Monday, December 29, 2008

My Goals for 2009

Here are my goals for the upcoming new year. I have my top three goals in my iGoogle page under a Google gadget from pictured here. This lets me see them every day, one of the important aspects of goal setting. The added benefit for me in using this gadget is that I respect and admire Lance Armstrong for what he achieved in overcoming cancer and winning 7 Tour de France. His accomplishments inspire me to work hard to achieve my goals. It makes me very determined and focused.

Right now I have two other goals, in order of priority:

  • #4 Build a body of work to update my current portfolio by 3/31/09
  • #5 Build my Etsy store presence by adding at least one new item to my store front every day or two. This is an ongoing goal.
The Google gadget doesn't allow for a specific time frame within which you want to achieve your goal, but I know my top three are more of ongoing goals that I will focus on for 2009.

Another thing that I do when I set my goals is to keep a close eye on my approach for achieving the goals and recognize that it's ok to revise them if I miss a deadline or find another approach to achieve them.

One other thing I would like to add is that I developed the life habit of setting goals thanks to one of my early mentors in my insurance days. This mentor was my boss, Fred Wanner, and I'm happy to say he is my friend and we continue to stay in touch today.

Here's wishing all of you achieve success through the goals that you have set for yourselves! Let's all go for it in 2009!!! And yes, Live Strong too!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I'm so excited. Today I was able to complete my first attempt at Vitrigraph, which is the process where you can create your own stringers of glass. I learned about this in the Patty Gray class that I took this November. Today was the first time I was actually able to try it out for myself. While it may appear to be a huge pain, it's quite fun for someone like myself who loves to work with glass. I have several photos (some thanks to my husband) that will walk through the process. But why not start with the end result first....

This first picture is just a few of the small Curly Qs I created during the process. I'll incorporate them into my new fused glass works as they do create wonderful imagery in the glass. I started with black as it's one of the easiest to work with for this process and they will add nice contrasts to other pieces. My next will be greens, later this week, and I plan to use them for plant stems.

So here's the set up. This is my smaller kiln, the Paragon Caldera. The top and bottom separate from the main unit and it's ideal for small projects like Vitrigraph. It's setting on top of some fiber board on top of a small scaffold out in the garage. And it has been VERY cold out there, so I have a little ceramic heater (to the right of the kiln) to help warm up the area around the kiln until it is ready to fire. The kiln is setting on a 1" thick piece of fiber board (to act as the bottom of the kiln). The fiber board has a 1" circle in the center where a clay pot, filled with glass, sits over it. Once the glass reaches temperature, it will flow through the holes and onto the fiber paper sitting on the floor. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last night I loaded a 4" clay pot, yep a clay pot, with a combination of black and clear glass...predominantly black glass. I added the clear to give the black some depth...can't really tell you if it helped or not, but I do like the results. So here is a picture of this pot full of glass, sitting in the kiln ready for firing.

Now I put the lid on the kiln and fire it up. It took a little over 4 hours for it to reach temperature, a blazing 1690 degrees! Once the glass starts to flow, then I'm ready to start shaping it free form.

This next picture shows the glass has just started to exit the kiln base. I have a large black arrow pointing to the first stringer with a large black blob of glass at the bottom of it. You can see I'm dressed for warmth, plus I'm wearing leather gloves for protection from the hot glass and I have a set of stainless steel tongs to manipulate the glass. I'm wearing my glasses and I also have safety glasses. In class we were ok with wearing our regular glasses; just so our eyes are protected.

Now I'm grabbing hold of the glass string and pulling, twisting, and contorting it as much as I can. I actually have a pretty good run of curly qs in this shot.

Here's a close up of how I'm working with the glass string.

On the floor, directly underneath the kiln I have a fiber blanket in place to 'catch' the glass droppings. They're still pretty warm when they hit that blanket, but they do cool quickly.

I can't wait to start on the green ones. I'll probably do that Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Hope you had fun seeing the pictures of the process. I'm looking forward to incorporating these into my new work for the shows coming up this spring.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Peace Offering - Work in Progress, Cutting and Fitting Complete

Here is the latest photo of my work on "Peace Offering" a stained glass window commission I received from Milo Stephens for her original painting of this lovely lady.

The cutting and fitting are complete. I will be cleaning each piece as I begin the copper foil process in preparation for soldering.

I am so pleased with how this piece is progressing. The glass is a wonderful representation of the colors Milo used in her original painting (I think). There are some variations, but in the end I think this will be a very nice representation of Milo's painting.

The next post I will do on Peace Offering's progress will be when the copper foil is complete. That will really show the lines and give a much better idea of how this will look once it is soldered.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I'm waiting for the holiday celebrations to begin. Family will be arriving in another hour or so and I thought it would we fun to share this with all of you.

Several days ago we were watching Fox and Friends and a viewer had sent them a link to JibJab where they had 'elfed' the hosts in a Christmas video of sorts. JibJab does those quirky little videos with people's heads on bodies...dancing/singing/etc.

I checked it out, uploaded pictures of Dan, me, and our three bassets. We think it's hysterical and some friends have said it's out of character for me. However, I wanted to share some holiday fun and I hope you enjoy watching it. Tis the season for making merry, right?

It takes a little bit for it to load in your browser, but starts automatically once it's ready. It will only be online til 1/15/09. I hope you get a chuckle out of this.

Best wishes for the holiday season and a prosperous 2009!

Thanks to all of you who have read my blog this year and expressed your thoughts, support, and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good News

Isn't amazing how these things happen?

Tonight I got a phone call from the reporter, David Lowe, who interviewed me this year for a local paper, The Tri-Lakes Tribune. He's doing a follow up article on all those folks he interviewed to see how their businesses are doing. Cool.

We talked about my recent sales and commissions, the impact the economy has had on sales (some speculation there), along with shows I plan on doing next year. The article will be out in next week's edition. How neat to be part of a follow up story. Nice to have the publicity too.

Thanks too for all of the words of encouragement and support on my last post, along with the compliments on my work. I am humbled and flattered by your words. All of you are wonderful friends.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Are you an Artrepreneur?

I'll preface this with the acknowledgment that I have been very pensive for the last week. After yesterday, I think I understand why and wanted to share my thoughts. I know I'm being guided along the path I'm on.

Currently, I'm reading "Success Now! for Artists" by Renee Phillips. She provides great guidance and insight for managing the business of art. Not something I think most of us artists want to deal with, but we really must if we ever want success...I think.

Even though I've worked with glass for over 20 years, I didn't start our official studio until almost 2 years ago. And the business has come a long way in that short period of time and I feel we've been very fortunate.

My husband and I realize that getting a business started takes time and there are initial start up costs. As you can imagine, we have been operating in the red since the studio started. The good news is that for the most part I have all the equipment I need (yes, there's always that dream item or two) and I have a sound glass inventory. So we are at a point where I do not believe I need much except to replace supplies as they grow low AND I have sales to justify their purchase.

Last Saturday when we were enjoying dinner after the symphony, I told Dan that my goal for 2009 was to treat Krucoff Studios in a more business like manner. Since both of us have day jobs, my 'real job' does help to support my art and the business. If our small business has the money for me to purchase something, I will. And this goes hand and hand with Renee's recommendations for the business side of being an artist. One thing that is on my wish list is a LARGE kiln (the Paragon Pearl 44....she's a beauty), but I will not buy it until the business can justify that expense.

What's ironic, I guess, is yesterday the company that my husband and I work for (you know, the real day jobs...and yes we both work for the same company) announced that effective January 1, there would be an across the board 5% pay cut. Not exactly a Christmas bonus, but we still have jobs and they are trying to insure that those of us who are employed, continue to be. We appreciate that, especially in these economic times. So to my way of thinking, things happen for a reason, and how appropriate is it that prior to yesterday's news about our steady income, I had already made the decision that I need to treat my art as a business too? This is only one of the reasons I feel like I'm being guided; listen to your inner voice, it is wise and provides great insight.

2009 will be an interesting year, as they all are. Challenges are good. Never give up your dreams and be flexible to change. I have written down my goals for Krucoff Studios for 2009 and I continue to look for ways to grow our business. I do have faith and know that things happen for a reason. Perhaps the 5% pay cut is just the "gentle" nudge needed for me to become even more determined to achieve the goals I have for our business.

Be thankful for your gifts, your talent, and the blessings you receive every day. And yes, I am becoming an Artrepreneur.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Studio reorganization

Yesterday I had one of those 'ah ha' moments in the morning as I was relaxing with one of the bassets on my lap, enjoying my morning coffee. My mind works this way, an idea will pop into my head and it can be the simplest of revelations, but the value of it is just great.

When we built our house almost 4 years ago, I designed my studio area with stained glass work in mind. At that time I had not entered the world of warm glass, wire wrapping, etc. I felt I had more than enough space for surface areas and storage. Moving forward to the present, I've been having some struggles with keeping things separate (fusible glass from stained glass, wire, tools, pretty much you name it) and having enough work surfaces so I can multi-task. Most of the time I'm working on a stained glass piece in one area, fused stuff and or wire wrapping.

Now to my idea. I purchased a great work table manufactured by Koala as a cutting table over 3 years ago (here's a picture of it). I liked the options for expanding or shrinking the work surface of this table, plus it is on casters which makes moving it a breeze.

Until yesterday I was only using 3/4 of the work surface because of how I had positioned it in the studio. When the light dawned for me yesterday, I realized that I could use the full work surface by changing the position in the room and it would actually give me more room (floor space) in the studio too! Wow. It always scares me when it takes a while to see a better approach. I guess the good news is I figured out a better approach.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Denver

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I went to a concert, Colorado Christmas, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It was a wonderful experience of sights and sounds. I cannot tell you what my favorite part was because the entire experience was such fun. I believe the evening show was broadcast on one of the local Denver channels.

It was beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We made a promise to make a point of going to the symphony on a more regular basis. It's so important to support the arts in all forms and that is one of our commitments for 2009.

One thing that hit home for me was when the conductor, Richard Kaufman, read a letter written by Tchaikovsky to his nephew I think. He wrote this letter after he had just spent a fortnight (his words) composing the Nutcracker Suite, which he had thought would only take him 5 days to compose! Can you imagine thinking he had planned to compose all that glorious music in just 5 days and was upset with himself that it took two weeks???? Coupled with his disappointment in the end result, Tchaikovsky was so pained by the compositions of Nutcracker, he felt they were not good at all, that he felt if he could do not better he would cease composing music! OMG! Even the greats are plagued with the demons of self-doubt.

I know any of us that study art find those, whose work we admire, are dissatisfied with what they've produced.....Ansel Adams, Georgia O'Keefe, Tchaikovsky...and the list goes on.

So that left both my husband and I with the thought that no matter what you think of your work, continue to work at making it better and don't ever stop!

Feeling rather festive on this snowy morning in Colorado....peace and happy holidays folks! Oh yes, and if you have a chance to go to the symphony, take advantage of that opportunity and enjoy. It's too good to miss.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Ornaments

This week I delivered two different sets of special ordered Christmas ornaments.

The first was a set of 5 Christmas trees. I really enjoyed how these turned out as I was able to layer about 5 gradient sizes of glass to produce the end result. One of the techniques I learned in my Patty Gray class last month.

The second was a dozen Texas stars. They varied in outcome which made each one very unique. During my 'experiments' I ran out of the medium sized pre-cut Wasser stars and had to improvise with a medium red star with a smaller white star on top of it. Some are going to folks in Texas as gifts, others are remaining here in Colorado with some transplanted Texans.

All I can say is I couldn't have produced the stars with out the aid of my trusty Taurus III Ring Saw.

I really enjoy the looks on people's faces, when I have the opportunity to witness their expressions the first time they see something they've ordered from me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Pendants

A Solitary Rose ~ Amulet

I've been experimenting and these are part of my new series, Talismans and Amulets. I think they are kind of fun because I see different shapes in the glass. Over active imagination I guess! I would always look for shapes in clouds (actually I still do that), so why not glass! Some of these remind me of hieroglyphs.

They're available at my Etsy store if anyone has any interest for Christmas gifts.

The Steady Talisman.

Happiness Talisman.

Amulet - Am I part of the Galaxy?

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Peace Offering" ~~ Progress

Here's a picture of the progress I've made on Milo's "Peace Offering" window. I have the pieces for the dove and her face cut out too, but I took this picture yesterday afternoon when the sunlight was out and the reds and greens were showing up so vibrantly and that was before I had worked on the dove and her face.

Now, I'm working on fitting things together, which is a fairly time consuming process. I know some glass artists that can cut things out and they just fit well right away. I generally need to grind each piece and get them to fit as I work on building the window. When I first learned stained glass, my teacher said that getting all the pieces to fit was where she spent most of her time....and that is what I work on the longest too.

It's so nice to work on something with reds and greens this time of year....very Christmas. I'm glad I changed out some of the glass so the window more closely resembles the painting.

Here's one of the things I love doing with stained glass...all the reds are from the same sheet of glass. The same is true of the green. It's intriguing and I love the challenge of creating the 'shadings' with the same sheet of glass.

As a footnote, we're under a winter storm advisory. It's snowing and the wind is gusting pretty good right now. I'm thankful to be home, safe and sound. We may be house bound tomorrow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My First Sale on Etsy!

The orange/rust pendant is titled "Blaze".

The other is titled Ocean Sunset, because I can envision the sun setting with the trace of yellow in the 'sky line' with the ocean in the foreground.

A friend from Art Scuttlebutt, Gerry, was my very first customer on Etsy. His wife, Sue, loves my jewelry so he purchased some of her Christmas gifts from me. I'm so touched. He said she wouldn't tell him which of the pendants she wanted so he selected these two for her. I gift wrapped them and shipped them yesterday.

What fun!

P. S. I have photos to download and post on my work in progress on Milo's Peace Offering. That stained glass window has really started to come together. I re-did a couple of pieces to try to capture more of the feel of her painting. I'll work on getting the update posted early this week.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Progress Reports

I'm happy to report that I had a successful outcome of the firing of the batch of 8 Texas Star Christmas ornaments. I'm posting a picture of them and
the next picture of the same ornaments with the pre-cut stars for the completion of the Texas flag look. It's so fortunate for me that Wasser glass pre-cuts shapes that most of us would find beyond difficult to do. These little stars come from Wasser and I love using their glass. I plan on doing a tack fuse to hold these smaller stars in place on the ornaments.

Currently I'm firing the last batch of Texas Star ornaments and Christmas Tree ornaments. This batch of tree ornaments are a little wider on the bottom, at the customer's request. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't show the layer technique I'm using all that well, but the outcome from my first effort was really cool....even if I do say so myself. It was a technique that I learned in the Patty Gray class I took at D & L last month.

For the trees, I stacked 5 different types of glass and as the glass fuses they melt into each other creating a wonderful effect (I think).

The Texas Stars have been challenging. Tomorrow I plan on devoting the greater part of the day to working on the Peace Offering stained glass window. I'm very anxious to see the light come through this one, but then I guess I always am. This window seems special and I'll continue to post my work in progress on it.

Hey really wasn't my intent to send snow your way! Boy, it isn't officially winter yet and we're experiencing the harshness of it!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...........

I'm posting two photos of the results from the Texas Star Christmas ornaments, and the little Christmas Tree ornament. The stars didn't turn out. They didn't fuse as I had hoped. I tried a new approach to cutting out the shapes and it just didn't work.

This is my new batch of stars that I'm firing today. I think they should turn out MUCH better and I only have 4 more stars to do if this batch of 8 works as I expect/hope.

The person who requested the Christmas Tree ornament liked it so well that he ordered 4 more. I'll take some additional photos of the next batch as they are pretty cute.

Right now the moral to this story is, if at first you don't succeed (the bad result from the Texas Stars), then try .... try again.

As I was working on these it did seem like I was making glass Christmas cookies. At least these don't have any calories!!!! :)