Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End...

It's time for the year in review at Siyeh Glass. What were the highlights and lowlights of 2011? In preparation for writing about what we did do, I thought I'd start by looking at what I hoped/planned to do to see what was accomplished and what fell by the wayside. The post from 1/1/11 was very helpful for prodding my memory. Following its format, here is a brief summary of 2011:

I wanted a new glass furnace, and we got one in January giving us a full-time and a back-up furnace for blowing. Even with the back-up we still had a few down times in the hotshop, but I feel that we ended 2011 *much* more reliably than we did 2010. Didn't get any new electrical service--nor did we add casting kilns, another annealer, or another gloryhole. Guess I was a bit too enthusiastic about equipment last year.

2) Facilities: On the other hand, we did really well facilities-wise. I had hoped to add 1-3 more spaces, and we hit that one out of the park--we even have a new space that we aren't using yet! I had thought to screen in the back deck and put the kilns out there, instead, I got a whole new finished room there. We also built the second large outdoor facility--280 sq feet like the hotshop with its own little back deck. Right now it's being used for extra storage, but someday--maybe this year--it'll be a new classroom. We also bumped out the coldworking room and added enough room to it to comfortably house Licha's lathe--on long-term loan to us right now. And the front classroom became a full-time torchwork classroom with a built-in ventilation hood and fan. Never did do anything with the front porch, and don't think I will this year either.

3) Techniques: Casting, moldmaking and lost wax techniques have all been on the studio schedule since the 2009 BeCon when I took Linda Ethier's wonderful week-long workshop out in Portland. Unfortunately, adding this piece to the studio has been my biggest unfulfilled wish/failed endeavor.

4) Professional Development/Personal Work: At the end of 2010, I pinned a lot of personal growth on my time at BeCon and doing pre- and post-conference workshops there. Life intruded, and I was only able to do the conference and the pre-conference workshop with Steve Brown on manual 3-D printing--and that time was squeezed between other professional and personal demands. It, however, was a phenomenal workshop and I left extremely inspired to continue work in that technique. I haven't managed yet, but I have high hopes that progress will not go the way of the do-do bird and casting.

5) Process Development: I hang my head in shame. I took baby steps on the Siyeh Glass website, didn't get anywhere on the Siyeh Studio website OR a POS system for the retail business OR on an accounting workflow that works. My books are almost as bad now as they were at the end of 2009--in spite of Becky's best efforts to whip me into shape.

6) Staff:  It was a bittersweet year for studio staff. We were successful in recruiting two more glassblowers--Tadashi Torii and Domenick Peronti--onto our staff, and we are thrilled to have them. They bring new skills and energy to our program, and we were able--with their help--to refine our blowing schedule to be more efficient and economical. At the end of the summer, we also said goodbye to our founding glass blowing instructor, Lee Ritchie. Lee built our program to where its popularity necessitated the changes in its structure, and we thank him for two years of hard work and devotion to our studio.

7) Book 2:  Ah, Book 2. I signed a contract with the publisher at the end of October for a 240-page tradepaper book of advanced techniques and studio best practices. The publisher is very excited about the book. I am very excited about the book, and the manuscript is due May 1. Wheeeee!

So that's what we planned to do and did or did not. What came up during the year that was unexpected? I look back on 2011 as the year of personal adversity and eventual personal triumph. My father died last January, my mother moved in with us, and I spent a lot of the rest of the year rebuilding connections with and making time for members of my extended family. Family and a healthy balance between family and work are crucial to my happiness. I am glad that, at then end of a difficult year, I have a better feel for what I need to do and how I need to integrate it all together. More about what that means in the next post on 2012.

Following the theme of Life, we added a chicken coop, bunny hutch and a chicken/bunny play yard connecting them behind the new outdoor classroom. Initial population was one rabbit (Jasmine). Then she was joined by another Montana bunny, Charcoal. Then seven chickens, then two more chickens. We ended the year with five baby bunnies joining the family as (oops) our second rabbit was NOT a girl.

We also added to our vendor relationships during the year by becoming a Delphi Elite Dealer and and Olympic Kilns dealer. We look forward to growing all of our vendor relationships more in the coming year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Socializin' and a Scattered Post

Sitting at Kavarna sipping a medium Dancing Goats coffee with 1/2 'n' 1/2, and can't hear the music because the place is packed with chattering people. So far I have not even read my email as I keep seeing and stopping to catch up with so many friends I haven't seen in awhile. On this Thursday of the winter break (I am totally driven by the school and holiday schedule), it seems the most natural thing in the world to make time to look friends in the eye and casually chat with them--work be damned. But, finally,  the tide of friends has rolled out the door, and I'm ready to buckle down (knuckle down?) and work on The Book. I never did get the huge surge of energy I was expecting to offset the extreme lethargy of the week's beginning, but at least I'm on keel again and moving forward more than sluggishly.

So it's December 29th. There are only two more days left in this month and this year. Why does that fact carry so much weight? I understand the hard stop in time for the fiscal year end, but there's more to it than merely a money break (after all, it's not like I could go out and buy something, give something, do something that would make an appreciable difference in my bottom line at this point). I feel a need to either get a whole bunch of stuff done (not too likely) or wipe off the to-do list and start fresh next week/next year with nothing carried over. Sadly that last option is not too likely either. I guess I need to resign myself to seeing time as a flowing constant without the human-imposed, non-real-deadline-oriented/purely temporal breaks.

But we're programmed to see these invisible breaks! We eat and drink to excess at the end of *every* year, and we commence dieting and exercising at the beginning of every one. Sure, we sometimes start the diet and exercise thingies at other times of the year, but they are usually more event-driven--need to wear a swimsuit in public, attend a wedding, go on vacation, whatever. I can't think of a single other time of the year where we do something solely because it's a certain day of a certain month, and the time of year has no connection to the earth or seasons or anything else. Some people do things on certain days for religious reasons, but that seems more proscribed than ingrained in any case. But enough about why I am compelled to break time into these completely unnatural segments. Why ever I do it, I do it. Time to move on.

What did I really do this past year, and what am I hoping to accomplish next year? Those are both questions big enough to deserve their own posts, so I have broken them out and will publish them tomorrow and Saturday. The rest of this post will zoom back in on the little things that any normal, not-the-end-of-the-year week would bring.

When you get going in ninety different directions (as I am occasionally wont to do), things will inevitably fall through the cracks. Two weeks ago, the day after I got back from my trip to Austin, what fell through the cracks was remembering I had been called for jury duty. The State of Georgia Superior Court of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit was NOT amused. I got a letter last week that included the words "contempt", "fine" and "jail sentence". I called them today abjectly sorry and am rescheduled for January 3. Dekalb county has a system whereby you can call the night before you are scheduled to appear to see if your block of juror numbers is needed. Given that I am juror #1 for my day, I am pretty sure I will be called. They probably save the first block of numbers for people who previously didn't show up--the way an airline will save the first block of seats on the plane for special people. It's good to be special. :-)

I was hoping to have the monthly KGRC meeting on Wednesday January 4th to finalize plans for our next quarter, but I have a strong, sneaking suspicion that I am going to be chosen for jury duty, and it is going to tie me up for awhile. I hope not more than a week as I start a jewelry-making class on January 10th at 10:00 am for which the first class is mandatory... Nope. Not going to borrow trouble. Things will unfold as they are meant to do.

And that's enough of a post for today. Happy Merry everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I need to be back to work today, but I am suffering a particularly bad bout of post-Christmas vacation syndrome. I have been sleeping-in late, reading trashy novels, munching on snack food, cuddling with my family, playing games, visiting with friends, and watching movies--ignoring everything I still have piling up on my plate to do. There are Christmas presents to finish and ship, orders to do and ship, a book to get cracking on, and all the other studio year-end cleaning/organizing/inventory/marketing tasks to complete. I thought I would start the new year fresh and ready, but right now it looks like I will ring it in with a bunch of last year's baggage still attached. I WANT A FRESH SLATE, but I seem unable to compile the energy necessary to make it happen. *sigh*

It's almost noon on Tuesday and I have yet to do anything this week but whinge and apathetically think about doing something. Yesterday I told myself that you have to listen to your body and honor the message it sends to you. If it says really loudly that you have to take A DAY OFF, you should do it. I consoled myself with the conviction that today would bring renewed energy and focus, and I would work better for the break. Nope, not happening. I have read and written email (one message), listened to and answered voicemail (one message), begun this post, and sighed a lot. What will the afternoon bring, I lethargically wonder? Maybe a nap...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Welcome to the Future

Today I installed and configured a new software application called “Dragon Dictate” to help me work hands-free.  This post is my first attempt at using it, and I think I'm going to like being able to write while drinking my coffee and holding the mug with both hands. Not that I'm holding a coffee mug right now as it's after 10:00 in the evening, but it's the thought that counts. Ahhhh, no more hunting and pecking at the keyboard, all I have to do is think it, say it and, voilĂ ! (Wow Dragon Dictate even put in the accent correctly!) If I can't get the book done by May 1st with all this technology at my fingertips, I'm completely hopeless.

I've never dictated to anyone before, so it's very odd to have to say the words for punctuation. But this program seems to be remarkably accurate at processing what I'm saying and turning it into words, sentences, and paragraphs. One thing I don't have to worry about anymore is spell check! I don't even need to say a sentence smoothly and elegantly. It can come out jerky and hesitant, and, by the time it's translated into text, it flows beautifully. Of course without looking at the words as I type them--and being limited by the speed at which I type--I have a feeling it will be much easier to come across as a blithering idiot when my posts can come out of my mouth and onto the paper without being checked by my fingers. Clearly I will still need to review what I've written and edit it for clarity and meaning. (I wonder if I can get it to attach photos for me without having to use my hands?)

Tomorrow is the last day the studio is open in 2011. If I weren't rushing so much to get ready for Christmas, I would think it a good time to do a Year in Review. However, I still have look worse to decant and process… Oh dear, not “look worse” but “liqueurs”. And there is a big project on the loom, another on the knitting needles, and yet a third textile project on the classroom table in the studio. All are Christmas presents, and none will be ready for Christmas Day. Good thing my family knows me! (Jessie said “wow” as she watched me finish up this post verbally.)

Next week, Dragon Dictate firmly mastered, the book begins in earnest.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Somewhat Derailed

Coffee in the New Orleans mug, Rolling In the Deep by Adele on iTunes, Brian on the phone giving me the information on the stencil material for the vinyl plotter the studio is leasing starting today. I love me more equipment! Brian is also bringing an old Windows computer to run the plotter software (and it will also print to the old laser printer Dee lent me to do the fusible photo paper designs). With this bonanza of really old equipment, we will be able to create computer-generated/plotter-cut stencils for sandblasting, airbrushing and silk screening AND we can make our own fusible decals for glass. Wheee! New classes ahoy.
I missed posting a couple of days last week due to complete and utter studio chaos and madness. Never being one to let grass grow beneath my feet, I scheduled the swapping out of the kiln-forming classroom with my workroom for Friday--knowing that I had two full classes to teach on Saturday (over full--12 in one, 6 in the other) so it would have to be done. Dan the Wunder Carpenter came and moved the frit-storage wall units and cut them down to fit their new location. Dee and hubby Arno came to play Igor and schlep stuff from room to room. Even Becky the Bookkeeper pitched in and moved things after my books fried her brain. We didn't get everything moved on Friday--there is still 2800 lbs of frit and the three steel racks that holds it all to go. However the classes went great on Saturday, and I have to admit that the big yellow room is a *much* better classroom. Thanks to Lori for prodding me into finally giving it up.

I wrote the preceding text yesterday and got completely derailed before I could finish it. This morning it's coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, the happy sounds of Baxter munching on a squeaky toy for background music. The new old equipment is installed and working (modulo the last driver for the printer). Dee, Arno and Brian are all coming back to the studio today to work on various pieces, and I may also put through a vitrigraph run. Brian is coming to work on the large-scale design we started yesterday--for a Christmas present for my Mom, not for new work. Dee is coming to learn that technique, help with printing the decal again so I can fire that new work for the Buyer's Market (and for a book project), continue moving the remaining 1800 lbs of frit and powder to my new workroom, and maybe pull some vitrigraph. Arno is coming to play Igor again.

So how did I get derailed yesterday, you might ask. Well first it was everyone showing up to work, then it was the arrival of baby bunnies! Dee, Brian and I were heading out for a quick lunch and as we passed the chicken/bunny play yard, we noticed Jasmine with a a small pink/grey object. Sadly it was a dead baby and I was afraid we were having a repeat of the last bunny birth (two dead, no living). However it seems that that one was stillborn, and there were five squirming, snuffling ones in the nest Jasmine lined with chicken feathers and rabbit fur (mother rabbits pull out their own fur to make a nest). I relocated mother and babies to a smaller rabbit cage in the house, and the babies into a cardboard box lined with a towel and Jasmine's next for a nest box. It's December and though some days are warm, some days are really cold and hard on naked little bunnies. Everyone seems to be doing fine today.

Now I'm going to get this post up before anything else happens to delay me yet again...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Studio Reorg

I've been awake since 5:00 am and up since 6:30. Was at the studio by 7:00. Today is the day of the big studio room swap--my workroom for the teaching classroom--and it's also Jessie's last day of school before the winter break. There is a school assembly at 11:30--which I must attend--and I have scheduled two people and a volunteer in the studio to help with the move this morning starting at 9:30. Somehow I don't think we're going to get everything done by 11:30, and I am going to have to leave them for a bit while I run to school. I hate dividing my energy, and I feel guilty leaving others working while I am gone. Unfortunately, my schedule for the next four and a half months doesn't really have any holes in it. In addition, tomorrow I teach two over-full classes and so need to have the move completed before then.

On a more-glass-less-business topic, I have been working on a new series this week and the final step--which came out of the kiln this morning--failed. *sigh* Back to the drawing board. I am trying to use the photo fusing paper to make my own laser-printed image to fuse on one of my pieces, and for whatever reason, the image burned off completely in the firing. There are many ways I deviated from the instructions so it might be to be difficult to isolate the cause of the failure. I am not sure if the toner my laser cartridge uses has enough iron in it. I didn't put the transfer on a flat piece of glass so I wasn't able to squeegee it down as much as is called for in the instructions. I didn't dry the transfer over night on the glass--I fired it for an hour at 100 degrees before ramping the rest of the way up.

I hope the problem was low iron as Dee brought down her laser printer that she has successfully used with this technique and transfer material, and we are going to try it today.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Social Media

Though it took me till now to post, I spent the first several hours of the day on the computer working on integrating social media into Siyeh Glass. I have finally succumbed to Twitter (Really, you say? Sadly, yes.) I have finally determined an honest-to-biscuit use for it (for me). You see, first thing this morning I thought it would be good to put out into the world a reminder that there is still time to create a blown glass ornament at the studio before Christmas. I thought of putting it on Facebook, and while that would work, it doesn't seem the most elegant and appropriate use of the magical Internet. I almost like having Facebook as more of a place for images, lead paragraphs for the blog (go there and read it), and a place for other people to leave comments. The blog, this thing I do here, is obviously much more verbose than anything I can (or should) do in either Facebook or Twitter. I didn't even realize until today that I had a need for a different place for quick little pushes of data. And yet...

I can see really having some fun with Twitter if I can get some local followers. It would be cool to use it for little teasers like: 50% off ALL glass and supplies today from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm--reference TWIT1 (76 characters), and New class schedule up, register for a class today, and get another class (same or lesser value) FOR FREE!--reference TWIT2 (122 characters).

But of course getting to the point where it will be fun is like going from being pregnant to having a 10 year-old. Ten is a great age, but it's preceded by morning sickness, waddling like a manatee on legs, childbirth, night feedings/no sleep, potty training, the terrible 2's (and 3's), etc. Today it took what felt like forever to get a "follow us on Twitter" link up on the website, and a link to our Facebook page. I wanted a Like button for Facebook that would link to Siyeh Glass, but I was never able to get one working so I settled with a Facebook "badge" and if people click on it they can "like" us from there.

Now I need to get some followers for Twitter. I can see ways of speeding that up, but they require yet more effort (effort already allocated to The Book Deux). But if I WERE to try to get followers, I might put something like the following here (on the blog), on the website, and on Facebook: First 20 people to follow us on Twitter automatically signed up for a drawing for a free class, first 50 people to follow us automatically in a drawing for 50% off total purchase, first 100 people in a drawing for one of ten 25% off total purchase coupons. Or would it be better to save the big things (like a free class) for the masses and give it after the first 100 people have signed up. Maybe giving away something guaranteed but small to the first five, something a little bigger but not guaranteed--but still with good odds--to the first 15, etc. Here is where the small business owner needs a degree in marketing (or maybe statistics would help--though Dave laughed when I said that to him and assured me I needed marketing).

And Twitter and Facebook are just the start. Now there's also Google + and who knows what else--all of which have to be integrated into Joomla and each other. *Groan*. As if being a small business owner wasn't complicated enough already!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Austin Day 2

Yesterday I blogged a bit, got an idea and worked on it, blogged a bit more, worked a bit more, and generally jumped from task to idea and back again. Today I am much more focused. This morning I was ON VACATION and finished a book, and now I am going to write the new class description. I will blog until I am done blogging, and then move on with 100% focus to another task.

Coming to Austin with Dave while he works is the best thing for professional me. Austin removes me completely from all of the other things and people at home who would distract me during the day. Here I have nothing but the laptop in front of me to demand my attention--until I read my email. Gah. I should have avoided email for the day. Nothing sucks one in like eDrama. But back to being AWAY from it all...

Unlike when I am on vacation, here I have no guilt when I want to get spend the entire day on focused work because Dave is also off at work. Here there are no children with playdates or cello lessons, no chickens, no dogs, no cat, no pond, no rabbits, no studio, no classes, no dates, no house (with all of it's daily maintenance issues) to distract me and pull me off task. There's just me and my laptop. One focus, one mission. "On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen! On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner, on Blitzen! To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, now dash away, dash away, dash away all!" (Really, it's not a non-sequitur.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Live From Austin!

Sipping a mocha at my window table in The Hideout Coffeehouse looking out on the Arthouse on Congress Ave, downtown Austin. It's a chilly day in Austin. It's bright and clear--a perfect day for reflecting and planning the coming year (and the book--I have lots to plan right now).

Lori and I were privileged to spend the day with Gail Stouffer at Wired Designs Studios yesterday. Wired Designs is one of (if not the) first Bullseye Kiln Glass Resource Centers, and Gail and her partner Stacey Campbell are consummate businesswomen who have weathered the current economic downturn with poise and aplomb. As I prepare for the next stage of my business, I am very grateful for the insights Gail provided me into their business and what works/doesn't work for them, and I am looking forward to incorporating some of them into my plans for next year. I will have the perfect opportunity to work on them while the studio is closed (from the day before Christmas through the first of the year--need to get that info prominently up on the website).

And time has passed. It's now after lunch (wonderful bun at Mekong River), and I have parked myself at BD Riley's to work the afternoon away. I have a shot of Knob Creek, a pint of Woodchuck cider, and the lovely guitar strummings of Josh Allen as my background music. Oh I miss Austin! Dave's office is around the corner, the Hideout is a block away and Mekong River is across the street--a greater sensory work/playground could not be found.

I finished the morning at the Hideout by registering for Beginning Jewelry and Metalsmithing at Spruill Center for the Arts starting January 10 (and then getting Lori to join me). Then I talked to Dee about helping me put together some classes in copper and bronze clay. I've dabbled in silver clay, but never went farther than that. Dee has worked with the copper clay (and has all the tools necessary for firing it--steel tray, charcoal to prevent firescale, etc.,). When we first started offering beadmaking I had the idea that it would be nice to also sell findings so that the class participants could take their beads and turn them into jewelry when they picked up their beads, but it was the discussion with Gail yesterday that really has me ready to expand our class and materials offerings to include metals and jewelry too. So I updated the studio website today promising new classes, and... wheeeeee!

Lori also gave me a suggestion yesterday that I'm going to have to put my big girl panties on and do--even though it's going to break my heart. The nicest room in the studio--by far--is my workroom. The kiln-forming classroom is the newest, smallest, and most... challenged room. For a variety of reasons, it only makes sense that I swap out those rooms. The benefits for me will be that I will be next to the kilnroom and I can close the door to the rest of the studio. The downsides are the sloping floor, the extreme temperature fluctuations and the noisy ceiling fan (all things I should have to put up with rather than the students in any case). I also *love* my workroom with it's west-facing windows, varnished southern pine floor, and beautiful Tuscan yellow walls. The kiln-forming classroom was originally the kilnroom and it was the last one I got around to painting so it was a bit rushed and not as well done as my workroom. But if I am going to focus on classes, I need an appropriate space for them, and the workroom is as close as my studio gets. *sigh*

Okay, the day is over, the spouse will be here any second to collect me, and I have made great strides in a direction for next year (even if it did take me eight hours to write this post!)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Business and Finance

The year is winding to a close, and I look at my receivables and my payables (mostly payroll through the end of the year), and it looks like I'll be able to cover everything. Whew! Of course my books are in a total state of disarray as I neither let go of my laptop long enough for Becky to sort them out, nor do I keep them up myself. New Year's resolution: find an easier--i.e., more maintainable--accounting solution and process for me than ditzing around with Quickbooks. This will be (at least) the third year in a row where I have just thrown up my hands and said, "I'll gather more useful sales and expense data next year to use in analyzing the profitability of the various parts of my business", and I end up winging it again.

I have heard that Mint is a good solution for personal finances. I need to find something similar for business. What makes Mint so powerful is that it automatically downloads your data--you don't have to remember to do it before it's been archived by your bank's server. Yes, the data is usually available for download for at least three months--some would say more than enough time to download it into the appropriate financial management software--but if you happen to miss those three months then you have a very painful manual add and reconcile task on your hands. When that happens to me (as it usually does by June) I just give up till December when I spend two weeks manually inputting and balancing everything--or I beg Becky to mash it all together as best she can.

Of course the big downside to Mint is that it's made by Intuit--NOT my favorite company!

Monday, December 05, 2011


Is XKCD art? When you put your cursor in the last frame on the original page, the Alt tag (that extra little bit of text that pulls it all together) comes up. For this cartoon it says: "The moment their arms spun freely in our air they were doomed -- for Man has earned is right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane." Yes. Do we really care if it is fine art or applied/decorative art? Um, no.

This past Saturday was the kick-off of Taylor Kinzel's 8th annual glass show, and all the artists represented were there schmoozing. At the end we all stood with Mary and Patrick (the gallery owners) in front of a white Christmas tree and people, lots of people, snapped pictures of us. I kid you not--the flashes were popping all around us for several minutes (as we waited for Mary to take her place) and more than one comment was made that it felt like being rock stars at an event with the paparazzi.

We were all there to talk about our work. For me that means the technique that goes into it, the play of color and light that come out of it, and how it feels in my hands. It's all about the sensuality of glass and the need to possess it and live with it. There isn't a "meaning" to individual pieces--a life outside of me--and I found myself explaining this concept on Saturday. I somehow found myself sucked back into the "is it art" mentality--i.e., is my work "art" and therefore "worth" as much as something that is a "fine art" (i.e., more than something simply "decorative")? Yes. Yes it is.

Wikipedia has a very nice article about the historic and cultural distinctions between the fine and the decorative arts, and even before reading it I had realized that I am not meant to be a "fine" artist: All my heroes are cowboys, or, rather, architects and decorative artists. Antoni Gaudi, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hector Guimard, Victor Horta, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Art Nouveau ideals of harmony with the natural environment, design according to the whole space and integration into ordinary life resonate with me in a way that the impact of an individual piece of fine art in isolation does not--especially if the fine art in question is all about the "meaning" of the piece.

I often see colleagues struggling with being taken seriously as artists, developing their voices and realizing their visions under the perceived cloud of working in a "minor" art, and I am struck by the appropriateness of the use of the word "fine" in the phrase fine art. I cannot help but think of the song by Aerosmith (whose acronym also became popular with the self-aware set who don't believe "fine" is a good response to the question, "How are you doing?").  F.I.N.E. art. F*cked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. I think I'll stick to the decorative arts--thank you very much.

Saturday, December 03, 2011


I spent a good amount of time yesterday working on the kiln, glass and tools package that I want to offer through the studio before the holidays, and I think my approach so far has been flawed. The goal should not be to put *everything* I would use in it, the goal should be to include what's truly necessary to start, and let the recipients build from there. I feel an analogy with the Intro to Kiln-forming class coming on: Break up what I see as the essentials into manageable stages. The kit I initially put together with help from Lori retailed at... Oh I am such an idiot.

I just pulled up the spreadsheet that I so diligently compiled and discovered I had fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. No, I hadn't become involved in a land war in Asia, nor had I gone in against a Sicilian when death was on the line. Nonetheless, Bill Gates is turning away while shaking his head sadly at me. I wanted to offer two kiln options--a square and an octagon--and instead of giving a choice, I had included both in the total cost. It was such a Homer Simpson moment I have to say it... Doh!

Okay, so the kit really retails at $1,787 (instead of the $2,596 I originally totaled). Unfortunately, I do not have a keystone markup on almost anything that goes into it, so my cost--without shipping--is still over $1,000. I want it to sell it for under $1,000, and I can't lose money on it. I don't have to make money on it--Ow! Lori just slapped me in the head from all the way up in Dunwoody. Okay, I *do* have to make *some* money on it as I reconcile myself to the fact that I am running an ostensibly for-profit business, not a 501 (c) for other people with a glass habit. So I go back to the drawing board and I start winnowing items off and putting them into the for-later bucket. I already have the strip and circle cutters in there, guess I need to add more so they won't be lonely.

Later today I'll be heading up to Taylor Kinzel in Roswell where I have over $8,000 in new work for the 8th Annual Glass Show. It's my favorite time of the year to get gussied up, drink champagne with other artists, and talk to people about glass.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Need to Post

I woke up this morning certain that it was already December 4th and I had missed three days of posting after being so good in November... Guilt much? But it's only December 2, and I only missed yesterday because the wireless at Highland Bakery, where we had our first ever monthly KGRC meeting yesterday morning, was out. Highland Bakery, let me rhapsodize for a moment... It's more than just a bakery, it may be the best breakfast place I have ever frequented *anywhere*. *Ever*.

I had the Cilantro Corn Pancakes which were served over black beans and topped with 2 eggs over-easy, sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, and cilantro (not necessarily in that order). Judy had the French Toast (I think it's a house specialty). My comment was "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head"--good advice from my youth that I keep to today (the slices were easily almost 3" thick).  But back to the menu; where else can you get Country Fried Steak Benedict, Fried Chicken Benedict, Ricotta Pancakes, AND Sweet Potato Pancakes (lightly sweet southern style pancakes served with a warm caramelized brown sugar syrup and toasted pecans)? Oh I feel the fat flying to my hips--and the food wasn't just perfectly conceptualized, it was was also perfectly executed. How rare is that?

Enough about food. The glass business conversation was just as good as the food, and I left energized, motivated, and full of ideas for incremental changes to the studio classes, communication, open studio, etc., that will improve the studio experience and keep me happy. Today's newsletter (yes, you read right, TODAY's) will expound on some of them--as will the website. If you're not already getting our newsletter, it's time to sign-up (on the right side of this page works just fine).

Time to put together the kiln-forming starter package now so I can include it. It will be a deal to end all deals...