Seaglass huntin’

Seaglass with wire inside

It’s been freakishly warm and beautiful in Chicago this week, so I’m making good use of the nice weather by going to the beach a lot.  Of course, most of my time at the beach is spent with my head down, as I like to look for seaglass/beachglass/lakeglass.  I even have a set on Flickr devoted to my seaglass collection.  The above photo is of a piece of security glass, which has been polished and frosted by who knows how many years of tumbling around in Lake Michigan.  I found a good photo on Flickr of what it probably looked like before it went into the lake.

Yesterday was a particularly successful seaglass day, as I found two beautiful cobalt blue pieces and a very rare red shard.

Second seaglass haul from Lake Michigan, 2010.

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State of the Suzy Address (or how I spent my summer vacation and autumn unemployment)

Hello dear reader(s)!

Yes, the rumors of my demise were but mere fabrications. Long story short, I’m still living in Chicago – my wonderful internship at the Northwestern University Library ended back in August, I promptly went on a week-long California vacation, and then I moved to a new apartment the day after I returned from vacation. Note to self: Don’t move the day after you get back from vacation, is bad.

I spent the last month and a half unpacking boxes, whipping the apartment decor into shape, building up my little workshop/studio, reading “Y the Last Man”, catching up on 30 Rock and Mad Men, terrorizing the squirrels that keep trying to dig up our balcony garden, and generally being one of the millions of unemployed. I am aware that I have proverbially shot myself in the foot for wanting to stay in Chicago (instead of moving to “wherever the job is”, as they say) but even in a city as big and culturally-instituted as Chicago, the pickings have been slim. Fortunately, I’ve managed to pick up some work here and there – such as working on someone’s private archival collection and teaching a virtual class on online portfolios for a group of undergrad conservation students at Winterthur.

I have come to realize, though, that there is a need for some kind of business training in any kind of fine-arts (i.e. conservation) education. I know there’s the CIPP group of AIC, but in school we were discouraged from going into private practice at the start of our careers. While I still think it’s not the greatest move to go into private practice as your first job (post-internship), but in this economic climate I feel that it’s prudent for me to branch out and look for what freelance work I can get. Certainly, I know my limits, both in terms of skills and what materials and equipment I have access to: I have no washing sink, no board shear, no bookpress, no fume hood – so I’m not about to start taking on projects that are more than I can handle. But I have other skills that I can market – my ability to design and edit webpages with HTML and CSS, my Photoshop skills, the fact that I went to Library School and have an MSIS degree. Still, we weren’t offered any classes in small-business skills, such as the basics of how to write up a legally-sound contract, how to choose your rate, how to estimate how long a project will take, how to protect yourself from liability and how to file your taxes as a freelancer.

I’m sure there’s a plethora of books about all these topics, but certainly none from a conservator’s or archivist’s perspective (if there is, please let me know and I’ll buy it in a heartbeat!) – but I’m starting to think that teaching new conservators about good business sense is a lot like teaching sex-education to teenagers (stay with me, now!). Showing someone how to protect themselves and practice safe sex does not mean you’re encouraging them to become sexually active before they’re ready, or even condoning sex at all – rather, they will be prepared and thus, safe, when that day inevitably comes. It’s a lot better to have the information before-hand than to try and learn it as you go, and make some possibly life/career-threatening mistakes. I’d love to know if there are any conservation programs that provide classes on the business skills necessary for going into private practice. Maybe my experience in the UT program was different because of the Library School aspect (there’s not a lot of freelance librarians, methinks).

ANYWAY, I will end this wordy post with a picture of me pretending to be a Chicago-style hotdog. If you go to the Chicago History Museum, you too can be a hot dog!

Hot dog!

Back from AIC

IMG_6677

I have since returned from AIC in a sunny but chilly LA, to a decidedly cool and rainy Chicago. Apparently word is that it got up to 80 something in Chicago while I was gone and was generally gorgeous.

Anyway, just a brief note to mention that Dan Cull has put up a coherent summary of all the Web 2.0 madness that took place under everyone’s noses.

Crazy bicycle route of today

Yesterday I biked down to Argyle from work, and today I biked up from Argyle to work! It was a commute of about 6.8 miles, but it would be less had I not took so many little detours. I’m scouting out a good route between my place and Chris’ apartment. The lake front trail doesn’t even begin until about Loyola, and Sheridan and Clark are terrible streets to bike on – fortunately there seems to be several nicer residential streets running parallel between Clark and Sheridan. This was my route this morning – once I got into Evanston I was actually just going along the Evanston lakeshore trail, not on Sheridan per the map.

Also, the pot holes in this city are some of the worst I’ve ever seen.