Saturday, May 31, 2014

Whoa Summer!

Somehow summer snuck up on us.  I don't know how it happened, but suddenly I looked at our blog and it was waaaaaaaaaay out of date. I thought I'd better post something quick so you still know we are here! Its been a busy winter and we've got some excellent color and designs in glass we've been playing with. Better to show than to tell:

All sorts of fun with color this year. the murrini shown below look so AMAZING blown out in the work! I need to get some photos up of those....and the new bowls & pitchers.....Maybe just come visit our showroom. We are here! As usual chance or appt.

I've been reading/listening to much about creativity, burnout, time, overwork=overwhelmed=overload recently and want to share this great 2 part video with you: Thank You Jennifer Nielson for posting this!

We recently had a friend and client come into our studio who wanted some work cast. We did our usual preamble discussion with them regarding the process and began working. It was a great day in the shop making something experimental, everyone was giddy and had a great time. We were all excited for future work/play in the shop. Then the client saw ....The product. Suddenly everything shifted. Nothing was right and none of it could be used in a commision. We were all of us deeply disappointed and upset. It made us all reevaluate our expectations, our communications...everything! After copiously mentally belaboring the issue (we had emptied a pot full of glass into sand for we could have used to make our work for days with), we took a break from thinking about it and tried to let it go. Usually this is when a clear overarching understanding can be reached. When you detach and sort of space out seeing things with greater perspective. The perspective that came to me was enlightening and I'm deeply thankful for it. The client had liked a color series I've been working on for over a decade. The series was still out on a table and I looked at it and suddenly thought about how many days, how many years I worked to technically learn how to make the piece. I've literally made hundreds of this encalmo vase, again and again week after week, always at my own expense: rented the shop, paid an assistant, sat on the work till it sold or smashed it because it wasn't right. I've spent thousands of dollars researching the colors. We had for a time a glass that melted with a sort of apricot hue and so I made scarlet colored work and stopped making blues (the pinkish tone turned them into something all wrong). Then we switched to a glass years later with a cool clear tone and went back to blues I had been working with.  I stood there staring at 5 of those vases. They look like just 5 vases. You don't even think behind those 5 vases is decades, thousands of dollars, and all the labor which is physically punishing. You just see something that looks simple and clean..light. 
I never think about my work in terms of years and dollars spent. I think 'can I continue to make it now"..I certainly stress when I'm making work about "paying for the day". I know what a day costs me so I can assign a "value" to the piece...and I know sometimes I won't sell the piece for years.  I keep making work. I'm trying to make sometime just a color or an experiment, and i want to keep going because it just gets better (more interesting) My language and understanding of the medium just gets better.
I really hadn't thought about any of that until we had a client who walked into the shop thinking they could just create their vision immediately, and productively and sell it right away. I'm not faulting them for the urgency because that's real life and like I said I punish myself with it too (I'm a terribly impatient student who tends to curse my faculties in a new medium). Really what I'm trying to say is it gave me a moment to look back over how long it did take me to figure out what I'm doing, and.....I was kind of shocked. I'm still kind of shocked. The client gave me a reference point (based in expectation) that showed me where I exist on a time scale. 
In working out how to have good clear communications with clients so that it is a good experience I decided that next time we host a client in our shop and help them make their designs we will tell them that the shop is billed at time, materials and labor. Most importantly we will tell them they are paying us for process and not product.

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