Monday, September 08, 2008

Getting Over the Hump

I took last week off so I could focus on getting some actual product made that I could actually sell. Last year I had a booth at the Tacoma Dome Holiday Blahda-Blah-Whatever Show for a week and had a grand old time sculpting for nearly 12 hours a day. This year the guy who got me in for free last time wasn’t going, so I decided to take the time off anyway. I’m at a point where I have about 10 sculptures around the 75% to 95% done mark. And by done, I mean ready to mold and cast. I figured with a solid week of work I could get them all done and be one step closer to having my side business up to phase two. So far phase one – learning to cast replicas of my sculptures – has gone on for several years now, and I’m getting more and more impatient with the lack of traction.

I’m sitting on three really cool ideas for things that could potentially catch the eye of a big company that would pay me millions for, but I would need a year or two to develop each one at this pace.

So there I was, on Tuesday morning, revving to go when I realized that I was getting a cold or something. I only get sick once or twice a year, so I’m pretty annoyed, but whatever, the thrill of time to myself getting productive drove me on. I think I got most of my sculptures to the 95% mark when, on Thursday, Heather was expressing her concern… well, more like barely contained panic, regarding our financial state. Now that we are spending several hundred more bucks a month on gas, food, and such, we are eating into our savings every month. We raised the rent that my brother pays us to live here, but that still isn’t enough for us to break even.

And the biggest problem of all is that we bought our condo with no way to pay the mortgage without John’s rent. Which means if he finds someplace new we are royally screwed. Well, this sunny little aside concerning our financial state is all tied into the sculpting story by this: We justified our move with the idea that I could eventually find regular teaching gigs that could compensate for John’s absence should it occur.

So here I am being a self-indulgent artist going for the long shot, (Ok, I admit the million dollar buy-out thing maybe isn’t that sure a bet.) rather than developing and actively pursuing the teaching thing, which has a lot better chance of getting us money in the here and now. Well, seeing the stress that my wife is under motivated me to drop everything and focus on the teaching. Which means two things. First, I now have an even bigger pile of almost done crap in my “workshop”. And second, I’m working hard to develop a much trimmed down curriculum and demonstration materials for classes. This is what I’ve been meaning to do for over a year now, so in a way it feels good to be finishing it. I got several sculpting videos and have been researching what will work best for me based on my previous teaching experiences.

One thing I think I just figured out is that the vast majority of people taking these one-night sculpting classes are just there for the fun of it, not to really learn a skill that they will ever use again. It’s entertainment. A fun night out and they get a little memento from it. That knowledge really helps me find a core, minimalist approach that I think will work much better than what I have been doing.

Anyway. Here I am. Still under the hump.

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