Monday, January 23, 2012

come out, come out, wherever you are

Who, me?

I have been lost in the land of Westeros, the fictional land of The Song Of Ice And Fire books by George R. R. Martin.

I have been in the city for two days doing two very small jobs after spending two days on art work.

I have been trying to get a picture of the loud mouth wren who screeches at the cat almost every evening.

I have been model making and filling molds in preparation for the workshop we are teaching at the end of the month.

I have been enjoying some lovely sunsets.

I have not been walking.

I have received a request for pricing for a large and complex project, 2 - 20' long walls, which involves no art work on my part, just fabrication and management. I vacillate back and forth this weekend on whether to pass or to go ahead and make the attempt. The panels are large, 4' x 8'6”, 34 sq ft, 163 - 221 lbs ea. depending on if it's 3/8” or 1/2” glass. If we pursue it, we will have to buy and install a sling for moving heavy glass. If we pursue it, it would solve our immediate financial problems.

We've been thinking about our future, the work we do, have done and if it's still going to be a viable course. We've made several bad judgement calls about the direction we wanted to go as far as income is concerned over the years. The last time we were at the point where we had to get a loan and a big place to continue with the very big jobs we had been getting is when the bottom fell out of our personal lives so we back pedaled. When we finally started again, we eschewed those very big jobs and also the very small, the logos and stripes and squares, and carved out a niche for ourselves...high end residential and smaller scale corporate art. High end residential was not the ultra-rich but the upper middle class, lower upper class. Unfortunately that niche does not currently exist and the other niches already have long standing relationships with other companies. Whether our niche returns as the economy improves remains to be seen. I've had two new (for me) designers contact me recently who are excited about our work so maybe my newsletter attempts at marketing are beginning to show some fruit, if not actual work.

In the meantime, we are trying to diversify...teaching more, my little part time job, crafting small items and perhaps getting an etsy store, still working on my gallery pieces with an eye to trying some new galleries, and most importantly, trying to remain positive and pro-active.


  1. i hope you can figure out the best course of action. i'd hate to be self-employed - and especially with art as it is such a fickle market, and so often, the first to be cast aside in rough times...

  2. Hi Ellen, I'm in exactly the same spot right now. The middle upper or lower upper class is simply not showing up anymore. The last show that I went to I paid more to be in than I brought home. People said that we should have scheduled the show one week later when pay checks would have been received. I find that really frightening. Your work is so beautiful, I wish money weren't a factor!

  3. Lots of changes in your life, but it sounds positive.

  4. I hope that your attempts at diversification bear fruit, and etsy might be another good venue. I am increasingly drawn there, to find unique items. The malls have driven away so MUCH. Every one of my friends checks out etsy stores and I bet you would find that a link through here would help.

    Regardless, it is always a challenge to be self-employed and, a Butternut said, your work is beautiful. So many of that upper middle and lower upper? Many were living beyond their means and are not there any more--and those that are seem to be being more careful.

    It is so good that you are still working to be able to unite your artistic uniqueness to how you both make your living. Good luck.

  5. It's a major feat to have been able to hang on during this economic downturn. Etsy is a good idea for smallish projects, especially jewelry if you do any of that.

    Good luck with your decision on this big project. Could you rent a sling rather having to invest in one?

  6. It's so tough for my unretired artist friends. One Canadian potter who found it increasingly difficult to cross the border after 9/11 now teaches and runs a gallery. He thin walled pottery is exquisite. Another local porcelain artist says years and years of experience are paying off; he's at the top of his form. He also has made a solid niche in work marketed in his faith, like urns, which is a reliable income net. It seems you have some decent opportunities to pursue. Hope they do very well.

  7. You are both talented, resourceful and resilient. The economy is on the rebound and soon we'll all be looking for art pieces to enjoy.

  8. Money is in short supply everywhere and belt-tightening is the order of the day.

    You can do no more than think carefully about your options and proceed along the path that seems the most promising in the long term.

    Best of luck.

  9. I feel for you and hope the economy will turn around for the better. Finding the right niche at the right time is difficult

  10. I've thought of all of the glass work I've done, the planning, designs, installations.They disappear with the next job; and the next and the next, until they mean nothing. The bad thing is, you never get enough money to say,there; now I'm done, or even now I have some retirement money. Self employed means struggling the entire time and ending up with pretty pictures, but no savings. I might as well give it away.

  11. It sounds like you have several thought-out options you are leaving open for possibility. How do your classes go? Do you get a good turnout? It seems like they would do well, people love learning about the arts. I know that here, the local colleges and adult-ed programs are always filled with students wanting to create.

  12. You have so much talent and versatility in your favour. I hope you're back on top before too long.

  13. Tough decision! It's easy enough for me to say go for the $ - but then I don't have to do the work do I?

  14. Well, you've been busy, that's for sure. It's so difficult in this economy to know which way to step, but you seem to have such good intuition, Ellen. Follow your gut instincts, keep doing what you love. I may be feeling too optimistic right now, but I see hope for our economy--we've been shut down to long and there's pent up demand for many things. Especially the very special things. :)

  15. Boy, do I know what you mean. The power company not only got an across the board rate increase, but are now tacking on more and more extras. When you get 7 seperate bills it adds up to a whole lot of money, with our overall bill increasing nearly 40%. Can't raise my rates and stay competitive. Now, we could start charging a flat rate with electricity based on what you actually use. But, to do that we would need to meter every site. We have 73 sites and the meter alone is over $100 (a used, rebuilt one). That does not include the wire and labor. So, you can see that I can't very well spend money I don't have in an attempt to recoup what I am losing........ I am going to bed now.

  16. This is a tough time!! I sure hear you!!
    At the end of our financial rope and now hanging in there. Day by day!
    Been here before and it will eventually work our way out.
    I have a couple of opportunities in the fingers crossed.
    Things just have to get better for both of us.

  17. It's so difficult to stay positive when you're worried about money, but it sounds like you are taking all the right steps. An Etsy shop sounds like a good idea because there is essentially no overhead but they do take a bit of a cut don't they. What you create is so absolutely beautiful that I hope things change for you soon Ellen.

  18. The positivism swirls out of your words. You read happy and hopeful; maybe a reflection of the days to come...

  19. What a great post! You are a productive person.

    I too am thinking about how to diversify my professional life. Would love to have someone to talk it through with. Bad grammar, sorry

    You'll figure it out, of course. Onwards and upwards.

  20. I very much enjoyed learning about your work. I should think that, for me, such a business would be stressful due to the necessity of pleasing other people. Such is often the artist's challenge, it seems. The difference between doing something for love only and doing it to please other people for money (and hopefully loving the work as well) is a task that I was only willing to undertake for a year or two with my writing. Now, I don't think I'll ever forgive myself if I don't give it another try.


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