Yesterday, facing the last work to be done in the studio in who knows how long, I chatted with a friend about glass. He asked if he could come sometime t blow glass with his wife. I explained if he did, it would need to be in the next few days because I didn’t know what the weeks to come might bring. Classes at the university that have been regular as the sunrise went unfolded and a key financial resource was, for the time, lost. What was I going to do Without this buffer for keeping the studio running when there were no orders to fill, but glass that still needs to be made for still newer opportunities for support, sales, and continued creative output? This man and his family loved what they did. It was quite simply unlike anything they had ever experienced. And here it was, just ten minutes drive from their home In the New River Valley. Today as I delivered the pieces to him at his work, he excitedly asked me what my plans were for the next month. He explained that he had been talking to people he met about his glass experience just last night and he had MANY people all wondering what they could do to make their own glass? This man comes into contact with hundreds of people each and every morning shift as a Barista at one of our local coffee shops. Chatting idly, he had created a mini flame if interest simply because he had come and had such fun. It is people like this, just like you, who have held up their creations of glass and smiled while showing your friends what a great time you had…..and THIS has been the thing which does it. This is the planting of seeds, of spreading the word and watching as the fresh rain of spirit nurtures all of this so naturally.
I get to live in a world flush with enthusiasm, passion, wonder, and awe. THIS is what my clients bring to my studio, to my end of the world. For this and more, I Am so very thankful. Now I stand at a place where it feels as though the universe is opening the doors wide, perhaps uncomfortably at first, but it seems to be doing what it always does—asking what great things await ahead of me? So with this I reflect on what even greater things might await that will continue to press the studio forward into a place of greater sufficiency? I am considering a crowd funding campaign in order to put the studio into the right resource territory it needs in order to run effectively. While I have had a lot of people take workshops, these are all constrained by what people are able to pay, which is always much less than what can be produced by me as a production glassblower. Consider that to make your own sun catcher ornament it costs $30.00 a piece. Each takes half an hour to make with one on one instruction. Now consider that in that same time I can make those same pieces at a rate of one per seven minutes. This is the unrealized potential of the studio which is currently limited by not having the right resources to lift it into this next level of operation. Whether blowing or not, it costs $60.00 a day to keep the glass hot in the furnace, ready to blow. Turning a 2100 degree furnace off for the night is not an option in the glass world. So what is needed? I will be describing what has been done this and last year to move Stafford Artglass into this new arena and I will explain what remains, which will form the basis of a possible crowd funding project. For ten years the studio was self sufficient and I sold work to galleries, through art fairs and craft fairs as well as open studio events. This activity needs support and prior to a move to a new studio and a subsequent injury, nothing has ever been the same because the level of support necessary was never where it needed to be in order to do it right.
I was telling a friend who owns a business how it took nearly $30,000.00 a year before I made my first dollar of profit in glass. He turned to me and smiled, saying, he had to generate a million dollars, thereabouts, before he could Buy his first hamburger. Now that sure put things into perspective! And yet, the underlying reality is the cost of bringing all of our products to market. It’s not cheap, and yet, this is the reality of business. What I will be doing is looking at a number of funding options, including local foundation grants for specific aspects of developing the studio operation while also developing a crowd funding strategy. What you can do,quite easily, is to tell people, just that, to your friends, family, acquaintances, and perhaps even your clients. In networking, you never know where a resource will emerge. Like Doug, who unexpectedly spread the word to dozens of people all in one morning, you never know where a spark of interest might reside. Show them the efforts and work on this blog. Do you like what you see? Do you think this type of creativity is worth supporting? A thousand people giving less than ten dollars is enough to move mountains, and these people all come from spreading the word. So stay tuned, stay in tune and consider the possibilities, because so much has already been achieved and there is a little way yet to go. And thank you for reading this, for wearing your interest and passion on your sleeve….evidence inspires us all! It is through these simple acts that great things come into being! Today, I give Thanksgiving for all that my supporters have mustered and look forward to what tomorrow will bring!