, little, equation. On the other hand, I had three kilns (including both Bertha and Bettina) loaded and firing and two shipments labeled and out for UPS (I can't take credit for packing them--Becky did that the previous afternoon) all by 10:45. 10:45 AM. Really.

The rest of the morning/afternoon was spent on taxes and making a dent in sorting the boxes filled with five years worth of papers. Maybe the reason Dave and I moved so often in our first years together was so that I didn't have a chance to accumulate a truly staggering amount of (so my bookkeeper and accountant tell me) indispensable unsorted papers. I was forced to sort and purge regularly in order to move. I almost wish I were Jewish just so I'd have the ritual of the annual pre-Passover sort, clean and purge as an ingrained part of my life. Sure, it wouldn't be just chumetz that I'd be getting rid of but paper and all other "things" accumulated during the year and littering the house.


That was as far as I got on my post Friday before the whale of the day swallowed me whole, and it took till now to fight my way from its belly back to Blogger. Of course I stopped on a tropical island (metaphorically) for a little paradise with my newly home spouse and that delayed me too. And then there has been the weekend-long marathon replaying the old computer game Diablo II on my Mac. I clearly have an addictive personality and need to avoid computer action and adventure games if I wish to get anything else done.

So I post better late than never for Friday (a post which was already a catch-up post for Thursday), and I save my Big News to share tomorrow....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow, but Never Jam Today. Taxes Today.

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug. "Digging For Your Dream"--new Indigo Girls!--on iTunes. I still can't believe the spouse didn't go see them at SXSW. Shame on Bryon and all the others who weren't up for going with him (I can absolutely see why he didn't want to go alone--without me. Too sad.)

Tuesday was a trial, and it's over. Last night at 6:45 I was still loading the first of two kilns and had a tired, hungry, 7 year-old tugging on my shirt and asking when was dinner going to be ready. I finished the first load and had dinner on the table for her by 7:05. While she ate, I went back to the studio and started working on the second load. She came over when she had finished eating and hung out with me till just after 8:00 when the second kiln was loaded and firing. Then we went back to the house and had ice cream and talked to her dad. Ice cream was followed by a shower for her and putting laundry away for me and the evening finished with her tucked into her bed listening to Magic Treehouse and me updating my accounts receivable/reconciling invoices till bedtime at 11:00. Days beginning at 7:00 am and consisting of continuous work till after 10:00 at night have got to stop. I am not cut out for this kind of life.

At least I found some money as I desnarled my paperwork. It turns out that not only do I have a lot of checks due to come in, but I also have several credit cards that I never got around to charging for shipments sent in March. And it's a good thing I found some cash as I am going to have to pay for my biggest Bullseye glass order ever in a couple of weeks. Let's hope the check from the department store comes in in the meantime too. I think I'm going to have to set V on wading through their e-biz registration forms, etc., because I don't think I'm ever going to have the time (or interest).

Tired today. J came in to sleep with me about midnight and coughed and sniffed for the rest of the night. Poor little mite is completely stuffed up with a horrid cold, but she neither had a fever nor seemed particularly lethargic this morning so she went off to school. I am going to hit the Cold Eze hard today in an effort to head off getting sick myself. It's not a substitute for lots of rest, eating well and avoiding stress, but it's the closest I am going to come this week and I don't want to be sick when I see the spouse for the first time in three weeks (3,578 minutes from now).

Now off to do the final number pulling from the finances for last year's taxes. Really. really, really.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday at Kavarna... Alone

Dancing Goats Coffee with two extra shots of espresso in a Kavarna mug, something weird for music on their sound system. Why I am at Kavarna alone while D is in Austin, you might ask. Well, superwoman ran out of coffee beans. Went to load the coffee maker last night and, whoopsy daisy, not enough beans. So I dropped J off at school and headed to a place where there are always enough beans. I figure I'll get he rest of my orders, invoices and scheduling done in a place with no distractions... except Facebook. Oy.

So far having a bookkeeper seems to mean it's that much easier to ignore the taxes and financial paperwork. I'm no closer to getting them done (sorry Vero!), but I no longer have anxiety attacks about them either. My big accomplishment yesterday was organizing everything on the To Do list into days that I hope To Do them. I managed to get most of Monday's things done, though a few did ook over into today. Yes, the word is "ook", pronounced ooh-k. It was not a typo missing letter. There is a lot of ooking in my life right now and I just thought I'd share.

Blessed quiet--the weird music has stopped and I can concentrate. Sounds like a good time to start desnarling the invoice accounting spreadsheet. SURE AM LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT ERP SYSTEM that the spouse is building for me in his spare time (hint, hint).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blow It Out

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Hurricane Party" by James McMurtry wafting in from the living room. I'm in the office. It's the first time I've sat at the desk in here in, oh, years I think. The morning and the week started with a bang. Fed the J, made her lunch and got her off to school. Put away the clean dishes, did the grocery shopping and put away the groceries, sorted the laundry and started the first load. Now it's almost 9:00 and I'm ready for work. I begin to see how my mother did all this every day--grim, focused determination. Hit the ground running and don't stop until you collapse in bed at night. There's a certain pioneer beauty to it--which is not to say I do not long for my spouse's return with every fiber of my being.

In addition to working in the office and hosting a pajama party sleepover for the J this weekend I also fired full loads in both big kilns Saturday and Sunday. For once on Monday morning I can say I am caught up--with everything except paperwork (taxes, invoicing, accounts payable, etc.). But the kilns are going to need a few hours yet to cool--I didn't get them started till 8:00 last night as they were still cooling in the early evening from Saturday's firings--so I have time to work on the paper mess. "Right Here Now" by James McMurtry plays in the background. That's me today. Right here now in the nest of papers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday, Enfin

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Walk Between the Raindrops" by James McMurtry on iTunes. The SXSW Music Festival goes on. Wonder if the spouse did see Tori Amos last night at La Zona Rosa or if he bailed. It's the first year he's worked in the mornings (new job ya know) and spent the afternoons, evenings and nights at the festival. Now me, I'm just workin'. Each day I get one or two more things crossed off the list. Some of those things have been there for *months*. If he stays in Austin long enough, I might actually get all caught up (not much else to do in the late evenings besides work and read).

Today I take another load of glass to Todd, fire, ship, and get the glass order in to Bullseye (finally!). Breaking pieces with slight flaws into chunks and firepolishing those chunks into pieces for ornaments, keychains, base pieces for wire men, and garden stakes is a lot more difficult than I had thought it would be. Were we selling them retail, it would be simple. But wholesale adds a whole new level of complication--we have to be consistent in our sizing. And I gotta tell you, it's very difficult to get consistent results from smashing large pieces of glass into shards on a concrete driveway! This week we instituted a sizing chart and sorting bins and Becky went through everything we had fired and put it all into buckets for Todd. The pre-sorting before it goes to him serves a two-fold purpose: he doesn't spend an entire day going through glass, and I have a good idea how many pieces of what sizes I have made for him so I can make sure there are enough appropriate pieces to complete our orders.

As I look at my list of things to do I find that I am most behind in money matters--and not just the reconciliation kind. I am also behind in paying and collecting. It would be nice to get a few of those done today too. And maybe I'll have some extra time for it as Jessie is being picked up from school by another mother for an afternoon/evening (dinner and a movie) playdate with one of her friends. I look forward to an evening by myself to watch a non-Sprout-friendly movie, have a nice salad for dinner and a couple of glasses of white wine--but only if I get caught up on sending and receiving (or at least rebilling for) all the money I have outstanding!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday and the Week Winds Down... Hah!

Coffee (microwaved from yesterday) in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Maybe World" by Mary Chapin Carpenter on iTunes. Microwaved coffee eh, so it's going to be THAT kind of day. Yes, I'm afraid it is. I'm off to Commerce to meet Bill and Elaine and exchange work--and to talk a bit about our booth layout for Philly this summer. Didn't we just do this? The neverending story...

Good news: I have more orders than I thought I had. Several came in through email in February and I just hadn't had a chance to process them all into formal orders and put them on the firing schedule. Yea! The bad news: Most of them are due tomorrow. Hope Monday will be soon enough and sorry I am going to be kissing a firing-free weekend good-bye.

The piece that I shipped to the gallery up north overnight on Monday... was broken by UPS in transit. The box was crushed. On an overnight package! Oh boy. Yet one more piece to fire today.

I am going to stop reading CNN. Not only did they have the bad sense to lay off my spouse, but they seem to have a vested interest in whipping the public into a frenzied panic about the economy. Recent headline: 45% of people polled think we're heading into another Great Depression within the next year. Well, yeah, if you get the herd scared enough to stampede it *will* happen. Panic, catastrophe, death, doom all sell. But you can only maintain an adrenaline rush for so long before you have to settle down and just get on with your life. We all mill around wailing, tearing our hair and gnashing our teeth... and then we wander back home to do laundry, make soup, feed the dogs.

Now I'm off to sign pieces and pack them to take to Bill and Elaine. Starbucks at 10:30. Yum!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" by the Allman Brothers on iTunes. Yesterday was a good firing day--two full big loads in Bertha and Bettina--but a lousy paperwork day. Becky the Wunder Assistant has another job mornings now so I get her in the afternoon and my whole schedule is upside down. It's not a bad upside down, mind you. In the same way pineapple upside down cake isn't bad, having Becky at the studio to bound and cement the afternoon work hours isn't bad. She arrives an hour or so before I pick the J up from school and stays an hour or two longer. Her being there helps keep the end of the school day from making my brain think it's the end of the work day too.

So I filled the kilns yesterday full of little pieces, the self-same little pieces that are going to get me through this pesky economic downturn. Right now the way to keep an art/craft business afloat is to have a small-sized series of work that efficiently uses materials (keeps waste to zero), has a quick turnaround time (is not labor-intensive), and can be--because of the first two--priced lower than other styles of your work. Oh yes, this series also has to be of the same quality and made with the same care as the rest of your work so as to put the finishing touches on your customers perception that it is a very good bargain and will sell well to their customers.

The time that you have freed up by doing less labor-intensive work can be put to use teaching, reselling supplies, or doing a host of other income-generating activities. The secret is flexibility and openness to change. Now I'm going to head off and polish up a class schedule for the studio. There are fountain classes, birdbath classes, ikebana container classes and who knows what else to create.

(The playlist for today's post is everything in my music library that has the word "waste" in the song or album title, or in the artist's name. It includes lots of good songs and the entire album "Too Long In the Wasteland" by James McMurtry--a fitting kickoff for the SXSW Music Festival Dave will attend today in Austin. I finish writing to "Song For a Deckhand's Daughter". It doesn't get better than that.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Where Has the Morning Gone?

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Right Now" by Van Halen on iTunes. I am grounded in the here and now and plowing through work. Tuesday is my favorite day of the week. Tuesday morning there are still four work days left in the week to get things done and Monday is behind me, what could be better than that? Add the weather--the rain has passed and the sun is shining--and all is (almost all--15,048 minutes till Dave is home) right with my world


I have just diddled two hours away editing the video from the hemisphere set-up that I wanted to get posted today. *Sigh* so much for being ahead this morning, er, afternoon! I'll have to post video tomorrow or whenever I have more time to futz with it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

964 Miles From Home

Coffee in the Denver architect series mug, "3,000 Miles" by Tracy Chapman on iTunes. I'm off the melancholy playlist even though the spouse is still 964 miles away. But I made it through the first weekend alone, holding together home and hearth with adequacy if not grace and verve.

As the spouse likes to say, every scrap of cloth in the house is clean (or in the washer), and the Sprout is off to school--only a teensy bit late this morning. Shouldn't have tried to empty the dishwasher, move around laundry, fold laundry, make her breakfast (though cutting a couple of slices of danish and pouring some juice isn't terribly time consuming), make her lunch and supervise her chores (oh yes, and get dressed and teeth brushed myself) all on a rainy Monday morning before school.

Now it's 8:30 and thoughts turn to glass. A piece didn't turn out last week and I had to refire it over the weekend. Unfortunately the customer for it is driving down from Canada to one of my galleries up north to pick it up on Tuesday. I shipped the stand out Friday, but now I have to overnight the glass today and it's a big, heavy piece. I won't make anything on this sale other than the continued goodwill of the gallery and hope for more orders from them. Just the cost of doing business--and it wouldn't have happened at all if I weren't running the firing schedule right up to the wire.

BRB--got to take a break to fill the bird feeders in between rain showers. The little birds are out there right now and looking quite put out that they made the trek and there's no food...

Though I'm still behind from starting the year with three big shows and set-up of a permanent showroom (all before St. Patrick's Day!), today I finally feel rested and like I can see the tasks ahead of me in a coherent order. There are a daunting number of them from finances (invoice reconciliation, bills, taxes, sales taxes, oh my) to getting the Bullseye glass order in, to planning and promoting summer camp, but I can see them all now--no more too-swamped-to-see-ahead-past-next-week. Wow. It's a scary view! But there's coffee, quiet, peace and time--and only 16,571 minutes till Dave gets home.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Longest Week Ends

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Home" by Marc Broussard on iTunes. I sense a theme... It's Friday so the work week ends. Wow. No work in the studio scheduled for the weekend. Of course that doesn't mean I won't be working--I have mileage and other data for taxes to do, a slideshow to figure out, wholesalecrafts.com to update, and a mountain (literally) of paperwork to sort and file.

I am reminded of an incident with my advisor in graduate school. I kept waiting and waiting to get a paper back from her and finally I went to her office to inquire about it. It wasn't that she didn't pay attention to or read our work--just the opposite. She was so intense and meticulous in her evaluation of everything we turned in that it would take her forever to get through reviewing it. Her husband, as a way of dealing with the mountains of paper her style engendered, used to periodically go through their apartment and put everything in big green garbage bags for later sorting--all the papers on this chair in one, all the papers on that table in another. I don't think they ever got sorted, and I never did get that paper back (I got a decent grade though).

I truly have four years worth of personal and business papers stacked in drunken piles on the desk, file cabinet and floor of the home office and squatting on every available flat surface in the house and studio office. Even the cleaning people don't go near them for fear of being ingested by the paper monsters and disappearing forever. Four years of now-dusty papers. Blech.

On the plus side, technology is my friend today--whatever gremlins had the reins at Blogger yesterday are sleeping it off today and I was able to upload my time lapse slide show of the Hemisphere Design Gallery showroom set-up. You enjoy the banjo music, I'm off with a trusty stick (and maybe a box of matches) to attack the paper monsters. And if you see my spouse this weekend, give him a hug for me. I miss him.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Coherence is Overrated

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, the traffic outside the studio for music (and the tap tap tapping of the keyboard). I am rushing around again this morning (chicken, head cut off, what's new?) and don't have time for a long--or even mostly coherent--post. I wanted to leave you with a time lapse slideshow of the Hemisphere Design gallery show room set-up from Monday in Dallas, but slideshows are apparently my bane this week and I failed. So I tried to upload it to my Joomla webpage. DENIED! Short post, no slideshow, what's the world coming to?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Siyeh Does Dallas

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, the silence of the morning for music. J is off to school--I survived my first morning of single parenthood. Dave is in Austin for the next two months with weekends home starting in three weeks (I will be counting the minutes as soon as I can figure out how many there are). I am back from setting up the showroom in Dallas and exhausted. But the day--and the week--marches on. There are taxes to file, orders to prepare and ship, schedules to update, finances to wrangle--in short, all the little things that make up a business. Oh yes, and now there's dinner to figure out, school transportation to wedge in, and a child to raise

Yesterday morning at 7:30 in Dallas I started the following post:

"I sit on the Hemisphere showroom and enter my post into a text edit window as I have not had Internet access in *36 hours*. The reason I am sitting and typing instead of drinking coffee and driving back to Atlanta is that I am waiting for my image slideshow to finish burning to dvd. Last night technology and exhaustion (and frustration at the lack of Internet due to hotel equipment problems) kept me from finishing it. Now I chomp at the bit to get On The Road!!! (Elaine is just as anxious as I am to get home, but she's far too polite to chomp.)

Set-up of the permanent showroom in the Hemisphere Design Gallery went extremely well. Thanks to Todd's and Elaine's creativity and general artsy-farstsiness, the space is filled with delightful, accessible eye-candy. There are cans of spilled paint (glass) scattered on the white table cloths (which pose as drop cloths), little wire men waving frit-covered paintbrushes and frolicking around the pieces, and bright clean white lines and light throughout. Oh yes, and there are beautiful glass and metal pieces in just the right number."

I never did get the dvd to work before we left--I'll work on it this week and mail it. The drive back, accompanied by the audiobook of Stephen King's "The Gunslinger", was uneventful and Elaine and I were safely in Atlanta by 9:00 pm.

Tomorrow I'll post photos of the renovation--we took 15-minute-interval time lapse photos all day--and maybe a video of the final state. Today I need to concentrate on Organizing My Life and Work to meet the demands of our family's new separation state.

Friday, March 06, 2009

How Much Internet is Too Much Internet?

Coffee in the San Francisco skyline mug, the sound of little girls giggling as they get ready for school for my music. A friend whose daughter is in J's class dropped her off this morning because she has an early meeting up north. Dave will take both girls and Becky the Wunder Assistant to school (Becky needs to see the drop-off routine so she can do it next week).

Substitute "Blogger" for "LiveJournal" in the XKCD cartoon to the right, and this has become my life (click on the cartoon to make it larger so you can read it). Dave's vacation chant used to be "Live, don't commemorate!" as I snapped picture after picture, absorbing the experience through a lens. Now it's all fodder for the blogs. The day I come up with a way of dictating on the fly, the world as we know it will truly have ended.

And what does blogging have to do with glass art or business? Everything--or, rather, the Internet has everything to do with them (and I'm not talking about an on-line store).

At this winter's Buyer's Market show in Philly I had dinner with a group of fellow artists--many of them long-time show participants--and we commiserated with each other about the Decline of the Show. I have heard lamentation after lamentation that this show used to fill an artist's order schedule for most if not all of the year. Those days were over by the time I started doing it and paying my dues. This year I got enough orders for a few weeks, maybe a month--and I did well. Since I started doing wholesale shows my first automatic reaction to slow sales was to consider adding more shows. But no matter how you slice it, it is very difficult for wholesale shows today to be profitable. I keep trying to convince myself that they are, I keep wanting them to be, but for me, they aren't. The best thing they do is introduce me to new potential buyers, and they have a pretty high cost in terms of time, money and energy for that low return.

It used to be that the only way a gallery owner could see an artist's latest work--and could discover new artists whose work would be a good fit for their galleries--was to go to a show or two. But now with the proliferation of the Internet and the abundance of good, cheap digital image technologies, it's easy for gallery owners to discover new treasures from the comfort of their chairs with a laptop warming their legs. I want to get a piece of that action and have them discover me and my work.

The trend of shopping from the comfort of your own home existed before the economic winds of woe blew in, but it has been seriously exacerbated and accelerated by them. My big spring orders are not coming from the show this year. They're coming from people who currently carry my work who did not attend the shows. They would probably have been better orders had I been able to talk to the buyers ace to face and personally to show them the new work and colorways, but I can work on making them better next time--without having to count on an in-person interaction. I need a better web presence.

The work I do daily here on Blogger and the work I did setting up a Siyeh Studio page on Facebook this week was easy. The people who created the interfaces for them made them quick to create and update and I was up and running in no time. This is not to say that's what I want for a website. I want my website to be unique--not an obvious template--and still easy to update and navigate... and I'm not there yet. Joomla is good, but it's still cumbersome and restrictive.

I also want an easy-to-update on-line catalogue with fully-featured image manipulation. I have a catalog at WholesaleCrafts.com, but the interface for updating it is so bad that I am never up to date. I just don't have the days necessary to make changes on it when I have a new colorway to add or items to edit. Joomla's VirtueMart plug-in doesn't seem to be much better so I keep searching.

Right now I spend a minimum of a full, exhausting week and $5,000 to do a show. I can't help but think that if I took that money and that time I could come up with something more lasting and with a higher return on investment (the all-important ROI). The Internet is a good research tool too. I could spend some of that time identifying good gallery fits for my work. I could write targeted letters to those gallery owners and send them digital portfolios. I could make my work more accessible to them on the web, and I would have the time to follow up on the relationships I have already made that have languished since the other people in them have stopped coming to the shows. I would have more time with my family and I wouldn't be so tired. I just need to be disciplined about using the week that would have be given to show wisely.

The post this morning has been rambling and not at all as tight and coherent as I would have liked. But I wanted to get the beginnings of my process re-work out onto page before it just slips away. The studio is uber busy right now, but soon (really, soon!) I'll have time to come back to the ideas I let go here, and maybe others of you out there will have ideas of your own to add... And we can have a revolution when I get back!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Snow Angel Cometh

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug (and a Samoa!), "On the Table" by AC Newman of the New Pornographers (Dave is streaming Pandora radio to the Apple tv) on iTunes. It's cold again this morning (will winter never end?) we have a cocker spaniel shivering on the back deck and J's snow angel still decorating in the back yard (J doesn't make snow angels the way other kids do--she's forming the wings on the angel's back in the picture at right). It's supposed to be 76 degrees Saturday. Everything is topsy turvy now from the economy to the weather and it's really shaking up our lives.

And speaking of shaken up, the day was so upside down that at 5:15 I am just now finishing this post. *sigh*

I wrote a few days ago that it takes a village to run Siyeh Studio, and if anything shows the veracity of that statement--and provides concrete evidence that Atlanta is where I should be right now--it's what I have organized for next week. Dave starts his new job--in Austin--on Monday. I have the Hemispheres showroom to set up in Dallas also on Monday. And the Village steps in. Elaine is driving down from Greenville on Saturday to come with me to Dallas on Sunday. Todd is also coming in on Saturday because he will be taking care of Jessie till I get back on Tuesday.

Dave and I have the Waldorf auction to attend on Saturday night and Elaine and Todd are jointly babysitting for it. Though Todd is taking care of Jessie while we're gone, he doesn't drive. So Becky offered (and I ecstatically* accepted) to drive J to and from school every day. Yes, it sounds more like a circus than a village, but I am so grateful for the friends I have made here! They have just stepped in since Dave was laid off and enabled us to keep everything together without sacrificing the child to the tentacled jaguar god and without me disemboweling the spouse (or anyone else) from undiluted stress. And they did it because we are a community, friends, and that's just what friends do. Wow.

So it's now 5:30, and I got a lot accomplished today. The Waldorf auction project for the 7th graders proceeds apace (I am fusing it all together today). Orders continue to come in post Buyer's Market (the buyers I did not see but have been meaning to call have been calling me, how great is that?). Dave has taken a hand-off of all the database description and use case data for the ERP system--another thing off my plate. (Is that the first time you've heard the phrase "use case"? It's certainly the first time I've used it, but now that I'm working with a high-class software developer, I have to learn the lingo.) Tonight I finish entering and scheduling orders. Tomorrow I put the final touches on the props for the Hemispheres showroom and start making the dvd slideshow of all my work that I am going to leave playing there on continuous loop. Oh yes, and I will make V happy by getting to the *final* bookkeeping items that she has assigned me. Happy Thursday all. It's Manhattan time.

*Dave provided the word 'ecstatically' as I needed a substitute for 'gratefully'--too much grateful in too short a space. Then he buffed his nails on his t-shirt and said, "That's Mr. Thesaurus Boy to you."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Is There Any Way We Can Speed This Up?

No coffee yet, "Hands Like Rain" by James McMurtry on iTunes. Quick, quick, quick post this morning before I take J to school. No, it's not a test run, I *do* know how to do it, but I have to pick up the 7th grade auction project to I can fire it this morning so I might as well drop her off too.

The first run of the new small stand pieces will come out this morning and Dave will drive them halfway to Greenville (to Starbuck's in Commerce) to meet either Bill or Elaine with them. Had a little panic attack at 3:00 am (oh no, not them again! Second night in a row) that I had used the wrong firing schedule for the second firing on the mullite shelves. Fingers crossed they came out. (See? Even after 20+ years at this I still worry that kiln loads won't turn out!) New technique for me--making multiple organic pieces from one fused slab. I usually make all my work one piece at a time. But economic necessity has forced some changes this year to stay competitive. It won't be very economic though if I've blown the whole load.

Okay, getting ready to head out the door. The next two months (Dave officially starts his new job in Austin Monday) will be... interesting. I'm Chinese cursed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Back To Work!

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug "Drifting" by Sarah McLachlan easing into "You Can Sleep While I Drive" by Melissa Etheridge on iTunes. "So come on baby, let's get out of this town. I've got a full tank of gas with the top rolled down..." well, maybe not the last part. The set started with "All That We Let In" by the Indigo Girls. Now it's "Change" by Tracy Chapman. Are the songs this morning just tuned perfectly to my life right now or what? There is dry path between piles of ice so I can get to the studio. The sun shines brightly on a freezing cold world. Life goes on.

All of Siyeh Studio right now is compartmentalized into before Dallas (setting up the Hemispheres showroom next Monday) and after Dallas. Before Dallas includes such diverse things as getting the books to the accountant (probably won't happen), finishing the auction projects (both my mask example and the wall piece for the 7th grade), organizing and scheduling all the orders (Dave has accepted the ERP assignment again--we have ping-ponging it back and forth and it's his turn to ditz about it) and finding out my spouse's travel schedule for his new employment. It is thought he will need to be onsite, out of state for at least the first two months and then a week at a time every month after that.

After Dallas I have Frantic Firing. Becky has asked me to stagger the completion of the orders due to ship on 3/15 so she can pack them in a more leisurely, less physically exhausting way. I can always try. (snort) After Dallas I also have single parenthood, and let me tell you that's not going to be an easy one. I have an amazing partnership with an incredible spouse. I am not a woman who does almost all the child care and feeding and runs her own business too. I am a woman who does about half of the care and none of the feeding (I don't even feed me--Dave has taken to making me lunch every day since he's been home on the dole). I am truly daunted by the prospect of taking on everything, keeping my business growing, and neither warping nor killing Jessie in the process. You think I'm kidding... (Well, I am--at least about the killing part. The warping is entirely possible.)

But that's all After Dallas. Nothing exists After Dallas--it's all about the Here and Now. Here I am, Now off to the studio for another fun-filled day.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Where the Devil Don't Stay" by Drive By Truckers on the Apple tv. It's a random choice as Dave controls the music this morning, but it is so incredibly appropriate I can scarce believe it. I posted first this morning on Stranded in the South because this fine Snow Day (J's school and pretty much the rest of Atlanta is shut down this morning due to the snow that fell yesterday) so far is more about family than studio.

But studio looms as the snow and ice begin to melt. Yesterday I cut and prepped all the glass cylinders that the Waldorf 7th graders made and they are going to combine them into a really nice wall collage or mirror. As there was no school today, they will have to do it all tomorrow and it might be a bit rushed (I may even need to go and help), but there's no way the end result won't be spectacular.

The kilns will warm the studio as I fill and fire them all, and today and tomorrow I will ship the last two orders I have going out between now and mid-March when the BMAC orders start. I do have some pieces to get to Black Cat ArtWorks by Wednesday (hence some of today's kiln loads), but most of my work for the rest of the week will consist of a mask (as an example for the glass summer camp sessions I have donated to the Waldorf Auction--if you're at all interested, the online one is way cheap...), fusing the 7th grade project, and a final few pieces for the Dallas Hemispheres showroom. Then it's time to tackle the piles of paper again before they consume me.

Okay, off to face the snow!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Snowy Sunday In Atlanta

Coffee (with hot chocolate!) in the New York skyline mug, "Beautiful Racket" by Mary Chapin Carpenter on iTunes. It's Sunday, Elaine, Bill, Katie, and Daniel have piled into their car and headed off into the storm towards Greenville and home (it's snowing! Big Fat Flakes!) and the Griffiths repose for a tiny bit before I head to the studio to cut all the solid glass cylinders made by the Waldorf 7th graders into 1/4" think round slices. It is my optimistic hope that these 2" wide circles will be laid out by the class into a beautiful wall collage/mirror frame and then fused solid by me... in time for the auction next Saturday. Nothing like leaving things till the last minute!

This weekend the Snells came down form Greenville so Elaine could help plan the display for the permanent showroom in Dallas. This project has been very exciting as it is a completely new marketing departure for me. When it was first proposed I thought of it as an extension to my show schedule, but it's really not--it's a completely different market. Now I think of it more as a retail opportunity to work with designers and less as a stocking-buyer market. Given the redefined focus, a display with a bit more art, a bit more flair seemed in order.

Todd's original idea for the layout was to have fabric draped on the displays and swirling around the floor to soften the starkness of the plain pedestals and the brown carpet. He and Elaine have extended that idea and now we're covering all the display elements in heavy white cloth to look like the room is being painted (we ended up using table cloths for the purpose as the paint cloths I found are a dingy brown and other fabric from the fabric store is either too thin, too expensive, or both).

We have empty, bright silver paint cans to scatter around the space that have chunky frit glued to them like paint drips and Todd's little wire men hanging, sitting, standing and waving long, thin paint brushes with glue-and-frit-dipped tips. Elaine even made two long "paint spills" out of pieces of blue and yellow cathedral glass sprinkled with various sizes of frit. I tack fused them yesterday and they look great!

I posted last week about the IKEA red chair, and sadly it is too big for the space. It's not a big chair, but it's a really small space (10' X 10' goes fast). Luckily, I have an old, rusty iron stool in the studio that I will clean up and paint black this week that is the perfect size. The 19" tv is just the right size for the space and the dvd player will give me a an opportunity to hone my mad slideshow skills. The pedestals are out--the contemporary gallery look they provide is not conducive to the art-filled-home-in-the-midst-of-being-painted look we are emphasizing now (and they're too tall for the walls), but the dollar store flat pack furniture is perfect and will be augmented by a couple of cloth-draper cinder blocks.

I am taking down my pipes and track lights and replacing them with six floor spots--one of which might even be placed in a paint can (if it has enough clearance around it for the light to cool--don't want to start any fires...). They are 50 watt halogen narrow-beam floods and the lights are only $15 each from Lamps Plus (good online lighting source-cheap, fast, great customer service).

The vinyl lettering for the wall sign came and it looks great--I don't know why more people don't use this kind of signage at the BMAC and ACRE shows. It is relatively inexpensive, looks easy to put up, and has a serious dramatic impact! The final thumbs up/thumbs down will come after we finish the real showroom install.

Now I'm off to trudge through the snow (Snow! Really! On the ground in Atlanta on March 1!) to the studio so I can finish up work and still have a little family time today.