Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rub His Belly For Me

I sit in a dark, cold room with the sound of a small white-noise fan and Todd's occasional snores for music. It's Vegas. It's the first full day of set-up--yesterday we started at 3:00 pm and quit at 8:00 pm with the gridwalls and foamcore up and the foamcore seams taped. Today we follow our carefully wrought (or is that "fraught"?) plan for putting up all the artwork. We already hit two snags to the plan yesterday. First we didn't have as many gridwall sections stored here as we thought. Oops. We were four panels (or eight linear feet) short. We came up with a work-around for the shortage (1/4" plywood panels that we use to pack the foamcore in the shipping crate) but then we decided that the walking flow was too restricted if we put them all up. In the end we cut four linear feet (32 square feet) from our display. There was spirited discussion on whether we also needed to cut the amount of work displayed so it wouldn't look jammed in, and the final decision was to try the current amount of work and see.

Dinner was at Benihana's in the hotel. We ordered at 9:00 pm (sorry Dee, I really did think I'd be asleep by then). I happily slurped gin slings from my little porcelain Hotei, and realized that I had finally become Spanish without going back to Spain: It may have been 9:00 in Las Vegas, but my body was still on Atlanta time, and it was midnight there and I had been up since 5:00 am! Didn't mar my enjoyment of the evening, though I was a zombie by the time we stumbled up to our rooms at 10:00.

Now it's time to get ready to head out for another day of excitement. I managed to sleep till 5:30 am (8:30 at home), but then I had to get up and forge into the day. I think I'll rub my little Budai's belly for luck and prosperity and head off to the show!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hurtling Through Thursday

No beverage, no music. A quick minute to post and then off to the next race! I have a building permit, I talked to my bank this morning about an SBA ARC loan (they knew nothing about them, I am ahead of the curve), the firing last night went well--now lots of grinding and polishing today. I still haven't figured out how I'm getting this entire kiln load of glass on the plane with me, but that's a hurdle for tomorrow. While I'm gone Becky is going to have lots of kiln loads to fire (shards for ornaments and garden stakes) and orders to ship. Now off to clean my shelf...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Evening Post

No beverage currently at hand--though another glass of sauvignon blanc does appeal--the sound of the Sprout having her nightly long-distance chat with her Daddy for background music. As I have already been utzed, it's Wednesday (late Wednesday) and there has been no post. Pity me. I spent the day at the office of building permits to get a permit for the new studio hotshop. Line outs, and try agains, and barely getting through, Oh My! On the plus side, after seven straight hours, I got the permit approved. On the minus side, I have to go back tomorrow morning because the approval came too late in the day for it to be typed into the system and paid for, i.e., permitted.

Yesterday saw the first big melt firing in Bettina--screens and pots and combos, a glorious profusion of flowing glass. The kiln was just now cool enough for me to open it and take out the pieces--and most of the pieces stuck to the shelf and cracked. I have always used Hot Line Hi-Fire Primer whenever I have used kiln wash but the latest batch I have has bubbled and flaked badly as it dried--even before I fired it. So I was leery about using it for this load and used Thinfire instead. Mistake. I had the feeling that Thinfire wasn't made to withstand 1650 degrees F for 90 minutes AND flowing glass, and I was right. I'm glad I wasn't using a vermiculite shelf or it would have been ruined. The Dyson shelf looks like I'll need to rub the surface down a bit, but I think it will be fine.

Tonight I'm doing a flow out (and back together) fuse of all the pieces I can salvage from the load in Bertha. Tomorrow I'll see if a little coldworking pre-slump will fix them up enough to take to Vegas.

Last news of the night: Both the storage unit in Vegas (where I had all the breakage reported last week) and UPS (for the two big panels I shipped to Omaha that were smashed in transit) are going to pay for all damages. Whew! That was almost $2,000 of work lost that I really can't afford to shrug and walk away from.

So the day had ups and downs. I got the Sprout to bed, and now I'm off to clean the kitchen, put away dinner (Melton's buffalo chicken with chipotle blue cheese dressing and fries), take a shower and crash. Tomorrow is set to be an even bigger, busier day, and then off to Vegas!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's Monday, It's Tuesday, It's Monday, It's Tuesday...

Egyptian Licorice Tea in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Ada" by The National on iTunes. Dave is on his way back to Austin, and, even though he'll only be there for four days, I won't see him for ten as I leave for ACRE in Vegas on Friday and then on to Albuquerque and the Creekmore-Durhams to pick up hot-shop equipment and drive it back to Atlanta. Poor Jessie, she has a revolving door for parents right now!

The glass order is in to Bullseye, the last work for ACRE goes in the kiln today (I'm carrying the rest on the plane), and I hope to get the hot shop permitted tomorrow before picking up all the equipment in Albuquerque. If all goes right, the construction will commence next week while I'm in Vegas. Not too long after Vegas and Albuquerque I go to Portland Oregon for BECon (kilncasting) and a workshop on lost wax casting from Linda Ethier. A week after I get back from BECon I have my summer camp, Faces of Culture: Masks In Glass. Right now I only have two participants signed up for it (it's the week after July 4th), and they are both winners of their spots from the Waldorf auction. Not surprising since I haven't even made flyers or announced it officially yet...

From 2 am on today I have been having anxiety attacks about whether or not I can really afford all this expansion and do I have the time to pull everything off. Today would be a good day to meditate. Instead, I take a deep, calming breath and remind myself that the natural condition of a glass artisan is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. So what do we do? Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. How? I don't know. It's a mystery.

Now off to fire.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Long Friday, the Long Weekend

I wait for coffee to brew and listen to the washing machine roar through its spin cycle for music. Off to Commerce today to take a load of glass for little stands to Bill of Black Cat and to get a stand and a mold from him for a larger version of the new "Primitive" piece. Today marks a turning point in our working together. Up to now the flow of work has been almost entirely towards me: I get orders for glass and metal pieces from my customers, and I order the metal from Black Cat. Today is the first time Black Cat has had a significant number of orders from THEIR customers for glass and metal work so that the meeting to exchange work is more for me to give them glass (and get money, whoo hoo) than for them to give me metal (and get money from me). It is good. I think the surge in orders from their customers reflects the new sweet spot price point we hit with the small stand pieces at the Buyer's Market this spring. Can't wait to see what the reaction at ACRE is to the slightly larger pieces (retail points for the existing small and the two new sizes of tabletop sculptural pieces: $80, $120, and $160).

Also new for ACRE this spring will be wall and tabletop bud vases from Bentwell Metals and Siyeh Studio. Todd has designed a series of wire and glass wrapped test-tube bud vases for the under $40 market that nicely complement the wire people, trees, ornaments, key chains, garden stakes and royal whimsy (crowns and sceptres) in our current offering.

Yesterday's shipping of the pallet to Vegas went off without a hitch, but I was unable to find a doable price to freight replacement panels out to the gallery in Omaha for next week. The best offer I got was $250--down from $395--to carry the two of them in a small standing wooden crate. The original shipping charges with UPS were $62 for the two of them in separate boxes. Of course UPS also broke them and I can't WAIT till they deny my claim on them for insufficient packaging. There is just no way I can see coming out of this situation with them gracefully and apologetically handing over $1,000. But, as Todd's mother would say, I need to put that thought in the bucket of can't do-anything-about-it's and throw the bucket away. I'll call the gallery this morning and give them the bad news about the replacements, and I'll refund their money.

So that's today. I still haven't fired the new technique load yet (I'll be hand-carrying the pieces to Vegas so I'm not in such a rush to get them done). It is taking a long time to get the kiln all set-up for this first time. I expect it'll be faster in the future. It better be or I won't be able to sell the pieces for what I need to charge for them!

Have a good weekend all. Remember those who have left us and take comfort in those still here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Everything Goes But the Spaniel

Chyawanprash in hot water for tea, "All I Need Is a Miracle" by Mike and the Mechanics on iTunes. I hope it's not a prophetic song for the day--I feel more ahead of the curve than iTunes choice of songs would imply.

I'm in the studio already this morning getting the pallet of my work prepared to be picked up and shipped to Vegas for ACRE. So many things can go wrong from here. It could be lost, dropped, delayed, crushed--just to name a few. There is nothing new to this scenario--it's always like that when you ship to a show. But today I am feeling more pessimistic and caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand (the chosen hand, the rock) I can ship everything palletized together to minimize loss. On the other hand (the hard place), I can ship all boxes regular UPS and hope they don't get lost, delayed, or broken (or some awful combination of the above). Putting everything together both diminishes and maximizes damage potential (isn't physics funny that way?). It's one BIG package so the freight workers have to work harder to drop it (as opposed to UPS who would cheerfully throw each and every package whilst loading and potentially drop one in four or so--and that's being generous about their care and respect). But if it is dropped off of or rammed by a forkift by the freight company (UPS usually just damages by gravity) the potential for catastrophic large-scale damage to EVERYTHING is much greater. Which is safer? I guess I'll just stick with the freight company because they are scheduled and on their way.


So Becky came this morning, we packed, palletized and conquered--and I even ran to the shipping supply place and got a poly strap tape kit so we could strap everything to the pallet before we shrink-wrapped it. In the midst of the packing the woman from the gallery in Omaha called and said that two of the three 24" X 30" glass panels I just shipped her arrived broken. One was completely smashed, and the other was broken in half.

I should have known UPS would have their revenge on me for insisting the driver (NOT my usual driver) make the pick-up I had scheduled and not get away with saying he couldn't make it. Friday night at 8:30 he had to lug a million lbs of glass and tradeshow display materials boxes (Dee shipped from here Friday too) to the truck when he was only expecting two boxes of about 35 lbs total. What can I say? I had more time to get more stuff out for him when he was late.

I got the insurance claim filed and now I have to figure out how to get the replacement panels out there without having them broken too (if the client's even willing to give me another chance). A crate would be safest, but the client didn't want the added expense. I thought they'd be fine in heavy-duty cardboard boxes--but those are really big panels. Even with 1-1/4" of Styrofoam sheeting on each side and then 4" of bubble wrap on all four sides and 6" of bubblewrap on each end UPS *still* broke them. What a headache, and boy am I glad I didn't go to New Mexico this week! I can't imagine having to juggle the breakage from storage and now the UPS breakage while on the road. (And what numbers of breakage are these in this series? If things come in threes these are either one and two or two and three... I hope they're two and three!)

Speaking of New Mexico, Nancy, I will talk to you at ACRE about the new pieces, their pricing and the gaffers. It's all still in process right now. I am being FLEXIBLE, letting it all flow together, and hoping it doesn't come back to bite me in the behind (especially the whole pricing thing--what I paid in total to create these pieces may put them at a higher price point than they can support).

Time to go fire a New Technique load. Also need to call the Omaha gallery back and discuss where they want to go from here (the installation day for the pieces is supposed to be TOMORROW). If she does want me to remake them, it looks like I might have to do a little firing this weekend after all so they can be ready to ship by Monday (they are made with a frit that devitrifies badly so I'll need to do two firings on them--one to fuse and one to correct the surface with overspray).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Breakage of One Sort But Not of Another

Coffee, real caffeine-laden, full throttle coffee for the first time in three weeks in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "All I Want to Do" by Sugarland on iTunes. Maybe I should have stuck to decaffeinated as the adrenaline and pain continue to shudder through my body and I know I'm going to be seriously stiff later.

This morning before beginning my post I ran over to the studio to get the three new Cloudstone pieces that I am debuting at ACRE to photograph and post. I ground the majority of the punties off on my flat lap (I'll do the rest on Licha's lathe later this morning) and decided to bring everything back to the house to photograph. Arms full of glass, juggling the camera, keys and coffee cup full of steaming goodness I head across the yards to home. I am daydreaming about names for these gorgeous new pieces as I start up the deck stairs... and trip, sprawling.

The glass is, apparently, well-annealed and very sturdy. I have a lump under my chin where one piece hit me on the way down, my knee is swelling from a very hard knock on the stairs and I lost 6/7 of my coffee, but nothing broke. Whew. Dave has since requested that I carry no more than two glass pieces at a time. I shakily get enverything the rest of the way p the stairs (in two trips) and I photograph the pieces with wobbly hands.

Today I try a super-secret new technique that I have never seen or heard of done before--simple though it is and vast though the world of kiln-formed glass experimenters is. Individual techniques have all been tried (there is nothing new under the sun) but combinatory techniques, ahh I think I may be trying something quite original. It's never too soon to work on a Niche piece!

Okay, that's enough good and happy news (except for the fall--it wasn't good or happy as I'm not into pain). Back to the saga of the crate of my work that was dropped last year while in the custody of the storage facility in Las Vegas. The work that I need for the ACRE show at the end of next week...

Yesterday I compared the pictures I took of my ACRE booth last year with the pictures the storage company took of the pieces they unpacked from my crate this week to determine how much broke. A disturbing pattern emerged: there are NO rectangular platters in their photos. I called just to make sure they hadn't missed sending me a photo (they took the pictures as they unloaded each plastic tub of work so each picture shows groupings of like pieces). They hadn't. So there is an *entire box* of my work broken and missing, or at least missing.

I tried to ask some gentle questions as to how something like this could have happened a year ago and I am only just now being notified, but the person of whom I need to ask these questions is not in the office this week (or is hiding under his desk follishly hoping I'll go away). If it was my employee who had a dropped a case of glass art I was storing for a customer and I was not in the office, I would make damn sure I was available by cell phone for a conversation with said customer who has every right to be really freaked out and vociferously unhappy at being informed at the eleventh hour that an unknown quantity of her work was destroyed *a year ago* and she is just now being told.

I have been *very* calm, *very* nice, and *more than very* understanding with the two people at the facility with whom I have been able to speak about the Unfortunate Occurrence (the administrative assistant and the warehouse manager) because I do not believe them to have been at fault for any of this mess. But I am at the end of my patience with the facility manager who has not even called me to express his dismay and sincere desire to make things right for me in the wake of this Calamitous Disaster. A whole box of pieces gone! The "goneness" implies someone opened the crate and removed it *last year* when they dropped the crate! Outrageous! (I begin to froth...)

The information I did get from the administrative assistant and the warehouse manager also implied that the facility manager was aware of both the dropping incident and the breakage. (I continue to get *very* worked up about the situation--hyperventilation might occur). There will be a reckoning. There will be a bill. Heaven help them if they don't make me VERY happy next week when the facility manager is back in the office.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tune In For Tuesday

Mayan Cocoa Spice tea in the Pike's Place mug, the chirping of the fledgling house wrens on the screened-in porch for music. Their tale on Stranded in the South. My storage company in Vegas unpacked the brown plastic crate yesterday that they dropped last year. The warehouse manager sent me pictures of everything, and it looks like I only lost two lattices and a classic bowl. The pieces for the classic bowl were there, and some of the lattice pieces that should have been there weren't so that breakage was obvious. To see what else is missing I'll have to go through my piece list from last year and my sales list to see what was purchased and what is missing.

I'm glad I didn't go to New Mexico today. It is good to have a few more firing days before the show for the orders that continue to come in daily. They're little orders, but they are orders! Okay, enough time posting, off to work! Roll-ups back from Tadashi at Duckbill today, pictures tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Monday Update

Today's post was already long and fraught with detail about the upcoming show, the upcoming New Mexico road trip and all the other things that are keeping me busy and on the edge of sanity. About a half hour after I changed all my trip plans and posted, I got the following email from my storage facility in Vegas:

"Hello Brenda:
It has come to our attention as we were pulling your booth to prepare for outbound to the advance warehouse that last year one of our guys had dropped the brown & black plastic case and had disposed of some broken glass. We were told that it was not much, but we just now learned of this. Should we re-open the case and maybe you might know what is missing so we can make some kind of restitution? So sorry for this inconvenience."

The black and brown case is the plastic shipping crate that holds all of my work for storage. The other crates have the metal art, the pedestals and other display materials--basically then non-breakable stuff. How much more exciting can my week get?!?

It's Good To Be Flexible

Mighty Leaf green tea tropical in a blue NJ & IBM (Perfect Together) mug, traditional southern blues with slide guitar for music. It's a Kavarna Day! Dave wanted to get out of the house to work this morning and I got my three kiln loads in late yesterday (the last one at 10 pm) so I accompanied him as I have plenty of time to get caught up on non-production glass business work while the kilns cool.

Yesterday I started the day at Duckbill Studios again doing the last four of the new Cloudstone roll-up pieces for ACRE. It went great--Lee came to help too so we were able to get all four pieces done in four hours. The rest of the day didn't go so well. When I got home from Duckbill I looked up transit times for UPS to get my work to Vegas for ACRE. Memorial Day really throws a monkey wrench in the works and the shipping deadline for everything to arrive in Vegas in time for the show is this Thursday! Thursday I will be on the way back from New Mexico with a truck load of hot glass studio equipment... What to do? I hadn't even started firing yet--heck, I didn't even have the firing schedule done to start the firing. I frantically added up the number of pieces I had to do, the kiln room I had in which to do them, and the number of firings they needed... and it wasn't physically possible to do it all by Thursday AND go to New Mexico from Tuesday through Thursday. I would have to change the New Mexico trip.

Note to fellow Delta Airline fliers: If you get a reasonably-priced ticket from them don't even THINK about changing it. They have a $150 fee to make any changes to a reservation including cancelling it and applying the price of your ticket to another flight. My ticket to NM only cost $145. I would have lost money ($5) if I tried to apply the money I paid for that ticket to another flight. I thought I could maybe switch my return flight from ACRE to put me in Albuquerque instead of Atlanta and apply the price of the current Albuquerque ticket to the changes... I was told it would cost me $260 AFTER they applied my credit. Nope. Couldn't do that.

Tried a couple of other permutations--rent a car in Vegas and drive to Albuquerque after ACRE, rent the truck in Vegas after ACRE and drive to Albuquerque and then on to Atlanta, keep the Albuquerque trip but drive to Vegas in the minivan and carry the work instead of shipping it UPS, ship everything 3-Day Select with UPS next Tuesday (in a week)--but all of them were over $250 of additional cost in money and considerably more in terms of time and strain on me. Okay, had to to make it work as originally planned.

The first thing I would need to do to make it all work with the original timeline was to work around the pieces I had to make. By changing the colors I had picked to colors of pieces already made (either in Vegas from last year or in the studio) I was able to cut the firings down to yesterday and today. That would still leave all the packing and shipping of them, and maybe some grinding and a correction firing for size. Hmmm. I don't have a clone, but...

Enter (unbeknownst to her) Becky The Wunder Assistant! I rejiggered my calculations so that she would do all the shipping for me on Thursday and maybe the one correction firing on Tuesday. She would also have to unload the kiln Tuesday and ship the pieces in it that are due in Seattle by the end of the week. After thinking long and hard about my level of confidence in her and the increased responsibilities I am proposing asking of her, I decided it's time to give her a raise. Problems solved. (Lucky for me she doesn't read my blog so I would get to surprise her today with all this news in person :-).

So this morning I begin my post in Kavarna with all my problems adequately if not optimally solved, and every intention of chronicling the saga of my difficulties here and moving on. But then I decide to check just one more thing... I look at Delta for the cost of a one-way ticket from Vegas to Albuquerque on June 3, and it's $109. Oh boy, new dilemma. I asked Dave which absence he would prefer and he didn't care--they would be equally difficult. So I called Sara and David (in New Mexico) and asked them which would be better for them. Were they ready for tomorrow or could they use a couple more weeks to pull more stuff together? They didn't care either but thought it would be better for me to come in June. So I changed my plans! I got a new plane reservation, changed my truck rental date, and now can do everything myself that I was going to off-load on Becky (including picking up the roll-up pieces I did at Duckbill that won't be ready till tomorrow).

But not going tomorrow I'll have time to grind the punties off the roll-ups and ship them to Vegas instead of carrying them on the plane. I'll also be able to do the remaining Cloudstone pieces tomorrow and ship them, AND I can do a load of small stand pieces for Black Cat Artworks and get it to them on Friday in time for their orders. Productivity ahoy!

I'll still give Becky the raise though. :-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Many Balls Can I Keep In the Air?

Mayan Cocoa Spice Tea in the Chicago mug, "True Companion" by Marc Cohn on iTunes. It's Friday. The spouse comes home on Friday. Bliss and joy. Yesterday and the day before were both munched days. I ran like a hamster in a wheel all day and finally got the kiln load in at 9:30 last night for the second day in a row. Poor Jessie. Her bedtime is 8:30 and I'm dragging her over to the studio right about then every night for another hour of work.

Next week I am off to New Mexico to pick up a glass furnace, a glass crusher, a wetbelt sander, a major burner, and various punties, rods and other hot-working tools. I got a great cheap airline ticket, but renting the UHaul there to drive everything home was going to cost almost $1,000. Whoa. When I mentioned the cost to Bill the other day he said why not rent a truck from Penske instead. That's who he rented from to drive our last big load up to the Rosen show and he said the trucks are new, very comfortable, and much cheaper. Sure enough, I got a Penske business rental on a 12' truck for right at $400 for unlimited mileage and a week's rental. That helps.

The plan for the hotshop is at the drafter's being drawn up so I can get the building permit. I would like to take it in to get it permitted on Monday before I leave for NM, but I'm not sure it'll be ready by then. Also not sure when Dan, Lee and the rest of the crew can work on it. The good news is that with a complete plan I don't need to be there during the building.

Today I have several pieces to drop off at the Oakhurst Community gardens for their Martinis in the Garden and Auction event tomorrow night. We're not only donating, we're also attending, yum! I hope to be offering several classes through the gardens next year in my studio--birdbaths, windchimes, and garden stakes, just to name a few--so this will be a good networking social event.

ACRE is in two weeks and I have to get my exposition services ordered today (it's just electric so it will be easy) and I also have to make my piece list and firing schedule based on the booth layout we did in Greenville earlier this week. It's going to be tight to get everything done with the trip to New Mexico taking up three days as it all has to be shipped out to Vegas which also takes time.

Today I do the big Cloudstone load (which obviously did not go in yesterday) for functional pieces for ACRE, glass and metal pieces for ACRE and for roll-up pieces for this Sunday. Today is also a ship day for four orders. And speaking of orders, the three 24" X 30" panels need to have their hardware mounted and ship out today too. Good grief, could I have any more going on at once? Good thing I'm detoxed and stress-free!

Juggle, juggle, juggle, hustle, hustle, hustle. Better get to it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Did You Miss Me?

Egyptian licorice tea in the Chicago skyline mug, "Desperados Under the Eaves" by Warren Zevon on iTunes. Wow is it late! This isn't the first-cup-of-the-morning tea (that was Mayan Cocoa Spice) this is the after-lunch tea. The morning was consumed with a variety of tasks--most of them not glass-related--but I don't feel too guilty as I finished firing in the studio last night at 9:30.

I picked my latest pieces up from Duckbill Studios yesterday and it is apparent from them that the Morceaux de Verre transparent style is just not going to work. Both pieces show a very clear seam line which is not in itself bad, but at first glance it looks like a crack. The melt piece turned out *gorgeous* except for the punty spot on the bottom. For this one piece, instead of the punty leaving a bit of itself behind at break-off, it took out a chunk of the piece rendering it unfixable and unsaleable. I wasn't planning on selling it anyway, but getting it blown was expensive and I am disappointed that after all that (and the time hassle last weekend) it was ruined. Guess we were just too rushed and too tired at the end of a long blowing day.

For this weekend I'll have four more pieces in Cloudstone (screen and pot melts) to blow and those four (fingers crossed) and the one shown here will be the core of the Cloudstone roll-up series I'll debut at ACRE. Roll-up pieces won't be all I have in Cloudstone for this show either. I launched the series a couple of years ago but never really went anywhere with it because the metal work with Black Cat ArtWorks was really taking off then and I choose to devote the time and energy to it.

Tuesday I took a Cloudstone piece that I had made specifically to go in our new "Primitive" sculptural piece to Greenville with me to show Bill and Elaine and they really loved it. So now I have three forms for Cloudstone--rolled-up and blown vessels, glass and metal sculptural pieces, and straight kiln-formed functional pieces. Bettina (the second big Denver kiln) with her Dyson shelf also makes Cloudstone pieces possible in production as she was built for casting--higher temp, longer firings--and the large flat shelf enables all kinds and combinations of drippy glass.

The ACRE planning meetings over Tuesday and Wednesday with Bill and Elaine in Greenville were extremely productive. In a vastly efficient bit of overkill, Bill had a big screen monitor and a keyboard on the diningroom table so he could run the CAD software on his computer and generate scale drawings of our pieces, pedestals and wall display for us to debate and move around.

As a result, when we get to Vegas this time we won't (hope, hope) be looking at another 23-hour set-up. The real benefit to the design-before-you-go model will be a smooth set-up at the summer Buyer's Market show the end of July for Bill, Elaine and Todd while I am off at the instructor workshop at Bullseye in Portland. The views shown are of the front wall and the top down.

Bill and Elaine are the caregivers of four cats (two kids, a dog and two hamsters)and the largest of the cats, Mike, decided that he liked the warmth of my laptop and that it would be a good place for a snooze. Mike, not being your average-sized kitty makes my laptop look like a small toy.

("What?!? I'm sleeping here!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble

Egyptian Licorice tea in the Pike Place mug, "Mad World" covered by Gary Jules on iTunes. It is a mad world. A slow, sad, mad world today. (Thank you, Ren, for your Melancholy Mix. It's perfect.) I think everyone has days when they are pissy and grumbly, mopey and blue. Today is my day. The hot shop process is snagging in the building permit process--which besides adding time also adds expense and aggravation. I am worrying about the investment which will take time to recoup. My roll-up time at Tadashi's did not go well yesterday as we were two hours late getting started so I did not get through the work I needed to prototype before next weekend's scheduled roll-up production time. The first four pieces of the day took six hours, leaving me only three hours for my four pieces. We did get three of them done in that three hours--two of them with only me there to assist. I need to work something better out going forward--can't afford that kind of slippage if I plan to have these pieces in my production line.

Enough already, let's shake off the grumblies and find my happy place. Moving to Ren's Happy Happy Happy Mix and "Gone Daddy Gone" covered by Gnarls Barkley on iTunes. Dave is gone back to Austin for a week. Sadness. Missing him already. The 10-day detox ends tonight and I need to figure out what to eat for the rest of the week. Whatever it is, it won't be much. Two weeks of dieting and 10 days of detoxing and I'm down 20 lbs--want to maintain that for the week and start descending the scales again next week..

Didn't go to either Charleston or Greenville last Friday--too many moving parts to arrange. Instead I head out tomorrow morning at 7:00. Though we would like to spend two days on the booth-layout process--that worked really well for us last time--I am hoping that the meeting we just had for plan prelim and new piece review combined with just tomorrow will end up being enough. J is not thrilled at the idea of both Mommy and Daddy abandoning her this week, and I have things to do in the studio too.

Okay, time to get back to firing pot and screen melts. Gonna fill Bettina with a whole load of them!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Concentrate On the Breath

Green tea in a big mug with poinsettias on it, something vaguely whiny, modern, alternative for music. It's a Kavarna Day! With the spouse! Hope to get much done today, primarily in the paperwork and web realms. Oh wait, didn't meditate this morning (part of the detox--10 minute meditation) brb...

Okay, on with the day. Edgy I am not today, but focused, energized, raring to go, you bet! Need to get with Lori today to get the details on the Delores Taylor workshop for this fall so I can send them out. I'll post them here too. Dan is coming over to scope out the build-out for the hotshop this morning. Need to get in touch with V too to set-up a meeting for bookkeeping. Haven't seen Dee in awhile, want to get together with her too to talk about ACRE shipping etc. Tomorrow I head to Greenville (sadly can't quite do Charleston) for two days of ACRE booth planning with Bill and Elaine--and to celebrate Bill's birthday which is tomorrow! The business/social life of an artist...

An order came in yesterday and one the day before. It's not a flood, just a trickle, but the one yesterday was a second re-order since the initial order at the Buyer's Market in mid-February. Apparently my work is hot in Hawaii.

Now I had better get webbing or I won't get anything updated. I'll scintillate tomorrow--or maybe Monday. Between now and Monday, two days of planning meetings and a day in the hotshop rolling up four pieces. No rest for the detoxing!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Warp Speed Mr. Scott!

Coffee in the... no, wait, no coffee. Need to go make some licorice tea, brb...

Okay, that's better. Egyptian licorice tea in the Austin skyline mug, "Love of Our Lives" by Indigo Girls on iTunes. It's a week, no doubt about it. I am the soon-to-be proud owner of a hotshop. Thanks to Sara Creekmore and her husband David who are downsizing, I am upsizing. New items to include: a small glass furnace, a large wet belt sander, a glass crusher, misc blowing tools, rods and punties, a rickety bench, a major burner, a small pick-up kiln, 250 lbs of Bullseye cullett, and whatever else I can fit in the UHaul I've rented that they want to get rid of. I am flying a bit by the seat of my pants, but the opportunity resonated with me, and I have learned to trust my gut in business decisions.

Of course a hot shop without a glassblower and master builder/repairman for the equipment would soon be a big dusty waste. Lucky for me I have found both a shop master blower and a production blower who are available for a total of four days a week if I need them. They are just looking for up to a couple of days a week of pick-up work from me--not mortgage money. One of them is a friend of mine who has played around with some warm glass in my studio and who is very interested in helping me kit out a hotshop on a shoestring. Good thing as about all I'll have left after all this is my shoestrings.

Then the questions arises (for anyone who has seen my studio) of where am I going to put this illustrious hot shop. After all, at a minimum I need room for a small furnace, a glory hole, a bench (or two), a pick-up oven, an annealing oven, a pipe warmer, a marvering table, a bench burner, and numerous other assorted tools. Putting a glassblowing operation inside a house-sized closed room is also not an attractive proposition (not to mention that all my floors are wood--not safe to drop molten glass on).What to do?

Dan the carpenter steps up to the plate again. During the initial studio renovation he built me a small deck off the kiln room, and put a ramp on it so I could get the kilns up into the studio. But we rarely use the ramp. So far it's been for hauling loads out to the minivan for shows--not for palletized glass deliveries nor for getting kilns in. I can lose it. He's going to take the ramp out, double the size of the deck platform, put down a fire-proof floor, cover it all with a metal roof, and wall it with chainlink and drop down plastic sheeting for inclement weather. It's not the cool conservatory addition I was thinking of, or a cool garage with lots of big doors, but it's functional, affordable, and immediate. Add Cody the Plumber and Brian the electrician and I'm cooking with gas AND electric!

Much of the equipment that I am not getting from Sara, my glassblower friend is going to build for me including the glory hole, the pick-up oven, and the annealing furnace. (I thought I'd just use my big Denver kilns for pick-up and annealing, but he said why bother? It's easy and inexpensive to make the ovens, and he likes building them.) I am going to look to Black Cat ArtWorks for metal components for the aforementioned equipment and maybe the steel for a marvering table (but not until after ACRE. WAY after ACRE :-)

When is all this happening? Much of it in the next two to three weeks (yup, right before the ACRE show). I fly out to New Mexico on the 19th and the rest will be history--or a mystery, whichever comes first. No reason to let the grass grow under my feet.

Have I changed my mind about becoming a supplies retailer? Nope. Going full-steam ahead with that one and teaching too--the hotshop addition blends in nicely to the overall offerings.

And I can't WAIT to see what BECon brings. At least kilncasting shouldn't require much more in terms of large equipement--already putting together the coldworking pieces for the hot work. Now off to fire!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hot, Cold, and Everything In Between

Water in a cup, "If I Should Fall from Grace With God" by the Pogues on iTunes. I am listening to Dave's music this morning as I work, aww. Details on the detox for the curious on Stranded in the South. Today I continue planning for ACRE, the hotshop, the coldworking area, and Todd's birthday! Todd, my new collaborator, is 44 today. Happy Birthday Todd! (Cake and champagne at 4:00 in the studio ;-), but shhh--it's a surprise for Todd.

Another order came in yesterday, the big commission for the corporate boardroom to finish for shipping tomorrow. The Hang Your Glass system came yesterday and I get to try it out today. I don't know how I feel about working this big again... (the panels are each 24" X 30").

Pics are of the second roll-up piece I did, er, supervised, er, jointly made. This is a Morceaux de Verre piece--my primary series--and it ended up with a lot of surface bubbles. Got to work on that for the next set.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Monday With a Spouse!

Hot water in the Montreal skyline mug,"Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. Hot water as I gave up coffee three days ago as part of a 10-day detox I am doing through Kashi Yoga. It is not just cloudy, but actively raining this morning... again. This is the wettest spring I have spent in Atlanta. Good for the drought though. And though it is rainy, I am happy, as my spouse is HOME for the week! This is the first of his work-from-Atlanta weeks with the new job.

It's a light firing week for me, but a serious planning/prep week. This weekend I'm meeting with Bill and Elaine of Black Cat ArtWorks for two days to plan our ACRE display, and Sunday I am working on four roll-up pieces with Tadashi (I am sharing a full day with him at Duckbill with Licha and Lori). The goal of the hot-shop day is to make roll-up pieces to add to my current line for debut at ACRE at the end of the month. I still have reservations as to whether this is a feasible proposition, but I am going to give it a test. I had planned to expand the Morceaux de Verre work, but the feedback I have received on the first piece is that it's too much like blown glass--there isn't enough differentiation in the way the colors flow to show that this is something new, something you can't get with just blowing.

Now time to trudge through the rain to the studio and get a kiln load in before Ikebana. It's a Monday.

Friday, May 01, 2009

I Do Work Around Here You Know

Coffee was in the Austin skyline mug (Dave comes back home TONIGHT!), "Bad Things" by Jace Everett on iTunes (for the same reason). Airplane and hotel reservations for Vegas are done, new work for the show is planned. Next weekend Bill, Elaine and I will get together at their house in Charleston to plan the display--the exact pieces and placement for them. Maybe by extensive planning on the front end, we can avoid the 23-hour set-up we had last year...

In keeping with the economic theme we started at the Buyer's Market in February, we are debuting several new pieces at ACRE in the $100-$200 bucket--glass and metal together. We had eight new pieces for the Buyer's Market that were under $100, now we're unveiling a slightly larger rectangular stand format with five new designs and four stand pieces with small rounds (our current smallest round stand piece uses 16" glass, the new ones have 7-1/2" glass).

However we aren't neglecting the higher-end work either. We have a new abstract glass and steel sculpture called "Primitive" that looks (to me--I didn't design it) like a bone and obsidian ax head circa 2000 BC. I am seriously inspired to do a really cool glass for it; maybe something in "stone"... I will also have the fused and blown (roll-up) vessels. Finally I'm thinking that I didn't give the Cloudstone pieces enough exposure and it might be time to do a bit more of that glass (the purple was especially yummy). Heck, I have two weeks to get it all done--and only one order to get out in the meantime (at least for now).

I end the post today with a response to all the "Gee, you didn't do much in making the roll-up pieces" comments from the previous posts. The roll-ups are COLLABORATIVE work. I didn't show the process of making the glass in the first place (my part) as that's just what I do--and let's face it, watching someone cut glass, piece it together and put it into the kiln isn't all that... sexy. Glass blowing is sexy. Watching Johnathon swing the pipe with a molten vessel on it around in the air and past his cute little bare legs... that's sexy! Would you rather watch someone clean house or throw a fabulous party in the clean house? Can't do one without the other. Which is not to say I wasn't doing anything during the glass-blowing part of the work. The original video was 45 minutes long after all. I cut it to 16. Most of what I cut was my boring behind moving back and forth, and me directing the shaping. I did cut repetitions of blowing movements and glory hole time too, but my philosophy was if I was the main action in the shot, it could be cut.

I also didn't shoot the two days of coldworking on the finished blown piece that I gave it so it is satiny and lustrous and you just can't stop stroking it when you pick it up. The doing of that wasn't sexy either, but the (almost) finished piece? Oh my, drop-dead sexy.