Thursday, March 31, 2011

Craft Boston........

After spending a month feverishly making work, picking up work from other shows and tweaking the booth I was ready.  No stone left unturned.  From the mastercard/visa swiper (which I love) to the foam mat flooring I ordered on line.

Craft Boston just happened to coincide with Kent's Spring break.  Abby was drafted to help schlep.  She would follow me in the Nissan Versa aka clown car and leave on Sat. to get back for Monday morning class.  In hindsight ......... this was stupid!
Back to UHaul this time I rented a 4 x 8 trailer instead of the 5 x 8.  It was loaded, clean jeans were packed and we were on the road by 2 a.m.  I gave myself 4 hours extra to get to Boston, normally a 10 hour trip.  Pulling out of the driveway three deer stood in the road.  Go back they said....... turn around.  We weren't even off the street.  We waited until they moved and we were off!  We hit the PA. line and snow flakes started falling.......... no, oh please not now.  We kept going onto Erie.  By Erie we couldn't see the road.  Hmmmm........ the deer were right.  Turn around, really?  NO. keep going while repeating;  The Greater My Obstacles, The Greater My Rewards.  The snow was really coming down when we passed Angola prison and I thought hmmm .... even razor wire is pretty with fresh snow falling.
On to Buffalo........ 35 mph...... we pulled off at rest area to chip the ice off the grill of the cars.

On to Rochester........ if it did not let up by Rochester we would get a room and hunker down.  It got better, we kept going.  Check in time was 3:30 p.m.  We crossed into MA.  called my sister-in-law and met her at the third exit where we gassed up.  I gave her tickets to the show and she thrust a baggie filled with fruit and chocolate into our hands.  I explained we were way behind schedule and had to fly, no time for even a cup of coffee.  Jumping on Rt 90 I called Abby to tell her we needed to step up the pace.  I called Beth in Boston and told her we running late.  She said;  The dock gates close at 4 p.m. if your not here you have to wait until 8 a.m. tomorrow.  I was sick as this was a new booth with lights, flooring and wrap station I was sure I would need tonight to get the bones of the booth up.  I figured the time and realized I was not going to make it.  I called back to Abby, I called Butch, I called Dolita..... Butch called Abby and told her;  There's $20 with you name on if you keep your Mother headed to Boston, DO NOT let her turn around.  Abby called back;  Mom go for it.  I did....... I punched the Colorado and I was doing 85 mph hauling a trailer in Boston traffic.  I did a U turn on Seaport Blvd and pulled into the loading dock with 6 minutes to spare.  We were hugging and yelling.  Then Beth yelled you have 6 minutes to unload that truck and get it out of here!  We did!
The Boston World Trade Center is awesome as we could park the trailer in the Trade Center giving us full access to our trailers during the show.  As I pulled out Abby pulled up in the Nissan smiling...... MOM I knew you could do it!  We parked the cars and started setting up the booth.  We had been on the road for 14 hours and now the work began but we made it.

We rolled out of the Trade Center at 8 p.m.  The walls were up, the lights were up, the floor was down, the pedestals up and the wrap table.  We could tackle the pots tomorrow.  Now back in the cars and try to find our Inn at Crystal Cove in the darkness......... 7.5 miles away.   God, we were tired.  Mapquest got us there in about 20 minutes.  We collapsed on the bed, I can't remember if we ate dinner that night or not.  Weary Road Warriors ........

The next morning we took the truck back in to the city and started setting out pots and polishing up the booth.  Thursday morning we could see Boston by daylight and it was grand!  We parked the truck and saw the sign

then we walked into the Trade Center and Oh wow....... we saw my pot on the entry way, somebody pinch me! 
Abby and I hugged each other spilling Starbuck's coffee all over each other........ it was such a Mary Tyler Moore moment.  
We started pulling pots out of shipping containers and placing them around the booth.  We touched each and every pot 10 or 15 times trying to get it just right...... who knows if we did or not.  It was 4 p.m. and we had to run back to the Inn to clean up and change for the gala VIP opening......

Running back by 6 p.m. to meet VIP's until 9 p.m.  I suck at schmoozing...... I sit in a garage with an old dog making pots and listening to books on CD.  He loves everything I make and he schmoozes when he wants a cookie or walk but he was home.   9 p.m. came and we headed back to the room........ I had sold one $85 pot.  
But the booth looked pretty good.........

Friday morning we got up and headed into Boston.......... can't say I was feeling very optimistic at this point.  It had been a haul and I realized I was a bit a fried.  Abby followed me into Boston in the little car.  I looked in my rear view mirror and watched her get caught in the traffic headed to Logan Airport.  That was all I needed to have a mini meltdown........ I pulled into the $11 a day parking lot, composed myself and thought she will find her way here.  As I walked to Starbuck's I saw the little black Nissan chugging down Seaport Blvd...... YEAH!!  I walked to the parking lot, paid her $11 parking fee and we splurged on large coffee's and a muffins.   We went directly to the booth and there was someone standing in my booth looking at pots.  Good Morning I chirped, let me turn on the lights.  The wonderful woman smiled and said .......... I thought about this all night and I have to have this pot.  The big horsehair pot?  YES!  But it's $1200.00  I know....... I stood there and then kind of fell apart.  Abby punched me and said...... Hey there is no crying in the booth, wrap it up!  I thanked her profusely and she teared up too......
I make these pots because I love making them and when someone else loves them it's great!  I had never sold one of my big pots and this was the day I had dreamed about for a very long time, I wonder if it would ever come.  You know if it had never come I would still make these pots.  As she was walking out of the booth she also purchased a teapot as a gift for a friend.  This is the single biggest sale I have ever made and this woman will probably get a Christmas card from me for the rest of her life or mine.   Friday was a day we artists dream about.  People bought pots and bought pots in groups, not just one but the group.  The collectors were out, the artists came to the booth.  One of other artists grabbed my arm and said;  You have arrived and looks like Craft Boston is your coming out party.   It was a day you were sorry to see end.

Friday also brought out our east coast contingency of relatives!  It was so great to see familiar faces wander into the booth.  Team Dawson, Giacometti, Ganong....... they all arrived.  The team took Abby to lunch and I stayed in the booth.  Abby had to leave on Friday afternoon to make sure she made it back to Kent.  I worked the rest of the show alone and you know it was OK.

Sunday morning I got up early walked around the seaport, had another Team Ganong visit and felt good we had made it through a snow storm, credit card applications, booth building, kiln rewiring and adding new dimension to my work.
In five hours the show would be over and I would packing up the booth and headed for Ohio.  I pulled out of the World Trade Center at 8:15 p.m. heading west on RT. 90.  I pulled in the driveway at 6:45 a.m. just in time to have coffee with Butch before he was off to work.  I unloaded the trailer and truck into the studio, returned the trailer, washed the salt off the truck , gassed her up and returned home by noon to face plant on the couch.

Boston has turned out to be my best show to date.  The Craft Boston crew was wonderful!  Helpful on every level and amazingly supportive.  I feel very fortunate to have had such a wonderful show and feel the fine craft gods had smiled on me last weekend.  I also know there were artists who did not make their booth fee back and wondered how they will make it to the next show.  The quality of the work at this show was jaw dropping, every booth was the best of the best.  I met artists at Craft Boston that I had seen in books over the years.  They were all gracious and welcoming, it is a wonderful community to be part of.
I had put all my eggs in the Craft Boston basket and had really come to the realization if things had not gone well here I would have to come home and figure out what I was going to do to pay bills.  Some how we must support American made craft.  More is not always better and the butter dish doesn't have to match the gravy boat.  Buy work you love and support your local craft people.  I came home with yet another mug to add to my collection and beautiful handmade wooden spoons.  Maybe next year I will be able to buy the hand crafted hutch I fell in love with. 

Growth is never easy and this had been yet another step forward.
This profession is not one for wimps or someone thinking this is an easy buck.  Those who
choose this lifestyle are the definition of hard work ethics.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Naples to Boston and back.........

or lessons from the dog and pony show at Paine Falls............

Accepted to von Liebig art show in Naples I cheered knowing I would be leaving snowy Ohio in February and headed to land of sun, flip flops and rhinestone studded sunglasses. AND note to self.... DO NOT FORGET THE JEWEL ENCRUSTED KITTEN HEELS!!
This would be my warm up for Craft Boston, a month later. 
Besides, the relatives had raved about Naples for years, it's where I first heard the term......
"Gated Community"  over and over and over.  We rented the 5 x 8 UHaul, loaded the pedestals, pots, mapquest print outs, sunblock and podcasts.  We set up the canopy in the studio the night before we left;  high fiv-ing each other as this was so easy!   We dropped the dog at Kent State with Abby, hoping he would survive a week with college students and a keg....... he hid in the Abby's closet for 7 days.  We also left the Nissan for the dog and Abby so she could bring him home if got home sick for the weekend. 

Ohio usually gets a weather break in January and I thought I would be able to set the booth up in the driveway at some point, it never happened.  Snow storm after snow storm blew down from the Arctic.   I turned the house in to booth building central.  Oh Hi Honey....... what do you mean you can't get to your office?  You mean you can't commando crawl under those panels?  Christmas cookies come back to haunt you?  He is a patient man and set up shop on the kitchen table while wearing sunglasses and giddy over the fact he was days away from getting sand in his shorts.

Florida is supposed be high 60's low 70's in February......... it was low 90's, high humidity.  Coming from the deep freeze of Ohio I was having a stroke and not happy in my container.   We checked into the hotel after driving the 18 hours across the Allegheny mountains and down into Georgia.  I breathed a sigh of relief when Butch drove past Disney world and we did not stop......... he was silent as he bowed his head and tipped his hat to corporate rat world.  I whistled "Dont Worry Be Happy".  

Our check in time was 7:30 p.m. Friday night.  Yup, we set up in the dark....... who sets up a show in the dark?  We needed head lamps to get the canopy up.  Honey just put this little pin in slot "B". 
I can't see slot "B" in fact I can't see the pin.  Helen Keller could have set this canopy up faster than we did.  We stacked everything in the back of the booth and retired to the room.  Free breakfast at the La Chain-ta hotel.  Hard boiled eggs, coffee and an orange around the pool where stark white northern snow birds were already in the pool.  Where ya from I asked.......... Minnesota, isn't it great here?  At 6 am it's 50 degrees and too cold to swim but hey I bet your in the polar bear club.  You Bet! 
We stumbled to the show and begin setting up................  this is what we ended up with:
 At the time I thought this looked great!  Until I came home and loaded my pictures onto the computer.
OMG it looks like a garage sale!  Much tweeking was needed for Boston!  For anybody reading this blog that is the best tip I can give out.  Take pictures of your booth and send them to your friends, your honest friends!  Sit Back and adjust!   Oh and see the booth next to me?  That was the booth of a musician who played music all day long......... I heard it when I closed my eyes the first night.  He was selling CD's for $5 a piece or 4 for $16.  I bought 4 and light them on fire. 
The crowd was slow as I think it was just too hot, we were on asphalt, in the sun.  Butch dropped me off in the morning and spent the day at the beach, picking me up at the end of the show, 6 p.m. to do touristy things......... which I suck at.
I swear, they told me they hate it!  Leave them home, do not bring them to a blipping hot art show!  They have on a fur coat and hate burning off the pads on their little feet.  And HEY you, that's right the chubby guy riding around on the Rascal, dragging your basset hound in 90 degree heat,  I hope you come back as your dog and your dog is on the scooter dragging your butt around.  And yes I said something to Rascal Boy whereas he informed me he was good friends with the mayor....... what that has to do with dragging your chubby dog around on hot day while you sit on your chubby butt under an umbrella sipping water I just don't know but STOP IT!   
And this is why I stopped doing outdoor shows years ago........ it's all coming back to me now......

We made expenses to the dollar, tweeked the booth, revamped the inventory, lost ten pounds sweating and all in all learned more than 5 days in Florida and I turn into a royal witch.  The show ended Sunday night and I flew out Tuesday night.  Butch opted to stay an extra week and drag the UHaul around while stopping at various baseball games and cracked out on hot dogs.

As he drove me to the airport in Fort Meyers I was so happy to be going home I ran down the tarmack, buckled myself into seat 28C and realized I forgot to kiss him good bye.  I called from the plane to say how sorry I was .......... he laughed and said I had done remarkably well for my 5 days. 

and just for the record.........
He took me to the Rookery on Monday.  When I say Rookery what do you think of?  Birds?  Nesting birds?  In fact the definition of rookery: a breeding colony of rooks, typically seen as a collection of nests high in a clump of trees.
• a breeding colony of seabirds (esp. penguins), seals, or turtles.
Here is what we found........... remember it's Florida.  They had just burned the Rookery three weeks prior to our visit.  Nope no birds, nothing living whatsoever.......... it's Florida.

We left the Rookery and went to the Botanical Gardens of Naples........ yup you guessed.  Florida had such a hard winter all plants were frost burned beyond recognition.  Not much living there either.

I arrived in Ohio at 1 a.m. Abby picked me up at the airport with one happy dog.  I drove her back to Kent.  Abby got out and the dog dug in to the back seat.
The dog and I headed for home both whistling........ Don't Worry Be Happy. 
But alas sometime during our departure the furnace blower went out and the house was a balmy 38 degrees.  I found myself chopping kindling in the driveway at 2 a.m. and trying to get the house warm.  Thank goodness for woodstoves!  The blower was only another $600............ I still love it here!

By Monday morning of the following week the furnace was fixed and I had a weeks work drying in the studio...... Bring on Craft Boston!