Friday, August 21, 2015

State of the Studio 2015

It's been a long silence from me... so much has happened in the last year. Not much new has come out of the studio in the last year and well, I don't think anyone could blame me, but I feel I must share. So here's a recap:

First, in October, after many months of waiting, my mother received a liver and kidney transplant. The roller coaster of her recovery was considerable, and news would filter in on occasion with breakthroughs and setbacks. Being broke and in Kentucky while she was in Indianapolis meant that I couldn't visit her often (and really, shouldn't due to her suppressed immune system), and for a long time she was unable to speak due to the tubes. Every call I got from my family created a sinking feeling that this was "the call." Skype helped us to connect, but it wasn't perfect.

It was around this time (including one being posted publicly while I visited my mother the weekend after her surgery) that several people alerted me about some of my models having problems: epoxy lifting, stickiness, etc. Stuff that I work very hard to actively avoid. I make each model to the best of my ability, armed with all the knowledge that I currently know to prevent such disasters. The fact I had failed killed my motivation just because I still couldn't pinpoint *why* it was happening. Was it my epoxy? The new Breyer plastic that's softer (with more cellulose filler)? Breyer's paint? My primer? Something I was doing/not doing?

One of the affected models: his mane apparently "popped off" which I've never had happen before or since.
I had many more that were unaffected, including ones I own. Because I didn't know why, I despaired, wondering why even bother customizing a model if it's only going to fall apart? I can't offer to fix them because I can't match paint to save my life. And some models will fall apart no matter how good the workmanship, no matter how they're handled or stored. It killed my desire to create. I knew I couldn't support myself in any way with just the models, so I decided against customizing in the winter months (like I've done occasionally in the past) and looked for a job.

In December, I got a new job in a call center... it is not my first love, in fact I'm still not entirely happy with it. The learning process was intense as I learned the software (the best that 1993 had to offer), the codes, the protocol and started gaining experience as a sales person. I'm not the best salesperson, but I am EXCELLENT at customer service, but the stress was pretty overwhelming as I shifted gears to this new "career." It was quite a change that I'm still adapting to.

Not entirely accurate, however...

The reason I got this job was after Breyerfest 2013 I was kicked by a horse and dislocated my knee. To save my knees from wear and tear, I took this desk job, plus it was likely time to find a job with a reliable paycheck and health benefits. I truly miss being physically active in a job, especially working around horses. It was a dream job, working at the Kentucky Horse Park, but it didn't pay much (barely above minimum wage at them time) and was not very reliable (being seasonal). Still, being happy at a hard, low paying job felt pretty good, but I guess being able to pay for groceries and gas is a good thing too... but if I ever won the lottery, fairly certain I'd just work there for free.

Then in January, my computer crashed. After a LONG 3 month saga with the absolutely terrible Computer Repair Place, they finally got it fixed to where it worked, but not without loosing a year's worth of archived emails and giving me a computer with less RAM and processing power than I had before (after I specifically told them they could replace part only if they were equal or better than what I had). I like to game on occasion so this was a bummer, but not as much as not having access to my regular routine and reference photos during that time. My computer time is my "escape" and it was hard to escape and de-stress (during a VERY stressful time for me) when my main source had been taken from me, and as much fun as customizing can be, it is NOT my de-stresser.

*sigh* First World Problem, anyone?
In March I judged at a show and accidentally made a sarcastic comment (along the lines of "I'm tired of seeing this person's horses")... and that person took it seriously. The backlash and regret from that killed my enthusiasm for showing, and possibly for the hobby in general. It is NEVER my intent to offend, hurt, or be negative in any way, so for someone to take a joke that I figured no one would ever take in any other way except it's true intention (one that was actually meant as praise, a nudge to how ridiculous the notion would be, being sarcasm after all), and make it sound like I was a biased, untrustworthy monster (my words, not theirs) really put a damper on my motivation and hurt ME deeply. My reputation had been tainted in a moment of misjudgment, and I felt like the worst person on earth, causing irreparable damage between me and this "friend." I decided a hiatus from showing was needed and canceled my plans for my next show.

If I could go back, I wouldn't have said it, but after everything that had happened already that year for me, I just let myself get a little too comfortable in my escape. I had an unprofessional moment when I needed to be "on." To me, a model horse show is usually a fun time with friends who "get me" and a reunion with those I don't get to see often. They are my people. I am still incredibly sorry that I hurt this friend and it still stresses me out (at the time, it literally kept me up at night). Add in to my already stressed situations, and I was starting to feel depressed.

April thankfully brought some joys: I met a new guy who would eventually become my boyfriend. Dating had been disappointing for me in the past and it's great to have someone who shares a genuine interest in each other, common views and interests (geek outs!) etc. Obviously, this meant that my spare time now included him a lot, but ya know, I feel this one is justified. Everyone deserves to be happy and not alone.

"Family" movie night
In May and June I was finally hitting my stride at my job, performing well and getting the hang of it. However, that came to an abrupt halt when on June 18th, when I was home sick with a terrible fever, I got the call that Mom was dying. Her liver had ultimately failed. She was gone within 12 hours. Obviously this changed my world quite a bit as I took 2 weeks off work (when I came back, it was rough getting back in the groove). This woman was responsible for "me", she taught me how to art, teaching me to draw, giving me honest critique, supporting me and in general being the best mother anyone could ask for. Obviously this sense of loss has affected me, I'm sure any of those who have lost a parent or even just loves their mother could understand.

Then of course along came July which means Breyerfest where I volunteered and taught Equine Color Genetics in the Hobby Info Booth. I also entered in Breyer's first Custom Contest with Prowler in the "Most Creative" category... and WON!

I was so excited and feel it is the biggest honor I've ever received. Judged by some of the hobby's best artists, the prizes being so beautiful...

And for once I was in a place in my life where I could afford to keep them and not sell them to the highest bidder. I plan on treasuring "Anahi" and "Agueda" for as long as I can. I picked up an Enchante as well to act as the "daddy" of the family, I think they go well with each other!

And finally, in August, things have settled down. Perhaps now I can work on the models again. First thing's first, commissions will be given primary focus, but as I've shared in the past, sometimes I need to do something else to "freshen things up" and keep me from getting in a funk. I have a general priority list and will try hard to keep to it, and I want to thank everyone who does have an order with me for their continued patience and understanding.


Erika Baird said...

Wow, sounds like a bumpy year. Here's to hoping things go up from here, and congratulations on the win! I've enjoyed seeing your projects (in whatever order they finish) even as a lurker, so just popping in to offer my support and say I still believe in you and enjoy your posts :)

Aloha said...

Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you've had a year full of changes. Hang in there!

Ruth said...

Cindy, I've had three models' epoxy lift this year (that I know about) and it IS crazy-making. All were new bodies, which makes me really nervous as I start new ones. Anyway, wanted you to know you aren't the only one dealing with this. Hopefully as a hobby we can figure out what's going on! (( internet hugs to you))

Donald Steadman said...

Wow. Your studio have gone through a lot, including a computer crash. That one is particularly a bummer, since you not only lost those offline e-mails, but also got your computer back with far less RAM. Backup becomes more pertinent in times like those, whether it's through hardware or cloud. Take care!

Donald Steadman @ Office PCS