On Sundays I reflect.
I didn’t drink alcohol this week.
It has been a while since I have been able to do this. There isn’t any one reason why, but it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that I’ve been burnt out.
If you want the full experience while reading this blog, play the song Satisfied - Edit by Catching Flies on repeat. I came across the song this week and added it to one of my playlists. This morning it is playing on repeat while I write this. “I ain’t ever been satisfied” echoes in a way that resonates with me as an artist and an entrepreneur. I might get back to that after some stream of consciousness thoughts I need to share before I lose them forever.
All Along The Watchtower 2/24/95 at The Roseland Ballroom in NYC - Dave Matthews Band featuring Trey Anastasio and John Popper. This is my favorite recording of all time. I had it on repeat for a while last night, before OLDGREED triggered me with a sneak peak of his first etched cup featuring Eddie from Iron Maiden and sent me into a metal - Maiden Frenzy. You can check out that recording after you read the blog and hopefully understand why it remains my favorite but for now we’re still cycling Satisfied. When you do get to the Watchtower jam, make sure you catch the sax doing more with one note under Trey and Popper and the rest of the band. Sometimes less is more.
KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. My middle school jazz teacher taught me that. Jerry I think was his name. He could play a bass line on a piano with his left hand while improvising melodies on a trumpet with his right hand. Keep It Simple Stupid. KISS.
I’m drinking my smoothie out of a plastic cup today for so many reasons. They still call me the Smoothie King. The cup is purple. The smoothie is pink.
The other day Matty B said “You can’t leave Aspen without seeing a Ferrari” as we passed a line of six in a row at a stop sign. Jason Gordon and I chuckled.
More recently I was in Leadville and I passed a guy driving a quad (ATV) pulling a large trailer on a major road. I thought to myself what a funny contrast this was to the Aspen comment. When I left Bard’s later that day, I saw the same guy going the other direction on his quad with the same trailer. The old daily double down. A true classic.
Last night I was blowing glass. I haven’t been blowing glass much lately, except for a heavy crush mode before my show last month. Most recently, we ran out of oxygen because our supplier can’t get to my studio through Glenwood Canyon which some of you know has been closed for weeks. Prior to the oxygen delay I was burnt out from all the rest, and simply didn’t have the energy to blow glass. I also didn’t have the energy to write this blog.
I ain’t ever been satisfied. I hold myself to excruciatingly high standards, as well as the people around me. It burns a lot of other people out. It definitely burns me out. When I was in high school I read an interview between Jann Wenner titled “A Signpost To New Space” for an English class or something. It’s an interview from Rolling Stone plus a “stoned Sunday rap”. I was in high school and I was extremely burnt out and I was reading about Jerry talking about being burnt out and I was a kid so I just didn’t really fully get it. High school is a pretty early age to be burnt out, but for creatives like myself it seems to occur in waves. “Inspiration, move me brightly”
Maybe it’s because Vinscent Van Grow is back after a devastating battle against the root knot nematodes that ultimately his seven year living soil succumbed to. Nasty fuckers those nematodes, from what he tells me. I tried growing produce this year for the first time, and failed miserably. Marta has been growing greens like lettuce and spinach successfully at the studio, until our AeroGarden went haywire a few weeks ago. My garden beds at home are an embarrassment. Failure is a part of it all. Some people think I’m ZenBen. I ain’t ever been satisfied.
Two notes. Failures, and the thoughts I had while torching last night.
Fear of failure has often held me back. After completing 3 successful resin castings, my team and I failed on the fourth. I have been too intimidated by the failure to try again or proceed with the project. I also have to figure out the solution before I can move forward. Last year I lined up a collaboration with one of my all time favorite artists to feature their work in glass cups. It would have set the ground for a product line that would allow me to collaborate with painters and other 2D artists to help merchandise their art into drinkware. My initial plan for this collaboration was a huge (and expensive) failure much like the blue resin casting. I don’t talk about these things often. They are some of the few ambitious and expensive projects I have in the works, and they might take years to come to fruition.
Instead of dwelling in my failures, I spend every day working on solutions. I recognize that I can’t solve every problem or complete every project in a day. I do what I can. My team supports me. Slowly we are chipping away at the ever growing pile and day by day we’re celebrating successes. Tomorrow, Wigged Out Art and OLDGREED will come to my studio with their first etched cups. This is a major step towards creating a canvas for non-glass artists to create on, one which is handmade and sustainable collaboration for a team of artists to create. It would be easy to buy $1 mass produced pint glasses and bake on or sandblast artists work and sell them for $20 but that is not what we are about. In the wise words of Michael Scott “I am going to make this way harder than it needs to be.” I ain’t ever been satisfied.
So back to glass blowing. As silly as it is, I am currently back ordered on chillums of all things. Typically this has been a product I have used to teach new people how to use the lathe. On another ironic note, for the last few years I have been teaching this product on an ENORMOUS Heathaway lathe with a six inch bore and maybe an 8 foot bed. Well right now I don’t have anyone producing them, which means that I am. There is a zen to it, because I have made thousands of them in the last ten years. I usually put a song on repeat and work in rounds of five at a time. It allows me to zone out and sometimes my thoughts surprise me from random corners of my brain that I haven’t thought about for years. Last night, I started thinking about people who supported me when I was so broke I didn’t know how I would make it through each day. Instead of focusing on the pile of repetitive work in front of me, I kept being brought back to gratitude for the privilege to have orders to fill and a studio filled with everything I need. I have also been making a cup a day to break up the monotony. Last night my cup came loose in the chuck on the last step and the foot was not perfect. Another failure. I put it in the kiln and kept making chillums. Today’s will be better. I ain’t ever been satisfied, but the client who bought it before I even made it will love it that much more because it has “the maker’s mark”.
And that’s the difference. It’s all just about perception. One man’s trash.
Alicia the Acupuncturist is back. I don’t like needles, but I love acupuncture. She says I wouldn’t need the acupuncture if I just gave up the bad repetitive habits that cause my body pain. I’m working on it. Body Builder Ben has been benched for a few months but I have been disappearing in the mornings to my yoga routine. I think I will get back in the gym a few days a week, but that doesn’t feel like a very concrete commitment.
The other day I ran a contest asking people to share their cup collections. How’s your cup collection? We saw collections of all shapes,styles, and sizes. One of my clients is still in the process of unpacking everything into his new house, and still managed to fill an entire dining table with cups. Most of what was visible has been purchased since February of this year he told us. I got an overwhelming amount of messages telling me how inspiring it was to see the collections some of you have put so much time and energy into creating. I feel honored to be able to be of assistance.
I’ll share a few more updates because it’s been so long but first an important announcement regarding my partner (and brother) Jon. Last weekend I attempted to fly to Miami to surprise his lovely fiancé Pri on the night of their engagement. The universe had other plans for me, in which my flight was cancelled while I was sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off, and there was not another flight that would get me in that night. Fortunately, she still said yes and my brother is engaged to be married to an amazing woman. I want to thank them for all of their support and congratulate them - wishing them a life of love and happiness together. This would be the exception to today’s theme, by which I am very satisfied.
Recently I had the privilege of hosting Jason Gordon at my studio for most of a month. All I can say is that I cannot wait for his return.
My feet are two different sizes. I learned this when I got new snowboard boots last winter. Now I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I might have to buy shoes two pairs at a time for the rest of my life. I might never financially recover from this.
Thankfully, Marta is still helping at the studio after a year. If you have ordered something from us in the last year, you can thank Marta for helping to get the right cup to you safely. Additionally she keeps me alive, which is pretty tight! If you want to send her a tip for all her help behind the scenes you can message me and I will let you know how to do so.
Today, there will be a nap in my life.
I have created a private group on WhatsApp for cup collectors to interact with each other and have access to deals and dibs. If you are interested in joining there is a one time fee of $25. Recent testimonials include “Don’t join this group, I want all the deals for myself” and “You definitely don’t want all the notifications that come from this group chat”.
I’m sure it didn’t take you two hours to read this, but it took me that long to write it. I ain’t ever been satisfied, but for now this will have to suffice.
- Robert Frost
That's been my favorite poem since I was a kid.
To complete the full experience of enjoying this blog, now would be the time to put on my favorite live recording and enjoy the next ten minutes of your life with no distractions using this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNCuQXMTYAg
Thank you as always for tuning in. Hopefully you find something on the site to add to your collection this week and we can have it in the mail for you tomorrow. Tune in next week for more rambling and maybe a CUPDATE.
I hope you have a satisfying week
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Stay up to date with new releases and exclusive website content.
August 17, 2021
Wow! That’s a lot. Glad you’re good, even if not satisfied. And, absolutely loved what you wrote about J&P.