Art fair, year 3

Sorry for the looong hiatus–I think this may be a record in the 8-year lifespan of this blog–but it’s been crazybizzy and this is the first time I’ve had in a month to so much as sit down…I think I’m scheduled to actually breathe sometime next week.

To all artists who make (at least part of) a living doing artfairs:

Superpeople. You’re superpeople. Your muscles are titanium, your brains are solid gold.

I am not in your class. After one artfair, my muscles are jelly, and my brain is solid mush.

Continue reading Art fair, year 3

Boothmaker, boothmaker, make me a booth (kinda)

One nice thing about a glass art blog is that it’s read by…(drumroll) …artists. Especially artists who sell their work at artfairs and such.

And that’s just who I want to talk to now. If you’ve designed a good booth for selling arts and crafts: I need your advice. Please?

Continue reading Boothmaker, boothmaker, make me a booth (kinda)


Strolling the Pearl (a favorite occupation I hardly ever get to do these days), I spied a big cast glass sculpture in the window and stopped in to see who made it.

“He’s from Israel, really talented artist,” said the clerk.

“Ahh…and that one?” I pointed to a big blown dinosaur-like piece, reminiscent of Tagliapietra.

“Celotto, from Italy.”

Hmmm. “How about that one?” and I indicated a series of flat, fused (ooops, sorry, Lani) kilnformed panels on the usual powder-coated steel stands.


Continue reading Locasnob

Form of flattery

Woke in the wee hours Monday night to thunder rumbles and flashes of day-bright light. PDX weathermen had predicted fair weather, so naturally glassland was having one of its rare thunderstorms.

I snuggled down into the covers and purred, listening to rain drumming on the skylight. No way was I sleeping through this, so I after awhile I pulled out Izzy the ‘Pad and started figuring out how to respond to a bunch of emails I’ve been saving. Finally decided the best way was to simply talk about them here.

The first three are pretty direct (I’m paraphrasing only slightly, mostly to avoid embarrassing anyone):

Cynthia, I really like your XXXX project and have decided to produce them for our upcoming craft fair. I think I will be able to sell a bunch, they are so pretty. However, I have only recently begun fusing glass so the instructions in your blog are too hard. Please send me a full list of materials (glass colors, molds, etc.) as well as full-sized templates for each cut piece. I do not have a glass saw so please make sure I can cut the glass with my glass cutter. I will also need your firing schedules and any additional instructions or pictures you have so I can see how the back looks. The craft fair is in three weeks, so I will need this as soon as possible. Your prompt attention is advised and my address is below.

I am a fine arts student who really much admires your glass portraits. Your old woman sculpture is exactly what I need for a project this semester, she is so fierce. I do not have enough money to make my own silicone molds so would it be possible to send me your old woman mold? I promise to return it when I am done. You could be the reason I get a A!

I have decided to start a website about glass and will be using articles from your blog. However, your photos are too small and I tried enlarging them but they don’t look good. Would you please send me bigger pictures of the following articles?

The fourth was more subtle, from someone I’ve never apparently met (also paraphrasing because it was looong):

Please come to my party!! I’m having a BBQ on Saturday and would love to have you as my guest. I am a novice fused glass artist who attended XXXX and fell in love with your work. I picked up your business card there and I think we should be friends! Please bring a small glass item to donate to help me raise funds for a worthy cause.

And the fifth, which is actually a composite of several emails:

Cynthia, you would be so proud of me! I just got a (great teaching gig) for next summer, using descriptions and photos from your blog. I am basing the whole class on (a glass project in this blog). It would really help me if you could send me your photos and studio notes as there are some parts of this technique that are not quite working for me.

Uhm… maybe I should explain a few things.

Folks, I appreciate the attention and I really enjoy hearing from people about the stuff I post on this blog. (and I’m not kidding). I wouldn’t post glassmaking stuff if it weren’t:

  1. A good way for me to clarify processes for myself (and keep records)
  2. A nice way to pay back everyone who has helped me
  3. Let’s be honest, something of an ego boost

However–trying to be as nice as possible here–I do have some rules about how this works:

Everything in this blog *is* copyrighted (that’s what that little footnote at the bottom of each page tells you), which means that while you can quote small excerpts from these blogposts or link to them, you CANNOT reprint, repost or publish my text, pictures, downloads or diagrams without my expressed, written permission.

I’m actually pretty good about giving that permission but you must formally ask, and be willing to provide linkbacks, credit and/or–if you’re planning to make money from this stuff–a cut or a box of raspberries or a map to a gold mine or something.

And yup, I do use online plagiarism finders (and people frequently send “did you know your blog is on —-” notes), so please…ask first and avoid a lot of trouble for both of us.

Technical support and firing schedules
I’m pretty good about answering questions in the comment section of this blog or by private email, and I try to be prompt. However, I’m also lazy, have a dayjob and am only describing what worked for me. While I’m happy to clarify where possible, I can’t customize a project for specific reader requirements.

I do occasionally post my firing schedules…with a LOT of caveats. They’re at best examples, and most likely won’t work in all kilns. If you don’t test them first, before firing some big, expensive project…be prepared for heartache.

Mostly, though, what I’m posting is less recipe book and more starting point for your own explorations. Working through the details and filling in the gaps is the best way to learn, so if you don’t get something, please try it yourself before asking.

Giving out templates, designs, molds, etc.
Never gonna happen unless someday I decide to sell this stuff, which has so far been pretty easy to resist. If I have templates for fusing projects, they were probably traced on newsprint and recycled about 15 minutes after the project became a birthday present.

My silicone mastermolds are, well, sacred, and I don’t share them.

I *am* working on a book about casting methods, but not very hard. Someday, probably when I’m 90, I’ll publish it. I’ve also got a fairly long waiting list to teach, and one of these days–when I find a venue and some time–I actually will. Fill out the contact form if you’re interested, but it’s liable to be awhile.

As I mentioned awhile back, the first (and last) time I donated my work for charitable purposes it didn’t get a very good reception. I now confine my donations to money or time (or old household stuff), just to play fair.

Advertising and disclosure
Many people have suggested I add advertising to this blog, and in a couple of rather interesting cases I was offered free products in exchange for writing favorably about them. This is pretty common nowadays, but I’m enough of a curmudgeonly old-school journalist that I don’t think much of it and I don’t do it.

Most of the time I buy my own supplies, and if I’m writing about something, I’ve most likely paid for it. In the rare cases that someone is nice enough to give me stuff–which *does* happen–I will mention that I got it for free if/when I write about it (i.e., I try to practice disclosure). More often, I solve the problem by just not writing about it to begin with.

Not being beholden to folks means I can say exactly what I think, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world.

So…hope y’all understand.

Show tunes

Definition of exhausted: Me.

Actually, I’m writing this the day after the Gathering of the Guilds, an artist-owned art fair that I’m told is the largest west of the Mississippi, so you’d think I’d be recovered by now. But this is the 11th year the Oregon Glass Guild participated, and only the second year that *I* shared a booth at the show so, as with last year’s show, I ran myself ragged. And found out I still have a LOT to learn.

Continue reading Show tunes

That joy part

“I’ve been dreaming about this at night,” Shelby told me excitedly, as we tripped down the stairs to my studio, “This is gonna be soooo coool!”

Right then, the joy part of making glass hit me–whap–right in the head. If you want to renew your own sense of joy and discovery in art (or probably anything else), just teach someone else to love it, too. Continue reading That joy part

The missing link in my studio

Thinking of designing a glassmaker’s studio? Or remaking the one you already have? Here’s a tip: Design your studio for the ENTIRE glass process..which turns out to be a lot more than just the “making” part. If you don’t, the day could come when the mess literally locks you out of the studio.

Last year I pretty much emptied the garage and, with the kind help of friends and family, turned a dark & nasty garage into a very nice glasscasting space. (You can learn more about it in some of the posts from that time.) We repurposed stuff I already had (for example, a set of rickety old garage cabinets turned into some extremely usable lumber), bought from local rebuilding stores and the Goodwill, and kept the entire price of the renovation under $500.

Continue reading The missing link in my studio

Contextually yours

Small (and probably repetitious) art-rant ahead.
Art-rant-averse readers, please click elsewhere.

So I get that modern art is often mostly context. I understood that years ago, when I visited my first modern art museum to find viewers oohing and ahhing over a big plexiglass cube with a man’s shirt inside.

The shirt was a nerd-typical white, pressed and folded with a small, round inkstain on the pocket. Next to it was a placard entitled “TGIF,” or some such.

In a drawer, this was a shirt going back to the laundry. In a museum case with a title, it was art.

OK. I get that. But sometimes I wonder if artists, gallery owners and curators aren’t hiding behind a curtain somewhere, totally plowed on peppermint schnapps and howling, “Can you believe they fell for THAT one?”

Continue reading Contextually yours

Never puzzle a juror

“Uneven. VERY uneven,” said the man sitting next to me, “I can’t decide if she’s brilliant or a D student.”

“Yes,” concurred the lady on the other side, “She’s still looking for her voice.”

We were paging through a computer slideshow, evaluating artists’ work for a competition. Applicants had been asked to submit a body of work, not just one or two pieces, and the dozen or so from this artist were looking a bit dicey.

Continue reading Never puzzle a juror

Making an art fair booth

Staffing a booth is fun, but not nearly so much fun as designing and building it. (And taking it down is hell, but that’s another story)

Having exactly ONE art fair under my belt, I’m not gonna suggest that I’m an expert at booth design or management. Terry Belunes and I took our new artfair booth out for a test run last weekend at our first show; we were pleased with the results, but found lots of room for improvement. Don’t take this as showdesign gospel, but the following is booth design from a newbie perspective. I welcome ALL suggestions and helpful hints.

Continue reading Making an art fair booth