Unusually for me, I have several posts backed up in my head to write and I am having difficulty getting them out. This first one is easy--it's back to Glass Incarnate from Life Incarnate. The second one--my review of the American Made Show in DC last week--is also relatively easy--look for it tomorrow. But it's the prospect of writing the third one--the politics and future of shows for artists--that has been blocking me on writing at all for the past several days. I finally got past the block by separating out the first two posts, and I'll use them to ease into the third. The third post is the most important one and the one that I have really got to think through carefully to get just right. I hate that kind of pressure. But there are a lot of opinions and smack talk flying around out there now in the wake of the American Made Show and leading up to the ACRE and ACC shows next month, and I think it's essential that all of us who work in the handmade crafts industry stop, think, and act for our futures instead of reacting in fear to rumor and misinformation and making bad choices. I am also not one to keep my strong opinions to myself. So be it.
But today, back to Glass Incarnate. For those who have followed this blog over the years, you know that it started back in 2006 as a tool to help me get back into the flow of writing so I could write my first book. I used it to chronicle my experiences writing, running a small glass studio, and later expanding the studio into a kiln glass resource center and teaching facility with a hotshop, a torchwork classroom, and 4-8 other artists and support staff. As I began writing book two, life both inside and outside of the studio got very complicated. Artists are like cats and herd just as well, and they also have lives just as complicated as mine with responsibilities and choices that affect their ability to contribute to the needs of the studio. My own personal life also became very complicated with my mother's health, my daughter switching from the Waldorf school to homeschooling, and splitting our family's time each year between Atlanta and Montana--two homes, one studio. Finally it came to the point where herding artists and trying to run a studio long-distance for 3-4 months of the year on top of everything else on my plate was just too much, and I closed the resource center/teaching facility and let go the remaining staff. It was a hard decision, but book 2 and life really kicked my butt for a couple of years, and I was finally tapped out. I limped by on the work that I sold to galleries and shops, but I didn't attempt to grow my business at all. I waited. I hibernated. And Glass Incarnate transformed into Life Incarnate.
Then life cycled back around to the upside, as it is wont to do. My mother got better, my daughter went back to Waldorf, and I emerged from my den to find spring. I am now back in the studio regularly--though I am not opening it up again as a resource center--and I have a renewed vigor for both my business and my art. I missed vigor! I missed excitement and the tingle of an idea that just couldn't wait to be realized in glass! It's been three and a half years since I dreamed about glass, and I finally have the room in my brain to do it again. Oddly enough, in the weird way the universe has, that of which I dreamt three years ago and that which inspires me now are the same thing--3-D printing in glass (although I think of it more as 3-D silkscreening with glass than 3-D printing).
I submitted a 3-D whatever piece that I created for book 2 as an entry for the 2015 Niche Awards in glass cast, fused, or slumped. Ten years ago was the first time I was a finalist for this award, and this year I finally won. Unsurprisingly, the recognition of the judges and my peers gave me a shot of confidence and energy that I really needed after the past few years. Though it is time-consuming to the nth degree, I really want to do more of this work. I may or not be able to market and sell it, but for the first time, that isn't a consideration for me. I want to do it for art's sake, because it demands to be created--not for business. Ahhhh. That feels good! Now off to finish printing out my orders from the show and building the firing schedule for the next few months. Truth to tell, that feels good too.