Crystals, Sand, Shards Collection, by Cynthia Morgan

So this afternoon I’m heading north of glassland, up into the Columbia Gorge, to take part in my first glass show, Hood River Art Walk.

Glass artist Linda Steider, who lives up that way, has worked with galleries, shops and hotels in that area to declare June as “Glass Art Month.” Merchants have set aside areas for artists to display (and possibly sell) their glass and thanks to Linda, I’m one of those artists. I’ll be in the At Home on Oak Street gift shop, very nice place, for the first time displaying my wares in a retail venue. Meg (the owner) and I met in her shop, went over logistics and put together a display plan based on samples I showed her, and I went home to start pulling together an inventory.

Now, I’ve sold or given away hundreds of glassworks over the years, but I’ve marketed, if you can call it that, strictly by word of mouth. This year I’m making a conscious effort to treat this as a business, which means marketing, and making concerted sales efforts instead of falling into sales by chance…so I’m trying this out with my “Crystals, Sand, Shards” collection, some of which are reproduced here.

I’m a marketeer by trade. I’ve helped the Fortune 500 market products worth billions of dollars and several points on the NYSE, so this stuff should be old hat, right? Wrong–I’m discovering it’s VERY different when it’s your own artwork that’s on the block. The last time I was this butterflies-in-stomach nervous was when I sang at my first concert (and since you’ve never heard me sing at concert since you can probably get an idea of just how nervous that was).

Tonight opens the Gorge event, with a reception and “Art Walk” for potential customers, so I’m heading up with a load of glass and wondering what else could possibly go wrong.

I’ve done the flyers describing my work (and discovered that the lucite holder I bought for them doesn’t fit). I couldn’t find gift tags so I went to a scrapbook place to make them, and overbought materials (something that’s gotta stop or the balance sheet will bleed to death). I found out it’s harder to buy white, shippable boxes than I thought, so the boxes are brown and they’re a bit too big.

I’m using individual boxes because my original transport method broke 80% of the samples I took up to Meg. I dropped three more I was moving to the studio to photograph–reminding me why we only carry one piece, carefully, at a time. This necessitated a bit of a rush making new in time for the show.

I’m normally content to let the kiln do its thing without me, only making periodic checks. But I’ve had to school myself–given the rush–to follow that rule this time. On this last batch, which I’m rather excited about, I forced myself to not even look at the kiln during firing.

Serious mistake. Went out this morning expecting to find five completed pieces, allowing me to select my favorite dozen from a field of 18, and found an error message on the controller. Something happened, the kiln never fired, and for the last two days it’s been sitting there (dammit). So I’ve started it up now, and will watch it, but that means my five favorite pieces for this show won’t be ready in time for the reception tonight. Dammit again.

Obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn about actively making and selling work as an artist. How discouraging.

But here are the positives:

I’ve met, and will meet tonight, some great people and potential new friends. Meg is extremely nice, Linda has the makings of a kindred spirit, and she’s assembled artists whose work I already know and admire. Glass people are some of the nicest and quirkiest I’ve come across, so this is a real plus.

I’d vowed never to get into any kind of production work, fearing that making XX of something would turn it from fun into, well, a job. Instead, I discovered that I really enjoy the chance to produce multiples. It gives me a chance to perfect a technique, and the tight constraints of making something that’s recognizably the same but different has been a lot of fun. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy making 200 of something, but I’m not quite as edition-of-one as I thought.

This is a nice, no-pressure way to see if I’d like something I vowed never to do, i.e., sit in a booth someplace selling my work like a corndog. I’m still not entirely sure about that, but I’m more willing to try it than I thought I’d ever be.

So…wish me luck. –jitter–