Chasing Down The Muse: 'Team building at its best' during workshop

The crowd noise is gone. Birds coo and chirp in the tall trees. A gentle breeze rustles their leaves. There is a faint whoosh coming from the glassblowing furnace. The Sunday morning sounds on the Sawdust Art Festival grounds are only soft ones.

An early morning walk along the shore with stand-up paddleboarders galore — the most I've seen all summer — started this wonderful day. Hard to believe it was a work day for me. The festival season may be over, but managing the year-round Sawdust Studio Art Classes goes on.

Work? If you get this much enjoyment from it, can it really be called work? Is it merely a form of play?

Sure, much of it is tedious, even annoying at times — scheduling, conflicting activities, making sure all is in order and ready to go, egos and more. But then I am reminded on days like this of the joys inherent in the job — for me, at least.

As we round the corner toward the Sawdust Studio Art Classes second anniversary, I rejoice in what has passed, what is, and what the future may hold.

September is glassblowing month for us. This past Sunday, Michael, his daughter, Tierney, and an L.A. firefighter, Chuck, had signed on for an all-day class with Christopher Jeffries. These glassblowing students are really avid fans of the art. Michael had flown in from Florida; Chuck also had taken the class the previous day.

After making sure all was ready, I went for my walk, then returned to take lunch orders before heading home for a shower. I felt secure that all was going well.

The list in my hand, I headed for a quick shower and my own breakfast smoothie.

A bit later, I returned laden with their lunch orders and sat with them while they ate on the deck under the softly rustling trees with only scurrying lizards for company.

What a treat. Not the lizards, but the people. They had all really connected as they each had taken their positions to make the glassblowing experience run smoothly. Team building at its best.

Over lunch they continued with stories that connected them even further. We learned of Chuck's job as a diver for the fire department, of his raising a goose, Omelette, along with his 62-pound bulldog.

Michael was clearly an entrepreneurial idea man. The morning session had him thinking of a collaborative glassblowing effort he thinks is a sure thing that will sell like hot cakes (or hot dogs, in this case). Enough said. It's his idea.

Entranced, I decided I could take a break from data entry and enjoy watching their class in action for the afternoon session. I was so very glad that I did.

A patient, thorough teacher, Christopher guided these novices through making glass pieces I could not have imagined they could do. Chuck wanted to make a wine decanter — and did. Tierney had an image of a hanging glass terrarium in mind and got it. Michael, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy all of it after a nervous morning start, was content with specialized purpose glasses in beautiful colors.

As the class wrapped up in the late afternoon shadows, everyone agreed to meet back again off-site to pick up their finished pieces and christen Chuck's decanter. How could I not rejoice in what I had been privy to on that lovely Sunday? What sheer delight I felt to be a part of all this. Wow, lucky me.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer and director of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach. Always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and the ever-changing mysteries of life, she can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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