Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Goals & Objectives

The topic on Flaming Hot this week is Goals and Objectives. How do you track the progress of your glass business? Do you set goals and benchmarks to be reached? Do you have detailed directives? Do you just plod along and let it happen? Tell us what you do to keep your business thriving. Blog it! Hmmm, I guess I fall into the haphazard category, although I have improved at it this year. My goal has always been to have my glass be a 'self funding hobby'. As long as I make enough to pay for my glass and tools, I'm happy. And I always have, except for my two largest purchases, the kiln, and my oxygen concentrator. But, at the start of this year, I decided to get a bit goal orientated, and decided to focus on my auction sales. I decided to ensure that I always had auctions up online. I have managed to fulfil that goal since then, although there have been a lot of relists. I keep track of my glass sales in a simple excel spreadsheet. My beadmaking evolved out of my jewellery making, which evolved out of 'merchanting' at SCA events -which included selling trim and feasting gear. So, my spreadsheet has everything all mixed up, and I still sell trim once a year at our major medieval event, to help support my glass habit. So, I know overall whether I am in the black, and by how much, but I do not keep track of each month, year etc. My current long term goal is to use glass money to get back to the USA in 2009. I guess one of my new years resolutions for my glass business will be to increase the number of new auctions I have, rather than relying on relists to fill my online quota. I have organised artisans insurance this year, so I have been able to add teaching beadmaking to my bow, and I am hoping that the funds from that will really help with the USA goal. I have no intention of making my beadmaking more than a successful hobby. I do intend to increase sales, but I don't ever want to have the joy of working with glass affected by a need to fulfill a quota or a certain number of orders. I need it to stay fun, and as my teaching career in my day job intensifies next year, I will need that creative outlet even more.

Friday, 14 December 2007

On the Tree...

A few weeks ago I promised an image of my glass ornaments on my mum's tree. I gave this tree to my mother for her birthday (it's in November) 2 years ago, because she has difficulty managing the big tree herself. So, I bought this cute little tree, stripped it of the gaudy plastic acorns and gold bows it came with, and began to fill it with glass ornaments that I had made. Last year I was overseas for Christmas, so there were no new additions, but this year I have added quite a few new ones. I guess I have started a new Christmas tradition :)

Saturday, 8 December 2007

We'll have Christmas cheer if it kills us....

I am sitting here on my couch (can I just say - I love my wireless router) watching the lights on our Christmas Tree flash merrily. But that bit of Christmas cheer was hard won today.
Every year the assembly of the stand for the Christmas tree causes much consternation. It's a terrible design. As I generally decorate the tree, assembling the stand has become Jason's contribution to the whole process. This job frequently produces frustration and colourful language, but today the aggravation rose to new heights. It seems the stand had become worn over the years, and the threads had worn down. Jason drove off in search of one of the stands used for a real Christmas tree. Surely they cant be all that hard to find? I mean, they sell real xmas tree's on every street corner in the last few weeks before Christmas - what the heck do people use to keep the darn things upright? He came back empty handed and set to trying to jerry rig our current stand.
After another selection of frustrated outbursts, off he went again. This time I tried ringing the hardware store - the receptionist thought they had them, so that was his next destination. He finally returned without a tree stand, but having undertaken some lateral thinking, he had a metal market umbrella stand. While it's a little large (I'm using a tablecloth to cover the stand) it's sturdy and folds up for storage. Operation Christmas Tree can now proceed.
Of course, as I packed up the empty boxes, we noticed a dish-shaped object that belongs to the original stand, and had been overlooked earlier. It's entirely possible its absence was why the stand wouldn't work. Oops.
Anyway, the tree is up, which is a sure sign for Christmas spirit to decide its time to arrive at our place. I spent the evening writing Christmas cards and wrapping secret Santa gifts for my glass forum.
Here is some pics of our tree, sans lights. (Every time I tried to take a photo with the lights, the flash fired and washed them out). The closeups are of our new decorations we bought in various places, mostly Christmas Markets, in Europe last Christmas.
This Icicle decoration was a gift from the Faberglasshutte in Lauscha, Germany.

These 2 ceramic stars were bought from a ceramicist at a craft market in Nuremberg, Germany. I can't remember where these little guys came from - but they are cute, arent they ?

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Revisiting Ornament Thursday...

I was hoping to have some photos of my ornaments strung up and hanging on Mum's Christmas tree today, but I haven't been able to take the photo yet. So, here are a few more beads I hadn't yet made when I took the last photo. Please excuse the image quality - I took these ones on the floor in front of the window, instead of in my photo tent, with lights.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Sculptural talent gone to the ...chickens?

I watched a fascinating story on Australia Wide on the ABC this evening. Ivan Lovatt is a British born artist working in Australia who makes amazing sculptures out of chicken wire. He had an exhibition of portrait busts on at Jackman Gallery in Melbourne - I would have liked to check it out, but looks like I've missed it. Click the image below to watch the full story on the ABC site.
It's hard to imagine so much expression created from layers of chicken wire - a truly unique artform.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Like I need another hobby!

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of weakness, I ordered a Needle Felting kit online. I have been interested in felting for awhile - I have played around a bit making flat pieces, like blankets, in the SCA, as well as felted juggling balls. As well as felting wool, I have toyed with felting the fur from my dog, which can also be spun. Unfortunately, my poor neglected spinning wheel is primarily fulfilling a decorative, rather than functional purpose at the moment, and my cupboard is starting to fill up with bags of wool and dog hair. Anyway, back to the felting. I had heard of needle felting, and seen some wonderful 3D constructions, but didn't really know anything about the process. So, I bought a kit that contained enough wool for one bear, some instructions, and most importantly, 3 felting needles. The kit arrived last week, but I was far too busy torching to do much more than give it a cursory glance. After the less than stellar performance at the market last week, and the build up to it, I haven't been feeling like torching the last few days. So, on Monday, which has become a bit of a craft night for me (I often work on SCA bead projects while DH is at fighter training) I decided to give the felting a go. The process isn't really difficult, although I imagine there is a lot to learn about sculpting with the wool. The worst part was the stinging fingers when I continuously stabbed myself with the barbed needle. Can I just say... Ouch!? The project was supposed to take 5-6 hours, but I am one of those people who cannot stop once I start (plus I'm a bit impatient, so I may not have felted as firmly as I should have) and I finished all the pieces after about 4 hours. I then dragged myself off to bed (it was almost 1 am *gasp* on a 'school night') and couldn't wait to get home from work the next day to assemble my little creation. I'm pretty pleased with the little guy, for a first try. He's a little hefty around the shoulders (I think he enjoys Popeye's penchant for Spinach) and his face looks a bit like a Lion's, but I think he's kinda cute. What do you think?

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Frustration... My Achille's Heel

Do most people have one thing that pushes their buttons, causes them to lose their cool? I can be calm in a crisis, I can manage an event with 100's of people and thousands of details to deal with, I can be patient with almost anyone in a training situation, but I start to lose the plot when I am truly frustrated.
I have always known I don't cope well with frustration. There is a very good reason why golf is not my game. And I have always identified that I get frustrated with myself at various times, for eg, scoring badly at a game I'm usually good at - which then leads to me playing worse, the more frustrated I get (I'm having flashbacks to AMF Bowling League and Volleyball Matches).
But I have only just started to understand that a lot of my stress situations relate back to frustration also. I don't like myself when I get stressed - I can be short tempered, demanding and snippy. What I hadn't realised till recently is that I get stressed when I'm frustrated. I wasn't stressed in my photography job because of the of the nature of the job, I was frustrated that I was expected to provide a quality portrait service in 5 min. I wasn't stressed in class due just to student misbehaving, but because I was frustrated that they couldn't see the cause and effect - bad behaviour= consequences, good behaviour= pleasant class, fun activities etc.
Yesterday I had a very frustrating morning and I felt myself turning into 'stress girl'. That hasn't really happened to me at work in the 3 years since I started my current role, and I have dealt with plenty of stressful situations. So I finally realised it was the frustration pushing my buttons, bringing out the worst in me.
I'm hoping this revelation will help me avoid that stress reaction. Maybe if I can see the frustration coming I will be able to deal with it differently.
Do you have something that sets you off? Your own personal Kryptonite? Tell us about it.