Bit the bullet…..and then… I must wait.

Tools. They come in handy. They can change how work is done. In my work, tools can be physical objects that help me bend metal, form it different ways, polish and sand it faster than I could with files and sandpaper.

Last year, my big tool purchase was a flexshaft, which is used in so many ways to work with metal more efficiently. It’s like a stronger,  metalsmith-centric Dremel tool. And it did change things for me. I work faster, and can make things with more control and dexterity, which increases the quality of a piece by the time I am done with it.

This summer,  an important tool was purchased in the form of a class. While I can’t hold it in my hands, I can hold it in my brain, and slowly, with discipline, watch it work in the same way, improving how things are made.

The class was held a couple weekends ago with Andy Cooperman, who is a metalsmith out of the Seattle area. Andy’s work is always incredibly well-made, clever, and shows a clear mastery of his vision and his materials.

It’s the best class I think I have ever taken, in terms of being an instructional course on how to do something. And, he didn’t specifically teach us how to DO something specific, other than a few rudimentary building blocks, like creating a pin mechanism for a brooch. With the basics out of the way, the class was more about how to put things together, especially in ways that don’t use heat, or soldering. Cold connections, ways to trap things within a piece.

This is information that is particularly valuable to me as a glass artist. Some stones that people use can go straight in to fire, like diamonds. You can solder around them on a piece and they don’t care. Other stones can take heat, maybe not direct flame, but can take some warmth.

Glass can’t really do any of that. When I work with glass, any large temperature change can and will cause it to crack. Up until now, I pretty much worked with traditional bezel setting for my glass in my work, which I enjoy and an always improve upon. But glass, for me, has a way to free me from such traditional settings, if I can figure out HOW.  And so, this class appeared to be a door into the how.

On the other side of it now, my brain is slowly percolating what I took in over the four days of the class. Unlike a physical tool, this one won’t do what I want it to from the starting gate. My brain is the tool and it has to learn how to use the information, and then, refine my movements to the point of using it well. It’s going to take time, and practice. But that is the only way with this tool. Practice, until my brain starts to take it in and work well with the information as a tool in my arsenal. And the only way to that is through it.

My work is in front of me. Even with all the info in front of me, I need to learn how to add it to my work, how to make it work for me, how to think  from within what I have learned. That’s tough stuff for me. I think I need to master some techniques before I can call upon them as solutions.

But all this slows me down in getting work OUT THERE. But that has to be ok. The work that I have mastered can still go out in the world, as it evolves. Evolving doesn’t mean the present work disappears. It feeds the future. I’m struggling with creating a schedule for all this. I’m working on it. It feels deceptively simple to do, but it isn’t. At all.

The next month is hectic for any of this. There’s a trip with family, my sons 10th birthday (Which is on the eclipse, whee!) and then starting the search for a new family cat. But I will try to squeeze in moments of learning, trying, creating, and failing.  As Andy taught us, what’s the worst that could happen?


Business Meltdown (and melting down is good)

Oh my goodness, friends.
I’m adrift. I’m all over the map. I’m not sure what I am doing.


That means I am onto something.

I took this free marketing class for a week about a month ago. It was one of those things where you get a little bit of information, free, and then they offer you their full-blown workshop, for hundreds. You get some good info to make a few changes, learn a little, but then you need to commit to get the whole tamale.

I have no issue with this, it’s how seminars and info works, you exchange money for the goods. I knew I would be marketed to, and so I was ok with it. I don’t like being marketed to, even though I recognize the irony that I need to be on the other side of that hustle for my own work, exchanged for money. I knew I needed something in my business, to make a full go of it, to really get in there and try to do it right, instead of feeling my way along in the dark with no flashlight the way I have been.

So I did the week to see what I would learn, and I did learn some new things. It all culminated with a live presentation/webcast to pull things together, and give them ample time to discuss the eight-week workshop that would be starting in a week or so after the free bootcamp wrapped up.

They were offering three scholarships to people who showed up for the bootcamp. You had to write in a FB thread post about why you thought you’d be a good candidate for the scholarship to the 2 month intensive.

Derek had a delayed start school day due to ice that day. So he was home, I was making breakfast for him, after days of snow days. I had gotten so little done that week with a kiddo home from school. So I had the laptop on the kitchen counter, cooking up eggs and toast and sausage, listening to the live webcast, and typing in my answer as to why I would be a good candidate at the same time as everything else. Not very focused arena to really write something well-worded, but I did my best.

At the end of the webcast, after answering lots of questions, they announced the three winners. And, wouldn’t you know it……

I was one of them. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I felt that morning, and still do.

So now I am deep in week two of this class, and I am so deep into chaos. I am rethinking everything with the information being thrown at me. It’s wonderful.

But I am totally flailing right now in what I make, how I make it, how I present it.  How to connect better to you, and serve you with my business. I literally don’t know what to make next, but I am working how to bring more connection and joy to everyone my business touches.  How to put it all together and offer it to the world, because of what I am learning. And the information keeps on coming, relentless, each piece working to further tear down everything so I can build it back again, correctly.

I’ve spent almost no time in the studio these past two weeks. At first, it was ok cause I was learning so much. Now it’s kind of ok because I don’t really know what to make.

There’s larger commitments on the horizon, with the Gathering of the Guilds show in April. Worst case, I will take some of what I am learning and make what I make, what I have made, with some alterations and expansions, mild ones, to get me through. Or, I may have time for the changes to move through my work, and what shows up at my booth is evolved in ways I can’t even think of right now.

I just don’t know. As John Taylor and AA say, “trust the process.”

I’ll just keep going.


Reaching Out.

It’s a rainy late morning. There is much to be done today, and once again, none of it at the bench. But I’m ok with this. It’s hard, but so much is shifting at juiceglass, the work of the brain and the pen are what is flowing right now. It’s good work and it’s hard work, and not as fun as creating. But getting the business itself in a much better place will work only to help reach out when the bench time comes back into the spotlight.
This month, I am working on website overhaul, creating a weekly work schedule, and getting the mailing list back from slumber.

I’ve had the list since 2004, but it’s never really had a direction. And that’s something I need to work out for myself. What IS the direction of the mailing list? To showcase new work? To ask questions? To keep fans updated on where new shows are? To elicit feedback?

So many ideas, and I’m going to figure it out. I like the idea of the mailing list, even with so many ways to connect online today. The newsletter on paper may be going the way of the dinosaur, but newsletters themselves are still delightful, if done right. I appreciate the digital means so that I am not using paper (trees) to communicate every month, and that will keep me connected with all of you as well as to my firm conviction to live as lightly as I can on this planet.

Do you want to join me on this journey? Are you on the mailing list yet? It’s about to be reborn! With discounts and giveaways and ways for us to get to know each other, and connect and create beautiful, meaningful things in this world.

So, that’s something that is definitely on my mind this week.
I’ve been doing this business workshop that is taking up so many hours with valuable exercises, but I try to make sure those ideas and brainstorming sessions also make constant change to the business as I go.

I’m off for a few days to the Oregon coast, for inspiration, for a breather, for a moment to just enjoy new places and new sights. One night will be in a yurt! I have never been at a campground in the winter, I wonder how many people will be there besides me and my partner. Oregon rain has a plus side on the coast, and that’s terrific storms and waves.

If you would like a few moments to see where I am going, or just to see some beautiful coastline and amazing waves, check out this video. My last night of the trip I rented the little loft that sits above the RedFish restaurant, as seen here. The trip also includes a visit to the sea wall at the beginning of this video, and I hope to see some huge waves!

Recharging is so important. I hope you are taking the time to recharge and treat yourself to new things, even just a new type of tea, hiking path, or a new knitting skill, or a new local restaurant or art gallery.  I’ll see you on the other side!


The Oregon Coast – A Winter Odyssey from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.