Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review

It seems like all I have to do to find myself in interesting times is to mention them. The events of the past four days that prohibited me from getting this post up as intended on 12/31 (though I am setting the effective post date as 12/31/09, we all know it's really 1/4/10 today) will have to wait till I get the backlog out. Here is the promised Year in Review for 2009 begun over a week ago and finished this am:

On this, the last day of 2009, I look back on the Interesting Times that made up the previous 364 days and I fervently hope for less interesting times to come. Here were the monthly highlights of 2009:

  • Todd joined me on the road to do shows
  • Did the Dallas and Atlanta gift shows for the first time
  • Got first department store client—and resultant headaches
  • Leased a permanent showroom in Dallas in Hemisphere Design Gallery
  • Decided to host a summer camp in the studio for 5th graders and up.
  • Signed up to attend BECon 2009.
  • Had to implement UPC codes for department store client and plan for EDI (electronic data interface) implementation.
  • Dave was laid off from CNN and took a new job for a significant pay cut … in Austin. (Since then CNN has experienced a 40%* drop in viewership. We do not think this is coincidence.)
  • Upped my liability insurance to $1,000,000 (at the behest of Hemisphere in Dallas).
  • Developed new small format glass and steel pieces for product line.
  • Did the Buyer's Market show in Philly-it was down 64% from the previous February.
  • Had my first full month of single-Momhood as Dave started work in Austin
  • Went back to Dallas for the real set-up of the showroom in Hemisphere (Dallas).
  • Redesigned the office and sorted seven years worth of business and personal financial papers
  • Invited to Bullseye's instructor workshop
  • Decided to begin selling supplies and teaching formally out of my studio
  • The crawlspace under the studio flooded and took out the hotwater heater in the process.
  • Attended a roll-up workshop from Johnathon Schmuck--the first multi-day class/workshop I'd taken in years (ever?).
  • Worked with the Waldorf School 7th grade class to make their big auction project
  • Decided to build my own hotshop for blowing glass at the studio
  • My storage facility in Las Vegas informed me that they had dropped my crate of glass after the last show, breaking much of the work I needed for the upcoming ACRE show.
  • Did the ACRE show: Worst set-up *ever* and sales down 75% from the previous year.
  • Postponed my planned summer camp till summer 2010
  • Picked up the furnace for the hotshop, tools, cullet, glass, etc., from Sara and David in New Mexico.
  • Began building the hotshop.
  • Attended BECon in Portland--met Cynthia Morgan in person... ooooooh!
  • Took the second class in forever--a casting workshop from Linda Ethier
  • Broke my leg tripping over the dog and had to have surgery and stay off of it for a couple of months...
  • The same dog caught my laptop usb cable with her tail, pulled it off the coffee table and broke it.
  • Headed back to Portland on crutches for the Bullseye instructor workshop
  • Went directly from the instructor workshop in Portland to the summer Buyers Market in Philly... still on crutches.
  • The summer Buyers Market followed the trend I saw at ACRE: tighter rules, pissier union workers for set-up, fewer buyers, fewer artists, less money (sales down 34% from the previous summer).
  • Got back to Atlanta and began the process of applying for an ARC (America's Recovery Capital) loan from the Small Business Administration.
  • Took my third class of the year/ever, this time on pate de verre from Delores Taylor.
  • The crawlspace at the studio flooded again--this time all the way to the top (over five feet of water at one time) and it took out the furnace this time.
  • Became the proud feeder/supplier (never "owner") to Ernie the Monstrocat--a by-product of my visits to Portland.
  • Opened Siyeh Glass Resource Center--an official Bullseye kiln glass resource center--with a weekend-long event.
  • Had the new Waldorf 7th grade class in the studio and the hotshop for a field trip.
  • Had my first-ever artist open house and holiday sale--Siyeh Sleigh Ride the First--at the studio with five other artists.
  • Launched the teaching component of the Resource Center with the first six-week-long beadmaking class.
  • Finalized the ARC loan (after a 105 page fax...).
  • Hosted Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel--another artist open house and holiday sale.
  • Started hosting Date Nights in the hoshop--wine, cheese chocolate and blowing glass for two people for two hours.
Just listing it all has exhausted me. I'll further evaluate my choices and growth directions next post.

*Actual figure** should probably be researched by someone somewhere.

**Dave did the research and it's 30% of total primetime audience.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Night's Date Night

A quickie--pics to come later. Got the following via email this morning from last night's date night in the hotshop participants:


We had an amazing night with Lee tonight. He taught us at a pace that we both were comfortable with and was extremely patient with us. The wine was great and the cheese was delicious. It complemented everything we were doing and definitely made us feel warmer in the cold (and the glory hole helped too :D). This was beyond what we both imagined and it really made it a very special night for us. I can't wait to pick up the glasses we made. We can stop by on the morning of the 31st before Vivienne leaves for Singapore. Thank you again for the wonderful and memorable date night.

Sung & Vivienne

Yep, this is why I do what I do.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back Before the End (Of the Year, Of Course!)

Coffee in the San Francisco mug, the sound of Dad microwaving his breakfast for music. I just finished the longest break I have taken from posting in almost four years... Wow. Time to get back in the saddle, take stock of the year passing, and plan for the year to come. But, you might ask, where you been? Oh, here and there. Mostly there. I was in the hotshop obsessively blowing Christmas presents, entertaining family in for the holidays, preparing for Christmas before the 25th, and playing Dragon Age since (thanks, Dave, just what I needed--an XBox game to add to take up all the time I got back when I quit Mafia Wars [and more]!). Yesterday I reluctantly dragged myself back to work (people want to take classes in the resource center, they want schedules, descriptions, and costs--the nerve!). I have five orders/projects left for this year that I will finish this week and count as done in '09. Then I start 2010 with a clean slate.

What shall I write on this pristine slate? Goals, plans to achieve those goals, a means to avoid seat-of-my-pants business management. In fact, let's not just write them on the slate, let's write them here in the blog. To ease myself back into blogging (organizing myself), I think I'll take the next few days to do the year-in-review and the year to come. It will be interesting to see if I can plan my studio growth and goals out here, and review and evaluate my success (let's avoid failure if we can--it's just another "f" word) as the year goes along.

(NOTE: Since I wrote this Tuesday and it's now Wednesday I'm going to go ahead and post it for Tuesday and get on with the meat now on Wednesday!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Too Much for Tuesday

Homemade sangria in a Riedel stemless red wine glass (and a big one at that), "Radio Nowhere" by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. I have missed the comfort and routine of the drink-and-song opening for my postings lately. I have been discombobulated and running the Red Queen's Race (even more so than usual) for the past month. "How could this be?" you might ask. Well, it's complicated. I mean, it's not like I've been swamped with orders. No, it's more a juggling of a little bit of many, many jobs. Right now I wear a lot of hats.

We had a *great* Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel over the weekend--people really came to shop. Last time people came to nosh and schmooze, this time they came with wallets at the ready and many angels got their wings as we cha-chinged the cash register (at least metaphorically) all weekend. Tomorrow morning (because I am just too tired tonight) I have to reconcile all the sales for everyone, make up the spreadsheet detailing everything from our sales to our credit card fees (paid to Dee as we used her wireless swiper for instant transactions) and sales taxes. Then I have to write up checks for each of our shares. It's a tight time of year and we are all waiting for our little shot in the arm from this show.

Today I had two open studio people in--one a seven year-old doing his second small plate (for a gift) and the other another Waldorf parent making a clock for his father for his 80th birthday. Both will come back tomorrow or later this week to make another project. For my part I hope to make it to the hotshop for another lesson or two this week, and I have Christmas fusing to do (and another last-gasp holiday order to get out).

Now it's after 10:00 pm, Bruce just finished belting out "Further On (Up the Road)", and I need to get to bed to collapse into my eyelids. Goodnight, and God bless us every one. Pics tomorrow from the weekend... Maybe.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Siyeh Glass Date Night in the Hotshop!

I was more than a little worried when temperatures plummeted at the end of last week and we went into our first date night in the hotshop with temps the mid 30's F. But our participants showed up in long-sleeved layered shirts (all natural fibers, of course), hats, and down vests for the standing around time. Lee had also put up clear plastic panels on two side walls of the hotshop so it was a bit warmer inside than outside. (It's amazing what a 2300 degree glory hole can do to warm even a mostly open outdoor room!)

Great fun was had by all--I can't wait to do the next one!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


There always has to be someone in the bunch to ruin it for everyone. In this case, it's this person who has been posting spam links in the comments of my blog. The first time I just deleted the two comments, but there were *seven* spam comments up again this morning so now I'm moderating comments. Apparently this person has nothing better to do than plod through the word verification system in order to post comments. *sigh* Sorry real commenters.

Today is the first day of set-up for Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel, and I found out yesterday I also inadvertently scheduled a class on Sunday at the studio for ornament making and I have 12 people signed up for it. Time to expand the studio again! There is a 10' X 10' deck off the kiln room and what else do we artists who participate in shows have that is commonly 10' X 10'? Tents! So we're putting up my lightdome tent, screwing the poles to the deck and attaching them to the walls so it's sturdy, putting walls on three sides and opening the french doors to the kiln room on the fourth side to heat it Sunday if it's cold. Voila, instant classroom!


The day ran away with me--setting up for the show and putting the tent up off the deck (tent footprint 10 X 10, deck footprint 9-1/2 X 8... And yet we got it done). Details, and more, tomorrow. Time to go home I'm pooped!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Quickest Of Quickies

Today's post really should be about the difficulty of staying on top of ANYTHING once you add a retail supplies space, classes and open studio, a hotshop (where YOU play too), a torchwork classroom, and artist open houses to your production studio and schedule. And it would be about that topic in all its whiny glory if I wasn't already late to get out to the hotshop and blow before the studio opens to the world at 1:00. Later!

When I posted this entry to the blog I got the confirmation screen shown at right. I just bought a Jim Moore Tools puffer yesterday--scary how accurate Google's ad targeting is...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Join Our Mailing List... Please

Is it really only Monday? I feel... old today and like a lot of time has passed since I last posted. I moon nostalgic this morning and think of the long-gone days (before I was even born) when a small business owner had a little shop, worked hard, and only had to know their business and be honest, efficient, friendly and have a desirable product of good value to wildly succeed. *sigh* I spent last night and this morning setting up an account with Vertical Response to manage the studio newsletter and emails. Yet one more technology and business practice t master. Then I sent my first batch email about Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel (hurtling towards us this weekend). While I was at it I also created a widget to "join our mailing list" (shown at right in the administrative section of the blog). I haven't even posted this blog yet, and someone has already signed up to join the list from the widget!

Now I had better get a couple of kiln loads in--it's not all internet and web work here at Siyeh Studio!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

New Work, New Day

I type my post as I eat my cereal. Symmetry would have me eating Post cereal, but it's Kashi. If Dave hadn't eaten all of the Honey Bunches of Oats, it would have been Post. Today is the Taylor Kinzel annual Glass show and yet another Siyeh Studio artist has joined this year's show--Lee will be exhibiting some of his blown glass pieces (in addition to our joint roll-up pieces) and we will have Siyeh Studio paperweights for sale! Todd made wreaths as his new work for this year, and they are STUNNING! Dee is right, I promised pics, and as the camera is still on walk-about (since mid October now) I had to take them with my iPhone. The quality of the photos is lacking, not the quality of the work.

As you can see from the roll-up pic, the Pop Art work is enjoying a come-back. We did two more in the hotshop last evening and they went even better than this one. The only thing that didn't go as I had hoped was that the shape of the last one was not an urn (big at the top and small at the bottom). There is a special tool blowers use to get that shape and it allows them to blow the piece after it has been moved off the blow pipe onto the punty and is called a soffietta or puffer. We don't have one, we need one, it's not free. *sigh*

Okay Lee is here to polish a few last paperweights and to label everything. Got to go!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Night In the Hotshop

I instant message with Mike about the Siyeh Glass website updates and wait for Lee to get back to the studio so we can do two roll-ups in the hotshop tonight. We don't have an oxy-propane torch set-up out there yet so I am a bit nervous about how well our seams are going to turn out. This effort may be doomed to failure--Johnathon and Tadashi both spent a LOT of time torching the seams on the roll-ups. But both the pieces we're doing tonight have a clear layer on top so maybe they'll seam up better than the mixed opal/transparent-many-colored-surface rollups do. He's here! Off to blow.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Quick Post Before Tuesday Ends

You might have noticed that there have been no posts so far this week. I have been consumed by Mafia Wars for my web warm-up time and weaving in the evenings. Yes, it is fall and the textile jones has kicked in bad. So far I have finished three scarves and am warp speeding through a fourth (oh so pun intended). I have also been taking private glassblowing lessons from Lee in the hotshop a few hours in the afternoons, and, though I may never make anything professionally, I am having a GREAT time working up gifts for my Christmas list.

Orders have been sparse for the past few weeks. I took one at the end of the week last week for one platter to be dropshipped to a customer, and I took another today for several pieces to ship to a gallery in Scottsdale asap. I had to scrounge for stands for that last order as Black Cat is slammed with orders through the end of the year. Add those two orders to the custom sconces I am working on and a few remakes from the summer's big awards order and you have my current paid kilnforming. I am, of course, making pieces for the Taylor Kinzel glass trunk show this weekend and Siyeh Sleigh Ride the Sequel next weekend, but work I do for both of them is on spec and I am having difficulty working up ambition for spec work right now. End-of-the-year brain drain.

For the first year in memory I actually have time in December for fusing Christmas gifts. In fact (as you might have noticed from the beginning of this post) I am making many of my gifts for 2009-in spite of the fact that I am staring down the barrel of 39 straight days of houseguests (and their pets) starting this Sunday!

Now off to bed to fall into my eyelids.