Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Exhausted to the Bone

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Glass Resource Center Opening Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Physical and the Mental

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Penultimate Day

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roasting In the Depths of the Slor

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

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Don't Like Mondays

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

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

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

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday, First Class Day!

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

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

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

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

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

Done posting, off to list!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday... What More Can I Say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going Live

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Franchises and Transitioning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 12, 2009

At Last a Post!

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

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

Now back to the beach...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


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

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

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Very Early Bonus Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Studio Monstrocat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ernie Has Landed!

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

Ernie... Today!

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

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

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

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

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