the glass hits the flame

torch area1Well, the Crawl was not what I would have hoped. The number of people was just way down. The studio looked great, everything got done fairly painlessly, although a bit down to the wire. But the crowd was just too thin. I covered my expenses, but sales haven’t been that low since the first year I did a Crawl, which was five years ago. I’m pondering what went wrong, but it will require a bit of research and mental digestion before I come to any conclusions as to the cause, or as to what to try to do differently.

But yesterday, I got back into the studio. Much as I like doing a variety of things and enjoy the mental challenge of bringing everything together in a show, it’s always a relief to get back to the torch. I love the ritual of putting on my work-clothes, my leather apron, sorting out my dirtylit torch workspace, lining up my tools, setting out my materials, paring down my pile of scattered post-it notes with the day’s work-list. I turn on the gas and oxygen, strike a match, carefully adjust the flame, and I’m off. Since I hadn’t been in to the hot shop for literally months, I kept the to-do list short and simple. Frequently after a show or a spell away from the torch, I warm up again by mixing and pulling bars of layered, patterned glass. But I’ve only three weeks in between shows right now, and luckily, I already have some bars ready to go . So the task at hand was to make some color chips for earrings. The Crawl had been the first time I’d put them out, and the prototypes sold, so I took that as a cue to make more. It’s a simple, relatively quick item which doesn’t require quite as much precision as others. So I can sell it at a modest price for the holidays and they make a good warm-up for my first session back at the torch. color torch portraitWorking with glass is appealing to me, even when the objects don’t push my skills. I love the amazing colors, the way it changes as it heats up, the smell of the hot glass and the feel of it in my hands, the heat on my face. I especially like the quiet that happens in my brain when things get going well. I love the way that the second time I try something it always goes more smoothly than the first. And even better the third and forth. I love the way that my faith in the materials and in my skills gets renewed, every time, without fail, if I just keep at it. I love the dynamic equilibrium between the repetition of sticking with what I’ve set myself to accomplish for the day, and the inevitable flood of new ideas that bubble to the surface as I work, things to add to the never ending pile of post-its.These earrings are the synthesis of a number of things: the article new color chipsI referenced earlier about early human bead-making; an ongoing exploration of using glass bars or “ribbons” to create jewelry parts; thinking about color sample chips; and a desire for a simple, basic design that I can sell at an affordable price. These chips will be threaded on a sort of exaggerated kidney wire that hangs down from the ear, allowing for a bit of movement. I probably got six or eight pairs worth made today. If I had more time, I’d do another session of these, trying to create matches for the odd pieces. But time is short, so I’ll move on to something else next time. It is impossible to tell what will sell, and if I get hung up on perfecting every piece of every set when time is tight, I won’t have an interesting mix of pieces. And a varied display and price range seems to help sales. So next time I’ll work on some other pieces that are part of the same series. It’s good to be back.

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