It's not every day you get the opportunity to have a bus-load of foreign tourists come by your humble studio!
Unless you're me - yes, that's right - I've become a tourist attraction! ;)
I was pretty nervous, despite being assured they were a "fun group with great heart keen to meet a good Kiwi". I outsourced toddler duties for the day so just my had resident studio baby with me - she's very cute and pretty happy being stuck in one place as long as there's food in her hand.
So, I have this quirk. This weird organisational and efficiency factor to my personality.
It's possibly left over from my days in management, but more probably genetic, and I'm not very good at "winging it". So I spent the morning arranging stock, typing a price list, numbering and pricing so I could tick off the sales as they happened. Note my total commitment to making sales there? Perhaps I should be renamed Pollyanna Matthew Glass?
Oh, did I mention that while half of my studio is totally committed to glass, the other half masquerades as a car storage/garden equipment/multiple ladder containment system? (don't ask, that doesn't even cover the ladder that is so large it can't physically fit in the stud...ahem...garage).
And then the bus. I heard it before I saw it. It was big. And loud. And full of American tourists enjoying New Zealand. And my humble studio.
And enjoy it they did. They listened. They were introduced to Margo. They asked questions. They bought glass.
I had them.
I had them in the palm of my hand.
The moment I knew I had them was with my opening gambit: "you know you've made it as a decent Kiwi artist when your husband parks his Lexus in your studio every night...."
Yup. I said that.
A few chuckles and a "vrroomm vrroom" with a wink.
Told you I had them ;)
One of my favourite things about my job (aside from the obvious - eating chocolate while I work, a sneaky studio wine if I have to work in the evening, and watching DVDs while working) is when someone wants a bespoke piece made to their heart's desire.
Sometimes the heart's desire is a little weird - "what happens if you put a V can in glass?" Sometimes it's out of my comfort zone, (yes, I have been asked to fuse a loved ones ashes. No, I didn't - I just pointed them in the direction of people who did). And sometimes I get requests that really make me think - cool! But how am I going to do that?!
The latest request was, thankfully, the last of the three - something "Fiji inspired" to immortalise a 21st birthday trip. With that brief, I went to bed thinking. I didn't sleep all night with all the thinking. By the morning the idea I had "slept on" the night before had morphed into a fully fledged Fijian beach scene disguised as a glass platter.
I launched into this thinking nothing could go wrong - feel the fear and do it anyway! Of course, nothing is ever that straight-forward, so with the very first firing I was a tad worried when my sand didn't look like at all like I imagined Fijian sand to look like. If the brief had been "Raglan inspired"... it would have been spot on.
But the things sent to try us also have a funny way of working out - as a result, four firings later I had the world's most spectacular glass sand, complete with beach pebbles. Add a funky pair of glass jandals, a silhouette of a tropical island adorned with palm trees, and you have Fiji on a plate. Literally.
Well, things are hotting up in the Jill Matthew Glass camp! (and I don't just mean the flames under my fingers as I type this very first blog post). For the past five years, I've ticked along with my two smaller kilns, but a few months ago things were kicked up a notch with the crazy idea to have a whopper of a glass kiln made for me! Margo was fresh off the boat last week and is now keen to get Toasty McRoasty with me. (No, I'm not changing her name to Kilny McKilnface...)
Margo's considerable girth has had the slightly unforeseen effect of moving my entire studio out of the house... and into the garage. Previously I'd been spread over a two floor studio space, so i'm finding it very convenient having the entire studio on one level - even if it does still need to squeeze the car in!
With Margo comes a whole lot of new opportunity for both size of glass pieces, and speeding up production time by fitting more in per firing. She's a whopping eight times the size of my smaller kiln so the scope is amazing! She's being wired in this week - then I'll really be hot under the collar! (she is also the exact right height for a bar leaner - beersies anyone?)