Monday, April 18, 2011

We Now Pause For Station Identifiction

I love Mondays anymore. I used to be like any other commuter and hate both the thought and the acts of getting in the car, driving to work. and starting another week. Now Monday is still a work day, and I still have a commute (across the backyards though it may be), but the studio is CLOSED. No one is scheduled to work but me. Can you say "regroup"?

I have had the fervid intention to post every day since the year began. Last week, not so successful. Was I slacking? Heck no! I taught three classes--two of them with no preparation as they were not on the calendar and when the participants arrived for their classes I was hip-deep in other projects. But they all three went well. I also finalized the schedule and processed the paperwork for the four (four!) new (new!) studio employees, and Judy left Friday on vacation for two weeks... That Judy keeps the entire studio running has never been more apparent than in the past few days. To add another ring to our circus, Dan our wondermous carpenter came and put the sliding glass doors in between the kiln room and the kiln-forming classroom, and today he was scheduled to begin the coldworking room and hotshop expansions and build the ventilation system for the beadmaking classroom. (I say scheduled as he had car trouble and we had to postpone till tomorrow--Whew!)

But the cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the triple-scoop sundae that was my full week last week came when the buyer from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston called Thursday afternoon in a panic. I shipped them 66 (66!) pieces on 4/1 which were destined to be split between three of their gift store locations. They had another 50 on order to be shipped today as they currently have a self-curated Chihuly exhibit (Chihuly being the self--not the exhibit) in the Art of the Americas Wing and they thought they might sell some glass art in conjunction with it. Yeah. Uhuh. They put out my work on Tuesday to fill in some empty spots in a location they hadn't planned on putting it, and people grabbed it up like it was on sale in Filene's Basement. My buyer upped her order to *116* pieces on Friday and we pushed back the ship date a day (maybe two). That's why I have been in the studio till midnight every night.

So the Pause For Station Identification... There are so many directions I am going in right now that I am not sure who I am. Am I still a production glass artist? Not really--production time is relegated to the evenings after my "real job". And isn't that a kicker as it's the production work that's bringing in the money to fund everything else right now! Usually it's the day job that pays for the evening's "art". No more. In just over a month I'll be 50 and I STILL don't know who I'll be when I grow up. Nevermind who I want to be--who stands still long enough to think about wanting something? Do or Do Not--there is no Want.

On the plus side, if I died tomorrow no one could say I hadn't lived a really full life!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adversity, Your Name Is Hotshop

"The mark of your true nature is in the grace with which you face adversity." Thank you Alicia Lomne for the wonderful quote on Facebook this morning.

Yesterday was packed AND challenging for me, as were the two preceding days and as will be today. Yesterday's biggest challenge came in the staff cost of running the hotshop last week with the thermocouple not functioning. When you run a business--no matter how well you run it--there will be weeks you only make a little to bank for the next rainy day, and there will be weeks when you just break even and you're glad to be alive to fight another week. Last week we hemorrhaged money babysitting the thermocouple--It would have cost far less to have just shut the hotshop down rather than to keep it operating sub-optimally.

I keep trying to tell myself that it was a one-off week, hindsight is 20-20, etc., but the reality is that last week hit really hard and we can't have another like it. Period. Not a good day to have to go through when planning a hotshop expansion.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Almost Caught Up!

After two days of post-vacation stress, I am hair-on-fire, full speed ahead. I think I am wearing the very nice people at Olympic Kilns out with me requests for modifications and tweaks to their kilns. I dropped the furnace off yesterday morning to get the thermocouple fixed/replaced and picked up the new bead annealer. Tomorrow I'll take the bead annealer back up to get the doors cut down a little and pick up the furnace. I wish they weren't 40+ miles away, but at least I have the option of going in person and not shipping.

Today is payday in the studio--the first payday with all the new staff. On April 1 we had to switch to a formal bi-weekly pay schedule from having one person bi-weekly and two others whenever-there-was-a-sufficient-amount-due as I have hired *four* more people in the past three weeks! Wheeee! We (the current staff) are excited to be joined by Domenick Peronti, production glassblower and teacher; Amy DeBaets, hotshop assistant (extraordinaire); Lori Schinelli, retail glass manager and kiln-forming instructor; and Tadashi Torii, hotshop manager and lead production artist (for roll-up work we finally get to formally add to our studio offerings). Lee will be the lead teacher in the new expanded space. Brian is still a little lonely up in the beadroom all by himself, but Lee is VERY relieved to be cutting back a bit and giving his knees (and fiery hair) a respite from the 50-60 hour weeks in the hotshop. More info on these wonderful new Siyeh staff Coming Soon to the website (and the newsletter--which is not late unless I call it a quarterly newsletter :-).

In typical how-much-more-can-I-chew fashion, Dan will be in to start the hotshop expansion (a second hotshop off of the first one about half the size of the original) next week, and I'm also going to ask him to expand the coldworking room at the same time. No time like the present! I just hope the payments for the orders I've shipped so far this year start coming in or things could get ugly. Yes, I could have waited to have the money in hand before scheduling the work, but the stars have aligned for getting the new hotshop done NOW and who am I to argue with the stars? Now that I have three glassblowers chomping at the Date Night/lessons/production bit, I need to have a workspace (and work) for them all. Part of the work will be a renewal of roll-up work in the studio. With only one glassblower, we could barely keep up with Date Nights--much less lessons and, far down the line, new production work. But with Domenick and Tadashi--who worked with Johnathan Schmuck doing roll-ups a few years ago and who has produced them for local artists in his own studio since--we are ready to have an entirely new line of work for this summer's BMAC!

Okay, people and projects waiting in the studio, more tomorrow!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Coincidence or Unattributed Inspiration?

I probably wouldn't have even posted today had Bill not sent me this picture from the current Artful Home catalog asking if it reminded me of anything. While no one could ever say it is a copied design, the similarities are striking enough to me that I thought I'd put the work out there for comment. What do you think? Did someone see our Balance piece and say, "Hey, I like that shape! I want to do something like that and call it mine!"?

Today is the ante penultimate day at the beach. Spring break is almost over and we will have to return home to our lives. I have used the time here very productively... to sleep. Yep, I've managed at least 11 hours a day of sleep since we got here last Sunday. I've done a bit of planning and web design work, caught up on date night photo issues and started preparing the next newsletter (already a week late), but mostly I've slept. And as I've slept, I've dreamed. In my dreams I have felt the stirrings of ideas for new designs and a build-up of the energy necessary to realize them. The goal when I get back to the real world (also known as the studio) is to hoard this energy and use it slowly and wisely--no more 17-hour studio days.

Of course, I look at my list of the projects I have awaiting me there and it's depressingly long and diverse--nothing sucks up energy more than a bunch of little to medium projects all requiring development of new skills or reawakening of rusty ones. Give me one or two big projects any day. I have to learn to say "No" to little repairs--especially stained glass ones. I don't even work in stained glass anymore and I am way out of practice.

But worrying about the little things is for after the ultimate (in the sense of last) day at the beach. I'll grumble more next week.


I went a little ways further through the Artful Home catalog and found the work below (the pieces at right are mine). Even more depressing is that this is someone I mentored at the BMAC a few years ago and encourage every time I see him. There were many times he could have said, "Gee, I really like your Pop Art series, I think I'll do something like it!". Am I wrong or petty for thinking he should have?