“The report of my death was an exaggeration”

One of the best ways to gain a following is to publish regularly, so that those who like your writing will find something new every time they visit.  The converse is also true: neglecting your blog for months is a sure fire way to alienate your readers, because it suggests that you’ve given up, you no longer care, and if you don’t, why should they?  I’ve discovered several fascinating blogs and websites over the years, only to get frustrated when I realize that the author is no longer sharing new content.  I understand how it happens;  life gets in the way and the enthusiasm dissipates, but it’s still disappointing when you find writing that you enjoy.

I don’t want to disappoint my readers, so I’ve felt guilty for not posting regularly, but it really hit me when I realized that my last post had been in November!  And then my mom mentioned that a friend of hers who appreciates my jewelry had jokingly asked if I’d died, because I hadn’t posted anything new to my Etsy store.  It’s time to shape up and start shipping, so I’m going to start with a review and an editorial shift.

boothThere’s a lot of ground to cover.

I had a good holiday season, participating in 4 shows that were very satisfying.  I got a lot of compliments on my work, which is the best part of selling at shows, and I was very happy with my sales.  It was interesting to learn the pros and cons of various events (some are easy to participate in, others take a lot more work), and I have a better idea of what I’m looking for when considering whether to attend a show.

I’ve also continued to sell my work through local venues, currently Oglethorpe Fresh (in nearby Lexington), and the garden shop at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.  I’d like to add a few more retailers this year, but it’s hard for me to work up the confidence to promote my own work.

leaf beadsI’ve been reading a lot.

Looking back through my daily notes, (I have continued to write 3 pages almost every day since February 2015, easier when it’s not for public consumption) I got very interested in politics with the Paris attack in November and the ramp up to the 2016 presidential election.  I’m going to leave politics out of this blog (I share my views freely on Facebook), but I realize now that I’ve spent time consuming news and opinion that I could have spent creating and blogging.  I’m certainly better informed now than I used to be, so I guess that’s a positive.

I got hacked over the holidays!

My site is hosted with iPage, and during an automated scan of the server they found files in my WordPress install that weren’t part of the distribution, probably dropped there by a rootkit.  The files (a collection of php scripts) hadn’t been used (as far as I could tell), so my site hadn’t been blacklisted or flagged by abuse monitoring, but iPage expected me to clean it up.  It was annoying, but once I got my bearings it only took about a day.  The attack (probably an automated tool) had succeeded because I’d been lax about updating my WordPress install (and themes and plugins that I wasn’t even using), so now I’m a lot more diligent about applying updates and storing frequent backups.

I taught a class!

I was approached by a local ceramicist who teaches out of her home studio, asking if I would be interested in teaching her students how to make fused dichroic glass jewelry, and after a moment’s hesitation I said yes.  I bought extra tools (you can’t have 8 people cutting glass with one pair of running pliers), and plenty of glass for them to choose from, so I spent quite a bit of money, but it was fun, the income was welcome, and they made some gorgeous pieces, like those featured above.

driesI’ve spent a lot of time working with Trout Unlimited.

I’m president of our chapter, Oconee River and it’s been very rewarding.  We taught a fly fishing merit badge class to scouts, participated in a public fly tying demo as an outreach event, helped students release trout fingerlings as part of our Trout In the Classroom program, and had a very successful fund-raising banquet in April.  It takes a lot of time (at least when you’re serving as president), but I get more out of it than I put into it.

I’ve been doing other things besides glass.

By now you’ve noticed that this post is not just about my glass work.  That’s the editorial shift that I mentioned at the outset: I’ve decided to loosen things up a bit, covering not just my studio work, but anything that’s consuming a large amount of my time.  The goal is to write more often, and if I limit myself to writing only about my glass work, then any time I don’t get in the studio for an extended period I have an excuse for not writing.  This is not going to be a “dear diary” daily journal, I’ll never subject you to a description of  what I had for breakfast, and I’m still going to focus on my glass work, but I hope by loosening up I can share not just my work, but what my life is like.  Maybe it will inspire others who want to pursue an artistic “encore career”.  I’ll share more of my latest studio work in the next post.

The title of this blog was prompted of course by Mom’s friend.  According to this source the quote is the correct wording of an often misquoted statement by Mark Twain when asked about the state of his health.  My favorite variation on the theme is John Wayne’s line in Big Jake:

John Fain: Who are you?

Jake: Jacob McCandles.

John Fain: I thought you were dead.

Jake: Not hardly.