Thursday, July 7, 2016

Recap of Shows and catch up

The good, the bad and ugly and sooooo many epiphanies!  
After selling my booth 2 1/2 years ago and swearing I would never ever ever go out on the road again.  I got a real job (and we all know how that turned out), opened a brick and mortar gallery with rent due and VoilΓ !  I am singing along with Willie Nelson…. On The Road Again.  I have bills to pay;  my ten year old computer is coughing and wheezing, a lot and there is rent and electric and you know the rest!  I juried into the second weekend of Boston Mills Art Show.  

Since leaving my job on April 26th, attending NCECA, going into clay testing frenzy, followed by glaze testing frenzy, hosting two Third Fridays at the gallery, submitting work to two ceramics invitationals; there wasn't very much time left to rebuild a booth.  The kilns were firing non-stop, the weaving material was flying and 4 days before setup I decided it was time to BUILD THAT BOOTH! 

Swearing I would never go through the insanity of booth set up experienced 2 1/2 years ago I opted for easy cheesy.  Just lugging pots around should be an Olympic event; toss in a booth with weights, lights, tables and pedestals….. and can we talk about the wrapping material; newsprint, bubble wrap, boxes, bags!  There's another 25 pounds you can't even put a price tag on.  And my slave labor, children have moved far far away…… sniff! 

I own and love my Trimline.  I have used it 4 times for outdoor shows and never felt safer.  But I have made a decision; no more outdoor shows for this potter!  Pots do not bounce!  A fellow potter lost two beautiful big pots when the tent curtain blew in with a gust of wind and leveled those beautiful pots right off their pedestals. Theory proven, pottery does not bounce.   The weather has changed in the 30 years of doing shows.  Nothing says fun like standing on an asphalt parking lot on a 90F degree day and smelling your underwear go up in flames.  I consumed a gallon of water before set up.  Mantra:  Be the Grape, Don't be the raisin!  Summer shows can be hot, windy, torrential and just plain miserable or they can be like the weekend we were blessed with; low 70's, slight breeze and low humidity. Perfect!  I am not sure I want my bank account to be based on weather patterns, I'm not farming here, I am selling pots. 

Here are photos of my current booth.  Do you see the changes that need to be made?  This is the first attempt at putting a booth together that I can easily handle; set up and take down.  Dolly to my truck, easily and load without passing out.  This is very close but needs major tweaking. 

No more plastic back drop walls!  Pipe and drape, period.  And I will never go back to pro-panels unless I bring my pet gorilla.  My pedestals pack down flat and weigh next to nothing.  They do need a face lift so that will be on the "to-do" list.  

I took three pedestals and left the rest in the gallery.  Next show; leave the shelves home and pack all the pedestals!  It elevates your work and looks professional.  

Here are images of my booth when I was running the show circuit and killing myself.

The old booth looks great but I would need to arrive a day early to a show for set up; adding to show expenses.  Also the lights pictured in the booth above are now serving me well in the gallery.  They are halogen and hot.  I converted to LED spots and floods, expensive but well worth the money and they will last the rest of my show life.  Counting the LED's as a one time investment.  Buy your LED's on line, not at Home Depot.  You will save a bucket of money!
Here is some of the information on lightbulbs I found online
14-watt Par30 bulb that features a cluster of 60 individual, high efficiency, and low power LED’s. An optical lens is then placed over the LED’s to control the beam angle, shape and smoothness of the light. Other LED technology uses fewer, high power LED’s that can cause uneven light and hot spots. Until recently, wattage has been used to determine the amount of light a bulb would produce. With newer technology, lumens is a better measurement to evaluate a bulb’s brightness. In choosing a bulb for lighting your artwork, more lumens are not always better. In a booth set-up, your light source is fairly close to the artwork. Too many lumens can cause your work to look washed out. Too few and you lose the detail. Our bulb delivers around 900 lumens at a 60-degree beam angle. This high tech design delivers a visually pleasing appearance by projecting a glare free, smooth beam pattern, much like traditional lighting.The fixture that we chose is a simple yet stylish lamp holder. It features flexible bellows that fit snugly to any bulb design.
The beauty of LED technology is the energy efficiency of the bulb. Our bulb only uses 14 watts of electricity as compared to a halogen that is usually around 50 watts, which also means more heat. If a venue only allows 300 watts per booth that means that you can have 21 LED’s bulbs in your booth versus only 6-50 watt halogen.
I bought one of each and tried them out in the booth.  I ended up with PAR 30 spots and floods (4 each), 5000K (bright white, not warm white) 15 watts, 750 lumens and daylight balanced.  Amazon is great for finding these lightbulbs.  Also cheap heads for your LED's.  I also like

I came home Sunday night with half the sales made 3 years ago but I won First Place in Mixed Media.   I also came home with great insight into what I need to change in the coming weeks ahead.  Monday, I sat down and made a list;  I would recommend this exercise to anyone interested in making your life a little easier.  Collecting your thoughts and writing them down can be pretty insightful.  I have said these things many times in my head but actually writing them down and seeing your goals is a game changer. 
And keep in mind if it's printed out you can change or amend your goals; be flexible!  Like an EZ up in windstorm! 

Here is my list of Goals and Insights: 7/5/16

1.  Make the booth lighter in weight and appearance.
a.  No Shelves.
b.  New pedestals, better tops and black bases (coroplast)
c.  Better light system
d.  Fabric walls or mesh screen (make sure these fold flat) 
e.  Keep tables and paint the tops white, trim with moulding.
f.  Signage for booth, explore canvas picture, here a good start:  easy canvas prints
g.  Light Dome for ease of set up and take down.  Also frame work for lights.

2.  What to sell and where:
a.  Small pots sell:  $48 - $85.  Display at shows, online gallery and gallery.
b.  Elephants sell: Mugs, Teapots & Pitchers: Display a few at shows, online gallery and gallery.
c.  Bees sell:  but not at shows.  These belong online and in gallery.
d.  Show glazes: celadon, blue celadons, black, cognac, woo yellow, crystal whites.  
e.  Gallery and Online glazes: functional whites, greens and blues. 
f.  Make trademark pieces the focal point of booth, gallery and online. 
     (woven, horsehair, elephants, teapots, potters lunchbox, carved dinner for 2 etc.) 
g.  Use large art pieces to anchor display.  You need these!  At least 3 and maybe 5 if there is room.

3.  3-4 High End shows per year.
a.  Keep functional work online and in the gallery, it pays the overhead. 
b.  Do not take functional work to high end shows, everybody does functional. 
c.  Nobody is weaving on pots so weave away.
d.  High end shows will support potters lunch boxes, teapots and carved dinner for two but they need to         be balanced with art pieces.  Too many and the booth looks like a garage sale, pay attention. 

4.  Needs:
a. Online website for purchase of work;  decided to go with the Square format.
b.  Computer (ordered yesterday)
c.  New phone, I am currently on a 2G phone that is being phased out in August.
d.  the Square chip reader
e.  Weed Burner for studio (bigger pots are needed, little propane tanks are a waste)
f.  Light Dome Canopy 10 x 10

5.  Goals:
a.  Keep the Gallery open
b. Keep looking for a place to teach.
c. Continue to explore new work and techniques.
d. Get that online gallery up and current, immediately!  
e.  Update resume'.
f.  Write a new and current artists statement. (done!) 

So the bottom-line;  I don't mind doing shows.  I don't want to do 15 shows a year, ever!  It's so wonderful seeing people I have not seen in years!  It keeps me mindful to keep my work fresh and not get stuck in rut.  People need to see progress in your work.  I don't want to someone to walk in my booth, pick up a piece and say…… Oh, I bought one of these 20 years ago.  As artists we should be changing and growing.  Don't be afraid to re-invent yourself a bit.  

In the last 2 1/2 years I lost my very strong voice.  I blame social media :)  I love instagram, pinterest, Facebook and now periscope.  People are doing some incredible and cool stuff in the pottery world.  I saw things that blew my mind and thought: Ooooo wonder if I can do that in the my studio?  My booth looked very disjointed.  My booth 3 years ago had a strong voice and was pretty focused.  Don't loose your voice! 

I am so happy to back in the studio these past few weeks I can't express my joy.  It was pedal to the metal for sure.  Now it's time to do the taxes, update the books, tend the garden, pick up clay, pay a few bills, clean the studio to get ready for new round of pots, drop off pots to a few galleries and go for a good kayak paddle…….. I have time.  Well for a day and then canning season begins!! Woo Hoo!! 


  1. Oh my ..... that is a BIG plan .... but yes, writing it down, makes it happen ... happy for you that you are energized and re-charged ... go get 'em girl!

  2. Brenda! I say Dream Big!! Now if I could get off the couch πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  3. Gz! To all who tackle a creative, well lived life 😊

  4. Thanks for all the useful information. I am not "big time", as you are, but still have the need to tweak my displays. I think I will be revisiting this post. I now have pedestal envy.

  5. Hey Melissa! I need to a post on those pedestals! They are super easy and cheap and don't take up too much room! Stay tuned...πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘ŠπŸ»❣

  6. I was thrilled to see you after such a long time. Part of me wanted to do some shows again, the other part said, "Who are you kidding? That was another lifetime ago. I'm not getting any younger. " I never did have your energy level when it came to doing outdoor shows. My checklist is a short one. It simply says, "If it's not studio or gallery, I can't do it anymore. " Best of luck in your next chapter of "The Potter Who Came to Tea". (Forgive the blatant Cat Who reference.LOL)

  7. Well, so much for the path of least resistance :)
    I can honestly say I do not miss doing outdoor shows one single bit, don't much miss the indoor ones either (HA), but nice to see your blog being activated and joy in your voice, gotta do that thing that floats your boat, life is short!!

  8. Wendy! it was great to see you and do a quick catchup! We sure have been out here for a few years! and The Cat Who Came to...... is on of favorite series! Lillian Jackson Braun if I remember correctly 😊😊😊. None of us is getting any younger but sheesh the guy next to me was 87....... I asked him if I could borrow his oxygen tank! I do love the gallery shows! but in my own booth I have no rules and sky is the limit!

  9. Hey Tracey!! oh that path of least resistance......... yes I am in deep Dukka according to Buddhism 😊. it was so great to see you write about how happy you are......... I think that is what it's all about! ❣❤️πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ’πŸ‘ŠπŸ»

  10. I am so with you on the booth set up thing. We are getting ready for our biggest show of the year and we are bringing a minimal set up. Paid extra for a corner, which means only two walls to deal with and we are using our tent frame and two side walls. No more screwing solid walls together for hours. Tables with pedestals, one section of abstracta. This show scores your booth each year and it's so subjective - three jurors and your scores are often all over the place. If the booth looks decent and we make money... that's all that matters!

  11. Hi MichΓ©le, I hear you! Yes, yes and yes on the corner booth! Worth every penny extra! I've never designed a both for jurors. If it's clean, uncluttered, packs light and a breeze to put up...... I'm in! Honestly, no more building booths! Leave the power tools home and bring more pots! Good Luck with your show!

  12. Totally need to write goals,etc and 'make a plan of intention'. Intentional Living..(I'm rambling to myself). I just totally love mud..been that way since childhood days playing in my playhouse making mudpies out of BAMA red dirt. So, you are inspirational and motivating. I'm 'Alteredclay in POP making a Sandy Miller inspired pot (for myself). Will post photos. I may send one soon 'in progress' and you can make any suggestions. It's in the bone dry state so guess it's too late ..duh. Take care..we all need you. Thank your hubby for supporting you in this journey!!! We need more men like him (I'm also blessed).
    Catherine Simmons

  13. Hello Catherine/Altered Clay! Thank you so much for your kind words! Can't wait to see what working on! Hubby is mowing the grass tonight 😎 Loving Periscope, it has been a real game changer for me and I think most of us! Here's to good clay, mad skills and true firing kilns πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ‘ŠπŸ»