It's now officially referred to as the "Fall 2019 Sh*t Show"

Posted by Rebeccah Byer on

What a wild fall. I think that was my title last time I wrote a blog. So grateful, just to be here and exist. Same feeling today really...except it's also not.....I wrote this blog less than a week ago, when the furnace was working, I just hadn't posted it yet.

Today the furnace is not working. I can't even seem to write a blog post that is accurate for longer than a couple days.

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This is what I wrote last week:

The furnace is back online, mostly. Still tinkering with some wires, had to order a couple new thermocouples, that took 3 weeks. There are some melty bits that should be replaced. The famous joke about a glass furnace is that 'the best thing to do with them is not turn them on.' Freaking hilarious....

It's been a ride this fall, yes it has. But now today, I am on top of my stuff for a minute. I have my grading caught up and done for Wake, ready to revise my materials for next semester, and take some time off of that too.

We went to a recycling summit this month in Wilson, learned a lot and feel really motivated to focus on our sustainability education efforts through glassblowing. It's such an important element to learning about climate change, recycling, and how we can all make a significant positive impact on our kids future planet. 

I'm off to visit my parents this week, going to a Bucks vs Lakers game in the freezing cold, remind me of my roots up north, and so excited for only my second ever NBA experience, the first being too long ago to remember.

Sarah and I feel pretty OK with the shop, the schedule, production, classes, and where we are at in general. I can envision whatever changes happen with some relative ease. We have been through so much, I know we can handle it and maybe anything!

Other things are getting resolved this year that make me feel like maybe next year, we will have some pretty clear vision, fitting for 2020. We aren't necessarily going to experience any less hardships, we will just be better prepared for them. I won't expect anything to go smoothly ever again. I don't think that's fair to my students, the apprentices, or the studio, for me to pretend like I have a smooth ship now. There are too many factors, and the ocean is a good metaphor for it. There is calm, there are storms, but at the end of the day, you can survive a whole lot. If you aren't literally eaten by sharks, you just have to keep swimming. 

We finally have the right video camera on the furnace, so I can watch it from home and avoid late night drives to check on it. It seems like a simple fix, but to be honest, it took a few camera purchases and returns to get the right product. That takes time when you are a small business with limited resources. Time adds up and feels like it flies away before you even know it. While you add to your list, hoping to get some things off of it, more stacks on and you wonder where the time goes. People wonder why we don't do certain things? Time, money, priorities, who knows....we are here, we are doing what we do, and we are doing it with as much intention, love, respect, and growth as we possibly can. 

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Another good joke about glass is "how many glassblowers does it take to change a lightbulb?"

      -change it into what?

bu du bump. It's also hilarious, because it is so true. We are always pushing things, seeing what we can do, change what into what. Glass is magic. It's alchemy. It's all the things that make the world cool and fun and interesting and fascinating. The rest of the world right now sucks so bad that I can't focus on it anymore. I have to pay attention to ALL of the 'wicked problems' of the world. It's my job. But I also get to learn about and focus on all the solutions too. So while the rest of the world is focused on the orange chump show and I try not to get dragged down by it all, I will focus here. On keeping hot glass flowing, and seeing what happens. 

Did you know that there is a type of glass that can be injected into bones for regenerative growth? If that can happen in a lab somewhere, I am curious what else we can achieve with some intentional experimentation and play? Labs are simply spaces for science experimentation, with chemicals, bunsen burners, and beakers. The glass studio is more than simply making art and functional vessels - it is collaboration, exploration, and innovation at it's most intense. The magic of the heat is enough to make us all take a step back and wonder, what else? What else can I do, can we make, can we create?!?

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So that was where I left my blog post when the furnace died again. I got sidetracked from this, and now, while it's all mostly still relevant, it's also not. I am refunding workshops, cancelling people who were so excited to experience hot glass for the first time, and I have no idea when things will be working again. It's our busiest time of the year, and we aren't working. It's scary, stressful, and who knows what will be the final outcome? That is a great summation of my life for the past few years, and maybe social entrepreneurship as a whole.....but there is still a lot of accuracy in my post above - we will do this as best we can, with as much intention, love, respect, and growth as possible. 


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  • The furnace WAS working on December 21 when I brought my family of five in for a Beginner Glasblowing Workshop. My daughters and I had watched many times, and I had assisted with a production night, but this was our first “full blown” glass experience….and it was AMAZING. Thank you so much for doing what you do, and for doing it with intention, love, and respect.

    Michelle Portman Walter on

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