Selling babies

First of all, I’ve never really thought of myself as sentimentalist. Sure, I sometimes sob at tearjerker chickflicks. And a cracking good animation or a sublimely elegant algorithm or hardware that really IS “plug and play” or somebody just being nice for no good reason or truly amazing or content-rich art invariably results in leaky optics. And maybe I get a little misty eyed at certain scents or songs or…

OK, I’m as sentimental as all get-out. My creative side, however, is about as sentimental as a rock. A cold, hard, cash-on-the-barrelhead, businesslike rock.

I’ve created maybe 4,500 articles, books, videos, websites, etc. Taken a gazillion photographs. You pay me for that stuff, you can do whatever the heck you want with it. Ditto with glasswork–once it leaves my hands you’re welcome to wash it in the dishwasher. Toss rocks at it. Use it as a hockey puck. It’s only glass, right? I can always melt it down and make another.

So would somebody please explain why that doesn’t work with my glass sculpture? Today I actually found myself wondering if the people buying this stuff will give it a good home. Will they light it properly? Install it out of the way of flying baseballs and careless vacuum cleaners? Will they put it in a place of honor or use it to prop up an uneven table leg?

Oh, brrrrrother. I swear, I’d have an easier time selling puppies and kittens to shifty-eyed men driving trucks marked “INHUMANE ANIMAL TESTING LABS.”

It dawned on me tonight that, although most of my heartwork leaves the house within a couple days of completion, I’ve never actually tried to sell one. Instead, I give it to friends and relatives, which means I retain what amounts to unlimited visitation rights while reducing the number of household items needing regular dusting. Ideal situation, that.

Talking about heartwork, putting it on display, blogging about it…the response has been gratifying and I’m thrilled that it’s receiving the highest compliment of them all: Somebody else’s cash. At the same time I’m also seriously considering shoving it all back in the closet to keep it safe. Much less complicated that way.

Ah well. At some point, my flint-eyed greed will take over, I’ll don my professional marketing creative hat and sell my babies on the auction block without a twitch. It is–say this loudly and firmly–ONLY GLASS.

For heaven’s sake.

Does anybody else have this problem? How the heck do you get past it?



  1. Peter Cummings August 2, 2008 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    As an engraver I ‘ve put inscriptions and names on various glass pieces. They can mean a lot to folk and I feel priviliged. Carving people and particularly faces takes a lot of time and attatchment.To build a character becomes personal as you put a lot of yourself into it. I tell myself now they are created they have a life of their own. If I talk to anyone I show them to I ask what they see, then discover they usually have a life, sometimes very different to one I saw, but thats OK.

  2. cynthia August 1, 2008 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Once I put about a thousand small, hand-cut pieces of glass into a sort of mosaic thing, “grouted” it with powdered glass, fired it, ground it down, then laboriously carved out the edges and slumped it. Really loved the result, gave it to my sister for Christmas.

    Few months later she says “We really love the fruit bowl you gave me,” and yup, when I visit the house they’re just taking it out of the dishwasher to refill with fruit. I winced (and thanked the kilngods for a good annealing schedule), but mostly was amused.

    OTOH, somebody mislighted one of my bas-relief pieces and I couldn’t sleep most of the night. Hmmmm. Must be that personal investment thing. 😉

  3. Milly Frances July 31, 2008 at 6:46 am - Reply

    I’m terrible, especially if the people I’m selling it to don’t display my work in the way they said they were going to – eg I recently made three fused features for an outdoor table (you kindly helped me with firing schedules for these, Cynthia) and they told me they were going to be up-lit. As a consequence I chose colours that needed – you guessed – to be up-lit… and they still haven’t installed the lights. Nor did they tell me about the orange dining chair covers. Argh!
    I guess the secret is not to go and see them once they’re in, although I want/need photos in situ for my portfolio.
    It’s difficult not to care, otherwise we wouldn’t be making unique, individual work to the best of our creative ability, we’d be mass-producing…
    On the other hand, I’ve made work for clients that I didn’t like that much, and have never had a problem saying ‘goodbye’ to it, so maybe it’s more about degrees of artistic engagement?
    It’s an interesting debate, thanks for raising it.

  4. The Gecko July 28, 2008 at 11:10 am - Reply

    No, I don’t think it’s a female nesting thing. I get the same way – over some works, but not others.

    I think there is a personal investment issue. Many things we do “are just glass”; pretty ideas, interesting concepts, hey that might look cool kinds of things. Other items are much more deeply personal, maybe not as they start out, but as the work progresses or obsesses, as the case may be. We get more into creating that just perfect detail, the little flip here, the placement of a certain bubble there. These things get under the skin, usually as more and more time and attention goes into them.

    Then the finished product actually pleases us and we see the result of the investment – that’s when it gets difficult to think about what happens next.

    I think taking a moment to contemplate the Venus de Milo might help. Imagine what Andros, son if Menidis, would think today. Would he be devastated at the lose of Venus’s arms and the pitted nature of her perfect surface? Or would he be awed that she survived and was displayed at the Lourve?

    I just hope that the owner of my art treats it with the dignity they think it deserves. The rest is up to time…….

  5. chaniarts July 28, 2008 at 10:21 am - Reply

    my wife has this problem with things i make (and her own ceramics). almost everything i make goes on display in my own house before it departs to be gifted and/or sold. i, on the other hand, lose interest once it’s done and i’m on to the next piece, so i have no sentimentality for them.

    is it a female nesting thing?

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