Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Day Of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo)

Got to get to the studio and the desk before Judy gets in at 11:00! Some days you just get a wild hair that can't be denied or plucked so you just go with it. Yesterday I had plenty of more pressing issues on my plate, but I found myself at the studio, sitting at my desk, surrounded by ancient piles of crumbling papers (truly) and who-knows-what in bins on the floor shoved under the desk from three years ago, and I just said what the heck. And I started to sort, and file, and organize and CLEAN. Dave came over about 3:00 and asked if I wanted him to pick up the Sprout from school--I had no idea it was so late. Then he came over again about 6:00 (I had said I would be home at 5:00 so we could go out on a date) and I remembered with a start that it was Date Night and I was still cleaning! I rushed off and left everything as was, but I would like to get it finished so I can see the proud look in Judy's eyes when she gets in this morning and sees that I am not a total slacker.

Other interesting things happened yesterday--as they often will when I answer the phone on days the studio is closed. I got a call from one of the organizers of the ACC Show in Atlanta following up on an email he had sent a week or so ago about demoing glass during the show (March 9-11, 2012). The upshot of our conversation is that we at the studio are going to try to put together a full slate--three days worth--of demos of fusing, slumping, casting, torchworking, blowing, maybe rolling up glass, and moldmaking for casting. We'll have class lists and sign-ups, I think it will be pretty great. And we'll be the only ones there demoing hot glass.

Now off to finish the desk, finish wiring the glass furnace back up after changing out the relays (it was too cold and wet last night to do it), and go to the next items on my never-ending to-do list. For all those in the area, don't forget that the Sleigh Ride continues through 12/24 (Jessie and Olivia's beaded animal ornaments shown on the tree above).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Love Me Some November!

Though I spent the entire day on-line and working yesterday, I missed posting. NaBloPoMo winds to a close and I am so far 21 for 29. Not 100%, but a heck of a lot better than I've been doing in recent months.

Yesterday, in addition to not posting, I also ended the day with a big goose-egg in accomplishments. I moved lots of data around and around the Internet, and I still can't get my website working in its new location. All I want to do is move up one directory! It's not like I want to move servers or providers or something BIG. *sigh* For the time being I have two complete copies of my site in two different parent directories and a redirect sending everyone who goes to to (which is how it's been since I put this site up a year or more ago). It's just going to have to sit and stew like that as the official kick-off of Book Deux is today (and I have no more hair to pull out trying to fix it). I have a conference call with my editor at 10:30, and we'll be putting together interim deadlines from now till May 1 when all 240+ pages are due. (eep)

Today, though the studio is officially closed, is also a shipping day, a firing day, and a clean-up day to get the studio back in shape after the Sleigh Ride. On second thought, I think I'll leave clean-up for tomorrow when Judy is in as I have to swap out the relays in the second furnace today and get it firing back up so we can have glass blowing at the end of the week. No rest for the wickedly weary (wearily wicked?).

Saturday is Taylor Kinzel's annual glass show, and, as one of the original artists, I'll be there all day. They already have all my work, but I need to send the list of pieces and pricing today too--through email, of course. What was it like to run a business before computers and the Internet? Not only no websites causing one to defoliate one's own head by tearing out tufts in frustration, but no email, no electronic bookkeeping, no on-line banking... The mind boggles.

Now it's back to my breakfast (Dave and I started the day at Radial Cafe), and then on with the day!

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's Not Just Me

The other morning Dave made some slightly patronizing remark about my not having an automated blog aggregator, aka as an RSS reader so that I can follow blogs easily. Hah. Much he knows. It turns out that Blogger provides me with a very nice reader on my dashboard screen--where I go to write my posts. Out of curiosity--curiosity because it has been awhile since I read through any of the blogs I ostensibly follow (blush)--I read through the first long page of posts and then went searching for some old favorites that didn't show up on the RSS feed. Turns out that several of the people who wrote regularly back when I started up Glass Incarnate have tapered off or stopped writing altogether in recent years. Ren, Jodi, Chris, and Barbara have all been taken by life, and Sue has apparently reset the permissions on her blog as I got the message "It doesn't look like you have been invited to read this blog. If you think this is a mistake, you might want to contact the blog author and request an invitation." when I tried to read it. Thank heaven for Cynthia, Bill, and Bridget who keep my world constant!

The full-on Siyeh Sleigh Ride is over for another year (though we'll still have goodies to make and buy for those who were too busy stuffing themselves with left-over turkey in some other part of the country to make it on Saturday). Even though I was successful in replacing the relays in one of the glass furnaces on Friday, it's still only pulling 3/4 of the power it should if everything was working correctly, and the thermocouple failed yesterday morning (causing us to limp through the ornament-blowing and dates  during the Sleigh Ride). We shut it off at the end of the night yesterday and tomorrow I'll replace the relays in the other furnace and swap them out so we'll be up again by the time Tadashi gets in for the upcoming weekend's scheduled dates and lessons (and ornament blowing! Can't forget the ornament blowing!)

Today, however, is a day of REST. It is a day of posting, reflecting, reading, weaving, knitting, getting the Christmas tree and carrying all the decorations down from the attic. It's a day of Christmas carols, butternut squash (or whatever variety of squash I grew that took over the weeping cherry tree in the backyard this year) soup, and board games with the family. Ahh, life is GOOD!

I'm Thankful

It's a beautiful, slightly chilly morning after Thanksgiving and I am still giving thanks. Yesterday was a perfect blend of family, studio and friends that left me energized, empowered, and ready to take on today (the last day of set-up for the Sleigh Ride) and tomorrow, The Third Annual Siyeh Sleigh Ride! There is nothing like wrestling to the ground something that makes you feel stupid, powerless and at the whim of fate, and making it cry for its mommy. The thing I stomped all over (with a lot of help and encouragement) was the instability of our glass furnace.

I started the day by meeting Sara from Olympic Kilns up in the parking lot of a BP station off I-85 in Suwanee--half-way between here house and mine. She wonderfully brought me eight relays that I purchased from Olympic on Wednesday but didn't have time to get up to pick up before they closed for the weekend. Without those relays we would not have been able to blow glass ornaments for the Sleigh Ride tomorrow, and we would have also had to cancel today's and tomorrow's dates.

I left Dave baking the Thanksgiving pies with Jessie (she made all of the pumpkin but for the crust), got the relays, met Sara's Dad--who will be blowing glass in the studio this afternoon--and headed home. My one regret was that I had not yet purchased Dragon Dictate or any other means of dictating for automatic transcription so I couldn't start the intro to the kiln maintenance chapter of the book as I was driving back home. When the spirit moves you really need to be able to write--no matter where you are or what else you're doing.

Back at the studio, I rolled up my sleeves, turned off the glass furnace (which was barely holding at 1975 degrees and pulling just over 12 amps of power--the amount it it uses to run one of the four pairs of elements), unplugged it, and started the Great Relay Swap. Brian the electrician was in Wednesday and, after a lot of metering and tinkering and checking, determined that the cause of the furnace not holding power was that the relays were not reliably closing and completing the circuit when they were activated. The elements were fine, as were the controller (a relief), the small 12 V master relay, and the thermocouple, and all the wires were solidly attached.

So I took the controller box off the side of the furnace (carefully as it was HOT), removed the thermocouple from the furnace (slowly as it was even HOTTER), and detached all 16 wires connecting the elements to the relays. Once it was disconnected, I was able to remove the insulation and the steel cover inside the box to expose the relays. Lots more wires there to disconnect, and then nuts and bolts to unscrew to release the old relays. But with patience and fortitude--and by only disconnecting one relay at a time and swapping it out--I was able to get them all done and get the box back on the furnace and the furnace firing in just over an hour. I now feel confident that I can identify and repair (*myself*) 90-95% of what could go wrong with it.

Bad news now is that either one set of elements has gone down or there is another problem as it's still only pulling 38-40 amps with all the relays and elements switched on and it should be using 50-52. But 38-40 is more than enough for our needs and Brian is coming back on Monday night to do a little more trouble-shooting and I'll get him to teach me to check the resistance on the elements so I can be even more proactive in my furnace and kiln troubleshooting and maintenance (and I'll really have a leg up on the material for that chapter of the book).

Now off to put together more deals and give-aways for tomorrow and to post to Facebook about Small Business Saturday again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting Ready For the Sleigh Ride

Quick post and then off to bed. Got the glass furnace working again last night. Changed out one element, fired it up and we were good to go. I wish that were good news... I still have no idea what caused it to go down in the first place. One pair of elements out is not enough to keep it from holding temp, and yet it wouldn't hold temp on Saturday with only one pair of elements out. Today it's holding just fine with only two pairs of elements working. Brian the electrician is coming tomorrow at 10:00 am with his probes and clamps and meters. I hope he can get to the root cause of our problems. It's not elements. It's not relays. What's left? Controller? Thermocouple? The ones in the know (the electrician types) seem to think them unlikely at this point. But what else is there?!?

Though we were closed today, I taught a class for a group of Living Social folk. They were nice, but remind me NOT to do anything like Living Social or Groupon again--it really doesn't make sense for a small business that cares about it reputation and customer satisfaction to do this kind of bargain-basement-shopper program.

Tomorrow is the set-up day for the Siyeh Sleigh Ride. Am I a lesser person for wishing we weren't doing it after all? I have a horrible fear that no one will come even though I sent out the invitation to over 900 people and AmEx has been advertising it through their site (though I'm not exactly sure how... they just said it was part of the package if I registered, which I did). Today I also cut and shipped a glass order to another artist/friend/customer. After I spent the time cutting the glass, wrapping it for shipping, boxing it up and putting it out, I wonder if I even broke even on the transaction... I have GOT to get better (i.e., more realistic) about my pricing--even for friends.

Okay, that's about it. Sad news on the studio chicks and buns front: Looks like Char is a boy bunny, and he and Jasmine had two little babies that didn't make it. I found them in the hutch today, tiny, cold, and eyes still closed. I don't know what happened, but I have closed down the doorway of the hutch so the chickens can't get in it anymore (they were kind of making themselves at home there in the day) and cleaned and spruced it back up for the bunnies. I am sad for Jasmine. I hope she is and will be okay. Char is getting tutored, er,  neutered as soon as I can get an appointment with the vet.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sleigh Ride

I didn't post yesterday. Twenty days into NaBloPoMo, and I didn't get one out. I *did* get the email invitation to the Sleigh Ride out, but that was the extent of glass yesterday. I played Dominion for the first time with Dave. I took Jessie to Michael's crafts so she could use her birthday gift certificate to buy more beads and wire. She's going to be one of the artists at the sleigh ride this year and sell beaded animal Christmas ornaments. She makes platypuses, bees, lizards, dragonflies, and butterflies so far. I think frogs are on the slate too.

Why the sudden interst in selling her work? J spent the latter half of the weekend trying to figure out all the ways she could earn money to buy an iPad. If she saves half, I told her we'd pay the other half. So far she has her allowance which is $10 a week. For it she must feed and water the dogs and cat twice a day; take care of the chickens and bunnies: letting them out in the morning, filling food and water, putting them [the chickens] back in the coop at night and gathering the theoretical eggs [again, from the chickens only]; clean her room, and set and clear the table at meal times). She has taken on scooping the cat box; helping Grandma with the laundry, and loading and unloading the dishwasher; and chopping vegetables for her father for additional small fees. She charges $2-$4 for an incredible massage (back, hands and/or feet)--I take advantage of this one. She's also opening a "store" in her room selling beaded animals and duct-tape objects. Should I tell her the City of Atlanta will want her to have a business license? I don't want to scar her...

The day ended with a viewing of Hubble at the IMAX and dinner at Sushi Avenue for the whole family. Then home to a shower, two chapters of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone (she is *finally* letting me read it to her after three years of my begging), and bed for everyone but Dave who was still working at midnight. Ah well, we can't all be slackers.

In short, yesterday was a Day Off. Today it's back to glass. I talk to my editor tomorrow about interim deadlines for the book so I need to go over my outline and do some preliminary planning today. The Sleigh Ride is Saturday and I need to figure out a way to increase buzz and traffic for it. I think I might make posters and see if I can get other small local businesses (like Kavarna and My Coffee Shop) to put them up.

And speaking of the Sleigh Ride, I need to decide how much to give away. For the first time I am melding both halves of my business--sales of finished work (mine and others') with sales of materials, tools and supplies. I want to have people interested in buying both in, and I would like to have the much-earlier-promised 3rd birthday party specials running (beginner's kiln-forming outfit, glass specials, glass rod specials, etc.). Guess I should get going on all that and Stop Talking About It!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Karma Can't Be This Bad

The universe is testing my resolve, that's all I can figure. I should have karma points up the Wazoo right now.

Yesterday I rose (I was the phoenix). I worked like a dog till 11:30 last night and got up and tweaked the website some more this morning. Then I taught my first kiln-forming class of the day. At the beginning of it, one of the young girls in the class (two young girlfriends, one mother and her friend) asked if I had pets. I said yes, at the house, and didn't think anything more of it.

Midway through the class Brian came in and told me we were out of oxygen. He had two full bead-making classes scheduled. To get by, he took the oxygen tank from the hotshop leaving Domenick unable to firepolish any of the blown pieces from the rest of the day's dates and classes, but the bead-making classes could go on.

Not too much later, Domenick came in to tell me that the glass furnace was not holding temperature. I went out and futzed with it (a highly technical process that includes, of course, a reboot). And we all crossed our fingers.

I got through the rest of my class without incident, and then at the end of the class as Judy was walking around the table, she found a smushed pile of dog poo left by a friend's dog who was visiting the studio yesterday. Apparently the girl had stepped in it at the beginning of the class, asked about the pets, and then didn't say anything else. Judy, bless her heart, cleaned it up and sprayed Ozium, but the 45 minutes between classes were not enough to get the smell out of the air (the smell was actually much worse after cleaning--a combination of cleaner, ozium and poo). For the next class, guess who had that corner seat? The pregnant woman. I felt so bad for her and asked if she would like to change places with me, but she said she was fine. I would've hurled had I been in that corner and pregnant.

Halfway through that class--also halfway through Brian's second class--Brian came in to tell me we were out of oxygen. I comped everyone's class and told them they could sign up another day--they were all Living Social 2-for-1 whose coupons expire this week.

A little while later Domenick came in and said the glass in the furnace was so stiff for the end of his class that he thought he was going to pull the crucible out on the last gather. I went out and looked at the furnace, and to my untrained but jaundiced eye, it looked like three of the elements were either out or not getting juice for some other reason. I went back inside and had Judy call the other two dates for the day to reschedule. The second date had already been rescheduled once in August for the furnace being out. They were NOT happy, and I ended up refunding their date night and telling them to reschedule for whenever would be convenient for them and it was on me.

The work day is now over and I am home in the comfy chair with a glass of wine. I could be crushed right now. Arguably I *should* be crushed right now. But I'm in the comfy chair. My spouse is home from Austin. I have a glass of wine and my family around me (well, not Jessie--she's still at a friend's house and will be home soon--but my Mom and Dave). The frosting on my cake is the justifiably cliched "and I have my health". All of those things add up to I have to give "crushed" a pass. Maybe I'm a little squished, but not crushed. Tomorrow, after all, is another day (and the studio is closed!!).

Happy weekend.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Like the South and the Phoenix, I Rise Again

The phoenix is Fully, Gloriously Feathered with no dust required (see yesterday's post for the reference). I spent today leaving yesterday--and the couple of crappy days that came before it-- behind.

In a whirlwind of activity I met with Lori and Judy and we discussed plans for the the Siyeh Glass Resource Center for 2012--highlight: we're opening back up on Sundays in January. I emailed back and forth with another fuser that I am considering hiring to teach classes starting in January and it looks like that will be a go. I spoke with Nancy G. at length about her fusing techniques that she has so graciously offered for inclusion in Le Book, and set-up preliminary deadlines with her. I redesigned our Intro To Kiln-Forming and Intro To Bead-Making classes, put up the schedule for first quarter 2012 classes, and rewrote the pages on the website to match.

Finally, I conferred with my fellow sleigh-riders and we decided to do a short, sweet, intense Siyeh Sleigh ride in conjunction with Small Business Saturday next Saturday, November 26. Got the web page up for that one too.

The highlight of the day was the meshing my realization that the way I have been teaching the Intro To Kiln-Forming class just doesn't work with Brian's description of how Intro To Bead-Making needs to be extended. I can't realistically get out--nor can the students take in--all the material necessary to prepare students to be on their own in open studio, and Brian has the same problem--compounded with a need for longer practicing times. As I put on the classes page:

"Over the past three years we have determined that trying to stuff all the things we think you need to learn in a two-hour Intro to Kiln-Forming or Intro To Bead-Making class doesn't work. We have to talk way too fast, and your brains get way too full--or you just need more time to practice the techniques as you learn them. On the other hand, many of you either can't--or don't know up front if you're ready to--make either the time or the financial commitment to come three weeks in a row to three separate sessions. The conundrum posed us by these issues was great and troublesome, but we think we have solved it (huzzah); Welcome to Intro 1 2 3!

We have redesigned our Intro To Kiln-Forming and Intro To Bead-Making classes and broken them up into three separate sessions. You can take one, two, or all three of them at your own pace, on your own schedule. And because you don't have to decide up front, you can try Intro 1, make a cool project, and if you like it and want to go on, Intros 2 and 3 will provide you with the skills and comfort level you need to progress to Open Studio (working on your own in the studio with your own glass)." 

And here is the write-up on Intro To Kiln-Forming 1 2 3:

"Intro 1: In this two hour class you will be introduced to the basics of fusing and slumping—the foundation techniques of kiln-forming glass—and the various tools and equipment used in them. Learn what happens when glass is melted—how it flows, what happens to air trapped in it, how it combines with other glasses—and apply what you learn as you design and execute your own piece. We'll keep the science to a minimum (viscosity, thermal coefficient of expansion and surface tension can all wait); this first time it's all about compatibility and falling in love. Think of us as a matchmaker: Whether or not glass turns out to be your soulmate, you'll end the class with a gorgeous 8” square plate that you can proudly point to and say, "I made that myself".

Intro 2: You've had the first date, now it's time to start learning all about each other. We start with cutting glass, and move onto designing glass work for the kiln-forming. It's time to meet the parents—aka the kiln—and get to that science we skipped earlier as we find out why it turns out the way it does. But don't worry, you'll still be so warm and fuzzy from the flush of Intro 1 that finding out there will be bubbles in the glass (no matter what) won't daunt you.You'll make another 8” square plate, probably as a gift for a person you love (one cannot live by glass alone).

Intro 3: This session covers everything you'll need to know about being on your own with glass. You'll use advanced cutting tools that enable you to easily prepare your own circles and straight-edged pieces and cut big sheets down to size. We'll discuss the nature of relationships as we delve into the effects of opalescent and transparent glasses on depth perception and color. We'll explore what happens from chemical reactions between different glasses, and we'll see that sometimes the color you start with is not the color you end up with when you use striker glasses. We'll address safe-fusing practices from the design stage through firing. Finally, you'll learn how to prepare a kiln shelf, and load and program a kiln for firing.

Each session in the Intro series is a prerequisite for the next."

 Tomorrow I teach two, full, Intro classes, and I absolutely, positively must get the newsletter done and out for the Sleigh Ride.

Nothing like rising with a vengeance.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Phoenix

Thank you to everyone who wrote and called with support and encouragement for me today after my terrible week of dealing with the City of Atlanta. I appreciate you more than I can say. Tomorrow, like the phoenix, I will rise from the ashes, dust myself off, and Get Back To It! Tonight a hot shower, a warm bed and a cuddly spouse await... G'Night.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whinging 2

You whine, you moan, you play a little Diablo... and then you get on with your life--and it's quietly good. I had the Holiday Fair wrap-up meeting this morning. I turned in my expenses, my write-up, gave a report and made recommendations for next year, and I'm done--for the year and maybe for next year too. We'll see. Then I taught an Intro to Kiln-forming Glass II class. After that, off to the optometrist with J, followed by a visit to City Hall to pay for my business license--that whole experience left a very bad, corrupted taste in my mouth, at the end of which I just moved on. Whatever.

In all, the day was varied, full, and satisfying in a gentle, non-flashy way. I was approached about maybe helping make a project with the 8th grade students for the school auction in the spring, and I jumped on it (it sounds way cool). As a result, I had the personal and professional satisfaction of seeing the stunned gratitude on the teacher's face when I said sure I'd do it, and no, it wouldn't cost anything--I'd donate my time and the materials. She hugged me, and that made my day.

Has anything really changed since yesterday? No. Are there still parts of my business life I think I seriously need to overhaul? Absolutely. But I put together the schedule for the Intro to Beadmaking I, II and III classes through March today, and I'll do the same for the Intro to Kiln-forming classes tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll also write a newsletter. I'll start on a new website, and eventually I'll plan an artist open house in the spring (early summer--after the manuscript is due) and skip a holiday show that has to compete with everything else going on in the few, short weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now I've had a lovely dinner with a good friend and her children (Dave is in Austin), and It's time to go to bed so I can be in court at 8:00 am tomorrow, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to deal with the farce that is the course of my Atlanta City business license process.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Times They Need To Be A-Changing

Today has been a very frustrating day. I have been pinged and dinged and beaten down since 8:30 this morning. It seems like everyone wants something, wants money, wants time, wants extensions, wants exceptions, wants special treatment from me, or can't pay me, or something else that leaves me feeling marginalized, undervalued, and under-appreciated. Back in March I wrote that we don't do what we do for the money, and I still believe that to be true. The following paragraph from that post hit me especially hard today:

When we start thinking about how much we're making for our work compared to how much we're working and we begin to feel resentful, it's not about the money--however much we might say it is--it's about the work. Something about the work is not or is no longer meeting our needs. The answer really isn't to ask for a raise. More money for the same work environment is a short term sop that initially makes us feel more self-worth but doesn't address the real problem. The real problem is either that the negative aspects of the job or the job environment outweigh the positives and leave us feeling down at the end of the day, or that we have intrinsic self-worth issues that keep us from being fulfilled and validated external to the job.

In my case, my self-esteem is just fine, but my job has evolved into management and ownership in the most non-creative of ways. When I get the opportunity to create, I throw myself completely into the experience--as in the Bullseye conference workshop on manual 3-D printing earlier this year, or the fall Advanced Beginning Weaving workshop I took in New Hampshire in October. I love those times and I am energized and excited again by what I Do--whether or not I make any money from it. Even the Waldorf Holiday Fair (though Dave will never believe it) was very satisfying for me in spite of the extreme hard work, high level of responsibility, and complete lack of remuneration.

Today's tasks--dealing with the City of Atlanta Department of Revenue (again) over my business license issue, managing orders which were/are delayed, calling customers about paying their invoices that have been past due for over 180 days, filling out and mailing payroll tax forms, and appealing a water bill that was four times higher than it should have/ever has been--were almost more than I could bear. But the real cherry on the top of the day was answering phone calls and emails from the never-ending stream of people who purchased our class deal through Living Social last November and waited until the last minute to try to schedule a class before the deal expires on November 24 ("Well it didn't say I couldn't wait till the last minute! How do I get a refund?"). I have quadrupled our class offerings to try to fit everyone in, and I extended the expiration to the end of January, and yet I *still* feel harangued and like they think I'm trying to cheat them. At one point I looked at my Mom with despair (sometimes you've just got to have your Mom around, and I'm very lucky that mine lives with us), and she sympathetically said to me, "Let's run away to Greece." I was sorely tempted.

So what to do? Well, my first step was to cancel this year's Siyeh Sleigh Ride. I have not been looking forward to it, I have been viewing it as an obligatory millstone around my neck--something I *should* do. I am also re-evaluating doing the Buyer's Market show in February--I have three days to cancel. Christine, the excellent former show director, is no longer with the Rosen Group, Wendy Rosen is absorbed by her bid for a Congressional seat, and her daughter Rebecca, who has taken over the show, is an unknown quantity to me. My one exposure to Rebecca was a few years ago when she tried to have a world handcrafts show run concurrently with the Buyer's Market of American Craft. This idea did not fill me with confidence that she understands what it means to be a North American artisan buying North-American-made materials, paying North American production costs, wages, insurance, mortgage/rent, cost of living, etc., and having to compete against third-world wages and cost of living. Yes, it might have been a great idea for boosting buyer attendance numbers--less costly goods are always good for buyers, but it didn't show her to be behind the idea of building up an awareness and appreciation for fine North American-made (and all that that label entails) craft. Would it have been good for their main supporters and the reason for the show--the American and Canadian artisans who have been exhibiting there for almost 30 years? No.

Canceling the sleigh ride and re-evaluating my one remaining wholesale show feel like the baby-steps to bigger changes. If I am not Doing It for the money--and we should all be clear by this point that I am not--then I need to be more true to doing the It that gives me joy, makes my heart sing, and doesn't make me feel a drudge. Guess it's time to shake things up a bit.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Not drinking anything, not listening to anything either... I'm clearly in a slump. No, I am slumping something in the kiln, but I am not, myself, in a slump. (Can you tell we have had my uncle the punster staying with us for the past several days?) I promised pictures of Ed's and Susan's first kiln-formed pieces today, but they will have to wait till tomorrow when they are finished slumping.

Today was another transitional day for me. Because it was Ed and Susan's last day, I took them to a late breakfast, then they helped me unload the minivan from the holiday fair, then we visited a little... and then it was time to go to the airport. When I got back I defied popular opinion on Facebook and played Diablo for awhile (I picked up a saved game from three years ago... I really don't get out much).

Now I post and stubbornly put off thinking about the Siyeh Studio website, the newsletter, my court date Thursday, kicking the book into gear, orders, shipping, bills, and Dave going to Austin for three days tomorrow--leaving me to the dreaded single-parenthood (and the Waldorf lantern walk). Really. I'm not thinking about them At All. I am aiming for limbo and the perfect float in time. My aim is terrible, and I dread the resurgence in importance of tasks that have been on the to-do list for weeks (months), but which were relegated to obscurity by the all-consuming holiday fair. Now I no longer have an excuse for avoiding them, and I really am not looking forward to the next few days.

Ah well, enough whinging. Off to bed and bright, shiny, early day tomorrow.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


The weekend comes to an end. The visit from my uncle and Susan comes to and end. The Holiday Fair and my Viking Tales have ended. It's time to transition into thinking about the holidays, and to focus back on glass and glass business. Tomorrow. It's time to do that tomorrow. For tonight I am thinking of nothing. I have no projects, no plans, no duties. I am trying very hard to just rest in the me and the moment. I am not entirely successful.

Like Ellen, I am having a hard time posting right now. Part of it is probably because there is not much of interest to anyone but me in the lint in my navel--which is about all I have resting in the me and the moment. Sadly the lack of projects, obligations and deadlines did not stop me from a wakeful semi-anxious hour in the middle of the night last night, and I can feel another one coming on tonight. I had the hardest time trying to convince my subconscious that there really wasn't anything triggering a dark anxiety attack, and I I am bummed that I feel it lurking again tonight.

I really am not very good with the transition between projects/balls-to-the-wall activity. When I am in the throes of a Big Project, I yearn for a time of rest and a cessation of activity with all my being. But when it comes, I twiddle my thumbs and think, "Now what?" The only good answer to that question is one of the chocolate chip cookies Dave and Jessie made today, but I think we took them all to Jessie's cello recital this afternoon. Darn, I could really use some anxiety-repelling chocolate about now.

Tomorrow, before and after pictures of the kiln-formed pieces Ed and Susan made in their lesson in the studio today.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Day of Rest Cometh

There would have been some wonderful red wine in a Riedel stemless glass introducing this post, but Dave took the last of it. My background music is the sound of family desultorily chatting after a big dinner and movie. The Waldorf Holiday Fair is over for another year, and 257 people came through the Viking Tales event earning an etched and fused glass rune stone (handmade by moi). My feet are up (my dogs are a' barking!) and I am even considering heading to bed. Heck, I'm over considering. I'm off. More tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oh Fudge...

I forgot to post again last night! Between holiday fair prep, teaching at the studio, and company in from out of town (this week my uncle and his girlfriend) I completely forgot. I am not so good at NaBloPoMo. However I am *very* good at holiday fair prep! Tomorrow there will be pictures--maybe even a movie.

The activity begins with a journey through the time before time in viking mythology. Back when neither our world, nor the universe, nor the stars existed. There was only Nifflheim, the world of ice, Muspleheim, the world of fire, and the Ginnungagap, the great void between. You navigate the stalactites and fog in Nifflheim, the eerie black lighting of the Ginnungap, and the roaring flames of Muspleheim before arriving at the great giant Ymir from whose body came our world, Midgard, the universe and the stars in the heavens. After you pass under the legs of the great Ymir, the next part of your adventure begins.

In part two, you help Odin and Loki as they repay a debt. You gather gold from the dwarf's treasure at the base of the waterfall and you carry it around the corner to where you place it on an otter's pelt. Odin and Loki's task is to completely cover the otter's pelt. As a reward for your help, you receive a glass rune stone. You reach into a velvet bag and take a stone, and the guardian will tell you the meaning of your rune.

Okay, I am officially exhausted and heading off to rest up for a full day tomorrow....

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

On a Schedule

My post is being timed tonight as there are only so many minutes left of battery-life in the laptop, and Dave is using the communal power cord right now. I take this as a challenge, and I am up to it. Unfortunately, nothing is likely to save me from a boring recital of a post. What can I say? One can't scintillate everyday.

It is a sad commentary on life when the most difficult part of the preparation for the Waldorf Holiday Fair is the making of the glass rune stones. The stencils were interminable to prepare--for Dee anyway; I was ensconced with hot chai and snoring dogs. Then today the etching was just as teeth-gnashing as the last person to use the sandblaster blew a hole in the hose, tried a quick duct-tape fix, and didn't bother to tell me about it. Then I used a bit of spray adhesive as an additional hold for the stencil, and the adhesive was almost impossible to blast off. Dee had been concerned about the age and stickiness of the stencils, but when I finally gave up on the spray in exasperation, the stencils adhered just fine to the glass without it. And the glass was a heck of a lot easier to clean up. Lesson learned.

Tomorrow and Friday I teach intro to kiln-forming classes (the piece at right is a student piece from one of last week's classes, pre-firing), and Friday is also the set-up for the Holiday Fair (I got a fog machine for Nifflheim today. Whoo hoo.) Tomorrow I also head back to Dee's so she can cut all the runes for me on her fancy schmancy tile saw with the super blade. Licha is coming down to the studio to do roll-ups in the morning--I hope Tadashi gets the slabs in tonight as I have been out of the loop on that one and I have not seen him yet.

Okay, time's up, brain's empty--off to bed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Thankful For Friends

A cup of Indian Spice Chai in a hand-made, blue-glazed pottery mug, and the sounds of dogs who are not mine snoring for my posting music. One of them (Chloe) snores *really* loudly. (How's that, Bill? Were ya missing the intro? :-)

Because I like having pictures in my post, I am putting up this one of the studio chicks and buns. Both bunnies and all the chickens except Sundust are in the picture, eating in harmony. We haven't had any eggs yet (from either chicks or buns), and Dave thinks maybe the bunnies are eating them. I don't think it works that way, but who knows? All I can say is those chickens better get pulling their weight and laying those eggs or Dave may start making stew.

Day 2 of my cold/flu/whatever, and day 8 of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month--not as much fun as National Chocolate Eater's Day, but we take what we can get). I am at Dee's cozied up in chair with my hot chai and a warm cinnamon roll while she makes the stencils for the runes for the Holiday Fair for me. Well, she will be making the stencils for me. Right now we are still debating final size and techniques needed to get there. I think it's time to give up on putting channels in them and making it so they can be either stones or pendants. These are going to be stones. Rune Stones.

There is not much going on in the glass studio this week. Orders continue to trickle in--mostly for Todd--and I am teaching both Thursday and Friday, but in general we are enjoying a slow season. Some might not enjoy a slow season. Some might lament the lack of pre-holiday season rush. Some are not me. I revel in my current lack of speed--and not just because I am sick. Maybe now I will finally get the Siyeh Studio website back up, and the newsletter out, and the planning started for the annual Siyeh Sleigh artist open house starting Dec 3.

Or maybe I'll just go back to napping.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Let Me Explain...

I didn't post yesterday. It was the sixth day of NaBloPoMo, and I meant to post, I had things I wanted to write, my dog didn't eat my homework, but I got sick instead. Really.

Yesterday was my favorite day of the year--the day the clocks fall back and we get an extra hour to sleep in. Sadly for me, I started coming down with a cold the night before and had a very rough night trying to sleep and only partially succeeding at it. I dragged myself out of bed for the final time about 9:00 am to get ready to host the final parent workday before the Waldorf Holiday Fair. I felt so crappy and tired that I could barely focus on what needed to be done.

Turnout for the aforementioned workday was pretty much limited to the faithful friends, but we still managed to patch and paint the paper mache giant Ymir, weight and paint the paper mache stalagmites, dry and finish painting the gold, paint the treasure chest, hang and touch-up the stalactites, and drill and paint the Muspleheim floor. There is still a bit left for me to do this week, but in the interests of not stressing my spouse out any more than he already is about my level of effort in the holiday fair, I will keep that list to myself.

The evening started with a last dinner with our extended family--Dave's parents and his sister all visiting from the north, my Mom, Dave Jessie and me. Dave made his special cassoulet, and it was excellent. But by 8:00 I was so exhausted I wasn't even sure if I had a name--much less was able to remember it. So I went upstairs to rest and post--and promptly fell asleep, thus ending my posting aspirations.

Today was spent on this post (really) and napping (the pets napped too). You can clearly see that napping got the bigger piece of the time pie. For once I let my body shut down and drift without complaint. Yes, my Inbox is still full, and it will be full tomorrow. But for today, I rested. And It Was Good!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Full Day

Today was the busiest day the studio has ever seen--and Judy took the day off. Bad Judy! Actually, though we missed her, we did okay without her as there was no walk-in traffic and the phones were relatively quiet. It was still the busiest day, however, as I taught two full classes, Brian had two full bead-making classes, and Tadashi and Domenick had five glass blowing lessons/dates between them. That's all the people we can currently run through in a day. And they loved it, and many of them want to come back again and do more glass. And this is why I teach and have a teaching studio. I love the enthusiasm of the fresh beginner. I remember anew the fantastic feeling I got when I worked with glass for the first time and how I couldn't wait till I got to do it again.

It's kind of like falling in love. I remember when I met Dave and I was so in love with him, and I knew I'd marry him, and I was so extraordinarily happy but for one thing: I knew that as long as I loved him--and I couldn't (and still can't) imagine not loving him--I would never have that breathless feeling of falling in love again. I would never have the anxiety and the heights and the depths that come with new love. New love comes and consumes and terrifies and exhorts, and then it either skitters away, or calms down into something daily, deep and rich. Don't get me wrong. Daily, deep and rich are like swimming in dark chocolate--there is nothing better. But no matter how wonderful it is, you can't help but feel a twinge of longing for the knife-edged uncertainty and extreme sensation of New Love.

My relationship with glass is long and deep now. We are 24-year happily marrieds with all the complexity and comfort that that amount of time implies. I may temporarily lose myself in a new technique, or become entranced with a new color, but I know that I'll never again have the all-consuming obsession with glass that I did when I first met it.
And yet, when I teach a class, every now and then I see in someone else's face that fascination, that tactile lust for glass that I once felt, and I bask in the reflected glow of falling love all over again. Today was a day like that for me.

Now I curl up in bed next to my spouse. I feel the deep, warm comfort that comes from 16 wonderful years, and I know that somewhere else in Atlanta, someone is going to sleep alight with the fire of  New Love. New love for glass, to which I provided the introduction. And I am happy.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Happy Birthday Jessie!

Happy 10th Birthday Jessie Cordelia Kathleen Griffith! Yes, there was glass today, and there was glass business. But the biggest order of the day was the Sprout's birthday. All of her grandparents are here as is her aunt Jan. We had Nancy's thin crust pizza, champagne (J and the two friends she had over had eggnog), and old fashioned chocolate cake from Southern Sweets. The girls spent six hours making beaded platypi and duct tape and felt houses for them, and are now ensconced in front of a movie--making more platypi.

Besides the birthday preparations (and the ruana I managed to cut and sew from the wool fabric I wove in New Hampshire), I also picked up the 8-ft giant Ymir that I made with J's class on Wednesday. Here's a tip on paper mache: don't let the flour and water paste ferment before you use it. We had three gallons that wouldn't fit in the fridge and evidently there was a little feral yeast in the flour as the morning after we made it it was already bubbling up. I didn't think anything of it and used it with the kids. Their teacher was very glad that I got it out of the classroom today as it was beginning to smell like a brewery in there (and that's not as pleasant as you might think). My minivan might never be the same. Now Ymir rests in our garage till Sunday when we host another parent work day and I get some people to duct tape his joints up and to patch a few tears from moving him. Then we'll paint him white... or blue... or some other frost-giant-like color.

So was there glass done today? In a sense, yes. I started the day by appealing my $2,000 penalty for failure to file for a City of Atlanta business license. I used the grounds that the penalty is four times the tax and interest due which is inequitable, and that it would be a serious hardship from my small business to pay it and stay in business. My request was granted. Yea!!!

Judy prepared me for a big day in the studio tomorrow as she is taking the day off. Tomorrow I teach two full fusing classes, Brian teaches two full beadmaking classes, and we have five glass blowing dates/lessons scheduled too. Thank heaven my Mom is going to come in and help while Judy is gone. NO MORE SATURDAYS OFF FOR JUDY!

Now it is late and my spouse is snoring dulcetly next to me (really). Off to sleep and tomorrow, another day.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Night and Day

It's another late night posting. Everyone else is off to bed, and I am left with the dogs and the cat, and not an opposable thumb between them. There is a different feel to posting at night; a more melancholy reflective mood--or maybe that's just my general humor of late. Fall is my favorite season of the year. It's also always my busiest, and the one in which I am most likely to overdo. Between the start of school--and all of the volunteering opportunities it brings, Jessie's birthday, the holidays, and all the projects it's now cool enough to do, I tend to get over-committed and over-stimulated really easily. This year--the year of the Great Slow Down--I have been trying to pace myself more reasonably. Unfortunately the feedback from my family is that I am not succeeding and I am just as psychotic as I have been in every other over-committed moment in my life. Not what was either aiming or hoping for this year.

Finished laying tile in Dee's kitchen this morning and shipped the big order I fired yesterday. Tomorrow is Jessie's birthday and I have the ruana I wove for her to finish (the weaving is done, now it's time to turn the fabric into a garment). I also need to pick up the 8-ft tall paper mache giant I made with J's class on Wednesday and run a few errands. Then maybe I'll have the time and the focus to make headway on the monstrous to-do list I have been creating over the past few days--creating without taking any time to complete (and happily check-off) items.

Can't keep the eyes open any longer. Off to snuggle a spouse, if he'll have me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Time Marches On

Day 2 of NaBloPoMo. At some point soon I will stop counting the days I post in my posts, but today is not that day. Today was a day for Holiday Fair meeting, giant Ymir wire armature creation, paper mache of said giant with the 4th grade (and didn't I send them all home covered in slightly-fermented flour, water, and salt paste), a kiln load for a big, urgent, glass order, and, finally, dinner and an evening with the newly-arrived in-laws.

Tomorrow it's back to Dee's to finish tiling, to the school to pick up the dry Ymir (they have no room in the classroom to keep an eight-foot tall giant for the next week and a half till the holiday fair), and back to the studio to ship the urgent glass order. Folded into that all will be the return of the book contract (yes, Bill, I have my big girl panties on and I'm done sniveling), a deposit, a couple of checks written (bills paid), and a drop-ship order submitted. If I were really optimistic I might add the start of a newsletter. I am not, however, so optimistic.

The in-laws are visiting. Fall is beautiful. I'll get to what I get to.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaBloPoMo and Writing

If I don't post now I might miss the first day of NaBloPoMo!

I can't remember right now what I did today--it was a blur. There were accounts receivable to reconcile (and calls to make, and emails to send). There were bills to pay, taxes to file, and checks to receive (yay!). It was altogether a non-auspicious start-day for NaBloPoMo.

One thing I didn't do today--in fact I mentally blocked on it--was to print out, sign and fax/mail my book contract in. I appear to be dragging my feet. Why? Well, it's a HUGE commitment and I am a bit afraid of the impact it will have on my life. Didn't I just vow (sometime in the past few months) to slow down? Writing a 240 page book with all high-level subject matter is NOT slowing down. It will consume my life, my time, my business. Dave says it will be fine. He is fully behind me. Has he forgotten what the last book (half this size) was like? Is this like the masculine version of childbirth for him? It must be, otherwise he'd never be willing to do it again (and no one would either write books or have children and our species would become illiterate and die out--take your pick as to which would come first).

I am terrified of the impact this oeuvre will have on my and my family's lives. Right now--to be honest--I am sorry I ever brought it up. But I did. I brought it up and more. And now I have a contract for it and I need to sign it, send it back, put on my big-girl panties and get writing.

Here's to fortitude... (And I thought I didn't have anything to say!).