Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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.