So office hours switch to all studio time, for the most part. The studio is halfway cleaned. This Friday a group of artists will come visit it. Since we, the artists who are a part of Portland Open Studios, don’t get to GO to Portland Open Studios, sometimes we do little mini tours ahead of time for ourselves. This is the case for me, this week. I hope to be able to visit some of the others after they visit me, but we will see how much work I get created this week, first.
I also quit my other job, which was a very part time marketing gig. I enjoyed it very much, especially the people, but it had become too part time to be worth the time invested in commuting, clothing, etc. My last day there is tomorrow, and then I bury myself completely in juiceglass.
So, to that end, I had best be off, with a very short blog this time, without much information. But there’s work waiting for me, this next month will be intense until I drop off my work for my solo show at the end of October. Head down until then. So let’s finish this Americano made by Jeremy at the lovely Murray’s Coffee Bar and head out.
Fall is on the way. Today it’s still sunny out, and should reach a high in the low 70’s, but nights are getting chilly, and it’s the time of year I can’t decide if I need to put one more blanket on the bed or just switch over to the comforter for the winter season. In Oregon, we often get some summer temperature weather into October, so usually I do the layers until closer to Halloween.
It all gets crazy from here on in for the next two months. Portland Open Studios is next month, and my solo show in Nov. needs a description and artwork for the press release. Like a squirrel getting things ready for winter, I need to gather all my work and items, but a lot faster than the squirrel.
School started, my son is in third grade this year. I remember when I was the one in school, and now I’m the parent. It feels like a blink of the eye, but at the same time, much has happened. Earth, she keeps turning, and spinning.
And I will keep creating. I am looking forward to the annual meeting this weekend of the local metal arts guild, which I recently joined. It’s going to be a potluck event at a local museum I have been wanting to take my son to, so it’s perfect! I hope to meet some of the people in a little more depth that I have talked to at the Gathering of the Guilds. Incorporating more metal into my work is exciting and frustrating, all at the same time. I’m a beginner again, and it’s wonderful to feel the brain and the hands sometimes literally stretching. The failures are often, and I learn from them.
And now, I must be off again to keep learning, and working as much as I can to master a few new items in my catalogue, and put the finishing touches on some items for others. Not enough hours. But I’m game to try.
I’ve sold several different colors of glass straws over the years. Yellow, pink, two greens, blue, lavender, black…and of course, colorless (clear). And… amber.
It’s nothing really exciting to look at. It works well in summer color bundles, with green for a fall/U.S. Thanksgiving feel, or with black for a nice Halloween party bundle. I sometimes make batches of straws in 4 colors, great for a party to keep track of your glass. I think I want to start doing that again now that I have some other colors available to me all at once. Sometimes, some of them aren’t easy to find, which limits my color groupings.
Amber disappeared the width I use for my straws a couple years ago. I used up all I had, and regretfully let it go from my options. I could get it a little wider, but then that one straw would end up slightly bigger than the rest, and that just won’t do. So, I just did without.
Last week Food52 approached me with an opportunity for my straws beyond the usual colors I sell with them, which sounded like a lot of fun. They had sent me an image of the colors they wanted to use, and you can guess which color was in the mix.
I was going to have to buy glass all in the larger size to make it work, which wasn’t a horrible thing but it wasn’t the product they were used to. The difference is literally a millimeter and half a millimeter there, but I am stickler for delivering the same thing as expected.
So I started a chat online with my supplier, ready to order the other size, checking there was no way the other kind was coming in. It’s possible, they said, but it would be three months from now if it did, which wouldn’t work for my needs. So, I was busy checking all the other colors were available one size up, when he said he found a case of it in the back of the warehouse, all alone and forgotten.
He was my hero for the day. The glass is on the way, and I bought a lot of it so that I have extra stock for use beyond the project I’m ordering it specifically for. I suspect I will run out again and it will still be a challenge, but I’m good for a couple years now I think. =) It hasn’t arrived yet but it will take up a lot of my inventory room when it does. I don’t like to keep lots of extra glass in stock because it is so heavy and takes up so much space, but I will be very grateful when this order arrives.
I love summer. I daydream about it when February gloom has been hanging around for most of the month. Winter is a fine time to burrow in, and dream of gardens, sunshine and the buzz of cicadas in the drowsy noonday heat.
As a glass artist, summer is practically a shill when it comes to inspiration. Trips to the coast, bright sunlight making things glimmer, the abundance of animals and life, the ripe fruits bursting with taste at the farmer’s market…the list can go on for some time.
Summer also means no school….and that does dig into studio time. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the extra time with my kid. When it comes to childhood, the days can be long but the years are short. I am happy to give up the studio time in the summer, even if it makes fall a bit of a crush.
This week is the holidays for me! I’m working on creating versions of ideas that a company is interested in, so it’s icicles and ornaments for me later in the week. I have a bunch of swizzle sticks in the kiln right now, or I’d be sitting in front of the torch instead of this computer.
And hummingbirds. I found a lovely tutorial on hummingbirds and have been playing with them, trying out different color ideas and sizes. I see them often in my backyard and making them in glass is an intriguing idea.
Yes, Wednesday will be a day of borosilicate glass, and early, as it’s slated to be in the 90’s by the afternoon. I have a small heater in my glass studio, but no AC. Once I drop the kiddo off at summer camp for the day, it’s going to be glass, glass, glass until I can’t stand the heat anymore.
Well, I can’t make glass today, but I can work with silver, so I had best get to that while the time is available….even in the depth of summer.
I’m doing something a little new with my focal beads, trying to evolve. Of course, this step makes things take longer, more detail. And I have no idea if it’s going to work, in the end.
I’m impatient. Stuff is in the electroforming bath, but I hopefully will know by nightfall if I like it. Which doesn’t mean customers would.
Going a new direction, even if it’s just a small trail running alongside the main road that you know, can be nervewracking. Especially when it looks like such a good trail from afar.
I think my soldering station is finally usable. Good thing, too, as it’s hot this week. When the weather is baking it is actually better for my glass work, I have more time to work the glass before having to make sure it’s all heated up in the flame again. But sitting in front of fire when it’s 90 degrees out isn’t so fun.
So, I am hoping to get some soldering time in this week, perhaps, instead. It’s a busy week, as they always seem to be. And my son has only one and a half weeks of school left. There’s camps and trips in there but also a lot of time where I will need to work with him home, with no camp at all.
Friends visiting, summer adventures, all sorts of things ahead in the short term, and I need to keep on keeping on in the studio. Make a schedule of times to work, when to work, what to make, who to drop them off with.
I am excited for the soldering station, and to see what happens next, there. But, now, I wait on the blue bath, to see if what comes out is anything interesting as wearable. I hope to have photos here of the direction soon… if… it works out.
The kiln is slowly ramping up. I have some glass chocolates to make today, for an event happening in my town next week. I don’t usually make glass chocolates, so the variety will be fun. I am not sure how many I need to make I will just go until I burn out, I guess! There are other beads I want to make to work on some new ideas with focals. I am not sure I have time for both today. I need to go do some shopping errands and then go take my son to an appointment after school.
The extra hours I have now sure get eaten up fast. A lot of it is related to my business, as it should be, but I still feel a little like I am spinning wheels. I have been to Home Depot many times this week, and I am almost done with my ventilation system for soldering. I just need a stud finder…. for walls, people, for walls… 😉
Once I have that I can hang the intake fan, I hope, and then connect everything together. I made the collection box over the past couple days, using old wood that my friend Raya gave me. We did a dump run emptying out my backyard and hers of excess junk and wood, and I salvaged one piece from the wood recycling pile of hers and kept it in the trailer to use later, which I now have.
This box will sit behind my soldering station. I could have it done in a day or two, if I had the stud finder!
And then I can really get going on the soldering half of things. Glass, I can do right now, but I am busy building the soldering station! It’s frustrating but necessary. I checked in with myself if it is some sort of fear, busywork to avoid actual work that could sell, or wouldn’t, but no, that really isn’t it. But life has way of crowding in on you. Space opens up and it quickly gets filled with all those things you think you must do. I will protect this time that I have gained and simply not let anything else get in the way of what belongs there. My work. juiceglass. Priority studio time Wednesdays and Fridays.
I’ll settle into the routine, once there is a routine. I’m building it. But sometimes actual building knocks it off kilter.
My guy, Grant, calls this sort of thing “faffing.” I think I’m not quite truly faffing here, as stuff IS getting done that needs to be done. But it sure feels like it when I have bills and I need to get things churned out for the summer galleries. Even with the extra time, it feels…scarce.
Life sure fills the holes that appear pretty quickly.
I tried to start my day filling it with something other than direct work, before I got sucked in. I took a photo to share on my walk this morning, before returning the glass studio, the kiln heated and up to temperature.
This has been my first week with my new schedule, where I have three days to be in the studio instead of one. “In the studio” this week means setting it up.
I have two of them. One, which I posted in my last post, is the glass studio, built for me by my amazing father. It’s set up for glass work with total safety in terms of materials, air, ventilation.
I soldered in there, now and again, when I was dabbling in metalsmithing. Now that that is the direction I plan to go, with my glass, I need to set something up just as safe in the area where the metal and jewelry studio will be. That room is in my house, separate from the glass studio. So it needs its own ventilation and safe area for playing with fire.
The financial outlay is a little scary. I know I need these things to do my work safely. So I am gathering them this week. It won’t be perfect in terms of seamless venting out the window without outside summer heat getting back in, but within the week I think I should have things set up to go.
I’m not going to give up beads. I will make my favorites and continue to learn and expand on my favorite designs. Find ways to combine the two, beads and sterling, with fabrication. I don’t really know what all of this is going to look like yet, in terms of where my voice goes. But all the while I will be making the things I love to stock the galleries I am in, and in some FB groups I am a part of.
But I am also going to work on, and take care of, me. Yesterday I went out and got makeup. This is a rather large thing for me. For most of my life I have considered it a frivolous expenditure beyond the very basics. I have not wanted to put the time into learning how to do it well. But, what the heck. I’m comfortable wearing what I want into my old age, but I may as well have some fun while I still don’t look like a Grandmother. So I splurged (a little) on myself and got a couple makeup brushes, and have some things to practice. Like not getting eyeshadow in my EYES. I definitely didn’t get the girl gene to be good at this stuff. But, it’s fun.
And walks. I will be taking more walks, now that time is available to me. To get me moving and thinking and out there early in the morning, before the heat of the day slips in.
Also, my son has a school fundraiser tomorrow, and I made all these homemade Oreos to sell.
I mean, LOOK. AT. THOSE. Maybe I should sell cookies instead. :p
There’s a quote. I am sure you’ve heard it, about losing sight of the shore. I think I first came across it at one of my string of years at summer camp, out in the trees living in a big canvas tent with all my belongings in a footlocker at the end of my cot.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”- Andre Gide
Trite, well-worn. But, I suppose, true in many circumstances. At the root of it, you can sit in your safe box and be safe, but grow bored. Or you can get uncomfortable, and grow and experience new things. This is true in work, in home, in relationships, all of it. Excitement and fear, uneasiness and nervous butterflies all go hand in hand.
In all my years I’ve never made a true stab at supporting myself on my glass, and beyond. The little span of time I had a chance, I leapt at a temporary opportunity to work as a tour manager, traveling around in vans and tour busses supporting musicians from backstage and behind the merch table. I’d not trade those days for anything, but they did take me away from my studio during the year I had the opportunity to sit down in it the most. And before I knew it, in terms of time, I became a mother. Awesome. Overwhelming, and one heck of a giant, lovely, incredible time-suck.
My son is now 8. I am now a co-parent instead of a married one. Like most of the statistics, I took a huge pay hit with the end of the marriage, and changed my life to fit that so that I could be home for my son when I have him. His Dad and I are great coparents, and I am grateful for the awesome relationship we now have raising our son.
Events at my work shifted last week, and I have been cut adrift, to a degree. Not entirely, but enough to look once again, finally, at the studio, and see what I can do within it to support myself. I had been questioning this the very day before, on Facebook. And, if one believes in such things, the Universe took notice, perked up and said “Oh yeah? Well, then… here you GO!”
So, I’m going with it. I’m taking the lesser hours at my job and am going to fill them with my own work. It will be longer work, harder work, but my own. I’ll give it my best shot. It’s real this time.
More studio time. More blog entries, newsletters, networking, and creating relationships with the wonderful humans that enjoy what I do, and want to have pieces of it to call their own. I hope, if you are reading this, you go on this journey with me while I start losing sight of the shore.
So, to facilitate that, here’s a quick list of where I can be found, and my glass and silver and stone work can be found. I love looking at art online, it’s like a little oasis when it scrolls by in my feeds. If you feel the same, here are ways to add me to that art stream. I’ve done social media as a job for years, I know the rules and what to post when and how to not blanket people with STUFF TO SELL. It will be a fun ride, more than just my art, I promise you, and all channels will not be identical. Please, come along with me!
My goal for November is to clean up the gallery images on this site.
And keep working in silver and carved glass! I’m carving glass now, which adds so much new possibility to my electroformed pendants.
Every year the Gathering of the Guilds is such a fantastic show to be a part of. Every year I do so much work to get ready, creating inventory, making sure I have enough business cards, jewelry displays, enough silver for last minute pendants, getting all the pricing figured out and on stickers. Having cash on hand and finding the paypal reader each year. Trucking all the stuff down to the Convention Center, setting up, adjusting everything just so. Figuring out what to wear to look like a welcoming, interesting artist and human.
Every year I walk in thinking “Well, if I make what I made last year, I will be happy. Even if it drops by a little bit, with the economy and everything, it’s all good.” And every year I show up and it works out just fine, with a little bump. This year, I was concerned about sales because for the first time in the seven years I have done the show, the guild was not allowed to do open torch demos at the show. Without playing with fire in front of an audience, I felt less customers would wander over to my booth. And demonstrating how I make beads is SO much fun for me at shows, talking to people and letting them experience how it’s done.
The fire marshal said no this year, so….
But it didn’t make a difference to my bottom line that I could see, in the end. Sales were still up over last year, even with no torching available for eager learners and curiosity seekers. I had some new designs with me that were well-received, with lots of comments, which I appreciate. I really like knowing customer preferences and what they think looks best with a particular style of bead or work.
It is a three-day show, and very busy, with Friday being an 11 hour day of the show being open, plus 2 hours or so getting final setup ready in the morning. Exhausting. But a great feeling, coming home totally wiped out, sitting down with a book and a drink. A foot massage would have made it perfect. But a purring kitty on my lap was a very close second.