Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wee Small Hours, More Than Wee Anxiety

The world is silent and dark at 5:00 am, with only a little orange light from the early morning fog-haloed street lights shining in the living room windows. Baxter and Ernie greet me drowsily from their beds next to each other on the floor, and, after I nestle into the recliner with an afghan to keep me warm against the winter morning chill, Ernie climbs into my lap (displacing my laptop as only a 20-lb cat can do). His purr and the refrigerator's intermittent rattling provide the music in the otherwise slumbering house. Why am I awake? Oh let me count the ways...

The Buyer's Market is three weeks away and I have not even begun the piece-list for the work I am taking for my primary booth. I say primary booth as, over-achiever that I am, I have two booths this year--a 10X10 and a 10X20. The 10X20 is for my current work in Morceaux de Verre, Todd's wire work with my glass, some small studio blown pieces, maybe the roll-ups, and my current line of pieces in steel stands from Black Cat (Bill and Elaine). I have been playing in my head with an idea for a new colorway, but I haven't progressed any further on it. The other 10X10 is a completely new direction in collaborative work with Black Cat: Kinetic glass and metal sculpture. The glass is a new thicker, cast design that is much more subtle and requires extensive cold-working (polishing, sandblast carving and etching). I have been working on those pieces, but am still (of course) behind.

Beyond creating the pieces for the Buyer's Market, I need to do all the marketing and support materials work. I still don't have the website for Siyeh Studio back up since it got hacked two (three?) years ago. I need a website for the new work (debuting under the name FeSiO--fay-zee-oh--a union of steel and glass) and I need photos and advertising (a pre-show mailing) for both. Need, need, need, it's all about need.

The manuscript for Book Deux is due May 1, though my editor has kindly offered me an extension to June 1. You might think the book could be finished any time, but as with other forms of entertainment, there are very precise seasons for new releases. Think of the summer block-buster movies. They aren't the March blockbusters. A studio saves the best of a certain genre of films (My Dinner With Andre would not be an example of such a film) for release starting Memorial Day weekend and going through the 4th of July. Likewise, spring is the best publishing season for how-to books, and, with a May release, I am already at the tail end of it. Note that I am talking about a May 2013 release if I turn in the completed manuscript by May 1, 2012.

Finally, I have a retail and teaching studio that continues expanding daily. Yesterday I officially hired two new staff members--Fawn Lowery and Linda Queen. Both have glass backgrounds, and both are uber-excited about working in a glass studio. Fawn will be teaching some of the Intro to Kiln-Forming classes on Sundays (expanded the hours again this year) and Linda is the second studio elf. Judy will be out for several weeks this spring, and Linda will be filling in for her. She will also take over management of the retail side of the house--cutting glass, managing inventory, supervising open studio, etc. Though I am *thrilled* to have new people long-term, short-term I have a whole lotta paperwork, electronic access and permissions to set-up.

Even with the new help there are responsibilities which are solely mine. The on-line class sign-up is not done. The new class descriptions are not on the website (for classes being offered February 4-5), I still don't have a retail POS system and the paper receipt books we have been using in lieu of computerized POS are just not adequate. If I didn't have enough to do, the February newsletter needs to go out by the end of the weekend.

The frosting on the cake of incompletes is tied, somewhat ironically, to Becky who does my books as best I let her (somewhat ironically as she makes incredible cakes too). I have 2011 business administration including W-2's, 1099's, sales tax, corporate tax annual filing, business license filing, income tax prep, and annual inventory all to get done by the end of the month--and I haven't even mailed in my payroll tax forms yet from earlier this month! I would also like a wee small idea of how I did last year that would come from up-to-date bookkeeping, but, honestly, who has time? Clearly not me as I haven't even been good at blogging recently!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More Website Development

Yesterday's post was called Cheating Again as I discovered I had neither finished nor posted it when I logged in to Blogger tonight. However I did have the photo up and most of it done so I threw a quick ending on it, and, voila! Two posts in one day!

Today's post is going to be even quicker as most of my computer time since this morning has been spent honing my Joomla skills and putting up the Where We Got Our Name page on the Siyeh Glass website. There is a nice slideshow on the page, and I managed to figure out how to embed a scroll bar within an article. Now I just need my spouse to tell me if that is something I *can* do, but shouldn't, or if it is OK design. But he can tell me later. Now it's time to skitter off to bed to dream about a more productive day tomorrow!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cheating Again

Coffee in a white ceramic mug, the sound of lots and LOTS of noisy children and other people for my background music. I wait for my biscuits and gravy with over easy eggs and crispy bacon at Radial Cafe--it's a busy day today for a Monday. Guess it's because it's the MLK holiday. Jessie and her girl scout troop, along with several other local troops, are preparing sandwiches for 400 Decatur volunteers who are rehabbing residences for the elderly today. I am writing today, and doing a little bookkeeping (ugh).

Saturday morning was my first class of the new year in the new classroom space and it was AWESOME (to borrow J's favorite word). The participants all had a good time--and stayed an extra hour working on their pieces (very detailed first works). It was the first Intro to Kiln-forming 1 class and though I did end up talking a bit more about the science of the process than I had planned, it went well.

I am still putzing around with my cold so I am drinking lots of hot water and hot herb tea and getting plenty of rest. I have great hopes that it will be gone by the weekend if I continue to take care of myself. Once I am physically 100%, it's time to jump on the BMAC work. I have about 30 new pieces to do in the new style--kiln-cast, heavily cold-worked (ground, polished, sandblast etched, some pieces also carved and/or engraved. I designed these pieces under the assumption that there is truth in the title of Johnathon Schmuck's book "The Joy Of Coldworking". Now we shall see if I am right, or I am dead.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Full Life

Nothing to sip as I post, the sound of J taking a shower and the wind gusting outside for my nighttime music. The day started with a drive to Commerce to meet Bill and Elaine to finalize our new designs for the Buyer's Market show. I left at 7:40 this morning and got back just after 3:00 pm. The rest of the day in the studio was spent pulling, packing and shipping a supplies order for a new KGRC customer in Ohio, talking to Amy at Bullseye, and... And that's about it! It amazes me how little I can get done in so much time anymore.

Dave also left at dawn's first light this morning for a meeting in Alpharetta and he didn't get home till a little after 9:00--stopping at Publix to get fresh lettuce and carrots for the bunnies on his way home. I did the dinner, cello and homework thing. Mom took J to school and picked her up today and let the cleaning people in. Why, you might ask am I listing a whole bunch of non-glass things that made up today in my post on Glass Incarnate? I list them because more and more I am woven into the web of life and can no longer separate--not only the strands of work and home, but also the strands of me and the others in my household. We seem to be all becoming one entity with intertwining yet not necessarily complementary strands of needing and doing.

Right now I am having a hard time even remembering what it felt like before Dave and Jessie and a house and a business. Back then I had a job and a condo (with an on-property maintenance man). I ate whatever I ate wherever I was when I was ready to eat, and it was just me--or maybe me and my bird or me and my dog and my bird. When I had a project to do,  I immersed myself for days on end during every non-working, waking hour. I could focus and power through massive projects in short amounts of time. Now it's seems to take all my time just to live a normal day. Face time with every member of my household on a daily basis is very important to everyone's (mine included) well-being and happiness. Time for hugs, time for snuggles, time to teach a little piano, play a little Race for the Galaxy, watch an old episode of The Greatest American Hero, play with the bunnies--all this time is no longer optional: It's life, it's now, it's every day, and it takes time--a surprising lot of time.

Am I whining? Complaining? Wishing things were different? Not a bit, well, not much. Sometimes I do look back on the Other Life with nostalgia, but it's nostalgia like you get for the 50's watching Happy Days (I think Dave just went "Nyah!" and stuck a fork in his eye--not a fan of Happy Days is our Dave.) The 50's weren't really like that--nor was high school (my turn for a Nyah! moment). Nor, if I am honest, was my earlier, simpler life. Simpler lives are for lesser women.*

(*Though I would like to end the post on that seemingly infinitely wise pronouncement, I have to give credit where credit is due: The original phrase is "Simpler wives are for lesser husbands", said by my spouse about me. :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oh It's Time To Post

A glass of some red wine in a stemless Riedel white wine glass (most of the red ones are broken), the sounds of Jessie practicing cello upstairs in her room with the door closed (she doesn't like anyone to hear her) for my background music. I allowed myself a glass of wine (or two) tonight as my cold is *finally* on the downswing. No, I didn't go to the doctor. It was a cold. Horrible, but a cold. No fever. I am done talking about the cold.

Today was the first day of my jewelry-making class and I was reminded both of why I like to take classes, and why I would rather learn from a book. I like taking classes in a well-equipped space because they have all the best tools. I like taking classes because the instructor always gives cool little tips that only come after a bezillion times of doing something. I like learning from books as the content covered in the first three-hour class is what I would do in the first 20 minutes on my own. Though I am very excited about my class, we spent today introducing ourselves, going over the syllabus, learning to light the torch, learning to move the torch back and forth with one hand while picking up small objects in tweezers with the other, and, finally, moving the flame back and forth over the metal at a consistent height for a minute and then quenching the metal in water at the end. Total time on torch/task: 10 minutes. I am not criticizing the instructor, the syllabus, ANYTHING. It is a reality of life that a class situation must move at the pace of the slowest possible participant, and, on the first day, the instructor has to assume we're ALL the slowest possible person.

What I most got out of the class--and it was so appropriate for my current overwhelming life topic of the book that it looks like I made it up--is the incredible, invisible potential overlap between disciplines in tools, materials and techniques. Because each discipline uses its own esoteric lexicon, the potential for cross-discipline usage is often overlooked. For example, my instructor in class today was surprised to hear that the company that makes chemicals for use on copper jewelry (JAX) also makes a copper patina for the stained glass industry. Is it usable on jewelry too? Interesting question. Maybe other jewelers are familiar with it, but she was not.

And speaking of the book, I stopped at Daven's today to pick up several ceramic tools and chemicals that I want to try using with glass. The experiments begin tomorrow! I might even get to making the traganth-gum pastels.... Oooh!!!!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Blogging is Useful

India Spice Tea in the Pike's Place Seattle mug, the cozy cream-colored, knitted afghan that Dave started and his mother finished on my lap, Ernie cuddled by my side, and the sound of lots and LOTS of fire engines going down Memorial for my music. I start this post the old-fashioned way as I am posting today for the same reason I initially started blogging: I have writer's block. And it's not even writer's block for a big, daunting project like the book. Nope. I have writer's block on a 100-word description of Siyeh Glass for the Atlanta Art Craft Council (ACC) Show publicity materials. One hundred words... I should be able to whip that out in a matter of minutes. Heck, I've only been working on this post for as long as it took me to type the words (everything just flowed with essentially no pauses) and it's already 152 words. My brain is still woolly from my cold.

Yesterday I had to both cancel my meeting to go over new BMAC designs with Elaine and Bill in Commerce at 8:30 am and beg Lori to take my 4:30 glass date as I was just too sick. I've been up for half an hour now sitting on the couch with the aforementioned afghan and cat, and I'm just about ready to go back to bad to sleep some more. Thank heavens I don't have to teach today--nothing for me a kiln-forming glass date tomorrow afternoon.

But back to the writing thing. I keep going back and forth between first person plural (we) and third person singular (it and Brenda). Why, you might ask, if they're so short, don't I just write one of each and see which I like better? Because that's not the way writer's block works! There must be angst and a total inability to write anything. The words just don't flow beyond "Siyeh Glass is an intimate urban studio in the heart of the East Lake Neighborhood of Atlanta." That's 17 words. Hmmm. Maybe this isn't so hard after all. That one sentence is almost 20% of my text. And as easily as that, my block is broken!

Siyeh Glass is an intimate urban studio in the heart of the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta opened in 2008 by Brenda Griffith, glass artist and author of “A Beginner’s Guide to Kiln-formed Glass”. We offer small classes, private lessons, and “glass dates” in kiln-forming, glass blowing, glass casting, and torchwork. We also have a full range of equipment available for use on your own projects  in Open Studio. As a Bullseye Kiln Glass Resource Center, a Delphi Elite Dealer, and an Olympic Kilns authorized distributor, we carry all the tools and materials you need to work with hot glass.

I knew this blogging thing was good for something! Back to bed...

Friday, January 06, 2012

Studio Chicks, Buns, and a Cold

For those who look at Glass Incarnate more or less daily, you will see that I have been cheating all year and slipping in backdated posts. The Year in Review and Upcoming Year posts  always take a lot of time, but I want them to be linked to the day of Intent to Publish rather than the day of publication. I know it's confusing but try to keep up--and I hope to have the Upcoming Year post up tomorrow.

Yesterday it warmed up a little, and my cold seemed to be going away. The day started with getting Char off to the vet to be tutored, and then driving on down the road for the first KGRC meeting of the year with Lori and Judy. We reviewed the business process, partnership and class information Gail and Stacey at Wired Designs in San Antonio shared with us over three days in December. (I was only there for a short day, but Lori stayed at Gail's house, and Gail and Stacey both opened their brains and their business model to her.) We put together some classes, talked a bit about how we're going to work on the book (Lori has volunteered to work on the projects and techniques sections with me), and talked loosely of our goals for the upcoming year.

When we got back to the studio, I was overjoyed to find the first egg from one of our chickens--go Tuxedo! It was small and white (and looked a little pitiful nestled in among the big, brown organic ones we've been getting from Publix), but Jessie was happy to have it for breakfast this morning. Char finished surgery early and could come, and it looked like the day couldn't get better. I was right. It couldn't. (Though the first interactions of Char with his progeny were very cute--they went right up to him, groomed him, and snuggled in to take a nap!)

Round about 6:00 pm my cold swooped back with a vengeance, and it has been so bad--coughing, sore throat, congestion, head ache and fatigue--that I finally had to cancel my meeting in Commerce with Bill and Elaine set for this morning to go over the progress we've made on our new designs for the February BMAC. I rescheduled for Monday, which means I have to reschedule Dee from Monday to Wednesday--if she's available--to work on stenciling for her new show work and some book projects too. Tuesday is the first day of the jewelry-making class I'm taking up at Spruill.

This morning I finally dragged myself out of bed about 9:18 (really), and Mom (who is as sick as I am) and I toddled off to the studio to clean up after my Christmas project (a present for Mom) of a custom-stenciled-acid-etched-hand-dyed-velvet fabric sewn into a three-piece outfit. I am still in midst of the acid-etching part. Never one to try something for the first time in a reasonable size like, say, a SCARF, I seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take to stencil and acid-etch four yards of 45" wide fabric. Ah well, live and learn! I had hoped to finish the etching today so I could permanently remove it from the worktable in the classroom in order to be ready for my kiln-forming glass date this afternoon at 4:30. But given how I don't have the energy to be on my feet for more than 10 minutes at a time, I think I am going to have to just clean it up and put it back out another day. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

First Day In the Studio in 2012

It's cold today, and I have one too--a lousy, crappy cold that has lasted all year! True, it's only been four days, but I have been drinking lots of hot tea, getting plenty of rest, taking supplements, yadda, yadda, yah. And I'm sicker today that I was yesterday. I'm about ready to go home and snuggle under the down comforter for a nap!
Okay, grumbling out of the way, on to GLASS. Today is the first day the studio is open this year, and the first week with our New Hours! On the one hand, I feel like we change our business hours like we change our shoes. On the other, I see it as flexible adaptation in the face of changing needs. The current change--opening Sundays again--is in response to the addition of better classroom/open studio space, Studio Elf availability, and hiring another kiln-forming instructor/open studio monitor.

We have several other changes taking effect today too, but I've decided not to re-list them here. You're going to have to check out the newsletter article on the front page of the website to see them.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My Civic Duty

I have wi-fi! What a surprise as I am in the jurors’ room waiting to see if I am called for jury service. Dekalb county has a lovely room for their jurors to wait. The seats are movie-theatre comfy, there are restrooms, vending machines, and frequent breaks. After being processed in at 8:15 (it took about 10 minutes to get through security, register, and get my badge), we heard a nice little speech from one of the judges on the importance of performing one’s jury service. Then we settled in to watch a 30 minute movie of interviews of Georgia Superior Court judges talking about what they do, what they like, don’t like, and want the public to know about their jobs, and why they chose to become judges. It was well-done, thoughtful and interesting—and definitely livened up by the prospective jurors seated around me.

Before the movie we were told to turn our cell phones off, so of course the cell phone of the man sitting diagonally behind me rang a couple of minutes into the movie. Not surprising, something so common—though impolite—that I wouldn’t even mention it but for the fact that instead of turning it off, he answered it! When everyone around him (including me) turned and glared at him in astonishment, he said helplessly that he didn’t know how to turn it off. The woman next to him took it from him, passed it to the man behind him, and that man supposedly turned it off. Then we all went back to the movie. 

Not too much later the man seated next to the man with cell phone—directly behind me—started to snore. At first it was just little snortles—and we all turned to look at him and then at each other, eyebrows raised and bemused grins on our faces—but then he really began to rumble long and loud. Finally when others in the room of 390 people started moving restlessly in protest, the man with the cell phone and the woman who grabbed his phone simultaneously jabbed the snoring man to wakefulness. He grumbled at them to "get off of me", and settled back into his seat. I grinned and whispered to him that he had been snoring, and he replied that he’d had to get up at 4:00 am to make it in for his service. I commiserated, and we all settled back in to watch the movie. Not five minutes passed before the man next to him’s phone rang again! I couldn’t help but laugh at this real slice of jury duty.

After the movie a few people were called to go up to the courtrooms, and the rest of us were given a 20-minute break—and encouraged more than once to go to Chick-Fil-A across the street (but not McDonald’s as they are really slow there and we would surely be late getting back). I used the opportunity to move from my comfy/funny place to a one of the four workstations with little desks and power strips in the room and now I am settled in till I get called or go to lunch. We get lunch for two hours from 12:00-2:00 and I am going to try to meet up with Dave. Then we are back in the room waiting to be called for selection pool until 4:00. If I get picked for a jury, I will be on jury duty till then end of the trial—surprisingly, not an unwelcome prospect. I am actually quite looking forward to the experience. If I don’t get picked today, my service ends today.

Deciding who gets called up to a courtroom as one of the 20-50 people in the pool for a single trial is done by randomly drawing the juror’s names—it isn’t linked to your juror number. I was kind of hoping it was, as I am juror #1 and would have been sent up to be chosen early. The group that was just called was called for a trial starting at 1:00 and they were told that they could leave and go home till then if they wanted, but they were abjured not to fall asleep as the court would then have to send the deputy to get them, and everyone else would have to wait, and it  “it would just be a big ‘ole mess”. Oooh, this is so much fun!