Thursday, April 30, 2009

In 50 Words Or Less...

A quick post before I dash off to bathe a Sprout and get her to bed. Then lots of on-line work to do tonight (tools to plan, book to read, ACRE, bills and who knows what else). Coherent and comprehensive post tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Artist AND Videographer!

When I was actually drinking the coffee and contemplating posting, it was in the Alaska mug. It took so long for Blogger to load this morning that I drank it all before getting here. "No More Buffalo" by James McMurtry for music. Not Blogger's fault about the lack of speed though--I'm uploading the new versions of the roll-up videos to YouTube right now. James McM is for Dave who is planning to drop by the Continental Club tonight at midnight to see him. *sigh* I am so envious. I'd stay up for James McM.

I was very disappointed in the quality of the roll-up videos I initially put up--especially as the quality before uploading was very good. Last night I did a little technical research on the mahvelous interweb and discovered that you are supposed to upload the highest quality video you can to YouTube--you should not compress it yourself first--as they will compress and "optimize" it when you upload. So a little more time on the front end for me results in a much better video for you. Unfortunately, the article I read said the maximum size for uploading was 100 mg. I spent a couple of hours last night trying to get each of mine just smaller than 100mg each with no success. This morning when I went to YouTube to upload my compromise size (I finally ended up with iMovie's pre-defined cd-rom quality of 35 mg) I saw that YouTube now accepts up to 1 gig and 10 minutes of film per video. Re-exported to 250 mg each, and am sloooowly getting them up. Note to self: make sure to be connected to the DSL through a cable--not wireless--to upload 250 mg files...

Who knew as a glass artist I'd have to learn about the nuances of video formats, compression, frame rate, aspect, bit rate, etc.? I just want to press a button and have the darn thing show up on that there Internet instantly looking great. I don't think that's too much to ask. But technological savvy is increasingly important for artists. Going back to the discussions several of us had at the Buyer's Market in February, the venues of the past for promoting our work aren't enough. I don't know anyone now who just does the annual retail festival circuit (Florida in the Winter, the deep south for the spring, then up to the Midwest or west to the Rockies for the summer). Likewise, I don't know anyone who is making it just doing the wholesale arts shows--certainly no one who started in the past five years.

More income streams (i.e., production work, art work, teaching, writing, etc.) and more online marketing venues (not just a website but Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Plaxo--and I'm not taking on-line sales here, that's a whole different subject) are becoming the norm for the successful artist--and each of them requires new skill sets and time. It's only Wednesday and I'm ready for a nap (or to go become a pool cleaner).

Enjoy the (New and Improved!) videos. Don't forget to put the sound on, and--as always--please support the musicians who inspired me both in my artistic endeavors and for the videos (Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Jace Everett, John Carpenter and the Coupe de Villes, and Creedence Clearwater Revival (links are to buy the MP3's on Amazon--how great is that technology?).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bonus Post! Bonus Post!

Let's skip the whole coffee (there isn't any) and music (it's James McMurtry, of course) thing and get right to a Bonus Post! I didn't get to gardening (or firing yet--bad me), but I did get the second half of the roll-up workshop video done. I am wistfully missing everyone today and wishing we were getting together again so I thought I'd put it up. And, okay, I have an ulterior motive: I want ANOTHER workshop like that one, but this time with Delores Taylor on Pate de Verre. There, I've said her name. Now she must come! Thanks to Jace Everett for "Bad Things", John Carpenter and the Coupe de Villes for "Big Trouble in Little China", and Creedence Clearwater Revival for "Green River". Go buy them, you know you want to. Enjoy the video (and make sure your sound is ON).

*****VIDEO REMOVED: Putting it up again with better quality on 4/29***************

Too Much For One Tuesday

Coffee was in the Atlanta skyline mug--scarfed it down already, "Waste a Lifetime" by BoDeans for music. Today is less about wasting a lifetime and more about the crammed fullness of possibilities in one, and my wish for two simultaneous lifetimes (or to live on a planet with 36 hours in a day) to get to everything. The problem, if indeed there really is a problem, is that everything I'm working on is time-sensitive. The masks in glass summer camp is scheduled to start on July 6th whether I am ready or not, and the garden is bursting into summer with all the pent-up vigor of spring, again, whether I am ready for it or not. Glass on the left, gardening on the right, stuck in the middle with you blogging through my paralysis.

It's going to be another hot day here in Atlanta. We had a cold, rainy spring that gave way in a day with no transition into full, glorious hot summer. Shrubs, trees and vines still need pruning and staking (and boy am I late on THAT task!). The weeds must be addressed before they take over everything (first kudzu sighting this morning). Fire ants must be wrangled (out of existence) and bedding and potted plants tucked in before it's just too hot... and none of the preceding have anything to do with glass.

Because it's going to be another hot day here in Atlanta I need to get the kiln loads in this morning while it's cool. The beginning of last week I had nothing scheduled for this week, then starting Wednesday the orders began trickling in at a steady one a day through yesterday. Just that easily my firing schedule is full for the week.

Then there's all the non-glass glass work to be done: website, sales tax (still. I am bad.), gallery check-ins, ACRE planning, info card design and ordering, and the pièce de résistance--summer camp curriculum. The reading alone I have accumulated is staggering (everything from Johnathon's oeuvre on coldworking to all the reference books on the significance of masks in various cultures I got to prepare for summer camp).

So how do I get the gardening AND the glass done in the 24-hour days I have in this earthly lifetime? Is the solution really more hours in a day? I think not! I think I know the answer (pick me! pick me!). How about I get the kiln loads in right now in the cool morning before it gets too hot. Then, while it's still not scorching, I spend an extended lunchtime puttering in the garden. Finish with an afternoon in the skychair sipping lemonade and webbing/curriculuming/planning. Sounds like a good idea to me. Wash, rinse, reppeat tomorrow and Friday and I could find myself in front of the eight ball by the weekend. (Now why is in front of the eight ba;; better than behind the eight ball? Hmmm. Something more to think about.)

A quick note and query as I close:

The glass roll-up workshop was such an incredible, invigorating joy and success that it looks like there may be another workshop offered at the same studio the end of August/the beginning of September by a renowned pate de verre artist/teacher. I have been charged with scoping out interest in taking the workshop and specific techniques/information that people would like covered. Please comment or email me if you might like to participate and/or have suggestions for specific content. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Projects End, Projects Begin

Coffee in the University of Montana Grizzlies travel mug, "Goodbye Earl" covered by Me First & the Gimme Gimmes for music. Started the morning by taking the 7th graders their re-fused mirror for signing and trying to find the mask reference books I lent to the Waldorf auction committee to promote the summer camp item. Need to get curriculuming! Back home to post then off to ikebana to use my roll-up nageire vase for the first time.

The week ended with a couple more orders coming in so I have about a half week's firing to do--just the right amount to leave enough time for ACRE travel arrangements, Georgia sales tax, summer camp planning, studio maintenance (getting the gas back on and the hot water heater working again) and website updating. Oh yes, and enough time to finish Johnathon's most excellent book and put the finishing touches on my nefarious coldworking studio plan. Who knows, I might even get more workshop editing done. If I don't do it now, it's going to languish forever.

Four months into permanent showroom leasing and I am not too excited about it. I had reservations about doing something so far from home where I wouldn't be able to check up on it at least monthly, and my trepidations are being realized. I have had one order for one piece from a designer equaling about 1/3 of one month's rent. Part of it is definitely the economy, but I think another part is that nothing sells itself. People have to see it through advertising and other marketing activities--and seeing it in person is the best of all but that means going to the showroom and shopping.... something I don't think many people are doing these days. It might have been better to start in Atlanta, but I wasn't impressed with the permanent showroom space I saw at the Mart when I did the Atlanta's Mart winter show. It felt dirty, dingy and dark--the three big dings.

Time to motor. I leave with pics of happy 7th graders signing their mirror.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday is for Finishing (Otherwise Known As Coldworking)

Coffee in the San Francisco skyline mug, "Kathy's Waltz" by Dave Brubeck for music. Picked up a new fax machine last night. I wanted just a plain, basic fax--no frills, no other features--but the HP all-in-one (printer, scanner fax with phone) was $10 cheaper ($49) than the lowest plain fax at Office Depot. Got home with it just in time for an earthshaking thunderstorm. Mindful of the last two fax machines I lost to lightning, I am still waiting to set-it up--even though I was smart this time and got a surge protector that has input jacks for the phone lines as well as the electrical outlets so I should be safe. I *can* be trained.

Today I go back to Lori's and grind some more--I am clearly addicted. I am so addicted that I spent about an hour on HIS Glassworks drooling over lathes, grinding wheels, grinding pads, diamond points... Diamonds ARE a girl's best friend, some of us just prefer them plated to a wheel or a disc or a pad :-). They carry a couple of lathes designed by Steve Klein for Covington; one of which tempts me mightily.

Today is also the day I order Hang Your Glass components and prepare to venture into the realm of public installation. Fortunately I do not have to install the glass, all I have to do is mount the hanging hardware. The gallery that is in charge of the project will do all the display. I'll be back on a lathe or a wet-belt or somesuch.

Happy Friday, all.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

La Croix blue fizzy water in the can, giggling little girls for music. The day has come, the day has gone. But what a day it was!

Hi, My name is Brenda and I'm an addict. I went up to Lori Schinelli's Glass Garage at Glass Inspirations today and coldworked one of my roll-up vases from last weekend's workshop on her wet-belt sander. Now I've used a wet-belt sander before--I have an old, green, tabletop one from a well-known vendor and my reaction to working with it has always been "Meh". Lori has a big CRL machine with a 4" X 106" belt, a one-step belt tightening lever, and an automatic water feed. I think I'm in love. It was very hard to tear myself away to go pick up J and a friend after school for a playdate (child? what child?).

Tonight after I get J to sleep I'm going to settle in with another fizzy water nightcap and treat myself to more of Johnathon's book (ah the perks of fellow authorship--advanced copy ;-). The department store (whose fourth-store order shipped today) had better pay up from the first three stores quick--I've got me equipment to acquire and a state-of-the-art coldworking studio to finish!

I am very envious of my fellow workshopper Simone Kestelman for taking a kilncasting/coldworking workshop from Richard Whitely at Pilchuk this summer. While she is in the cool Pacific northwest on the beautiful Pilchuk campus, I'll be in the inferno that is summer Atlanta doing two weeks of kilnformed glass summer camp (the Masks camp). Okay, so I'll be having as much fun as she will, just a different kind of fun.

I close today with a sigh for the joys of an urban studio. If I had been just a bit faster, I could have gotten the license plate number of the silver camaro-like car loaded with hoodlums that idled in front of the studio this afternoon--music (or something that could possibly be called music in an alternate universe) blaring--while waiting for the light at the corner to change. They were so impressed by my yard that they were compelled to add their own decoration to it in the form of a beer bottle in a paperbag tossed and smashed onto the driveway. Heard the "music", heard the glass smash, ran out, but they were too far down the street for me to get the number. I shook my fist impotently and wished in vain for super powers. It did not make me feel better.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mid-Week, Mid-Work

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "My Friends" by Red Hot Chili Peppers for music. It's late to be starting to post so I have given up the dream of having the second half of the first video ready for today. Something to look forward to tomorrow. Yesterday I was so smug about getting four kiln loads in and I woke with a start at 5:00 this morning to the realization that I hadn't turned the first one on. Doh. It holds a bowl to be slumped and shipped today. Well that's not going to happen. Good thing I was early on this shipment and have a week or so before it really has to go.

Studio production is slow, slow, slow right now. I still have a lot of invoices out so I have income for a few more weeks, but ACRE and new orders can't come soon enough. I got an order yesterday afternoon and have already done the first firing on it. Of course in the way of life and the universe nothing else about the studio is slow. I *still* have my sales taxes from 2008 to file (late, late, late), my website is dismally abysmal again it is so behind, and I have a summer camp to put together. One step at a time. I'll get all that--and my travel arrangements for ACRE and my new artist info cards--done in the next couple of weeks.

Today I have one treat scheduled: Lee, my glassblower friend, is coming by the studio at noon with another glassblower friend of his who's interested in learning some kilnforming. I have parts of three days scheduled with Tadashi in May (Lori and Licha are sharing the studio time and kiln space) to prepare some new roll-up pieces for ACRE, but it would be nice to have even more resources to dedicate to this line of work. I still haven't given up on the idea of having a small hotshop behind the studio...

But first things first, time to call a plumber about getting my gas and hot water back on at the studio. Ciao all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And the Glass Goes On

Coffee was long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Music is movie soundtracks--Mission Impossible, Mask of Zorro, Jaws... It's movie day! But don't be fooled, I have all four kilns loaded and firing, and as soon as I find my Bullseye invoice, I'll pay it and a couple of other bills--and make a deposit to cover them all--all before the end of the business day. I spent two and a half hours this morning editing the first of the my videos from the roll-up class, got to the end, and the application crashed. Guess who hadn't saved and had to start all over again...

But it's done, and I share the first half of the first piece edited down to seven minutes. Each piece took 30-45 minutes to do so I cut about 2/3. In the video it looks like the glass goes in the glory hole and then comes right out. It wasn't that fast. There were also additional repetitions for some of the steps that were cut for the sake of brevity, and any time the screen was taken up by my posterior, well, that part was cut too. Thanks to Johnathon, Tadashi, and the other participants in the class for graciously allowing me to film them. The real soundtrack was hilariously risque (who knew glass blowing had so many... 'creative' terms) and has been replaced by music to preserve everyone's modesty (you're welcome, Licha and Simone ;-). More tomorrow (good thing it's a slow week!).

*****VIDEO REMOVED: Putting it up again with better quality on 4/29***************

Monday, April 20, 2009

Only the Beginning...

Coffee in the San Francisco skyline mug, "Roundabout" by Yes on iTunes. Both are in honor of Johnathon Schmuck, now winging his way back home to California after whipping some old glass artist butt for the past four days. I'm tired to the bone (and I'm not the only one!), but totally exhilarated. I may suffer complete sensory overload and shut-down this year with all the mind-expanding (mind-blowing) professional dev I have scheduled.

I know people who love to go from class to class and workshop to workshop, but I frankly couldn't do it. Four days of fusing to blow, blowing (or having blown as it were), and preparing for coldworking have given me so many new ideas for my own production work that I think if I took workshops more often my head would explode and I'd completely lose any shred of "my" in my work. But the past weekend was just right--I even hope to have a new roll-up line ready for ACRE at the end of May.


A few hours have passed since I started this post, and in the interim I have booked my plane travel to BECon, booked all of Dave's flights to and from Austin through the end of May--and booked three more days at Duckbill Studios working glass roll-ups with Tadashi, Licha and Lori in May. No reason to let the grass grow under my feet. I think this is a very under-served area of collaboration in the wholesale show niche (and speaking of Niche... don't be too surprised when September rolls around if there's a bit of a "roll" to my submission!).

Tomorrow--in addition to all the regularly scheduled studio activity of firing, shipping, sending off invoices and quotes, preparing for shows, etc.--I will edit some of the footage I shot over the weekend at the workshop. I tried to video everyone's roll-up pieces from start to finish--eight people times two days times about 45 minutes per project... I have a lot to edit.

I also have my own pieces from the workshop to coldwork--and a draft copy of Johnathon's new book, "The Joy of Coldworking" to read and review. The timing couldn't be better for me with the work I need to do on my pieces--thanks to Johnathon for letting me do the read. The book will be out in May and I'll post a link to the pre-order page as soon as I get it. Johnathon is a great teacher--his seriously comprehensive knowledge is combined with a quirky sense of humor into one relaxed, easy-going package. I can't wait to read this book!

Now for a key to all the pictures: The top right is Johnathon using a shaving brush to wipe the schmutz off of the shelf-side (the outside) of my first piece after it was initially rolled up. Like the way the bristles flame from contact with the molten glass? The next two pics are my first piece before fusing and after fusing, midway through the roll-up. The shiny happy people are the glory-hole team for my roll-up--Johnathon on the pipe, Tadashi and I on doors. The last pic skips ahead (way ahead) till all the pieces for the day were rolled up, blown, safely tucked into the annealer for the night (and much of the next day), and then cooled off. The My piece is the one on the bottom right. More pics of it as I coldwork.

I'm Getting There!

Where have the days gone?! There will be a post this morning, it'll just be later as I need more sleep. Much more sleep. A weekend in the hot glass studio filming everyone's projects (and doing my own) wore me out. More in a couple of hours...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blending Hot and Warm Glass Techniques

Too tired to drink something (or eat anything more than Easter candy), Magic Treehouse wafting down from upstairs as J goes to sleep for music. Had a *great* class today with Johnathon Schmuck that ended in an impromptu happy hour at the picnic table in the backyard of my studio. I am really looking forward to tomorrow--and am more convinced than ever that I need a hot glass component to my studio. Pictures and a longer post (from on-site!) tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Talking With the Taxman

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Greetings to the New Brunette" by Billy Bragg from Talking With the Taxman About Poetry playing. Happy Tax Day! Glad it's all behind me for another year (though I am pretty sure V has some sharp words for me about getting her my Quickbooks file so she can keep me up to date). I spent two hours on Monday morning bringing my accountant up to date on both the business and personal rats' nests (two hours!) and then I just walked away.

As I wrote before I left for Spring Break, I got a big glass delivery in the pouring rain--the same continuously pouring rain that has flooded the basement/crawl space at the studio Pics are of the rainy delivery and the subsequent flooding (the flooding pic was taken a week later--after the initial soaking. It's all been under water since then). See how the hot water heater is under water? I have a pump in there now and hope to have it emptied out today. And I finally have the name of a good plumber who will come out and manually light the hot water heater once it's all dried out. This is what it's all about, this small art/craft business ownership, keeping afloat.

It's a beautiful day in Atlanta and tomorrow I start a four-day workshop with Johnathon Schmuck on the roll-up technique hosted by Glass Inspirations and Duckbill Studios. I am so excited! Even though Dave will be home from Austin for the weekend and I won't see much of him (the class will run long), it's still going to be a great weekend. Jessie is looking forward to some one-on-one daddy time so it will all work out well.

This is truly a year of professional development for me--first this workshop (the second one I've taken in about ten years--and the first one [for a variety of reasons] doesn't really count), then BECon followed by a post-conference workshop on lost wax casting, finishing up with a week long Bullseye Instructor workshop. Bliss. Just bliss.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back Where I Belong

Coffee will be in the Austin skyline mug whenever it's finished perking (or whatever it does to turn from water and grounds into the nectar of the gods), "The Power of Two" by the Indigo Girls on the Apple TV. Okay, that's just spooky. Out of my entire library iTunes picked That song. The song our friend Andrea sang at Dave's and my wedding. Yep, the spouse is back in Austin. We miss him.

It was a *wonderful* spring break. For the first vacation in memory I did almost no planning--even when I was trying to plan. I lived in the "now" and basked. Basked and played Diablo, and flew kites, and built sandcastles, and drowsed in the sun. A really wonderful vacation. I did ponder some techniques for experimentation (and possible book 2 inclusion--yep, haven't given up that idea yet), but I didn't do much more than that.

Now back into the studio refreshed, rejuvenated and re-energized. Sorry for the lack of post yesterday--it was a transition day. A damp, chilly, grey transition day. I still have no gas (and so no heat or hot water) at the studio as the crawl space where the hot water heater and the furnace are located keeps filling with water so I'm not able to get a new sump pump in. Hope it gets sunny and hot this afternoon (and stops raining!) so I can take a look at it again.

Today is for communing with art partners, organizing the firing schedule and starting on upcoming orders--of which there is a new series of big wall panels for a corporate space and another store (I think I might have already mentioned this one...) order from the department store to fold in (they are adding the collection to one more store).

ACRE is coming up--time to get travel reservations and exposition services booked, and it's time for a big summer camp promotion push. In other words, back to life! See you again, Hilton Head...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday at Java Joe's

Coffee is a Milky Way (espresso, caramel, chocolate and whipped cream) in a big blue glass mug, there is music playing, but it's drowned out by the cacophony from the people driven in out of the Hilton Head rain. We're at Java Joe's... working. Today is the one and only day I plan to really work, but it is a real day as the taxes are not to the accountant yet (I know, I know!) and there are a couple more things that need to be mailed off before we get back home. Dave is working all week--his first proof of concept on working remotely with the new company.

Almost got all the glass from my delivery last week put away and, in the process, lined up another highly qualified instructor to teach in the studio. That brings me to a firm count of four and a potential count of five primary instructors and two regular teaching assistants. As I have said before, I am not really interested in teaching basic fusing and slumping. Nor do I want to teach on the weekends (I get little enough time with my traveling spouse as it is) so having other instructors interested in filling in those spots in the curriculum and schedule is excellent!

Now off to the taxes so I can get on to the FUN! Happy Spring Break all.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Coffee will be a mocha from Kavarna (when it's made), music is a spacey new agey thing on valium. I have ten minutes to post. Ten minutes before my laptop battery is dead. Ted minutes before we have to leave to go to the Waldorf School for Grandparents and Loved Ones Day. D's Ps are here and J is basking in the extra family attention.

Big studio news (BTW, there shouldn't be any big studio news the day before vacation starts....) is that I turned the gas off to the studio yesterday because we didn't have any hot water. We didn't have any hot water because it has been raining for 40 days and 40 nights and the crawlspace/basement under the studio has over a foot of standing water in it. The hot water heater and the furnace both live in the crawlspace/basement, and the hot water heater was partially submerged. Submerged enough that the pilot light was out. The safest thing to do was just shut off the gas, wait for the water to recede, and deal with it when we get back. Or build an ark. One thing's for sure, there is definitely a new sump pump in my future.

My department store client ordered the collection for another store yesterday. They haven't sold any of the first pieces yet, but they like them so much they want to expand the number of stores carrying them.

Okay, out of time, out of battery, off to school!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Now Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Coffee in the Alaska skyline mug, "Goodbye Earl" by the Dixie Chicks on Apple TV. April Fool's Day is over and it's time to get back to work. I played several good tricks yesterday on my assistant, my bookkeeper, and--of course--on the web. The Spouse staunchly maintained that he was Not Fooled (in his words, my husband scaring tactics failed miserably).

Glass from Bullseye arrives today (it's raining, of course) as do my in-laws. The cleaning people are coming this morning--and I'm disappointed because I actually wanted to show off how clean the house is already to the in-laws. "See? I *can* muddle through without Dave to do all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry!" (That statement would carry more weight if I didn't have a big pile of clean sheets still to put away from Saturday when he was home and did laundry...)

But back to glass. The last fuse loads for a few weeks were fired yesterday. Today is for slumping and firepolishing (two different loads) and tomorrow is the last shipping till mid-April. I would be concerned, but the dearth of orders coincides nicely with J's Spring Break, and Dave will be home from Austin for nine days starting tomorrow night so we can have a little family vacation together. I plan to spend the time... Planning. It's time to lay out the curriculum for the mask summer camp, read all the books I bought for resource materials, make a list (and maybe even a schedule) for other classes--including ikebana containers (both nageire and moribana), birdbaths, fountains, windchimes, table tops, plant stakes (time to be in the garden...), etc. And time to tweak the studio layout for a formal materials and supplies section.

Even if it rains every day next week, I can't wait. Long, quiet walks on the beach with just the family and the gulls for company, new directions in glass to explore (and maybe a few website updates while I'm at it)--I couldn't ask for more.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Time For a Change...

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, " 'Round Here Somewhere" by the BoDeans on the apple TV. It's raining. Again. Yesterday saw yet more papers sorted and appropriately filed (i.e., mostly recycled), kilns fired, glass cut, pieces made, pieces shipped. Yawn. I yearn to be in the garden. I have been dissatisfied with the necessity of subverting my creativity to economic realities--something that happens to all production artists at some time in their careers--for awhile now. Finally last night I came to a momentous decision: I am done with professional glass--it's time to move on to the next step in my life.

Before we moved to Atlanta we lived in Austin, and I went through the 10-week training and certification program (including 50 hours of public service work) to become a Master Gardener. I specialized in the incorporation of native plants in the urban landscape and ecological gardening--no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or regular watering. I loved it, though the only outlets I had were our home yard (and I had to fight the neighborhood association tooth and nail as they wanted me to plow all the native vegetation and buffalo grass under and put in Bermuda grass--something the people who bought our home when we moved have done. *sigh*) and some friends' yards.

When we moved here, I had a blank slate again. The backyard was a sea of red mud, and the front was full of boring, inappropriate builder plants and some sod which died before I identified it. Now the front has a curving pavestone walk, a traveler redbud, a witch hazel, three quince, a small pond, a moss "lawn", jasmine, gardenias, camellias, a service berry, ferns, a flying dragon (tri-foliated native orange), and assorted other wildlife-friendly plants. The back has a weeping cherry, a ginko, a weeping elm, an ironwood, a small Japanese maple, a weeping deodora cedar, two Texas persimmons, an American smoketree, a fragrant tea olive, and a bamboo forest--and that's just for starters!

I designed the entire backyard including adjusting slope and soil and accommodating drainage and existing light. I even put in the circular stone patio with a low wall surrounding it myself (with help from two contractors I hired to grade and spread the 15 dump truck loads of topsoil I purchased). And I did it all in two weeks from start to finish--playhouse and bamboo to soil, sod, a dry "creek" bed for drainage, the afore-mentioned patio, and all the trees and shrubs... then I had to get back to my regular job, and I have done nothing back there since other than the annual mulch and thrice-yearly major weedings.

Now the bamboo is shooting, the grass is getting ready to sprout, the pond creatures are stirring, and I want to to get back to my yard and to help other people with theirs. I thoroughly enjoyed the general contracting and materials ordering and coordinating that came with the project, I was very good at it, and I love the smell of dirt.

Practicalities: The College of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia offers two degrees that interest me--Master of Landscape Architecture and Master of Environmental Planning and Design. The existing studio building is a perfect place for a discreet professional office--and if we end up moving to Austin for Dave's job it will be easier to pick up and move a landscaping career. Plus it gives me a lot more time to sell off my existing materials and product inventory from the glass business because I start NOW.

Oh I'm not saying I'm going to sell everything and never do glass again, but it's time for it to take a back seat and become the enjoyable hobby it was when I started over 20 years ago. I'm too tied down by all the "stuff" that goes along with being a production glass artist. It's time to Move On! Off to the studio to start tagging everything for sale (too bad I have that big Bullseye order coming this week--but at least I am on the downside of my production cycle). Final thought--that artist who was copying my work now has a clear field and I don't have to worry about it anymore!

Happy April 1 everyone.