Friday, November 21, 2008

snowing in corning

It's been snowing all week in Corning and the locals say that winter hasn't begun.

It's a brand new life, and I'm completely in love with it. I'm starting to make friends to blow glass with. Today, I spent all day in the shop renting time, and made a mildly successful mezzastampo. I'm learning, slowly, slowly. I'm studying at the Rakow Library, looking for furnace design and burner systems, combustion, electricity. Even the librarians blow glass and are down to rent time.

I keep meaning to blow ornaments to send to people for the holidays. There are a few people that I need to thank with glass for helping me get out here. But I get in the shop and I just want to try something I'm completely unqualified for, or beat the next problem. It's overwhelming how much there is to know.

I really loved Philadelphia, the city itself. I miss my neighborhood and trashpicking free stuff, and flea markets and farmers markets, the anarchist block, the coffeehouses, the neighbors with tattooed faces. Sometimes I miss Kline & Specter, and feeling like a professional something-or-other. I'm still a novice here. I feel like a blank slate. I'm reimagining how to blow glass. My whole life has been reimagined for me. I'm humbled and thankful.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

And now I have my own website up

Speaking of the benefits of having free time, I built a website for me this summer.

It's obviously already a little outdated, since about a week ago I was assuming impending homelessness and unemployment, and I'm still without stuff like a permanent address. But I'm working on it.

My heart in my throat

I'm still wrapping my head around it. I got the shop tech job, as soon as I pass the crim checks and drug tests. It happened so fast, and I've been working so much, it took a few days to sink in.

My life is good here. I loved Philadelphia, the city, but I was always short on time resources, on cash, on education and experience. And here, for whatever else happens, there's time, books, a wealth of experience to draw from, and stability. I never wanted to be a rock star, this is all I need.

I'm in the middle of a stretch of overtime, and I got pretty sick on top of it. There's no one left on the workshop staff to cover for sickness, so I'm working through it in the heat; my voice is stretched for every demo, and when I leave work, I can barely talk above a whisper. I think we're all tired, but doing alright. I'm too nervous and sick to be estatic, but the feeling is somewhere in that vicinty.

Holy shit.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Martin Janecky is my new hero

"I was thirteen years old when I started blowing glass . . . I was skinny little boy, now I am big strapping guy."

Rock and flow

"In his seminal work, 'Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience', Csíkszentmihályi outlines his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great freedom, enjoyment, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.[citation needed]

In an interview with Wired magazine, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." [2]

To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur.

The flow state also implies a kind of focused attention, and indeed, it has been noted that mindfulness meditation, yoga, and martial arts seem to improve a person's capacity for flow. Among other benefits, all of these activities train and improve attention.

In short; flow could be described as a state where attention, motivation, and the situation meet, resulting in a kind of productive harmony or feedback."


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Never enough time

Today, I got up and watched the demo for a little while in the Claire Kelly/Anthony Schafermeyer class. Ian explained the proper difference between a tazza and a low bowl, and I realized that I'd been misusing the word "tazza" for god knows how long. Lee talked reticello and powder pick-ups and bad coffee. I've been thinking a lot about how there's only a month left of this - it's going by so fast. Six months ago, I thought I hit my limit with this. I can't see around this corner now, but I'm guessing for what it's worth, it's not over yet. But time is pressing down a bit, so I left and hit the library so that maybe I can plow through the Combustion Handbook and some other thing I found, a glass-as-a-material engineering handbook before my time here is done, and I go back to some other thing.

I have an interview tomorrow with Harry for an open shop tech position. I kind of want to stay here - there's nothing waiting for me back in Philly. I'm so humbled by all the good things I see every day, and it feels pretty good not being divided between several lifestyles at once - where lawyers may not always see creative types as dedicated workers, and where the closest I can get to production work is being ask to spellcheck the pros because the glassworkers think I'm such a square. So wish me luck with Harry. I probably need it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The big bad future

I'm pretty good at planning things out, in general. But sometimes I wonder if my method could use a little madness.

Work is going OK, although I've been put on flameworking an insane amount of beads and almost no furnace glassblowing, which is a downer. I haven't blown a single thing since the goblets class. I miss it terribly. I've talked to the boss-lady and asked for more glassblowing time, but no one else has admitted to bead-making skills, although somehow everyone seems to know how to make a pipe. Go figure.

In any case, I'm making the best of it, and my flameworking hands have gotten fast enough that one of the fusing girls is calling me spider-fingers now. I'm renting some time with a co-worker in the flame shop and trying to scavenge some borosilicate tubing from the classes so that I can practice blowing glass on the torch. If I can't afford to constantly be blowing in the hot shop, it might be worth the initial tool investment to make a switch for part of my time. Hot shop time in Philly was, at it's absolute cheapest, $35 per hour. I'm pretty sure I can get a torch for a solid day for $40. As I remember it, blowing on the torch was one of the most frustrating things I ever did try. So I'm all over it.

I'm also working on getting visitors up in this joint from Philly to blow glass with me in the hot shop, which isn't seeming likely. On this subject, I think you Philly people are all insane. Who wouldn't want to rent a couple of solid days in the summer in Corning, NY? The weather's beautiful, and so is the shop.

I applied for a job back in Philly for the first time tonight, as a research associate. And also for a shop tech gig up here in Corning, which isn't likely to materialize for me. And a non-existent Simon Pearce glassblower gig in Vermont. (A girl has got to dream.)

I never believed that life is perfect, I always figured that we do things the best we can with what we have available. If life was ever perfect, what's the point of striving this hard? I don't think this ever ends either, I think I'll always work like this. There's always something to pursue, we are never fully-formed. It's just that when I imagine what life is going to be like come September, I have this insane hope that, for a little while at least, I can make a living by pursuing glass and design. But this thing has worked out for people who've worked every bit as hard as I have for it, people who were working in studios, living and breathing it, and not offices, doing glass after hours. And I've never held my breath for this, since there's rent to pay, and without the cash to pay for it, I won't be making glass at all. And the pros think I'm happy being a hobbyist when I was really waiting by the phone. But I was never happy like that.