Friday, December 31, 2010

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

In the better-late-than-never category, I am finally getting around to posting that Siyeh Glass is going to be featured in a a spot on ESPN tonight during the Chick-Filet-A Bowl. They came by and filmed us yesterday as one of the Hot Spots in Atlanta on New Year's Eve. I am particularly excited to see how the filming turns out as we had to do it all without a glass furnace! The little pot furnace went down again Wednesday morning--another element burned through (one of the three new elements I just purchased) and yet another one looks like it's going to go soon (there's a blob of drizzled glass/muck on it).

I am continually amazed at how blessed I am by my Village (you know, the village that it takes to raise a child or support a glass studio owner). Yesterday while I was on a plane winging back from Hawaii, Lee, Carol, Austin, Amy and Brian were working out how to pick up pre-warmed (1000 degree) cullet on a blowpipe from the pick-up oven and melt it in the gloryhole for blowing out. Judy was decorating up a storm with all the New Year's bling we got for our New Year's Date Nights--and then Judy and Carol evened starred as our kiln-forming date couple inside. I arrived 20 minutes before the ESPN team--just enough time to put on make-up, change clothes, and check everything out. As I had been more or less awake for 26 hours at that time I *think* everything went well... We'll see tonight.

As we here in the Griffith household do not have live tv, we will be watching the game (or maybe just the commercials :-) on ESPN's live streaming sports page. I am relying on the kindness of strangers--or at least geeky friends--to get a copy of the spot so we can put it on our website. Oh hey, It's almost game time! Got to run. If you miss it, I think it will be on the replays page on ESPN3 tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And It Begins Again

I am in Hawaii--hence the great amount of time since my last post. The pic of the sea turtle at right was taken by the J on our first day here. Tonight at 10:00 we begin the long journey back to Atlanta--where I understand there is still some snow in the shade--and to the the studio where I further understand that the glass furnace went down AGAIN last night. Apparently the new lower element fried. We had to cancel/reschedule all our glass blowing dates AGAIN for the next several days--including the New Year's Eve special that I just spent another $80 advertising.

All of the above is business as usual and part of the everyday peril of the small business owner's life. What is not business as usual is that ESPN is going to come into the studio tomorrow afternoon to film our date night experience for a couple of hours somewhere between 3:00 and 5:00 so they can show it during the Chick-Fil-A Bowl the next day... Our flight is due in at 1:38. I will have been on a packed plane for, oh, several thousand hours at that point having had little or no sleep. We will take a quick cab home so I can freshen and prep for filming. (Judy and Lee will have been wrangling everything till then). As the furnace is down, we are going to Wing It (appropriate for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl) even more than usual.

If I live through the day before New Year's then I will cover the morning glass date from New Year's Eve who decided kiln-forming would be fun since they can't do glass blowing. See the post below and marvel at the continuity in my life! Could be worse, I could be in Montana (my parents' driveway at left).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Disaster

Allow me to explain about the glass studio business. The natural condition 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.

The furnace was down again when Lee got in this afternoon. After two hours of calls to tech support, reading of the manual and futzing in the freezing cold in the hotshop (and getting Austin to read the teeny tiny model numbers on the controller), it looks like we might have both a workaround and a new thermocouple on order. Let's cross fingers and toes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jessie's First Blown Piece

There are advantages to being the studio owner's daughter... Jessie started kilnforming at age 3, she did vitrigraph at 6 (shown at right), and now at 9 she's taken up glassblowing. The shots in the slideshow below are not staged! (And I am not the photographer--thanks Carol).

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Morning Begins With McMurtry and a Lapful of Ernie

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Bayou Torture" (should be Bayou Tortous--Turtle Bayou, but there's apparently a mistake in GraceNotes) from James McMurtry Live in Europe on iTunes, Ernie taking up most of my lap (necessitating typing at an angle with the laptop on the arm of the chair). The Erns has turned into a lap cat--and at 20 lbs, he's quite a lapful.

The week--and by extension, the studio year for me--winds down with the final three days of the Siyeh Sleigh Ride. (Get It While It's Hot takes on a whole new meaning when you're talking about Siyeh Glass! :-) Today I create and send the gift certificates people have ordered, put up the New Year's Special Date Nights on ZVents, and promote the ornament blowing and the Sleigh Ride one more time. I'll also put up the Valentine's weekend special events--someone already tried to reserve the Date Night on the Saturday before Valentine's Day yesterday before I even got the calendar set-up for it!

Yesterday I had so many more things I wanted to post about this morning, but now that the time is at hand, I can't remember any more of them. Maybe my senior moment will be over by Monday when I come back to post again. If you're in the neighborhood today or this weekend, stop on by for some hot apple cider and great glass gifts!

Monday, December 06, 2010

December? Really?

Almost finished with a medium mocha in a Kavarna go-cup, listening to Gillbert O' Sullivan "Alone Again, Naturally" and a couple of other of his songs over the sound system, and recovering/regrouping from the first weekend of the 2010 Siyeh Sleigh Ride. We are entering the homestretch of 2010 and I, like the groundhog in February, pop my head up, look around, and say "What the hell?" I mean, October, November, five days in December--where'd they go?!?

Now Simon and Garfunkel are singing and I can't help but concur that, indeed, leaves are brown (though there isn't a patch of snow on the ground--not in Hotlanta on Dec 6), and the sky *is* a hazy shade of winter. Wasn't it just August? Didn't I just voice this same time-loss lament recently (i.e., five months ago)? Ah well, the beauty of time is that there's always more of it--till you die anyway.

As it's now December, it's time to update the open studio hours and January/February class lists. As I add the additional lines on the Google Docs spreadsheet which is the open studio sign-up sheet I am faced with a dilemma: Do I continue the Children's Studio full-time, do I keep it as a once-a-year activity, or do I tie it into the school calendar and offer it whenever the local schools are on break?

Right now our open studio space is a bit tight (at least in theory--in reality the demand has only once completely filled it)--but I have a plan to address that need (an expansion! an expansion! It's time for another expansion!). Maybe the smartest thing to do is take baby steps (didn't I say that's how I was going to proceed from now on anyway?) and offer the Children's Studio when we have the new space. Or I should offer it until the demand for Open Studio overwhelms the space... so many options! Okay, for now I'll just leave it as it is (offered full-time)--it's easier than editing the spreadsheet. :-)

Time also to look into hiring someone to teach intro to kiln-forming. I have been thinking long and hard about adding a lot of classes, and, while it fits the business model in terms of optimizing the use of the space and the equipment, the last thing I need to do is add regularly scheduled evenings and weekends to my already full-time business. Smart thing to do is make a little less by hiring the work out, but make more than not doing it all. Regular classes lead to sales in supplies and use of open studio--both of which bring revenue into the studio (and thus are a Good Thing). I feel a bit like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams--I'm building it, will they come?

Enough mid to long term musings. The rest of the week and through the weekend the Sleigh Ride is in full swing and the studio looks great! Everyone has really nice work this year with price points from $3 (I kid you not, $3) to $585. Access Atlanta/ZVents did us well--we had several people from Friday through Sunday who came in because they saw our event on one of those sites. I didn't get as positive a response about our emailing--think I'll send out the December newsletter today or tomorrow and put in both the Sleigh Ride and the Glass Project Gifts I put together for a holiday offering.

I close with some pics of the Siyeh Family taken during a lull on Sunday. They got a bit squirrely with the elf hats and the blown ornaments (check out the ornament hanging from Austin's pierced ear--ouch!).

Friday, December 03, 2010

Glory Glory Hallelujah

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Where'd You Hide the Body" by James McMurtry for the morning music. Day One of Siyeh Sleigh Ride 2010 has dawned and I think I might finally have my groove, optimism, joie de vivre, je ne sais quoi back. Whew! There are--as usual--a million and one last minute details to take care of (not least of which are creating a gift certificate template and putting together the class and project packages to offer during the Sleigh Ride).

"Hurricane Party" just came on and I was struck again by the realization that you just can't listen to too much McMurtry. Why did we move from Austin again? (And the bigger question: Why didn't I ever see him when we lived there?). Okay, enough distractions! Judy, Carol, Lee, Amy (our little hotshoppie and the latest addition to the studio family), Dee, Todd, and Becky (V) are all showing up between 10-10:30 to Whip The Studio Into Shape (or blow roll-ups for an order due tomorrow).

I think Dee and Todd are expecting/hoping we'll be further along than we are in clearing off the flat surfaces for display space. Judy and V have been there in the thick all week and know exactly what they're in for, and the other three will be blowing glass in the hotshop and ignoring our indoor frenzy. Some time later today Brian and Becky S. will arrive with their work--by which time we will be calm, ready, and sipping toddies. ROFLMAO (Mom, that means rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.)

Still have to buy the food and wine for the artist reception tonight from 6-9. Got studio lights yesterday--24 8 ft florescent tubes--and I am afraid I might have gotten the wrong ones. They only had one kind at Lowe's but I think they said one pin... Maybe they all fit in all the fixtures. Guess I should go find out--and start clearing off tables, and find the white tablecloths...

Hope to see you at the Sleigh Ride if you're in the neighborhood!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ernie and 4:00 AM

Where to begin the 4:00 am post? Maybe with what I'm doing up and awake at 4:00 am (couldn't sleep). Or maybe I should note how difficult it is to post--or do any work at all--with a 20 lb cat smack in the middle of one's lap--Ernie gives a whole new meaning to the word "laptop".

The countdown to the Second Siyeh Sleighride (it's going to be SSStupendous!) is well underway. I was planning on getting a food sign-up sheet on-line for the participating artists yesterday, but instead I spent the majority of the day fighting with Internet Explorer. Come to find out my website was not displaying correctly on IE browsers. The site has been up for over a week and I finally found out on Tuesday that neither the Home page, the Sleighride Events page, nor *any* of the class pages were displaying to people using Internet Explorer. Since there is no IE for the Mac anymore, I hadn't tested it. *sigh* Leave it to Microsoft to make my life more difficult.

In spite of IE, I have been making progress on coming up with creative ideas for kiln-forming (and beadmaking) packages to offer for gift-giving. First I have a whole series of Project Packages--e.g., The Orchid-Pot Melt: Get a signed copy of A Beginner's Guide to Kiln-Formed Glass, an orchid pot filled with glass, and a coupon to come in and fire it, all for $65. I still need to work a bit on costing and color options, but these packages have a lot of potential.

Yawn. Okay, I am ready to go back to sleep. I'll hit the ground running again at 7:00, but now it's time to snooze a bit more.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Prep Day

Ginger tea--an attempt to ward off the umpteenth viral cold attack of the fall/winter season--in the Chicago skyline mug. The ticking of the breakfast room clock and the soft whoosh of the furnace for morning music. J is successfully delivered to school with Girl Scout dues, fieldtrip permission form, lunch, and umbrella in hand. The pets are sleeping snorelessly (except for the bunny who is rampaging on the front porch having spent the past couple of cold days in her cage). And I gear up for another day's fret and toil. Dave is in Austin for the week and most of the weekend...

The Siyeh Sleigh Ride is this weekend, and we begin to prepare. The glass furnace has been repaired with new elements, love, mortar, wine and pizza by Lee and Carol (Judy's husband) so we can resume Date Nights, get our roll-up order done (10 pieces for Saturday), and make more ornaments for the Sleigh Ride. As usual I find myself going in a thousand different directions at the speed of light--and whining about it. No Whining!

November is over today. It went in less than the blink of an eye--along with half of October. December, January and February really need to be slower, more thoughtful and contemplative months. Good luck with that!

Now the ginger tea is cool enough to sip so I'm going to close the post, sip the tea, and start slogging through the email and admin part of the day. Becky H. will be over later this morning to continue assembling gift packages for the Sleigh Ride--flower dishes with jewelry kits or cookies prettily wrapped together, slumped wine bottle cheese trays with cheese (the kind you don't have to refrigerate), crackers and little cheese knives all bundled up, and etched martini, margarita and wine glasses filled with chocolates. Becky has been promoted from bookkeeper to manager of retail packaging and design. :-)

Tea shmea--I want some COFFEE! But I have a sore throat--which coffee doesn't help--and we're out of coffee in any case. Maybe tomorrow if I'm good and slug down several gallons of hot tea today, thus vanquishing the cold virus.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Give Thanks For Two Days Off!

Before I got up this morning I asked the spouse to make me a BIG pot of coffee. Then I showered and quickly dressed in warm fuzzies as it is a cold one in Hotlanta today. Thus prepped, I opened my laptop for the first time since Wednesday night at 6:00 pm. I have been trying to figure out how long it had been since I went two days without checking email, puttering with a spreadsheet, reading the news, or any of 100 other things I do on the computer every day (blog), and I have failed. The last time has already passed out of memory. But I did it for Thanksgiving (and the day after--aptly called Black Friday as the computer screens were black) as did the spouse.

Instead of working--at all--we had two full family days with just the three of us. We read. We cooked (rather Jessie and Dave cooked), we walked, we gathered leaves and made holiday placemats. We ate, we played games and watched movies. We even went out for a double-feature yesterday "Mega Mind" and "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows". Then we ate some more (ham, ham, ham, ham, ham, ham, ham, ham, hammity ham, ham, ham!), watched another movie, and played Carcassone before heading off to bed. What a great time out of mind/studio!

But all good things must come to an end, and when I woke this morning filled with dread at the prospect of all I had ignored, I almost regretted taking the time off. I mentally girded my loins to wade through an ENORMOUS pile of email, date night requests, voice messages, and art emergencies which I was sure had been languishing unattended for the past two days. I armed myself with the first cup of coffee and... I'm already done! In less than an hour I read or trashed all the new email (answered where appropriate), updated the Date Night calendar, and left the voicemail for Judy to pick up today at 10:00 when she gets in and the studio opens. Wow. I didn't think I'd have time to post, but here I am! Apparently everyone else also had other things on their minds than an Intimate Urban Glass Studio for the past couple of days. Boy am I not complaining.

Now off to publicize the hot ornament making opportunities we're going to have in the studio starting next Friday...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Rollercoaster Rides On

It's a banner day here at Siyeh Studio. The new website went live yesterday, the newsletter announcing the second annual Siyeh Sleigh Ride went out last night, and the LivingSocial deal for two-for-one bead-making or kiln-forming classes went live this morning. Wheeee! No time for a long post--got to get the Access Atlanta listings done for the Sleigh Ride, the ornament making during sleigh ride (might as well set it up as its own event) and the bead-making and kiln-forming classes!

The pot furnace went down again yesterday and the new elements haven't arrived yet so we're trying a back-up plan of a crucible in my side and top firing Olympic ceramic/glass kiln. It's deep and it's built to go to the higher temps required to fire pottery. We'll see what happens. In all honesty I expect to lose the elements in it from firing it too hot, too long, but we'll see.

Okay, off to tackle the day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Open Studio On-line Sign-up

It has been a webful week so far--and it has no sign of slowing down. Today I finished the on-line sign-up for open studio and children's studio times. Next is the November newsletter announcing the upcoming Siyeh Sleigh Ride and the open/children's studios. Then I need to do a quick website overhaul. I need to put so much stuff up on the website right now that I have decided to just put up a quick new site to handle it all instead of trying to work through a comprehensive rework of the current site right now.

The pot furnace went down last Friday night causing a cancellation of all glass-blowing dates for the weekend. Lee and Carol worked tirelessly on it Sunday and, fingers crossed, it's back up now on a band-aid and a prayer. New elements on order, and furnace options going into next year under consideration (another? bigger? smaller? electric?).

Debbie Suchy from Eclectic Galeries was in a couple of weeks ago (did I write this already?) and I am still processing her review of the studio workflow and procedures. I think the word that will drive us going forward is "tweak". Oh yes, and "incremental". Tweaking the existing processes to optimize them and making incremental changes in the business of the studio. It's a great theory anyway. Hope I can live up to it.
Now off to newsletter!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Online Date Night Form Created!

Oh Sergei Brin, we love you. First you brought us Google, then Google calendars, then Google Docs (and let's not forget GMail!). Now we have... Forms!

Open Studio Policy

• Available to anyone who has taken an Introductory Kiln-Forming Class at Siyeh Studio or who has been cleared for proficiency by Brenda (the Head Kilnformatrix).

• You supply all your own materials, we supply the tools. We require that you purchase the glass you use in Open Studio from us so we can continue to offer this Great Deal to the glass community. Use of some coldworking equipment is available for an additional charge.

• No charge for normal firings if worked into our regular schedule. Firing on demand and special firing schedules available starting at $10.

• No instruction is provided during open studio. Brenda is happy to dispense technical advice and answer questions if she is in and her hair is not on fire. Otherwise private classes are available more detailed instruction.

• Space is extremely limited. Please see our on-line calendar for current availability.

• Cost is $5 per hour with time purchased on an Open Studio card. Open Studio cards are $50 and expire one year from purchase. (They can be shared between two people.)

• Allow us to improve your experience by being ready for you--ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. Please, no later than the prior day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Once a Year for the Holidays!

Children's Studio is our once-a-year before-the-holidays event during which we open the studio to children (and their adults). It is their chance to come in and make beautiful kiln-formed ornaments, dishes, plates, etc.--perfect gifts for all the Grammas, Grampas, Uncle Joes and Aunt Fannys in the family.

• Suitable for ages 6-10 with parent supervision. Responsible, focused children 10 and up may be dropped off. Irresponsible and/or unfocused children will be given a shot of espresso and a puppy and sent home.

• No prior kiln-forming experience is required.

• All materials, tools and kiln firing provided. The glass is our mixed studio frit (crushed glass), scrap glass, and a clear blank for the base. Additional glass is available for purchase.

• Space is extremely limited and advance registration is required.

Monday, November 08, 2010

New Week, New Wonders, New Woes

Welcome to a New Week! I start of the week with a meeting for the Waldorf Holiday Fair (happening this Saturday from 10-4) as I am the grade 3 holiday fair rep. Then it's off to another meeting with my insurance agent to review the studio coverage and make sure I have adequate coverage for everything we're doing--and everyone working in the studio. By afternoon I should be on to the creative part of the day--juggling what will go in what kiln and casting the first award slab. (And beginning to build the mummy's tomb for the holiday fair).

Biggest project of the day--mummy's notwithstanding is--the award slabs which aren't exactly eating my lunch, but they are stretching my brain in ways it doesn't usually (and tries hard not to) go. In a nutshell, it's too early (in the day, the week, my life) for specific gravity. Last night it was too early for some water-quantity divination (the formula for how much water to use and then how much plaster/silica flour to mix in). I don't remember it being so difficult, but it has been awhile since the last time I built molds. My notes (from Linda Ethier and Bullseye) require lots of weighing and multi-decimal numbers (and decimal points too!) to figure things out. Sigh.

If you have little artists in your house, next time they ask you why they have to do all that dumb math, and confidently state that they'll never use it, send them my way. I've gone from having to muck around with sin and cosine in order to make an angled stained glass window to discounting and repricing product (percentages) to this whole volume, weight and specific gravity thing. When it comes to math, I know I'm not smarter than a 5th grader.

New milestone in the studio today--got the first call from a wife who wanted to verify that her husband and his girlfriend had been in for a date night in the hotshop. They had. :-(

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Frabjous Day

Caloo Calay it's my favorite day! When I was young, my favorite day was Christmas or my birthday (whichever was closer). It was all about the "stuff". But now that I am older and wiser, today is my favorite day. Oh it's still about the presents, but today I (as do we all) get a gift that can never be purchased and cannot be given any other day of the year. Today I get the gift of time--one extra hour of it to be precise. I take this gift and I revel in it, I luxuriate in it, I roll around in it and hug it to myself... and I inevitably squander it. Ah well, all good things must come to an end--even time.

Today is another class day in the studio--kilnformed glass ornaments from 1-3, and we have a full glass blowing date slate starting at 10:00 and going till 9:00 tonight. That long time is not as impressive as it sounds as we only do three dates per day (which uses the max amount of melted glass we can have in the furnace in a given day). It's also a casting day for me--plaster today, glass tomorrow for the first of a series of thick slab awards I am doing this month--and a fusing/slumping day for gallery orders. I can think of a couple more things I would like to add to today but 1) it IS Sunday (not a workday for me), and 2) an extra hour only gets you so much.

Maybe when I am even older and wiser I will be ready to forgo both stuff AND time. One can hope.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Intense Wee Hour

Why is it that everything has more intense meaning and significance at 3:00 am, but only if you were sleeping and woke up to it? You don't have panic attacks at 3:00 am if you've been up all night. At least I don't. (Note that it is significantly more difficult to type at 3:00 am because of the active, purring presence of Ernie demanding one hand all to himself for pets.)

Judy had jury duty all last week and had it not been for Debbie and Becky H. helping out in the studio, everything would have completely fallen to pieces--me included. I have *got* to become okay with telling people no! Of course one of the people I am not (and should not be) saying no to right now is J who will be nine next week and who would like an old-fashioned birthday party with pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, a treasure hunt, chocolate cake and vanilla cupcakes, a dart and balloon game, and a pinata. I can hand the food bits off to Dave, but I need to get cracking on the rest. She has a swim meet all weekend so the party is going to have to be right after early dismissal on Thursday afternoon.

Looking back on the (really-should-have-been-but-wasn't) terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week, probably the biggest snafu was caused by UPS shutting my account off yesterday, Friday, and me discovering it at 5:55 pm as I was trying to schedule and process for same-day pick-up and shipment an order that absolutely, positively had to go out RIGHT THEN. And why did they do this? Because they have been trying to pay my invoices (I have auto-draft set-up) against my old checking account in spite of the fact that I changed the information back in August in their on-line billing center/account management interface AND faxed them a cancellation request. I still have not been able to get an answer--satisfactory or not--as to why I can change my information on-line in their system and have the new, correct information show up *for months* and yet that's not what they have and use for billing!!! (Yes, it's really worth three exclamation points.) It was almost 7:00 when I got the right department on the phone and got everything straightened out with them culminating in the assurance that my account would be back on and functional...by midnight. It's now just after 4:00 am and I don't have the heart to check.

Later this morning I have my first official beginning kiln-forming class in the studio. I ran a special at our birthday/anniversary party offering a 10 hour open studio card free if you signed up that day for a class. Of course I forgot Judy has the day off today AND I am running a special for the Atlanta Glass Artists Guild today... One of the people I really have to work on saying no to is myself!

Okay, I'll update the firing schedule for tomorrow (today!) and go back to bed. I feel like I can sleep again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wheeeee!

After a bummer of a grey, down, rainy, listless day yesterday (a good bit of it spent in court eavesdropping on the flat tires of the wheels of justice going whapp, whapp, whapp) I am perking up today with the prospect of a Guest In the Studio this weekend! Debbie Suchy, friend, marketer-extraordinaire, blue-sky dreamer, gallery owner, savvy business woman supreme (no, the superlatives are not overdone) is coming to visit for five days, lend a hand, and play in the studio.

She'll be helping with shipping this afternoon in Judy's absence. She'll also be helping me comfort Todd-of-the-bleeding-fingers when I pick up the next 35 trees (shown at right) and 72 keychains for another order. As of today he has done 200 trees in the past few months just for this one store an he has 70 more to go. I called him this morning with an order from another client for 6 people and he practically started to cry. Be careful what you wish for (retail success and popular acclaim), you just might get it.

I continue to struggle through the newly-renamed-but-I-don't-know-to-what obstacle course project for the Waldorf Holiday Fair. It looms over me like a heavy cloud (Dave and Todd are both muttering very grim I-told-you-sos at my confession). Just over two weeks to go, a mummy to design and make, canopic jars to create, and a set of amulets to find, AND obstacle course to design. I'll make it, it'll be fine, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, I will find a whole new village to get through this one.

Another looming project is a set of 1" thick award slabs with "mountainous" rough-cut top edges. I agreed to the project (and priced it) before I had a clear understanding of what they wanted for this edge. Oh boy. I can do it (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can), but it is just one more stresser right now.

My other casting projects have been delayed (again) and at least one of the artists is chomping at the bit to get a finished piece from me. I think I am going to have to do some really heavy-duty scheduling this fall to see progress on the current in-processes.

Oh my, people to pay, orders to fire. Got to run!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to Civic Duty I Go

I am sitting outside a courtroom at the Clayton County Courthouse waiting to see if I need to testify as a witness in the criminal trial of the driver in a traffic incident that Lee, Todd and I witnessed last December 4th on the way to the Taylor Kinzel Glass Trunk Show. Coincidentally, Judy was picked yesterday to sit on a jury and may not be in the rest of the week. The sign on the door at Siyeh Studio reads:

CLOSED TODAY
so we can do our civic (jury) duty.
Sorry for the inconvenience!

Life just waits for me, I think. It hides around a corner or behind a door, crouched over it's front paws, tail flipping the air, claws extending and retracting, whiskers twitching, rhythmically kneading the carpet until POUNCE! As soon as I start to see the faintest hint of light at the end of the tunnel, WHAM I'm flat on my back again. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to just sit on this bench outside the courtroom for the day and work on-line (there is open wi-fi, after all). Of course it would be nice if the prosecutor had given me SOME idea what to do after I told her I was here. But she was talking to the person hit in the accident, and when she finished with him, they both walked back into the courtroom. I told her my name, she saw me sit on this fine bench outside the courtroom door... I'll give it a few hours to see what happens. Hmm. I just need an electrical outlet and I'm all set.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Working Stiff

Los Campesinos on the sound system and a medium mocha with an extra shot for the beverage--it's a fast Kavarna morning! It's a fast k morning as it's Judy's day off and so my day to man the studio and answer the phones. I have to man up, so to speak. The morning started late and poorly with the loss of another pet (J's hamster Tuffy). Seraph last week, Tuffy today... I am not looking forward to telling J when she gets home from school. (She fed him and "let him sleep" this morning. Little did she know how soundly he was sleeping.)

So a quick post to stay in the posting groove, an hour and a half on the website, and off to the studio! I was only over there briefly yesterday as we were closed and I was working on other things, but I hope Lee was able to fix the glass furnace. The auto shut-off stopped working the middle of last week and gave him a tremendous shock in the middle of date night. Since then he's been doing a manual shut-off for every gather, but that isn't a good solution as it's a manual shut-off of the computer which then has to reboot every time.

Okay, enough post. To web!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Project Management

I take a break to post and switch gears. The hardest part of immersive projects is switching between them. Right now I have my website, my book (the second), and the design and direction of the realization of the "obstacle course" for the Waldorf Holiday Festival (in three weeks) in active mode. This past Saturday was our birthday and it was a major project too--one that has been replaced by a marketing push to fill classes and boost the sale of materials and supplies for the studio (Living Social, Sparkfly, Kudzu all contacted me in the last week and I need to put together proposals for them). Then there's the web-based date night picture and video distribution system that Dave coded up for me and is in the process of implementing. He is ready for final spec info from me today so he can finish up.

Every single one of these projects is individually fascinating to me and each also requires wholehearted, wholeminded attention. But there are the day-to-day activities that also must be done--confirmation emails for date night to send, payments to process, orders to fire, pack and ship, supply orders to place... AAAAAAGHHHH! There is simply too much for one little (or not so little) me!

So why do I take on so much? Because I love it all! I am a gourmet and a gourmand all rolled into one. Like Gargantua and Pantgruel I want to rompre l'os et sucer la substantifique moelle--of everything. *sigh* Cloning. I need to be cloned and able to hop from body to body at will. Francois Rabelais meets Charles Stross. Now onto the next project for the day...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It Was a Fine Party, Indeed

The birthday party/one year anniversary party for the studio is over, and it was a fine party indeed. We had neither cake nor cupcakes, but we were celebratory nonetheless. Lots of people showed up to take advantage of 40% off sheet, frit, stringer and confetti glass (I even gave someone 40% off a bottle of GlasTac I was feeling so happy). Even more came to sign up for a beginning kilnforming class to get the 10-hour open studio card for free. We still need to work on getting our glass beadmaking programs to take off--especially since I now have two instructors chomping at the bit to get classes going. Hmmm. Think this is the direction I'll go with the marketing people who keep contacting me about doing a "daily deal" promotion...

Today is the first Sunday the studio is open so I think I'll head over to see how Judy's doing, and check-in on Lee's first glassblowing date of the day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Siyeh Glass Resource Center!

The clock struck midnight last night as the last keystroke fell on the Birthday Party Reminder email. Whew! Now off to prepare for the hoards who will come tomorrow. If you would like to get lovely emails like the one below from me directly (and not have to scroll) sign-up at right!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Subpoenaed!

Didn't get a chance to post Live From Austin (went for a few days to celebrate our 15th anniversary while D was working there) as I had to take the laptop in to get a new trackpad and lost a whole day of valuable posting time. And I almost didn't get to post this morning either--darn universe conspiring against me! Got home last night to find a subpoena waiting demanding my presence in court this morning to serve as a witness in a criminal trial. I would've thought they'd give me more than 36 hours notice if they really wanted me there (they mailed the summons out on Friday and it arrived Saturday late afternoon), but I found out when I checked in at the courthouse this morning that 36 hours is a luxurious eternity. I didn't have to stay today, but I am on call till 10/29 and they will give me a couple of hours to half-day's notice to get back down there... Joy.

Today is going to be the usual just-back-from-somewhere-the-studio-didn't-sleep-in-my-absence kind of day with paperwork and other administration to do (money in-yay!, money out-sigh), glass to fire, wax models to cast, awards to etch, a one-year birthday party for the studio to plan, and a load of curious glass to cut for the big event. Guess I better make hay while the sun shines, miles to go before I sleep, and all that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

16 Hour Day

Two (three?) day old cold pepperoni pizza (could've had four day old donuts but I think I'll save those for lunch) and yesterday's coffee microwaved for breakfast (can you tell Dave's in Austin this week?). "Choctaw Bingo" (from Live in Aught Three) by James McMurtry on iTunes (going to see him live Wednesday night at the Continental Club, I can't wait!). Let's see if I can finish the post before the song ends (it's 8 minutes and 47 seconds long).

Yesterday was a 16 hour day and man did I kick glass butt. Started the day with Dee and mocha from Stabucks, continuing the work we started last week on the outline of the second book (working title: Studio Practices and Projects for the Advanced Kiln-former). I am really excited about this book--though I still can't believe I'm writing another one. I guess books are like children--nature clouds the memory of the birthing event and makes you focus on the outcome so you'll do it again. But back to the long day... Ended with a full kiln load in at 11:15 pm and then an hour of email, exporting date night photos to make cd's and bookkeeping before heading home. J had a sleepover at a friend's so it was just me and the pets at the house. A bottle of hard cider (well, two) and a half hour of reading to settle down and I was off to sleep! I think this is only the second night I have been alone in the house (save for the four-legged) in nine years.

Tomorrow I head to Austin to celebrate Dave's and my 15th wedding anniversary (Dave is working there this week) with a mini vacation. Well, sort of a vacation. Dave has to work through Friday and I am going to take advantage of the out-of-studio time to FINISH the website layout (got to talk to Mike today to make sure he is willing to take on merging the websites and redo project--it's a monster) and the book outline/project list.

In our absence Judy and Carol are managing the J and the house and the dogs and the cat and the bunny and the hamster and the swim lessons and the cello practice and the studio... I don't pay her enough. But it's good for J to have a third set of grandparents (and local!) and Judy loves to decorate for holidays so I am expecting them to go to town with the plethora Halloween stuff we have boxed in the basement. ("Choctaw Bingo" the studio version just came on iTunes--guess I couldn't get the whole post done in eight minutes. Got to stop fixing my spelling typos as I go.)

The newsletter for October is done and we are preparing for our One Year Birthday Party! No, it never does slow down here. I have my fingers crossed that this event will be better-attended than the fiasco that was Gumbo Day. We are helped by the lack of PGA tour a block away.

Okay, second version of CB is done and so am I. Next: Live From Austin!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Newsletter Time

Another mocha morning at Kavarna, newsletter goes out today, and then it's on to the website! Since my siyehstudio site was hacked recently I have shut it down and now really need to get a new merged site up. (Today is apparently baby morning at Kavarna. There are two who trade off crying/screaming in their querulous little voices. Oh look, they're all leaving... Whew! Back to the website...) Time for online sign-up for date nights, the class offerings I have been promising, open studio policies and schedule--everything I have not had time to get to and more! (The exclamation point is to get me jazzed up at the prospect of the work.)

(Hey! Now that the screaming is over, I can hear that a modern, jazzy version of "La Vie en Rose" is on the sound system. Oh what a nice change!)

Last quick note before I get that pesky newsletter out, we are extending our hours of operation at the studio. We are opening two hours earlier (three on Saturday), and adding Sunday hours. I am still debating cutting Tuesday hours, but it is turning into a decent day and I guess I can put myself on the hook for one full, solo day a week (Judy has Tuesday off as she is picking up Sunday). New hours are Tues-Fri 11-5, Sat 10-5, and Sun 11-5 starting October 19.

Now that you know, it's time to let the rest of the world know in the newsletter. If you're not on our mailing list and would like to be (my goal is one newsletter a month with one reminder before big events--not a lot of email), sign up in the box on the right.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fall Means Falling Faster

Mocha in a Kavarna mug, something smooth and silky on the sound system. It's a coffee shop morning! Started a post on Monday, never finished it. Didn't get a chance to write anything at all yesterday. Today, before everything goes completely sideways, I'm going to pound one out. Got to practice writing doncha know now that I'm officially starting the second book ;-) .

Last night I got the date night videos through 10/2 up on YouTube. The next step is to send a personal email out to each of the participants with the link to their video. Might not get to that for a couple of days as I also need to finish the October newsletter this morning and get it out AND I still have the Waldorf Holiday Fair obstacle course to design. Oh yes, and orders to fill!

The economy must be on an up as the orders just keep coming steadily in. Just when I think I don't have them all done, I get a couple of little ones or a big one. Today I am waiting to hear about a really big one today (7 X 12 flat rectangles in Tropical, could be 70 pieces, could be 150-200 pieces--and they need them in three weeks). But am I stressed? Overloaded? No sirree. Maybe it's the beautiful fall weather (I am wearing a *sweater* over my t-shirt this morning!), maybe it's the establishment of a regular(ish) schedule and the routine that comes in fall with the resumption of school. I don't know, and this is one gift horse whose dentals I am not going to peruse. I'm just going to go with it.

Date nights have also been extreme. We now book 10-11 per week--that's almost every slot we offer filled. I need to get on Craig's List today and find a real fridge--we have outgrown the little dorm fridge we've been using. We're about out of brochures and I am taking our busyness and lack of brochures to mean that it's finally time to Raise Our Prices. It's also past time to have an on-line sign-up process on our website and to eliminate cd's in favor of photos on-line and a slideshow on YouTube. That will also encourage people to sign the photo release--you sign, I make you a slideshow. You don't sign, you bring your own camera and do the work yourself. I think that's reasonable...

Okay, off to do something else! More tomorrow...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Not Hot, Not Warm, But Cool Glass--Fall is Here!

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Ada" by The National on iTunes, Dave just headed off to take a warm bath after sitting on the porch for an hour. Me, I just put on a light sweater. Yep, fall is truly here. First day of October and life continues to feel different, better, slower--cooler.

Glass order from Bullseye was unexpectedly delivered on Wednesday so I need to let everyone who ordered know their stuff is in--and I can finally get to my last big push of orders done now that I have my base glass again. Today is also a good time to finish writing the October newsletter and get it out. What a concept--a monthly publication that actually goes out on the first of the month! I've been wrestling with the issue of classes in the studio and I think I've finally got a solution that works for me, my business model and the small, intimate nature of the studio.

Okay, it's a tiny post, but it's a post. Have a great weekend everybody.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lulls

Starting the day with a mocha and a bagel with cream cheese at ChocoLate and typing my post with one hand. If I were a touch typist I'd be out of luck, but I'm adaptable if slow. In one of those perfect alignments of the universe "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day just came on the satellite radio.

"Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life."

Immediately followed by Soundgarden "Fell on Black Days" and then "The Rain King" by Counting Crows. Good grief, maybe I *am* still 16 and I just had a bad break-up with my boyfriend and now every song on the radio reminds me of us (or, in this case, last Saturday, turning points, life changes, etc.). I have to close my ears now or I won't get anything else done this morning. (Or, as Cher so eloquently put it when she slapped Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!")

As I am Out of Glass (how does that happen anyway?), and R&L apparently won't be delivering my glass today, I am having a transitional couple of days. It's a good time to take stock of my business--or I could just follow Minnie Driver's advice in Grosse Pointe Blank:

"Hey, I know everybody's coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone."

These little lulls in between the sheer mind-numbing roller-coaster terror of Big Events are kind of entertaining. I have the illusion of time. I actually think I have time to plan casting set-up and projects, next stage studio expansion, web site consolidation and development, class lists, product growth, marketing focus, show strategy. Can we all roll on the floor laughing out loud now? When will I learn? No, really, when?

Maybe it's enough for this morning just to post before I go plan the obstacle course for the Waldorf Holiday Fair as the third-grade rep in charge of the project so I can present it at the parent meeting tonight. Think Indiana Jones in a Haunted House navigating physical obstacles, finding objects and solving riddles (mental obstacles) in the themes of first through sixth grade in a Waldorf school--fairy tales, fables and saints, old testament, vikings, Egyptians and Romans.

In fitting closure for the post, The Cranberries "Dreams" just came on Sirrius fm:

"Oh, my life is changing everyday
In every possible way
And my dreams it's never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems

I know I've felt like this before
But now I'm feeling it even more
Because it came from you
And then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be

I want more, impossible to ignore
Impossible to ignore
And they'll come true, impossible not to do
Impossible not to do"

Sixteen again indeed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fish Day in the Studio, Gumbo for the Gulf Recap

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug--how appropriate considering today's topic of our Gumbo for the Gulf event,"Cardinal Song" from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers by The National for tuneage. Fall is here, summer isn't even a memory. It went by so fast, so chaotically, and so stressfully that I am lucky to not remember it through my exhausted haze. Fall has brought cool weather, rain, and the long-anticipated Slowing Down for me (really). It's also brought a return to blogging (yay!) so let's get on with it.

Last Saturday was our first big event in the studio in a long time. We had a fish-themed project day aligned with a charity event--Gumbo for the Gulf--with all proceeds from the gumbo going to the Nature Conservancy's Fund for Gulf Coast Restoration.

We had quite the team lined up for the day. Brian demoed making fish beads. Lee helped former date nighters (or anyone who had taken an intro to glassblowing from us) blow glass fish. Todd assisted anyone age four or up in making a kilnformed fish. Dave (my wunder spouse) served gumbo and beer all day. Dee ran the front desk/cashier station greeting people and managing the donations/payments. Judy ran the information room which featured a running slideshow of all our date nights to date (over 110), a board with photos of all the daters in order of their dates, and sign-up sheets for several upcoming classes. Lee's daughter Evie and two of his regular students/protegees Austin and Christie assisted Lee with the flow in the hotshop. Judy's husband Carol was on-hand to help with whatever unassigned tasks might manifest, and I was the designated floater for pitching in wherever needed. It was the most prepared I have been for anything in the studio ever--and it took more than a village to make it happen.

Even before Saturday we were preparing. I spent two days organizing and cleaning in the studio during the prior week, and then Judy, Dee, Lee, Austin, Carol, Brian, and Todd all pitched in on Friday for the final straighten/organize schlep-it-to-the-shed push. Dee also picked up the 1/2 keg (15 gallons) of Shiner Bock for the big day and delivered it to the studio.

Food preparation started Thursday--at least the physical part. The mental preparation and organization had been going on for over a month since Dave read about the Gumbo for the Gulf dinner concept and decided he wanted to do one for our friends. I shanghaied both him and his idea and turned it from food for 10-15 at our home into food for 160 at the studio. He rose admirably to the occasion and got several of our friends (thank you Becky-the-bookkeeper, Keith and Arno-Dee's-husband) to pitch in and help.

On Friday Arno trimmed and chopped 20 lbs of chicken thighs. Becky and Dave chopped 15 onions, 20 green peppers, 40 celery stalks, and ten bunches of scallions. All choppers slayed 10 lbs of andouille sausage. Keith made the roux from scratch and directed construction. Arno and Dave baked cornbread. Dave planned 10 batches of the recipe cooked in three segments. Food chopping and prep began at 9:00 am Friday and actual cooking began at 9:00 pm and went till midnight. Dee, Mike and I supported the chefs by drinking beer and eating Thai take-out. Dave was up and cooking again at 4:30 am on Saturday and we opened the studio doors at 10:00 am.

We were mostly ready and in our places for the first two attendees who showed up right at 10:00 am sharp (I always have at least an hour of last-minute putzing to do for shows and big events, and Saturday was no exception). And then we waited. And we waited some more. Maybe people were afraid they wouldn't find parking. I sent out another email with instructions for free parking. And then we waited some more. By the time we closed the doors, 11 people had come to our Fish Saturday in the Studio and Gumbo for the Gulf event. Three or four of them blew fish, three or four of them donated money to the Nature Conservancy in exchange for a bowl of gumbo and (maybe) a beer, some of them just donated money because they had eaten before they came.

It was hard for me to decide to write this post. It's easy to write about successes, plans, exciting developments--even bad shows. Writing about Saturday feels like telling the world you threw a party and no one came, or sharing how you went to a dance and spent the night standing by the wall--the only one never asked to dance. But I'm not 16 anymore, and business isn't a popularity contest. If I didn't get the attendance I thought I would (/deserved) then I need to try something else next time. There were a lot of reasons people stayed away Saturday and I would venture none of them were about me. Well, no more than one or two of them were about me. I'm sure some of them were about Todd, or Dee, or Lee...

All kidding aside, it was a really rough day, and I hope both that our one year anniversary party next month goes better, and that I still have a village that'll show up to help! Here's a last shot of Carol heading home with a thermos of gumbo and a thermos of Shiner. What a way to end the day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

100th Date in the Glass Studio!

I sip my coffee from the Glacier National Park red go-mug on a wooden bench in the dappled sun outside the hospitality room at the Waldorf School as I wait for my 8:30 meeting to begin. Did I forget any prepositions? What a week! Month! Summer! Year! whew.

Yesterday I not only got out the September newsletter, but I also outlined the October one. There are 98 new photos up on the Siyeh Glass Facebook page (only of the first 100 couples for whom we have photo releases). We celebrated our 100th date in the glass studio yesterday morning. Am I repeating myself? I feel like I'm repeating myself. Must be because I wrote THE SAME THING IN THE NEWSLETTER AND ON THE FACEBOOK PAGE! There might be such a thing as too much social networking (ya think?).
_________________

Okay, one meeting down, one to go, then breakdown the exhibit at MODA and finally into the studio! Maybe I should fire some kiln loads today... Judy, the studio elf, is on vacation leaving me running the inside of the studio alone. Oy. I forgot how much work it is. Lee is smart--he's taking the hotshop offline for maintenance this week (I think he just wants some time not running like a madman with his hair on fire). No doubt about it, we have been popular lately. The strategy of many baskets with a few eggs each is paying off for everything except getting enough family time and sleep.

Also got a bunch of the date night slideshows up on YouTube yesterday. Hope to get most (if not all) of the rest of them up today. Later today I'll get all the date night night cd's mailed out--whew! I made almost 40 slideshows and burned more than 50 cd's since I got back from the Buyer's Market in Baltimore. If you do the math, that's almost half our date nights happening in about six weeks. No wonder I'm tired (and Lee melted away from the August heat in the hotshop). But I'm caught up through this past Friday, and I'm going to try really hard to stay caught up. Things just get ugly otherwise.

Okay, off to make more slideshows! (Oh who am I trying to kid?! I'm off to take a nap THEN get in the kiln loads and do the slideshows while J is at swim practice.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

September? Really?

White Jasmine Tea in the Montreal mug, "Samson" by Regina Spektor (punctuated by frequent coughs from me) for music. Day Three of the Patagonian Death Flu and I feel... better. I feel well enough--and have enough margin--to post anyway. Since everything I do today will probably have to be done from a chair and in between naps, posting isn't a great stretch. Sure there are many other things higher in the priority list--hence the paucity of posts over the past couple of months--but I have no physical energy and my mental acuity is only so-so (though my vocabulary appears to be in fine fettle). I also appear to be having some difficulty focusing (literally and figuratively). But let's try to move on to glass.

I promised a post on the Buyer's Market and have not yet delivered. Here we go in a nutshell.

Staff, Facilities, Location
Excellent service from Joe and Maria at Hargrove. Got off to a rocky start with damaged crates, and out-of-reality shipping charges, but they took care of everything smoothly and efficiently. The Rosen team--right up to the chief Rosen--were both attentive and appreciative of our needs. I saw either Christine (the show manager) or Laura (my floor rep) walking our aisle several times a day everyday to make sure no one needed anything. The Baltimore Convention Center was very nice with indoor unloading on the same floor as the show (no interminable lines in front of the freight elevators). We got a cheap, cheap, cheap deal at the Sheraton a couple of blocks from the Convention Center and the rooms were very nice. Local restaurants (predictably) had hot and cold running crabcakes and smoked-hamhock-and-bacon-infused martinis (well, to be honest, only ONE restaurant had the martini but it was so yummy I had to mention it). The American Visionary Art Museum was AMAZING by all accounts (I did not go this year but will next summer--and John bought me a really cool Medusa flexible light-up snake headband from there).

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
Sales the first day were amazing--as I indicated in my last post. Days two and three, however, were disappointing and dismal, respectively. And I should have expected it. Why? Because it was a small show. Unlike big February Buyer's Markets, the show was small enough for buyers to walk it and place their orders in one day--and a lot of people came the first day. While I saw some familiar faces, there were a LOT of longtime/big exhibitors who weren't there. I heard a consistent level of grumbling from buyers that there weren't enough exhibitors to make the show worthwhile for them. Funny, the exhibitors felt the same way--I heard much muttering that there weren't enough buyers to make the show worthwhile for them. Mutiny, mutiny, mutiny.

As always, the declining positive impact of shows on both buyers and exhibitors is a worthwhile topic, but it's not one I can follow in my muzzy state today. At the end of the show for me, my sales were up from last summer's Buyer's Market and up from the ACRE show in June. I plan to give shows in general, and the two Rosen shows in particular, another year. Now it's time to nap.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BMAC--Live From Baltimore!

Day 2 of the summer Buyer's Market--held for the first time in Baltimore. I'll post at length tonight on set-up and the first two days of the show. However, for those waiting with bated or baited breath, just wanted to say that the show was good to *very* good for everyone I talked to yesterday, and it is so far WAY above expectations. I did about as much in sales yesterday as I did at ACRE in June for the whole show--and I saw current customers who didn't have a chance to order yesterday and who promised to come back today. We'll see how it all shakes out.

I'll also write about last night's amazing dinner at Vino Rosina and expound on the excellent Crotchless (hamhock/bacon/pepperoncini, and more) martini I had.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Where You Been, Willis?

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
I've been down to London to visit the Queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse, under her chair.
It's been a long time since I posted, I'll try to do better, can we move on now? What a long summer! Got back to the studio Friday after 2-1/2 weeks in Montana and I leave for the summer Buyer's Market of American Craft in Baltimore on Friday with Todd, John and Dee. We're all driving up together in my minivan and then Dee and John are driving it home while I drive a Penske truck filled with old display, work, and Vegas (ACRE) display back to Atlanta with a stop on the way in Greenville to drop off Black Cat's stuff from storage. It will be an interesting show this time as Black Cat isn't going and I will have about seven crates dropped in front of my 10X20 booth. My neighbors are going to be thrilled. We also only have *one day* for set-up this time and I need things out of almost every crate. It will be... exciting. But after this show we'll finally be pared down in several ways--geographic area of shows, number of shows and amount of stuff stored at shows. I am currently only signed up to do two shows next year--the Buyer's Market of American Craft winter in Philly in February and summer in Baltimore in July.

Blech. I'm almost too tired and out of practice to post, but I'll forge on.

At the beginning of next month I am participating in an exhibition at MODA. I received my instructor certification from the Ichiyo School of Ikebana this year and I will be presenting an arrangement the week of September 7 with the other members of my chapter. Our headmaster is coming in from Japan to do a workshop and open the exhibit. I mention this news here as I am creating my own container for my arrangement... and I still have to design it. Procrastination 'R Us. I begin to wonder if I require the anxiety and adrenaline of an immediate deadline in order to get anything done.

Other deadlines coming up Friday (or before) include a Tech Talk article for Profitable Glass on Jonathan Schmuck's roll-up workshop, pre-show orders for Baltimore, new work for Baltimore (including a half-lattice stand), the application for the Oakhurst Art Fair... I'm starting to have palpitations. My book is scheduled to be released in paperback this fall and I am in talks with the publisher about doing another one. Met a wonderful artist in Montana while I was there and he has been looking for someone to cast his work in glass--what a coincidence! I have been looking for work that isn't mine to cast in glass (my talents do not lie in drawing and sculpting at this time--I primarily want to dive into the techniques of casting).

J starts school this week and I still need to get her cello, put all the new patches on her girl scout vest, take her for her swim team tryout, take her to the dentist, do the back-to-school shopping, get her checked for lice (a mandatory pre-school ritual here in the south), and attend the opening assembly on Thursday. No wonder I woke up with a long anxiety attack at 4:00 this morning!

Better get working on the firing schedule and date night cd's (I have 15 slideshows to create and cd's to rip of the glassblowing date nights that happened while I was gone). It's going to be a long week (and I haven't even addressed the online changes coming up at the studio).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Caught Sleeping

Iced mocha in the Dancing Goats looks-like-plastic-but-made-from-corn cup, and it wasn't enough to keep me awake. Embarrassingly, the barista (is it a baristo when it's a guy?), just came over and shook me awake as I had dozed off on the comfy couch and "people were worried I wasn't ok". Dave was sitting right across from me and he assured me I wasn't snoring. I've been up since 6:00, mostly awake since 4:30 having anxiety attacks. First anxiety attacks in a long time, but completely normal as this morning Dave and I took my mother and J to the airport so they could leave on a jet plane to Montana. It's the first time J has spread her wings and traveled somewhere without me, and I turned out to be less ready for it than I thought I was. I'll be joining them in a week and a half, but...

Now that I am awake, I need to work on the Date Night slide shows and cd's and the script and form for Judy to use to book them while I am gone. This past weekend we participated in the East Lake Farmer's Market and had six date nights/mornings in three days. We have seven Date Nights scheduled this weekend (beginning on Thursday). Whew. Good thing I don't have summer camp this week--I'd be broken!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Universe... Listens!

In a weird turn of events, I find myself this morning with no children for summer camp next week, and hence no summer camp. Maybe I talked to the Universe just enough after all. I have been given the gift of TIME, and I promise not to squander it! My heart swells, my head fills with the possibilities of website improvements, date night forms, class planning, newsletter writing... joy, joy, joy.

This morning I have already walked 4.7 miles and am on my second non-fat iced mocha with one shot of chocolate syrup. Ummm breakfast of (jittery) champions. J is off to cooking camp at Becky's, the cleaning elves are at the house, Dave and I have fled to Chocolate to work, and now it's time to get (finally!) completely caught up on the Date Night cd's. Whee!

A last note: Ernie is too old to rename--even though the new name would be PERFECT for him, and I am not likely to get another cat so I am going to have to write a novel (or maybe a children's book) and have the protagonist either be or be companioned by a cat named (are you ready for it?) Gateau. Is that a perfect multi-lingual punny cat name or what? Well it's funny when presented aurally... orally? oh to heck with it==when you say it out loud. Now to work.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Abraham-Hicks Might Be Onto Something

Lovely, lovely Redband Coffee Co "Fulton Porter" coffee--roasted on July 1, 2010--(a gift from my sister-in-law for my birthday) with just a hint of the last of the Batdorf Bronson "Organic Nicaragua Isabella" (left by Colin and Chris before they moved to Bangkok) with fat-free half and half and Sweet Italian Cream Coffee Mate in the Montreal skyline mug, "Border Reiver" by Mark Knopfler on iTunes. My coffee is as complicated as my life is this morning, but both are greatly improved by the addition of Sara's Facebook post of a quote from Abraham-Hicks:

"Overwhelment is about you not being up to speed with what you told the Universe that you want. The Universe ...is yielding to you. You're just not ready to receive it right now."

Clearly I need to STOP TALKING TO THE UNIVERSE.

So as I am a bit overwhelmed today/this week/this month/this summer, I'll pop up a quick post, and scamper off to fill kilns. (Whose great idea was it to add 1-2 hours of exercise and attention to the body everyday to a schedule that is already full? Oh yeah... mine.)

We did not get the 800-piece commission for the Chinese New Year gala gift. Sadness and relief swirl and mingle in my heart. This week is all about production--I do have two major award commissions to get out before the end of the month with a spate of orders from and since Vegas. My Mom goes home to Montana Monday and takes the J with her for a week and a half. Then I go out for another two weeks and J and I both come home--her to start school and me to head to Baltimore for the Summer Buyer's Market show. Whee. Next week is the last week of summer camp in the studio and Todd and I are thrilled. It's also the week I need to slump all the wine bottles for Todd's niece's wedding.... Hmm, my firing schedule looks to be as complicated as my coffee!

One last procedure/thing/process I need to ponder is my unadvertised Date Night addition of loaning participants a camera, having them take lots of pictures of each other blowing glass, taking the pictures and making a slideshow put to music with them, and burning both the slideshow and all the hi-res photos to cd for them. I have 11 Date Night sets of photos queued up right now from which to create slideshows and burn cds, and no matter how many nights after leaving the studio I devote to them I don't seem to be getting caught up...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Live From Oswego! (Not Anymore I'm Not)

I started this post last week while we were visiting family outside of Chicago. Never got it published so today I throw it up and move on. One more session 0f Glass Craft Summer Camp to go next week. The last week in June we had both glass craft and glass blowing camp going simultaneously and the studio was a hopping place.

Though we have more sessions scheduled for glass blowing (and kilnforming, and casting, and jewelry making, and bead making), we don't have takers for them. It was a bad year to start a summer camp program. but we are neither dismayed nor daunted. In retrospect, had all the camps filled (or even half of them) we would be dead by now (and we might have taken a lot of other people with us). So we'll call the light summer camp schedule a blessing in disguise. We had just enough sessions to keep things hopping, and, well, can't discount the benefit of everyone (including the campers) still being alive.

As you can tell from the adjacent pictures, it did get a little wild at the end. On Friday I had to leave Todd completely in charge for an hour, and I told him to "use his best judgment" when deciding what to do with the campers. Maybe that was not such a good idea (he found the stretch film dispenser)...

The rest of the original post is below. I need to get back to work. (Really.)

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Mocha in a Panera go cup, some desultory piano cd playing quietly in the background. We are ostensibly on vacation in Illinois visiting family for the 4th of July celebration, but in reality Dave and I are both WORKING and leaving our child with the grandparents and Aunt Jan. Heh. It's a good deal. My Mom house and pet-sits for us, and Judy runs the studio so all bases are covered.

I am exhausted this morning as yesterday's "vacation" consisted of a 3.5 mile walk with Dave at 6;30 am and then an intermediate pilates class with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law at 10:00. I had never even done beginner pilates before so I am beat up today. Nonetheless D and I started the day with another 3+ mile walk this morning. Now to work.

Last week was another exciting summer camp session and we had both the 7-9 year-old Glass Craft campers all day and two older glass-blowing campers in the mornings. We did a completely different set of projects in Glass Craft as two of the campers were repeats from the previous session. We also changed up the outdoor activities a bit by adding water projectile devices, bubbles, and croquet.

Ah well, no harm no foul. The glass-blowing camp was a much more serious affair--I saw neither bubble wands nor stretch film in evidence during their sessions. However, with Lee as a teacher, I am sure they didn't need them. That man could make tying your shoelaces fun and interesting and, give him something as exciting as glassblowing to teach... Well, we can safely say no one is *ever* bored.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ups and Downs

Jessie is taunting me with her Rice Krispie bar. She keeps sneaking it under my nose, almost in reach of my teeth--but not quite. Oh the exquisite weight watchers torture. I think I'll console myself with another swig of Harp lager. My consolation music is "Delirious" by Prince.

Another day, another work week (at least the traditional Monday-Friday part) is over. As usual, we had our ups and downs.

Let's start with the biggest up--we have neon! Thanks to Brian Renoud--our torch instructor and boro/neon artist extraordinaire--we have bright studio green address numerals lighting up the front corner of our building. The photo above shows what they look like in full daylight--you should see the glow at night.

Adding to the up of the week, orders keep coming in and we have as much on the books right now in receivables due or orders scheduled for the next month as we did for August through December of last year. Whew. We may be rising from our slump!

Date nights, too, just continue to build with an increasing number of people interested in kilnforming dates. This weekend alone we have three glassblowing date nights and one kilnforming date night scheduled. In the marketing department for Date Night I got our follow-up letters created which include coupons for discounts on future lessons (or other date nights--glassblowing this time, kilnforming the next!). Now working on a database of attendees (and students from classes, and people who buy supplies) so we can make sure we completed all the steps for a successful date night from the initial booking notification to the follow-up email.

Finally, even though I have been a slacker about getting newsletters out and classes scheduled, I am getting people in for open studio. The first open studio I offered for kilnforming was project-based, priced by the piece, and all materials and tools were provided. It was really aimed at introducing children to kilnforming and enabling them to make little projects for gifts. Though I still offer that one, last week (because of a request for it) I also added a variation based on Bullseye's model. It is so nice sometimes to leave the thinking to someone else! Why invent the wheel when someone hands you a perfectly round one that works. I also have a torchworker interested in beadmaking open studio for next week so we need to finish the small renovation of the torchwork classroom.

The week also had its share of downs. Like many, I am struggling with UPS price increases--especially the $8.69 charge to schedule a pick-up. That is fine if I have several packages going out in a day, but if there is only one and the shipping charge on it is only $5.65, e.g., adding $8.69 is just too hefty a bite. So I experimented with the USPS free scheduled carrier pick-up. The first time--one package going out--was great. Yesterday--six packages going out (all small--all date night stuff so only 14 lbs total) the carrier was a no-show. Customer service at the USPS is really friendly, but incredibly ineffectual; (raise your hand if you would prefer surly and effective to friendly and useless). I put a note in the box to day to PLEASE pick-up the outgoing packages, but I am not holding my breath.

Another minor irritation in my week is a client that put in three PO's with me in May, and right after I accepted them all, sent me an email saying they would not pay for any more shipments that didn't come with artist info cards--a LOT of artist info cards. They kindly sent me a template and instructions for how to create them (if I didn't have my own). Their template came with a requested kind of paper, their logo on the front cover, their website address on the back, a request not to change the front or back, and room on the inside for the artist bio and photo... You know, if they want their own branding all over the marketing materials that go out, then they should produce it and pay for it. The style they are asking for is not expensive, but they have already asked to provide them with photos and bio information for them to use in their marketing materials. Now they are asking us to take the information they already have and use it to make materials that have their branding all over it. I don't think so. If I am going to take my time to create marketing materials for anyone, it's going to be me!

So I worked up the first version of the new artist cards for Siyeh Glass and Studio that feature just Todd and me (I will add Lee as soon as I have a good photo of him or great photos of all of our work to use instead of our mugs). I was just ready to pack them up and send them out when I realized I had made a typo. Be the first to identify it in a comment on this post, and I will send you a lovely little dish in "Peacock".

Now I need to get ready to open the doors for the day (this post started Friday night and morphed into Saturday morning) and send out the summer camp reminder emails for camp next week.