On Sundays I reflect.
I didn’t drink alcohol this week.
This was a highly eventful week, so I am not sure where to begin. I think I should start with the peak of the week, which was Tuesday. I started my day in pain, which I have become accustomed to since December. It has really been with me for much longer but recently it progressed to a point that has been inhibiting my ability to function. I have been seeing an acupuncturist for the last few months leading up to quarantine, something I have explored during various times in my life for different reasons. I also started seeing a chiropractor for the first time. which is making a world of difference. I have been getting massages for longer than acupuncture and chiropractic work, which helps alleviate the pain tremendously but it does not fix the root of the problems. My bad posture and habits have led me to this point, and now in addition to seeing specialists I am working on reversing the damage I have done. Last week I finally got an appointment with the chiropractor that was a game changer. My pain didn’t go away, but it became manageable. Then on Tuesday I got a second session along with more instructions for stretches and actions I can take to combat the pain. It’s working. Yesterday I had another session, and I am so glad my chiropractor is willing to work for trade because I certainly couldn’t afford to see him as often as I need. He has been deemed essential and can still work, while the other specialists I see are prohibited from providing massage and acupuncture.
That is enough of that, because I am on the path to keep feeling better through strength training, posturing exercises and stretching. The real fun was getting on a snowmobile Tuesday with my friend Nick who maintains the snowshoe trails in the neighborhood. I have only ridden a snowmobile once, last year with my dude Matty B. It is a ton of fun, but it is also a severe workout. Those things are heavy! Nick took me along the trail which leads to a peak in the neighborhood with views I can only share with a picture. While I have gotten out of the house during quarantine to go the studio, I really have not been spending much time outside. It felt so good to breathe in the fresh mountain air and views. I am so grateful for the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and I am going to make an effort to get outside more. Aside from snowboarding, it is hard for me to rationalize spending any time doing anything besides working. Even snowboarding is sometimes pushed aside for work, because as an entrepreneur the job is never done.
I have been consciously making the effort to delineate a work/life balance through the quarantine. I have a number of glass projects that have to get done, but I am splitting them up with fun projects in between. One example is that I was asked by my friend Dizzle to make a batch of 6-7 inch feet for a project he is working on. I made almost ten before realizing that the peripheral heat had burned my finger so badly that I had to stop working, and then I did one more. That was a mistake, as it irritated the burn which raised at least an inch off my finger. This forced me to take a few days off the torch, and admittedly I am intimidated by the project. Over the last few days I worked on some smaller projects involving less heat, but my burn is mostly healed and I am ready to flare some more feet. It’s truly an honor to have a friend like Dizzle hit me up for a project like this, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, literally. These feet are bigger than my head!
I spent a little time prepping for my first collaboration with a new surprise artist, who has his prep in the mail on the way to me. I won’t say who it is, but I will say that he recently released his first two cup collaborations ever through me and both sold. This will be one of my fully worked composition notebook pints, and I am beyond excited to bring this piece to life. This cup has been in discussion, development, and process for over a year behind the scenes. Assuming that I can successfully make it into a cup, my client is just waiting to add it to his collection. I think a lot of consumers have become desensitized to collaborations rarity and how special they are. The pipe industry in specific has in many ways become collaboration driven, and sometimes the frequency of artists collaborating makes it seem readily available. The reality is that artists are in a constant state of flux.
I made a cup with a caterpillar inside, by Bard Glass, during the Vail Cup Collectors Club in February. The same day he sculpted a bee for me to put inside another cup. Finally, this week I put that bee inside a cup, only two months later. It was all because I had the right materials broken down for the project and finally found the time. All the factors lined up and I finally got to a piece I wish I could have done weeks ago. This is the life of the artist, which is not always as simple as “you make me your part and I do my part and it's done.”
I have become accustomed to working with artists. Of anything I have done in my life, that is probably one thing I have achieved 10,000 hours in. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”, which I read last week, he emphasizes the importance of 10,000 hours. You could have all of the luck and opportunities in the world and if you do not get those 10,000 hours, luck and opportunity might not pan out. I recently had a regular artist in my lineup tell me he can’t make me an order because his torch needs service. I offered to sell or trade him an extra torch I have and he declined. He said he isn’t worried about it, after also telling me he broke his phone and doesn’t plan to get a new one. This is one of the first artists that I represented, and one whose work I have sold consistently when he is able to make it. One time he took a year off. Sometimes he took months off. I am hopeful that just like in the past, he will get the spark again and hit me up saying my batch of cups is ready. Until then, I will continue to do my best to fill the void.
When it comes to handmade artisanal products, just because something is available today doesn’t mean it ever will be again. There is no “backup” in place to make my cups if I get sick or injured. There is not a team of people to make SALT or Banjo’s work, without SALT or Banjo. Many artists have help, but no artist can be replaced in any capacity. Remember that on your journey of collecting and appreciating art. In my opinion, every piece of art is equally as important as the artist’s story and the background behind the piece itself.
I have started sharing my personal collection on my Instagram story featuring one artist each morning. I share a little bit about the artist and the piece, as well as how it came into my possession. I am working on a way to integrate my collection into my Sunday reflection, or create another weekly blog post highlighting just that. It won’t start today but I am discussing with my team how we can bring this to life.
I will now share two unrelated stories with you before wrapping up with a CUPDATE and some final thoughts.
First takes place in the kitchen where I am inept. Maybe it's because my mother did not cook for us when I was growing up, other than “chicken again”, our weekly meal on Friday nights. Maybe it's because of my father, the Rabbi imposing strict Kosher laws in our household growing up, which severely limited what we could eat. My dad would grill about once a week and make tuna salad or scrambled eggs for dinner about once a week. I may have been the world’s pickiest eater which certainly didn’t help things, but as an adult I am proud to have expanded my palette. I still won’t eat ketchup. That shit is gross.
So I was gifted some Indian seasoned lentils, some frozen chicken legs. I have plenty of rice I don’t know how to cook and a jar of Tikka Masala sauce that someone left in my studio long ago. The Tikka Masala was a few weeks past expiration, but I decided I would give it a shot and I am glad I did. One thing I am adamant about is not wasting food. With so many people literally starving on the planet, and in our own neighborhoods, I cannot throw away food. I was determined to make a meal, but not without help.
For those unaware, I live alone so I was fully prepared to rely on technology. Unfortunately my technology sucks and is out of date but we got through it. When I say we, I mean the handful of people I had to consult and me. I posted on my instagram asking if anyone could help. A few strangers reached out to help me, which got me going. I put olive oil in a pan with Lawry’s garlic salt (which I put on everything). I transferred the chicken in and got it coated with the concoction. My dude Mark, from Kirby Cosmo’s in Minturn, told me to cook the chicken at 385 in the oven for 45 minutes, which I would have never figured out (when you factor in the altitude). While the oven is preheating my collector Carolina (Neenz) offers to help and gets on the iPad Instagram video chat which lasts a few minutes before my iPad dies (of course). The bag of lentils said you can boil water and put the lentils in the bag in the boiling water and then pour in a bowl. Easy. Then I start trying to cook rice and at this point I have no idea what to do with the Tikka Masala sauce. So I am trying to call JCost on the bluetooth because he is my rice expert and he ignores my call. I am frantically calling Neenz who is laughing at me, but helping, when JCost calls me back in the knick of time. I tell him it is Threat Level Midnight and I need his help. He says "oh you’re cooking chicken and rice? I’m cooking chicken and rice we’re going to get through this.” I have the water boiling for rice and he tells me to start over. The chicken is cruising in the oven so I take it out and pour the Tikka Masala sauce on top before getting it back in. Hot oil is shooting everywhere. Back to the rice he tells me to put the rice in the pot and fill the water to my first knuckle on my finger and all the while I almost lost track of the timing on the lentils! The bottom line is that it all came out great and I wish I had a picture to show you.
Next story switches gears. This one starts quite a ways back to when I was in high school, so for context I will share a bit about that experience first. High school was miserable. I graduated a semester early to take a road trip from Chicago to California and probably would not have made it through my 2nd semester senior year if I was in school. I felt like I was confined to a cage, and that anything outside that box was discouraged more than strongly. It felt like everything outside of public school and my religious upbringing was prohibited. Marijuana use and culture was at the heart of this tension, and I was arrested at age 15 for smoking weed. In the subsequent court-mandated outpatient-rehab I was forced to attend, I was told by staff that I was the same as the kid next to me who consumed all kinds of drugs and was there for beating up a “toy soldier” (his nickname for mall cops). At the time, I had never tried alcohol, nor any drugs other than weed. Today marijuana is an essential business in a time when most businesses are being forced not to operate, as we continue through this lockdown that does not have a clear end in sight.
So anyways I was not really fitting in during high school for a lot of reasons. I certainly wouldn’t discount the fact that I brought a ukulele to school to play in the halls between class because a guitar was too big and music was the only thing I cared about. I found solace in a few classrooms of teachers who encouraged me being me, and offered challenging and captivating material stimulating creative thinking and learning. One of those teachers is my U.S. History teacher who remains a friend to this day. He recently scooped a pair of Ed Wolfe Rasta tumblers and a Jason Gordon fumed pint. I am grateful for the education I received from him, and the support in my journey beyond the classroom. He also turned me on to Costello’s sandwich shop on Roscoe in Chicago and it's one of my favorite spots.
Another one of these teachers from High School that I have kept in touch with is Jeremiah Enright. Enright taught "Political Thought and its Literature” along with radio broadcasting and maybe one other class. My younger brother took his Radio Broadcasting class, though I did not. I took his literature course which he team taught with his conservative counterpart, a much younger woman of Latina background. At the time Enright was a few years from retirement, a wounded Vietnam Veteran who walked with a limp due to “shrapnel in the ass” he caught during the war. I grew accustomed to him writing me a pass to arrive late to my next class, Sociology, which I enjoyed compared to most classes. We would speak for fifteen to twenty minutes after class almost daily, and I would walk with him to his next classroom. These cherished moments of education were unfiltered, unlike the rest of my nationally ranked school’s rigid academic curriculum. Enright wrote my college recommendation and fabricated a story about knowing me for years and how much I stood out, despite just meeting me in my Junior year. His letter got me into the honors college early admission at Indiana University, along with my hard work in high school. I only read his letter after I had gotten in, and despite the exaggerations I remember feeling like he really understood me as a person through what he conveyed.
Once I went to college we began an email correspondence that remains to this day. My brother was his student and saw him for three years after my departure from suburban Chicago, and I would make a point to get lunch any time I was visiting my parents. He took me out for lunch once or twice a year through college, offering his guidance and asking my perspective on things. He introduced me to another former student of his once at a bar around 11 a.m. just as they opened and we were the only three in the place. The entire staff knew Enright, his food choice along with his drink. “George” was the contact, and glass was the connection. Enright knew nothing about the pipe scene, but from what I shared with him, he thought George and I might share similar interests and we did. Turns out George is one of the early big AK collectors from back in the day, and we knew a lot of people in common despite our almost ten year age gap.
My email correspondences with Enright have always brightened my day. At one point I wanted to turn our dialogue into a book and I still might. Enright is a writer. I asked him what he thought about that one time and he kind of teared up, along with his wife Sheila, at my studio, when they visited me on their way out West. It was on that particular morning that they told me he had cancer, and asked me what I knew about alternative treatments like RSO. He did not seem concerned nor afraid. He told me how cool Minturn is, like the real Wild West. He couldn’t believe my studio existed less than five years after that meeting with George. He gifted me a Joseph Campbell book with an inscription on that day. I still haven’t been able to read it, as it is dense and difficult material. He had mailed me books before, and newspaper clippings. He would email me articles out of the blue that were loosely related to my interests. His communications are often cryptic. His way of writing and speaking is eloquent and abrupt. There is absolutely no bullshit with Enright.
For whatever reason, I was thinking about him the other day and sent a text wishing him well. I looked back in our messages and the last time I reached out was in February, when I was on Good Morning Vail. I sent him the link and he did not respond. Today I got an email from Jeremiah, informing me that all is well with him, despite having to cut his vacation time short. He made a few jokes about his indulgences and meditation practices. He requested an update on my life, and probably doesn’t know how to subscribe to a blog, but neither do I. I'll send him this as a response and hope he signs up for my email list to stay current moving forward. I am sure he will, and I can anticipate regular responses and critiques that I am looking forward to. He casually mentioned the video from the Vail morning show acknowledging that they had checked it out.
Now to wrap up with the CUPDATE!
We sold our last Stevie P flask this week. I also sold my first Sushi set from Emily Marie and we had a photo shoot with a new private sushi chef in the valley called Shio Mizu. I can’t wait to share with you. I also have another product shoot Tuesday with Reda for the latest cups from some of your favorites along with a few new artists.
Before I get too far into that lineup, I should share some music I am listening to with you. After a few months of changing it up I have rediscovered one of my favorite groups Boogie Belgique, which can only be described as Electro-Swing. I got most into listening to them when snowboarding, which I haven’t been doing for over a month now and somehow forgot about them until JCost reminded me. When public gatherings resume, I think they are the top of my list for who I want to see live. I haven’t seen them yet, but I suspect it's a good time.
So Reda will get pictures of the Dosa pint glass (already found a home), along with the Jake C shot glass (available as soon as we get photo edits). There is a fresh batch of Ned blues getting shot, along with a new batch from Egon, both borosilicate hex cups and some soft glass hex cups. I have my first batch from Nikolai coming and a handful have pre-sold thanks to my Instagram previews. All of them are getting photographed Tuesday, and hopefully some last long enough to get listed on the website but you can contact me to see what he sent.
Nikolai and his parents recently got Covid-19 at his brother’s funeral, who passed away from complications related to his leukemia and the virus. I was unaware of any of this until he reached back out to me last week about doing a cup drop. We have been trying to make this happen for months but it had fallen off my immediate radar. When i jumped on his page and saw his latest posts, I knew we needed to make something happen and we have been in touch almost daily since. Many of my collectors have reached out to support, and as he is able to produce work I will be making it available here. He asked if I could sell bowls, because he now has the fire power and desire to make them so please also to feel free to reach out about that.
Speaking of non-drinkware, after a long time of international discussion it seems like Ian Chadwick is going to be releasing a couple of plates to me from the U.K. which I will be home hunting for. I have one in my personal collection and it is one of my favorite things that I own. I have never seen anything like it. He is fusing glass through so many kiln cycles that I can’t even count, cutting each fusion and reattaching them to create intricate patterns. I am beyond excited to be able to bring them to you soon, if they don’t presell as well!
As you get your stimulus checks in, please consider using a portion to support DV. These purchases are going directly into the hands of artists on a daily basis from cup makers to photographers to graphic designers. Spending you money on the latest iPhone special deal perpetuates the economic foundation that got us here. When you spend your money with small businesses and artists, you are directly supporting people rather than corporations. Once again, we see this money bailing out big business, and we will see many small businesses collapse during this crisis. Whether you spend your money here or not, please consider where you spend it and do what you can to support the businesses that you want to be around. Without your support they might not make it, and it would be a real shame. Buy gift cards to your favorite restaurants and buy stamps from the post office. It is our responsibility to create a conscious consumer culture or we will perpetuate the problem of mass production and over consumption. I believe in a future where we use our dollars to support our values, and my values equate to consciously sourced, fair trade consumption in as many ways as we can. I'm not perfect nor outside the paradigm of consumerism, but I am trying to think about these things when I make choices that, prior to this quarantine, I did not know how to articulate.
Even though it has been 420 all month, please take the time to enjoy the holiday tomorrow. I am grateful for marijuana and all that it has opened me up to in life.
Thanks for tuning in, and enjoy your Sunday!
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