A “Retirement” Career in Art Glass



paperweight makers

Dick Moile & Kathy Poeppel at work.

Dick wrote research papers and treated cancer patients with brain tumors as a neurosurgeon in Houston. His reputation for expert treatment for brain cancer caused many sleepless nights.  Kathy, his wife, worked as a nurse and physician’s assistant. In 1995 the chance to retire became reality for Dick Moiel and Kathy Poeppel. Since they collected art glass and paperweights, they explored the process of glass art.

The road to their “retirement career” fell into place. They never expected the rich rewards which followed. They built Houston Glass Studio, where they purchased tools and a furnace, dubbed “the glory hole.” Their studio resembles a laboratory for creativity, sometimes referred to as a “hot shop.” In summer, the furnace is off. No longer do they wear sterile clothing in medical facilities but dress in old clothes and suffer from the heat from October through April as they produce an abundance of glass art.

The Interview

I asked Kathy to comment on their “career change” when I attended their Open House:


Which one did I take home?

  1. What are the key elements in your successful career change?

We haven’t approached glass art as a career.  Dick retired from his Neurosurgery practice because it was time to step back from the stress.  Glass filled the void which followed.  We took time to explore.  The whole process of learning and making was invigorating.

  1. What advice would you give to others in transition to a career in the arts?

Keep it a labor of love. 

  1. What was the most challenging aspect of the career transition?

Trading the confidence and comfortable expertise of a seasoned professional for the humbling, anxious, thrilling opportunities only the total novice can know. 

  1. Did you have mentors who helped you learn the trade at the beginning of your studies?

Once we stumbled onto the path of glass there was no difficulty finding talented teachers. Studio ownership offered unlimited access to glass and the opportunity to practice.   Otherwise gaining the skills and understanding of glass as a material would have been a slower process.  

  1. Your resumes show extensive education.

We are professional students: between us we took over 50 classes, at eight schools from 30 different glass artists.  Learning in a class environment is essential. Glassblowing is a collaborative process. Watching and talking about glass encourages the hands-on experience.  With glass it is possible to learn from someone else’s mistakes.

  1. Are the classes expensive?

Tuition for a 1 week class will run $500-$1000 plus travel, room and board. 

art glass

Astounding “basket weave” glass creations.


Education and Scholarships

If you are considering a career change you need to hone your skills with specialized training. Universities offer short term classes, conferences and hands-on skill training.

A quick internet search for scholarships lists programs for new and experienced career growth. The premier place to study glass making is Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York with world-renowned instructors. Corning offers scholarships.

I belong to the Paperweight Collectors Association of Texas, which provides an annual scholarship to improve the processes for creating paperweights.

Be resourceful in looking for support to improve your chance for less stress and new friends. Research the type of art you find fascinating. Who knows? You may be the next emerging artist with a second or third career.

Take to heart what Kathy says. No career change is easy, but by “keeping it a labor of love,” you find new satisfaction in the world of work.

Their studio is open by appointment during the year with special hours and an Open House in December. Be sure to visit their Houston Studio Glass website  for details.




A Passion for People and Paperweights



A MacNaught Paperweight

Will Pitt, like many graduating seniors, figured on a lifetime of work with Ford Motor Company. His degree in Mechanical Engineering form Lawrence Technological University helped him move from the automotive industry to aerospace in California. When aerospace nosedived in the late 1980s, he moved to Massachusetts, hoping for another technical job. Didn’t happen. He needed a different career.

An Alternative to Mechanical Engineering

A friend of his who owned an antique store offered Will a temporary job while he looked for work. Will’s background in corporate settings helped grow his friend’s business. He encouraged his friend to attend shows, improve his advertising and use auctions as an outlet; the business thrived. When his business partner encouraged him to dive into a specialty, he chose paperweights.

“I always liked selling the glass, more than other items. Paperweights became a logical choice as I loved the technology behind the product as much as the beauty of the artistry.” He talked with the artists, read and studied many books about the history and technical aspects of the craft. He was hooked.  He started his own business in 1994.

His self-employment created the opportunity to travel all over the world. When he visited Europe, he found his path into the countryside, forming relationships with artists and buyers. In 1996 he developed his website, which shows the artistry of old masters of paperweights and introduces the public to emerging artists from the U.S. and other destinations. World renown artists like Rick Ayotte, Ken Rosenfeld and Debbie Tarsitano are his friends and business associates. They are the artists. He sells their paperweights.

Attracting New Members

When I interviewed Will, we talked about the dwindling membership issues with paperweight collectors. We can find cheap paperweights, even at Walmart, but the antique paperweights can fetch as much or more than $50,000. The manufactured (made in quantities) can cost from under $10 to $100.

Well known paperweight artists can command anywhere from $200 to thousands of dollars. Some make glass jewelry and other art glass. Paperweight artists often break many works-in-process before completing one to sell. The lampwork, which entails tiny pieces of colored glass encased in the clear glass balls takes hours and hours of tedious work. Buying a paperweight is like buying an oil painting from  a famous or emerging painter. The weight anyone purchases from a well-known artist will undoubtedly appreciate. Novice paperweight collectors must read the history and comprehend the value. They need to attend the meetings and watch for bargains when they are out for a Sunday drive for a stop at a flea market or antique store.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Paperweight Collectors Association of Texas is in Fort Worth on 10/17, 10/18 & 10/19. The Texas group likes to dine together on Friday evening, enjoy the meeting on Saturday and extent the stay to Sunday for a visit to a member’s home to see his or her collection or to visit a tourist site in the area.

My addiction started with curiosity about a weight I inherited. I’ve developed the same passion for paperweights as Will Pitt, but I don’t sell them.

If you like glass, I urge you to attend the upcoming meeting. Will Pitt will be visiting dealer, bringing his lovely orbs to sell. Damon MacNaught, winner of the PCATX.org scholarship will be the speaker, telling about new methods he learned at the Corning School of Glass. Please visit PCATX.org for additional information.

Reavis Writes Again

Sachse Public Library-Special Event

 Footsteps to Mysteries


Reavis Z. Wortham

Reavis Z. Wortham knew he wanted to be a writer from the time he was 10, living in East Texas, where he hunted and fished for fun in the woods.  He’ll talk about the footsteps he took on the road from a 30+year career in public education to becoming the critically acclaimed author of the Red River Mystery Series.  A few years ago he retired as the Director of Communications at the Garland Public Schools with no hesitation in moving forward with his passion for writing.  His awards and recommendations from noted authors and producers keep him writing thoroughly enjoyable, realistic southwest mysteries. Through personal stories and anecdotes, Wortham will discuss his own journey,  through the process of writing and publishing that book we all have inside.  He’ll preview his latest book Vengence is Mine: A Red River Mystery.  You can read details about his latest book at http://reaviszwortham.com/

Other Reavis Wortham Books:

The Rock Hole: A Red River Mystery

Burrows: A Red River Mystery

The Right Side of Wrong: A Red River Mystery

Doreen’s 24 Hr Eat Gas Now Cafe 

He’ll share where he finds his characters and why his latest mystery has a touch of Las Vegas added to his East Texas cronies.  He knows how to tell a good story, both online, on paper and in person.  You won’t want to miss meeting him.  Don’t miss this opportunity to hear how he works with the Poison Pen Publishing Company for the next book to amuse and entertain his readers.

cowboy boots and hat

These boots are made for writing!

Date:               October 7, 2014

Time:               7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Location:         3815 Sachse Road, Sachse, TX


Come early.  Bring a friend  and your neighbors.

Door prizes and refreshments will be available.

You do NOT need to live in Sachse to attend this free presentation.





Your Resume Looks Like Your Grandmother’s Quilt

The economy is growing again, according to many sources.  And you recently discovered your company is being acquired.  You like your job, but you heard the new company will be laying off most of the employees.

Your Grandmother's Quilt

Does your resume look like your grandmother’s quilt?

Your Grandmother’s Quilt

Since you were laid off in 2008 from your long term job, you have had three full time jobs.  Your 10 years of experience at XYZ Corporation was exemplary.  You haven’t had such good luck with a couple of start ups and one large company, since then.  And here you go again.  You added a couple of lines on your resume about each job, but failed to give much detail.  Your resume looks like it’s patched together like your grandmother’s quilt!

Your Best Skills

Do not, I repeat, do not start sending your resume willy-nilly to openings.  Take time to determine what your best skills are and what you’d like to do next.  Make this a career move, not a fear move.  You learned new skills in these last three jobs: video, health care devices and a little defense work.  Your long term job was in the semiconductor industry as a component engineer, so you know both hardware and software.  Where did you hear the most praise from management and colleagues?  Your research should demonstrate what is “hot” and what is declining.

You must write a list of accomplishments.  Resume reviewers want to know your duties and what you accomplished for the company.  Bullet the accomplishments.  Make them stand out. How are you unique?  Why would anyone want to hire you?

Your Technical Skills

If you are an engineer, you may have configuration management skills.  You need a special section for your technical knowledge, but don’t put everything but the “kitchen sink” in that section.  It makes you look like you know the terms but have little depth.  Focus your resume on your marketable skills, listing the skills and experience which make you appealing in that area. Now make a list of companies which need your skills.

I can hear you whining!  “But, Ruth, I didn’t have time to accomplish much in each of the last three jobs.”  Wordsmith the resume, as you must engage the reader’s interest, but do not exaggerate.

Your Education

Maybe you are non-degreed.  That is a problem with some companies who don’t value on-the-job experience.  Make sure you have a section for Education, even if you did not finish a degree.  Otherwise, the reader may think you forgot or have no education.  Surely you must have taken a few seminars or classes along the way.  Add them.  Show that you like to learn.  Plug your certifications in this section.

If your degree(s) are over 10 years ago, omit the dates.  I know others may argue this point with me, but your resume should focus on your recent accomplishments, not how old your education is.


You will probably need several different versions of your resume.  Definitely customize your resume for each targeted job submission.

You do not need to put your hobbies and interests, nor your birthday, nor your marital status.  Those factors should NOT be factors.     Omit “References available.” Employers assume your  references are available.  Make every word count!

If you don’t take time at the beginning of your search, you may be mired in your current job or unemployed for a long time.  Try these hints.  You won’t be sorry and your resume won’t look like a patchwork quilt.

Make Your Dream Career Soar Like the Solar Impulse Plane

Solar Impulse in Dallas

The Solar Impulse is a dream come true!

Have you heard of the Solar Impulse Plane? Two men with a dream created a solar powered airplane.  Together they planned, designed, implemented, tested, and finally the plane was ready to soar.

What are your career dreams?  You, too, could soar like the Solar Impulse Plane.  Maybe you won’t make international news, but if you want a better career, you must first have a dream.

The Dream

Martin Luther King had a dream.  Our forefathers (and mothers) had a dream.  What is your dream?  Do you want to help others, repair engines, co-ordinate events? Your dream begins with drilling down to determine feasibility.   Think creatively with both the right and left sides of your brain.  Don’t make excuses!

A Plan

If you are the analytical, spend time with careful planning.  If you are more on the creative side, you may need to find someone to be your “grounding wire” to assure your idea takes flight.

Regardless whether your dream is a service or a product, you need to know ALL about it.  If you start a retail ice cream business, you need to know about freezers and sticky kids.  You need to know that it takes some muscle power and patience to serve ice cream for hours.

If you love jewelry and think it would be cool to manufacture jewelry, a degree in fashion merchandising and experience in sales, along with great business connections, will help you achieve a longer range plan.  Some of your plans may fall from the sky or, you may have to struggle every inch of the way.  But you soar with confidence, your abilities and willingness to learn on the way.  Hard work is part of the formula!

A Team

Bertrand Piccard was the dreamer for the Solar Impulse Plane.  His background was that of a psychiatrist and aeronautical engineer.  He started his team by adding Andre Borschberg, an experienced airplane and helicopter pilot with a graduate degree in management.  What a combination!  Bertrand was the sales person, finding funding, while Andre added brilliant people with a passion for their dream.

You may choose no partners or join a team with an amazing mission.  Whether you work alone or engage with a huge team, you need to agree on the mission.  If you are a company of one, you need “flight attendants” or “cheer leaders” to support your efforts with thoughtful feedback.

The Surprises

In any career surprises occur along the way.  On July 6,  Bertrand and Andre successfully completed their trip across the United States but there was still one last hitch on the last leg of their flight into New York.  A rip in the wing could have stopped them, but they decided it was not serious enough to end the flight.  They reacted quickly.

When a surprise stops you in your tracks, take the time you need to re-group and forge ahead.  Whether it’s a few minutes for putting a band-aid on your wound or chemo treatments for an extended period, find value and determine ways to cope.

The Present

I visited the Solar Impulse Plane when it was in Dallas.  I talked with some on the team, including a young American student (I didn’t get his name, unfortunately), who talked his way onto the team.  His resume will forever attract attention because he was confident enough to be a little brazen to achieve this accomplishment.

You need to dream a little and demonstrate confidence to achieve your goal.  Take action now.  We never know what new opportunities will evolve.  Today is the day for your dream career to begin to soar!

Ruth Glover wrote MORE than a Paycheck: Inspiration and Tools for Career Change, which gives you 20 examples of people who have moved their careers in various ways.  She is offering a special of $10 for the book to encourage you to act on your dreams.