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!