Diary of a Demented Store Owner

Monday, 28 September 2009

An Addendum to this Month's Sale Post

We're working on rebuilding our website (yippee!), migrating it away from Windows (bigger yippee!), to a Mac (yippee! The ads really are true) and find the transition less than smooth at times. So please bear with us. One of the transitional moves involves posting our Monthly Sales Page as a PDF, which hopefully won't be discouragingly long for most of you.
To ease the download time of the Sales Flyer, we post a video here rather than there, from Figimodo, going through the list of bevel sizes and prices for our sale this month.
That is all...

Time To Post Another Embarrassing Zenia Picture

Oh, yeah, and we also take this opportunity to announce and post our monthly sale.
Gaze your eyes upon Zenia...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Music Makes Us Better Craftspeople

Listening to music makes us feel better - but many doctors are now beginning to believe that it does much more. There is emerging evidence that it can bring about physical changes to the body that can improve our health and ability to do glasswork. Famed stained glass and fusing glass emporium, Fantasy In Glass, in Canada has actually conducted a somewhat, kind of scientific study of this and has seen impressive results. Mikey and the staff of FIG Inc have found that students who listen to well recorded and reproduced music need less cutter lubricant, are able to cut Youghiogheny art glass with much less pressure and that, most significantly, grinder usage decreases dramatically compared to those who do not.
According to Dr Gary Brownoff who carried out the study (a Barry Manilow admirer), there is growing scientific evidence that music creates physical changes in the body which can help such things directly related to this craft of ours (like listening to Barry Manilow makes most fusers throw up?), such as evening out glass cutter excursion pressure. He said: "The physiological benefits have been measured. It is a fact. Music reduces blood pressure, the heart rate, and hormones related to stress."
It is primarily for this reason that Mikey, President (and lead researcher) of FIG Inc regularly plays a varied and eclectic mix of live and acoustic blues through a Wadia 170i (procured from those great people at Ovation Audio (tel: 905-727-2004), for his customers."
Fantasy In Glass is now carrying out clinical trials to see how exactly music affects the brain and the body on behalf of poorer cutting glass manufacturers. Mikey is hopeful that
"We are approaching the point where a glass store owner would legitimately be negligent not to actually recommend music as a therapeutic intervention. And even more so should he not obtain said music from mymusic.com, a tremendously great on-line music store. It was actually mymusic.com that turned Mikey on to Little Axe, a group's music that has been instrumental in increasing the cutability of Bullseye fusible opals, and has even lessened the incidence of devitrification when slumping this glass!”

NB: Mikey’s Diary is usually a commercial-free area, but Ovation Audio and mymusic.com are two great retailers that really stand out. They have not only helped Mikey achieve a higher level of health and happiness, but his customers as well, and therefore warrant this free plug. Thanks guys.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A Regular Day at the Store

Brittania (our newest staff member) had a new customer in the store the other day. She said he wanted to learn stained glass as part of the rehabilitation process after a bad car accident. Apparently he lost his left arm and leg in the crash.
She said he's all right now...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

What's It Going to Be? Shelves Or Staff Naked- Which Do You Prefer?

Coming back after a bit of a lull with vacation, we find ourselves bracing for a hopefully busy season, and are now starting to refill our shelves back to our normal levels. Just in last week as you can see below was a sizeable ceramic molds order as well as (literally) a ton of Sale Squares from Kokomo and Spectrum.
Coming next week are two truck shipment from a couple of suppliers in the States (hey, what are we going to do? The dollar is at 93 cents and our Canadian supplier still sees the need for a U.S. surcharge of 9.8%).
Due mid-October is a large supply of fusible glass (over 1000 Sq. ft) from a source best left unnamed for now...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Mikey Decides to Rethink His Disguise

Figus Rats Supply Molds to FIG

Fantasy in Glass has discovered that rats can be trained to help in the manufacture of their molds for glass slumping and fusing.
Apparently it's not just any rodents, but the "highly social, intelligent" figus- a small caviomorph rodent that is native to Toronto. And while they don't use tools in their natural habitats, they were taught by researchers as well as the staff of Fantasy In Glass to do so in captivity.
After several months of training and practice, researchers say, the figus can move a rake as smoothly and efficiently as croupiers in any Las Vegas casino- a handy skill when mixing the mud-like slurry that these molds for slumping glass are made of.
“This is first time rodents have been trained to wield tools”, said Gary Brownosley, a psydoscientist, who led the experiments at the Laboratory for Really Cool Science in Toronto. He elaborated about how they are so efficient and quality conscious that the Teamsters’ union has petitioned the mold manufacturer to either stop using these poor little helpless animals or to certify them to unionize the shop.
While these figus rodents are best at manufacturing molds 14” or smaller in diameter (a size that is easily accommodated by most of the kilns sold at FIG) scientists from the LRCS are considering training baboons in the manufacture of larger molds-1a specialty of Brownosley’s.
While it has long been thought that tool use is a hallmark of higher intelligence, Dr. Brownosley said, the brain structures that underlie such abilities may lie dormant in many animals with good hand-and-eye or paw-and-eye coordination. Training these figus to make molds in captivity provides insights into the plasticity of their brains, he said, and may even shed light on how early humans evolved tool use in the first place.
In separate studies, Dr. Brownosley notes they are examining gene expression in the brains of macaques and marmosets trained to check the coefficients of expansion in Bullseye glass.
To see the handiwork of these figus rodents, and the well over 600 molds we have in inventory, check out this video.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

System 96 Dichroic Glass

Thinking that the staff were looking a little pale and withdrawn lately, Mikey realizes they might be suffering from the ‘D.W.’s’ or Dichroic Withdrawl. Zenia Herself has been known to be able to identify the 1 micron thick metallic coatings found on dichroic glass by taste alone (patterns she sadly admits need the assistance of smell…Pat The Wife)! Acknowledging that our 90 selection is strong, and our 96 not so, Mikey quickly rushes a large order together that arrives today containing way too much stuff to describe here, besides he’s got to get towels for the staff’s drooling. Turns out Zenia cannot be found for hours but eventually shows up at closing time with Styrofoam packing peanuts stuck in her hair, looking like her old self.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Bellagio Celiling

Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Here's a video of the ceiling of the lobby at the Bellagio Hotel. Yup, that's over 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers of Dale Chihuly's that you're looking at. The entire piece covers more than 2,000 square feet.

Monday, 14 September 2009

What can you say about Kokomo Glass? It's the oldest manufacturer of machine made glass in North America going back to 1888. It has documented sales to the Louis Tiffany Studios going back to just after the turn of the last century, and today is a very popular line of glass at FIG because of its price, quality of colour, availability, and mostly, its easy cut-ability.
Just in is another shipment of their 12" sale squares, and there are some real stunners. See Britt and the piece she's carefully studying here.
Average price is $5.99/pc!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A Neat Fusing Project Using Spectrum's New Cord

While it's been very difficult to get hold of Spectrum Glass over the past couple of years (they really aren't a small boutique manufacturer although it's availability has made many think it is), new colours do seem to occasionally dribble in- usually through our steady supply of Rat Paks. If not for these boxes full of 12" pieces we'd have no white for fusers as we haven't seen that in many months. One that has caused us to get a little excited is Spectrum's popular Cord texture now coming in in Black (and FIG Tested White). Heck, Spectrum themselves even seem to be proud of being able to produce another new glass that of course, no one in Canada will likely be able to buy. Here's a pic of a plate Zenia made, and here's a link to the instructions on how to make your own (don't tell anyone but it works with Bullseye's textures as well, and those we can actually get).

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Another Open Letter From Mikey In The First Person

‘It has been a very ‘interesting’ time these past few weeks.

Upon my return I find myself reflecting on many of the ‘cornerstones’ of our business and reviewing the status of all our inventory, the importance of our suppliers and our product mix- all relevant and important to our continuing success.

Manufacturers have disappointed us.

So has our supplier.’

That’s the start of a post I wrote on July 28, 2009.

Rereading my thoughts from that post, and reflecting on these interesting times, I find myself reconsidering and deciding on our dealership of Bullseye Glass…

Oh, the horror you say.

But Mikey, you’ve been one of their biggest boosters, I hear. Carried the entire line for years. The only one in Canada with a full line inventory. Told us how they have five times the selection of Sys96. That they actually make solid reds and pinks. They even make Aventurine Green in two shades. All their glass amazingly is even available in two thicknesses.

Yes, it’s true, they are great, but sadly, and frustratingly, things have changed significantly in Canada over the past four years.

Let me explain…

Fantasy In Glass is the only retailer in Canada that carries the full Bullseye sheet glass line. We also carry a substantial amount of their curious fusible glass, their frits and powders, confetti, Hot Rodz rods for torchwork (even though my sales rep seems unaware that we do), chemicals and their great fusing paper (2500 sheets and rolls due in September 1). Heck, we even bring in their great Tekta Clear by the case.

Why then, if Bullseye is such an amazing product, does no one else carry it?

Well, as most retailers can’t bring in Bullseye themselves their only option then is to get it from the nearest Bullseye distributor- that’s right, in Canada, there’s only one. That means then you’d be dependant upon our sole Canadian distributor to supply the entire line for you.

You guessed it- he doesn’t carry the entire line. Not even close.

And if that supplier doesn’t carry an acceptable selection of inventory, what would you do as a retailer?

Of course. You just wouldn’t bother with Bullseye. Only carry the Spectrum Sys96 line.

So since Spectrum 96 is available more consistently than Bullseye and there is no alternate source for Bullseye in Canada, retailers choose not to even consider Bullseye, and invest only in Spectrum.

So, how does this affect us you ask? Wouldn’t that mean that we’d have a lock on Bullseye in Canada?

Yes and no.

Because other stores don’t carry Bullseye, and we seem to be the only one carrying the torch at the retail level, this greatly limits our ability to grow Bullseye.


Well, as while we attract customers from elsewhere, they won't consider our Bullseye because they've 'already started with Spectrum' and when they return to their regular retailer that’s all he carries.

So, Bullseye, by not assuring that their distributor is doing his job, has hurt our and their potential for growth. And frankly, we’re getting a little frustrated trying to grow Bullseye here alone, without much support.

So are we dropping Bullseye?

No we’re not. The product is way too good.

But we are dropping our dealership at this time, and hope our distributor can fulfill our needs.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Better Late Than Never

Tonight is the start of a flurry of postings. We start with the revival of our Monthly Sale.
We are having some issues with our website (anyone willing to assist?) and as such are posting our sale flyer here as a PDF file ( a little big file, be patient, it's worth it)...
And as usual, accompanied the the appropriately, this month only mildly embarrassing, picture of Zenia...

Friday, 4 September 2009

Borax Overspray

Now available, in 4 oz bottles from us- $4.59.
Used to prevent devitrification when fusing/slumping...

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Current Spectrum Score Magazine

Now easily available as a pdf file, with news from the glass manufacturer (when we can get the stuff- it's usually out of stock), helpful articles and free patterns. Grab it here...