Friday, September 30, 2011

Hubris and Happy Birthday

I post from Radial Cafe as I enjoy a birthday breakfast with my spouse (his birthday, not mine). He returned home late last night from his regular 3-day-long-every-3-week stint in Austin. I was (and still am to some extent) exhausted to the point where he expressed concern. I was at a loss to explain my unusual fatigue as I have been doing pretty much my normal amount of work all week (plan curtains and painting--for the house not the studio, make and ship orders, commission new storage for the studio, have it installed and fill it (or, rather, watch as Dee mostly fills it), do a complete materials inventory, show planning... you know, a little of everything). Then I had an epiphany! Judy is also on vacation this week so I have been doing her work as well as mine--scheduling and payment for date nights, lessons and classes, chatting with everyone coming in to pick up the work, and endless hours on the phone. It's no wonder I am exhausted--I have been doing the work of three!

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't realize how much they both do, I just lost track of the fact that, if they were gone, their work would still need to done and I would be the one doing it. Actually I roped Mom into doing it too--she made J's lunch and got her off to school Wednesday while I drove to Commerce to get work from Black Cat ArtWorks, and she also picked her up Wednesday afternoon while I worked at the studio. She also worked in the studio yesterday afternoon while I went to an appointment, she'll work there again this afternoon while I clean up the back yard for Dave's party tonight, and she made dinner and got J to bed last night while I put kiln-loads in. (I bet she's exhausted too!) Even with her help, however, I had a hard time staying on top of everything home and studio-related. I'm glad Dave's home and Judy will be home next week. I let hubris my nemesis get the best of me, and I am sorely chastened.

On a slightly happier note, Book Deux is official; yesterday the publisher approved the editor's proposal for a (gulp) 240 page softcover book to be published May of 2013--manuscript due May 1, 2012. Contract (with advance!) is in the works. The song playing here at Radial is "I Still Believe" by The Call. It's a sign. Let the games begin...

Monday, September 19, 2011


Dave is getting me coffee (a medium mocha) and a bagel, and I am jumping on the day/week. My schedule for the next couple of weeks is a nice blend of production work, planning (winter BMAC booth location and size), and development (website/newsletter--I can always hope!) with a dash of artist interaction as I spend a day with Dee in her studio playing studio elf for her. There are about 15 things on the to-do list that have been making me procrastinate, and I *will* knock them out this morning (focus, focus, focus). I also need to put some time into (drum roll, please) Book Two.

Book Two is in early stages; no green light (approval meeting at the publishers later this week), no contract yet (after publisher approval that takes another month), but there is a preliminary manuscript deadline (May 1), and a preliminary publication date (May 2013). I have a target length (200-240 pages), and a pretty complete outline. The content will include best studio practices, advanced techniques and projects, and it will finish with other artist collaboration (i.e., roll-ups). That, at least, is the first-pass plan. It will be interesting to look back at this post in seven months to compare reality with plan.

I am much more relaxed, much less naive, and much more organized about the initial processes of this book. This time around--especially given the serious size jump (128 pages to over 200) and the concomitant lack of increase in time to get it done (I either have the same amount or slightly less)--I am proactively, officially setting up an Open Project project plan with resources (contributors), tasks and a schedule (tote that barge, lift that bale!). I even have a trial run to learn Open Project--the Waldorf Holiday Fair 4th Grade activity, code name: Viking Tales. Last year I managed the mummies in an obstacle course through the excavation of a mummy's tomb complete with lots of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. This year I am calling on ALL of the other 4th grade parents to help conceptualize, construct, co-ordinate and staff this year's Viking adventure complete with Norse Runes.

But now it's time to get to that mountainous to-do list so I have time for another glass blowing lesson this week. Last week all I did was blow bubbles for two hours (an example shown at the beginning of this post) and IT WAS FANTASTIC. I really felt like I learned not only different techniques, but the rationale for them, historical/cultural context (Italian vs. Swedish vs. German techniques), and whole-body integration of them. I can't wait to learn more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Quickie!

This post must perforce be quick as I have a glassblowing lesson at 11:00! Fall is here and I am rededicating myself to expanding my hot glass technical repertoire--and taking advantage of the fact that I have a master glassblower and a hotshop on-site. Though I doubt if I will ever produce professional work (i.e., worth displaying in a gallery), it gives me pleasure just to do it and learn something new. I am very fortunate to have Tadashi Torii working out of my studio right now, and I am going to make sure I don't let the opportunity to learn from him pass me by because I'm too busy. Pics tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crabby, Crabby, Crabby!

Jessie feeding the little girls
Oh I am so crabby! I have been trying all day to slog through tasks and I am getting almost nowhere. Most of my woes are computer/software-related as today is a computer day for the glass studio. As my husband just pithily stated for himself "I am utterly uninterested in an OS upgrade at this time". Ditto.

Char and Jasmine--BFF
It's a good thing I have studio chickens and bunnies with whom to commune and who give me peace and joy. The chicken coop, bunny hutch and attached chicken/bunny run is in the back of the studio and J and I spend a lot of time there just hanging out. I never thought I'd find myself just standing in the run hanging with the chickens (really), but they are so soothing! No matter how bad the day might be, the chickens can always make it better. Some days I just don't want to leave the run. If I go missing Dave should check to see if I have put a cot in the coop... though that might be taking urban chicken keeping just a little bit far.

Jessie and Sadie (Half Moon?)
But I digressed long enough--back to software. I am looking at an expensive editing upgrade (it looks like it's finally time to pull the Adobe Creative Suite--i.e., Photoshop, Illustrator, etc., trigger), and I am going around and around today trying to figure out optimum configurations of software compatibility and money. ARGH!!! Welcome to the glass studio on Tuesday. Have I started my Niche piece? No. Have I finalized my booth size and location for the February BMAC? No. I flail. Oh yes, and I detox... again.

The new girls, Sadie and Half Moon
It's the end-of-summer detox through Kashi Yoga and I am so stressed and off-balance from the last six months that I decided to take a wee pause and immerse myself in the detox. Well I'm immersed alright. I'm caffeine-deprived, sugar-deprived, alcohol-deprived and seriously craving donuts!! This is the toughest detox I've done since the first one. (I'm sure Judy is going to hide under her bead after reading this post and not come in tomorrow.)

The Villager, Auburn
Speaking of tomorrow, Dee is coming down to help me put the final touches on the book outline which heads to the publisher for review and approval Thursday. I am *finally* moving ahead with this project after ten months of inactivity! Well, inactivity on it at least. And now that I think a bit more, I might be right to be scared right now as last year when I thought I'd finally have the margin to do the book, everything went to hell in a handbasket. I WILL slow down, I WILL slow down, I WILL slow down, I WILL slow down, (Brenda "the Train" Griffith).

The rolling of the Toomer Oaks
Last weekend Todd and I spent a couple of days at Ingrid Brown's The Villager gallery in Auburn, Alabama. It was an Auburn football weekend, and it is very difficult to convey to someone who has not lived through it exactly what that means. It means that over 87,000 people were in the stadium watching the game. Thousands of them (quite literally) came through the gallery while we were there. It had the same feel as the One of a Kind Show and Sale in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago with throngs of people packing the aisles all the times for two days--except during the game.

We had a lot of fun (and sold a lot of work) and are looking forward to going back next year. We were also fortunate enough to see the "rolling" of the live oaks kitty corner from Toomer's Drugstore when Auburn won. Those trees have a long history (with a recent sad entry), and it was interesting to see the sea of toilet paper covering them. The toilet paper (interesting note) is now hand cleaned off since the poisoning.


Now since it's really Wednesday and Dee has come and gone, I best get on to today's post!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Roll-Ups In the Fall

Some may shout with glee when spring has sprung, but for me there is no greater joy to be found than that of the first cold day of impending fall. Today we (Tadashi, Amy Dee and I) did Pop Art roll-ups in the hotshop to send to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for the grand opening of their renovated flagship store in the contemporary wing. It was a *very* challenging day and I'm afraid Tadashi was tested almost to his limits.

Challenges (opportunities!) began with the very first piece when I overheated the collar and covered the hole on the blow pipe with glass. With roll-ups you do a lot of work before ever starting to blow the piece out so it was a long time later before we discovered the piece wouldn't expand properly. Others might have given up and chucked the piece--it was a practice slab after all--not predestined for a specific gallery. But Tadashi is a consummate professional. He puntied the piece up, made another collar on a new blow pipe, sealed it to the opening where the old blow pipe had been and continued to blow it out. However no sooner had we recovered from that disaster when, during a re-heat, I jumped the yolk off the rails in front of the glory hole and bumped the piece into the top of the glory hole doors (covering it with schmutz) while trying to get it out. Tadashi, calm and unflappable, used a Dremel with a diamond bit to clean the schmutz off, and we continued on again. It took an hour 45 to complete that one roll-up--and it was the practice piece for the order!

Amy and Dee showed up to help before the first piece was finished and marveled at the quality (and quantity) of the save. But even with their help and the cool weather, the rest of the pieces didn't flow as smoothly as they might have. I'm not going to actually write up the entire litany of our woes in this post, but just know that there was much woe, and Tadashi pulled out a perfect save on each and every piece. We finished another three roll-ups before 5:00, and we were pretty wiped. Amy brought over a Giordano's pizza (carried back frozen ready-to-bake from Chicago) and cooked it in our oven for lunch and it helped maintain our energy, but there is no doubt that a couple of months of no roll-ups took their toll on everyone.

After Amy and Dee left, I finished getting in my last kiln load of the day and Tadashi started on midnight blue and orange twist paperweights for me to take to Auburn tomorrow for the weekend in the gallery Todd and I are doing at The Villager. I am both looking forward to the trip and wishing I had another three days in the studio. The deadline for Niche Award submissions looms and I still have my piece to do (3-D dry screen printing in glass--oooooh!). I also have a conference with my editor at Lark on Monday about book deux, and she would like to see the outline in advance... Tomorrow is another week!