Wednesday, October 28, 2009

risks

Well, you know that dream many people have? the one about being a full time artist, working from home, spending all the time making things?

It really IS good. But. Not without some fairly gut-wrenching risks. For the past few days we have been searching for some products to replace others that for one reason and another are no longer available, and/or searching for new shapes and sizes that will be exciting and fresh for the next year's shows. We (Premium T. and I) found some really nice things (after I of course spent some time with my stomach tied in a knot). I ordered some, and in some cases ordered all remaining inventory because I decided to take the risk that they were That Good, and would be discontinued when the supply was gone. I just found out that the shipping was adding half again the price of the goods. YIKES! What to do, what to do? It's for a very small vase so it will be hard to absorb the extra dollar per piece. But the glass is SUCH good quality, the shape is SO appealing, unusual, and will take the design work so well...

And I decided to do both big wholesale shows in February. One is wholesale only, and is the show most of my buyers attended last year. But it's wholesale only, so I don't sell anything there, only take orders for the rest of the year. The other is wholesale as well as retail. It is a "higher end" show and last year not many buyers attended as they were more interested in more affordable items. BUT there is a retail component that in past years has covered my (enormous) costs of doing the shows. It is clear that I need to do the first, but the high cost of show fees, shipping, etc. made it so that when I came home to get to work filling orders I had no money with which to order supplies, etc. and that set me up for a number of months of very fast and tight juggling to keep this show on the road. So I am taking a $7000 risk and doing both, with the hope of doing enough business in the retail section to pay the show costs.

Yikes. If only being a working artist were just about staying home making pretty things...

Friday, October 23, 2009

swept up again

this afternoon as I jogged along the lake a Big Wind came swooping in, and a gazzilion leaves came flying down, swirling around me, engulfing me as the wind threatened to lift me right up. Another heavenly moment while jogging. I guess I am starting to love forcing myself out there every day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two favorite things from my jog this morning:

1. I was jogging in the midst of an enormous bunch (gang? gaggle? flock?) of geese who were busy walking about, eating & pooping as geese do, paying me no mind. A dog startled them and they lifted all at once, completely surrounding me and saturating the world for a moment with the sound and wind of a hundred formidable wings. Whopp whopp whopp! A hundred wings beating. My hair lifted and blown, I was utterly swallowed up by it.

2. Certain colors take my breath away. Do you ever want to eat color? To drown in it? Today I saw a red that I wanted to inhale deep into my lungs. Moments like that...

The price

With three fewer worker-bees (as of August) I still experience stress wondering if we can manage to get all the work done. So far, we've accomplished it very well, but with a big stack of orders (and me taking 3 hours off each day to exercise!) I am still kinda nervous about it. I have to make and save $15,000 to be able to do the wholesale shows in February, in order to get orders for the next year, so we can make and ship more work, in order to get paid, to be able to pay the mortgage, health insurance, bills and my remaining 2 worker-bees. On top of that,still have enough money to pay the mortgage, health insurance (come on, health reform!) worker-bees and bills. I know people with "regular jobs" struggle with the same issues of budgeting and bill paying, but sometimes it's hard living right on the edge and being solely responsible. It is the price I pay to get to live my life this way... there are good parts and hard parts about being a single, self-employed working artist. Just so anyone reading this who aspires to a similar lifestyle understands! It would be easier to be independently wealthy, or have a spouse with a regular income. But my kitten thinks his only job is to be funny and cute and warm and furry. He does those things very well though!

On a VERY positive note though, we have tons of orders. More every week. Now if my suppliers would just hold up their end of the bargain and get me the materials I need to fill all the orders.

But in spite of the worries described above, I am proud of the work we are doing, happy and grateful that it continues to sell well, really proud of myself for sticking with my new exercise program, I can wear jeans again!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Benefits of running in the rain

Yes, today was my first test. It has been raining all day, so I girded my loins (!) and did it. Endorphins are still surging through my body so I have to list some of the benefits I was noticing as I was out there, to remind myself...

In no particular order:

* The very act of defying gravity (centered in my warm, dry house) and getting out there is VERY empowering!

* Scents I don't smell when it's dry are deliciously pungent.

* The leaves that have fallen on the ground look like they are lit from within against the charcoal colored running path.

* The few people I passed were all bundled up and burdened with umbrellas walking their dogs. They had squinty, suffering faces. I felt free and happy, surrendered to the rain.

* I was soaked all the way through, but steaming warm. Fun!

* The whole world was brushed in shades of grey, which made the occasional blast of color seem like an ecstatic celebration.

* The sound of the rain is a luscious pleasure.

* And I did it.

* Twilight is such private beauty.

I DO need some proper winter running clothes. I've been asking around and researching a bit. Although I was plenty warm today in my fleece vest, thin shirt and tights, it WAS 62 degrees and 35 degrees will be a whole different ball game.

One step at a time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

delicious ordinary this and that..

The weather gods are being kind to me. I worry about my discipline once the weather turns gloomy. Today I was about to be tested, but this afternoon, just in time for my jog, the sun broke through and it was GLORIOUS! Whew. The discipline exam got postponed another day. I wonder what I should study to prepare myself?

My lovely (and google genius) assistant Premium T found a source for the glass shapes I had spent 2 hours scouring the web for. How she did that I can't imagine. Maybe a different google at her house? At any rate, there is hope here at the hive again! Some of the shapes that sell really well were discontinued, now there will be replacements, looking like even a better quality glass, AND at almost the same price. YES!

I just picked the rest of my hearty, faithful roses. They were horribly neglected this summer and yet hung in there. It will be close to freezing tonight, so I cut them and put them in a vase to see and smell while I work at the table.

Roasted brussel sprouts and chicken for dinner. Yum.

A rousing game of hide and seek with my kitten (big grown up kitten now, but still...). We take turns hiding and springing out at each other. Ah, the life of a single girl!

An indulgent weekend nap on the couch today. A treat I've been giving myself on weekends lately. I've come late to the joys of napping. Highly recommended. especially with soft, wonderful music to let your brain surf to...

AND I just figured out that blogger has spell check. Woo hoo!

Now: a little gin on the rocks, some bad TV, and a TON of vases to prepare to be sandblasted on Monday (which means there are tons of orders which is a Very Good Thing).

See? Delicious ordinary.

Friday, October 9, 2009

in yoga today...

as I moved from one pose to the next--holding each posture until my body trembled with effort and sweat dripped off my nose, the instructor kept suggesting the image of a lake to us, still and quiet. He said we could think of entering a new posture we find difficult, stressful, or "uncomfortable" like the mud on the bottom of the lake being stirred up, clouding the water. He charged us with settling into the posture, breathing through the discomfort, becoming still and slowing our breath until the mud settled and the water cleared. Every time we changed from one posture to another we stirred the mud up, and we were challenged again to find our pose and hold it quietly--riding the trembling effort--by following our breath until "the mud settled and the water became clear." This meditation continued throughout the entire class. And at the end I lay on my back for the final few silent restful minutes of class, bathed in sweat and deep at peace.

When I got home and started work I had some phone calls to make to order more supplies and check on supplies that I'm waiting for. I heard that one shipment I've waited months for is STILL not here (and people, this is holiday crunch time!) and that 4 (FOUR!) of the styles/sizes/shapes of vessels that have been the very best sellers for the last few years have been discontinued.

Yep. I gotta say, the lake got pretty muddy.

So I have an "opportunity" to hold my reactions and interpretations, breathe, stay calm and wait for the mud to settle.

I remind myself I have been through this before, and there is always something new to replace the old.

True stories of yoga and the working artist.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

back to daily

After the big push to get those 70 large centerpieces completed for the Poncho auction (and celebrating the fact that not every nook and cranny of my house/studio is covered with them) it's time to switch gears and get the "regular" orders filled and shipped. Well, we've been doing that all along as well-an amazing accomplishment-but we have even more big orders and small to fill to meet deadlines for the holidays. It's a really wonderful thing, and I am very, very grateful for how busy we are on a daily basis.

My foot injury has greatly improved (can you believe I actually think wearing high heels the other night helped it?) I got back to my walking/jogging yesterday. The walking is easy, but when I get down to the path along the lake I begin jogging and it is HARD, but I noticed after around 10-15 minutes I get into a really nice rhythm with it and kind of, well, enjoy is a bit of a strong word, but there is just a smidge of pleasure in it. Wow. A month or two ago I could only jog a few steps and now I'm doing 20-40 minutes of jogging! The pleasure is in part related to the glorious fall days we are having this week. Crisp and sunny. My favorite.

Now I am going to have to nudge this big, warm, purring kitten off my lap (he only snuggles on my lap when I'm at the computer, funny kitten that he is) and go out in this morning sun for my torturous treat.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

woo hoo!

Well, If I''m not mistaken I think every single centerpiece sold last night. People were complaining that the one on their table had been sold before they even got to the table. Cool!

The event was everything a big fancy auction could be: valet parking at the entrance, fancy-dressed men pointing the way to the escalator, "welcome to PONCO!", butlers offering glasses of champagne as I got off the escalator, bars set up every direction I turned ("Safire martini with olives, please"), butlers floating about offering platters of delicious appetizers (can't remember them all, but I helped myself enough to soak up some of the martinis), pressing through crowds to see all the silent auctions, checking out all the clothes of the patrons of the Seattle art scene, hearing the announcer urge people to go look at the "beautiful centerpieces in the ballroom on the dining tables "by Mary-Melinda Wellsandt" (!), then dinner which was quite delicious. We were served a yummy salad of goat cheese, beets, greens, sugared pecans... and the main course was filet mignon with wild mushrooms, prawns, and king crab lemony risotto, all on a sauce of something that tasted like a crab-whiskey-cream sauce. Really delicious wine was poured liberally. For desert (how could they have known I always want some of everything?) we were each given a plate of 5 different deserts! The coffee came with a plate of whipped cream, dark chocolate sticks... (I ALWAYS want all the details of the food, so maybe you do too...).

The live auction itself only included 40 pieces, so I could actually follow along and see what got a strong response in this sort of crowd (often I think live auctions go on WAY to long and I stop caring after a while).

After that, my host invited me to join him and the others from his organization for a little after-party wine and gossip session in the hotel room a couple of them had booked. Fun!

I had asked for decaf coffee, but I suspect I got regular as when I got home I couldn't sleep. For, like, forever. So I took a second little pill and eventually fell asleep around 3ish. Needless to say, I missed yoga this morning. Not good, after all I ate last night. But a girl is allowed a little indulgence on a night like that, don't you think?

And now back to work for me, orders to fill!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Poncho auction tonight...

Well, in order to find something to wear tonight I had to go through all my clothes, bring out winter clothes and put summer clothes away, and try things on to see what fit. I did it! And in addition to that, I made a pledge to myself to cut my stock of clothes in half (hopefully soon-ish), as I have WAY too many clothes, dating back as many as 20 years. Problem is, I have so many favorites, so many memories attached, so many body sizes to accommodate at various sizes, in various life-phases.

It will be fun to see a centerpiece on every table I created. We worked REALLY hard on them, and we're proud of every single one (and there were 70!). I hope they all sell. Stories tomorrow!

Friday, October 2, 2009

brrrriiringgg...

"Hello?"

"Hi, is this Mary-Melinda?"

"Yes."

"This is xxxxx at yyyyyy Gallery. We just received your shipment to us and... well, we were excited to unpack our order but..., well, the box was full of clothes!"

"WHAT? Uh, what do you mean?

"Well, we opened it and it was double boxed as you always ship, and inside the inner box we found a lot of clothes."

(silence)

"You found what?"

"Clothes"

"Well THAT'S weird! What sort of clothes?" (at this point T, my assistant, was looking at me with curiosity).

"Well, let me see... there's a hoodie with a budda on it, a t-shirt, some pants, some athletic shoes, some more pants, a sweater..."

"Well that's really weird. I don't even recognize anything you are describing. Are you certain it was from me?"

"It has your address on the UPS label. Do you want the tracking number?"

"Yeah, let's check this out." (accessing UPS website and my shipping history). "Well yes, I did ship something to you with that tracking number, but it shows that it left here a year ago, and just got delivered today."

(more discussion)

"Well the owner just said it must have been his son sending some of his girlfriend's clothes to her, using an old box from the storeroom, and his label must have fallen off"

"ahhhh, well I'm glad we figured THAT out!"

And T and I laughed about it off and on all day.
Weirdest phone call ever!