Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Business Dream

Sometimes, it’s just great to be in business! I step back for a moment, the floor is swept clean, a cool breeze runs through the studio, the finishing touches have been made on a big project which is ready to deliver and the bills have been paid for the month!

It’s a rare occasion, but there really are times when all the hectic hustle and bustle of commerce and deadlines fade away and you’re able to find the calm, like a mountain stream, carrying all your cares away. And it’s good! Good to be in control of your destiny! Good to be earning your way, doing what you set out to do, building a team of folks you can depend on.

Back when I was truck driving as a way to pay the bills, I often had occasion to overhear different business people complaining about the stress of running a business and I just plain didn’t believe a word they said! I would listen to women with big fat diamonds on both hands complaining about how hard it was to make ends meet and I just couldn’t take them seriously. Men who had gotten so fat that there was no way they could really put in a hard day of labor would talk about how hard they worked and it was all I could do to keep from laughing.

So I got the itch to go into business for myself and let it take me into the great adventure! The idea of all that freedom to do what I wanted, was like a drug, a siren song calling to me to come and enjoy the fruits of the goodness of the earth. It was like walking off a cliff, starting into business. You think you know what you’re getting into, but nothing prepares you for ALL that. You’re in charge, it’s great! Then you realize that you’re in charge of everything!

It’s probably best to start your own business when you’re young, when you have unlimited reserves of energy and no doubts that you’ll succeed. Old duffers know too much, have seen too many ways to lose the game. I was in business when I was young and then somehow got the crazy notion that I should go to college and become a professional. Then, for several years, I enjoyed telling my boss that I didn’t want to go into business for myself each week when he was sweating finding enough to pay the payroll. “Did I ever tell you that I don’t want to be in business for myself,” I told him at least once a week for years. I was rather smug about it.

Then something happened. I just knew I had to do it. I had to go into business for myself, take back the control I’d given to others and see where it took me. I’d been in business full time years ago. I knew something about the stained glass business and had been building windows as a part time business for years. But somehow, the urge was strong to get back into the business full time. What was wrong with me? I was older, I knew better, but I did it anyhow! I went into business again!

Back in the eighties, I had never really figured out how to make it in the stained glass business, I had simply discovered a way to make a good living as I created several video rental stores. It was fun, it was exciting, it was the best time! And I would find myself explaining to employees that it was really difficult to make ends meet. And they would look at me with doubt in their eyes, not believing a word I said.

So, here we are. Jeanne and I are working together full time in our business and we’re not getting rich. We just kind of keep our heads above water. But the quality of our lives is so good. You can deal with a lot of tough times when they are offset by the chance to meet really great people and get to design works of art that we would have never dreamed of in years past. And the more we do, the more open we become to bigger and better designs, more and more substantial projects.

And sometimes the floor gets swept and the weather turns cool and nothing could be sweeter than stepping into the studio and hearing the crisp scratch of the glass cutter as I score yet another piece of glass for an elegant piece of art.

August-Reinforcing A Large Panel

We recommend that windows which exceed 3' by 4' in size be reinforced to prevent breakage. If a window is 3' by 3', it might not need to be reinforced, that's usually a judgment call based on where it is to be installed.

In the old days, when a panel was large and needed to be reinforced, artists actually installed big pieces of rebar, no kidding rebar, in window frames and wired the stained glass to the rebar. This was an effective method of reinforcement, but it was far from attractive.

Read the whole article with pictures by clicking the title above.