Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shows...... what not to do...... again!

After the show in July, I thought I got this show thing nailed.  So when I started packing for this show my inside voice kept saying EDIT; but my hands kept packing!  Why? 

Because I have not done this show since they required costumes and had port-a-potties I really didn't know what the market would be.  I have memories or rather nightmares of wearing skirts, jerkins, leggings and clogs, I sold pottery and was the best damn pottery wench you could behold.  Clipping my truck keys to the skirt waistband, out of sight of fair goers because what respectable pottery wench in days of yore drove a truck?  At the end of the day it was inevitable, one had to use the big blue box.  I backed in, as the frontal approach was just not happening, hoisted my enormous skirt and heard my truck keys hit the rim of the toilet seat and splash to the neither regions below.  My reaction, spin on my heels to what...... try and catch them?  Whence forth my glasses flew off my head and dropped next to my keys.... I could almost see them, it was all a blur.  The magic of adrenalin and shear panic meant I no longer had to pee. I burst from the port-a-potty pulling up my drawers and yanking down my stupid bellowing skirt and sputtering the words; Holy Shit!  As the line of people waiting to use the port-a-potty gasped and laughed. I called for the backup keys 2 hours away.  The office asked me to fill out an envelope and my glasses and keys would be mailed back to me.  Ewww, eww, eww.... they promised they would be sanitized as this happens all the time.  

So when they asked me to submit my application to the show I said; Are kidding me, I cannot costume up anymore.  They assured me no more port-a-potties and no more costumes!  Ok, I'm in....... see what a push over I am?  That's how I got a dog ......  

The last time I attended I had very different work.  Painted holly berries and wisteria and I was just dabbling in raku..... it was a long time ago.  So what is the market now?  It's a big 4 day show.  It used to be a great crowd.  It's $10 to get in the door and $5 to park on the lawn or free to take a shuttle in.  
The committee of red shirted ladies is amazing and take care of their artists.  Bravo ladies!  One of the red shirted ladies said they were expecting 10,000 people if the weather stayed sunny.  What kind of pottery would 10,000 people like?  So I packed it all.  

They had moved the show from the huge flat field under big circus tents.  I was assured we were still under a big circus tent but I should bring a white canopy too.  Great I just sold my white canopy after the last show of vowing never to do shows again.  I called Sam's Club on Thursday and they had 4 in stock.  Awesome.  The weekend came and the weekend went.  Monday morning I jumped in the truck and dashed to Sam's club...... what tents, it's Christmas!  Christmas trees greeted me at the door and there was candy cane poop everywhere.  Hey it's September!  The Christmas Crap arrived on Saturday morning and we reloaded the truck with summer fun crap.  Seriously?! 
I ran to Lowe's,  I ran to Costco, I ran to Home Depot, I ran to Petities Garden Center...... Christmas had arrived over night and if one more Cindy Lou Who told me it was now officially Christmas I was going to choke the tinsel out of her.  The last very nice Cindy Lou Who told me to order it online.  I order from CostCo.  I paid the extra bucks to guarantee delivery for the day needed.  It's basically a Sleezy-Up but lined with silver, not white, oh no, shiny silver.  It will have to work and maybe the shiny force field will save me.  It's a four day show, I'm sure I will need saving from something...... like myself! 

The big day arrived, check in 11:00 a.m. Awesome, time to walk the dog, shower and find my keys.  I blasted Megan Trainer all the way down because it really is all about the base.  Arriving with minutes to spare the place was calm and orderly.  I was ordered to park in a specific spot and a lawn tractor with little trailer pulled up to tailgate, helped unload and off we went to find Birch Ally, site #51.  Is there a craft fair Illuminati that determines where potters should be placed in the landscape?  They pour over the applicants and wringing their hands say; Oh a potter..... place the potters on the highest bluff, across the gravel parking lot and sandstone chunks (THAT ARE NOT PAVERS!) across a thick grassy field and there will be your booth.  And off we went; past the patchwork fabric pumpkins, toofa mushrooms, soap makers, floral bouquets and baskets, boxes of giant candied apples oozing caramel and nuts sliding off the cellophane in the hot morning sun, sunflowers and bird feeders, the train whistle guy (please don't let me be next to the train whistle guy because I'm gonna need that force field and a set of ear plugs or he's gonna be eating one) By the time we found my booth I had a cinnamon spice headache. 

My plan of a Hell-a-Simple booth took two trips and a trip to Lowe's for two more extension cords and many more 5,000K Led lights.  By the time I was done I felt like I was sitting on Broadway!
Behold the pottery booth....... key the angelic singing!  What a cluster fuck......

Behold, carved porcelain in sea of blue and green...... 

Black and white carved slipware with chartreuse liner.

New work I'm calling decal madness and transfer slip

and lest we forget the woven work and dustables.... 

I'm changing the name of my pottery to SQUIRREL!  Thursday morning, 10 a.m. we opened to sunny skies and a full parking lot.  Let the games begin! 

The judges came around twice and they were fun to talk with although I didn't know any of them.  I was so bored I would have talked to a camel so when they asked questions I was happy to engage.  After they left the booth I grabbed the packet and riffled through wondering whom I had just engaged with..... Kristina Malcolm: artist, silversmith, instructor, writer, lecturer; Arnold Tunstall: Akron Art Museum, worked in various curatorial positions and has served as collections manager, on the board of SPACES and Akron Soul Train and Amy Mothersbaugh Akron Soul Train Creative Conductor and Knight Grant Winner and her badge read: Queen of the Judges!  Who doesn't love a queen?

  Fair go-ers stood in the aisle pointing at work to their friends.  They were intimidated to walk into my booth.  Smiling, I beckoned them in.  They walked away.  The booth was confusing! 
And finally someone bucked up the courage to enter the cluster fuck..... Hi, ummm do you have a colander?  OMG!  No, I most certainly do not have a colander but I do at the gallery.  Yup, the one thing I left on the shelf...... colanders.  Thursday we closed at 5 pm and I had sold 2 mugs for a total of $40.00.  Friday has got to pick up........ 

Friday, up early to walk the dog, feed the dog, sit on the floor with the dog and tell him I would be back soon.  Off to the show Hi Ho Hi Ho.... I passed the bill board of a local church declaring; "BODY PIERCING SAVED YOUR LIFE...... LOVE JESUS.   10 a.m. and the sun was out again, the parking lot was full and the buses were rolling.  The gingerbread was being passed out and the red shirt ladies were happy.  Good Morning.  The golf carts filled with committee ladies were buzzing the grounds, I waved and then they stopped at my booth.  Awarded Best in Show.... shut up!  I got kind of choked up because so far I was a Fine Art Girl in a Pumpkin Spice World.  Grand Prize..... a free booth next year.  And I just want to say how much I love the Mid West.... big ass ribbons, church bill boards and kettle corn!  Who doesn't need a bigger ribbon, I'm hanging that thing right over my wheel when I get home!  The crafter next to me asked me what I won, "a free booth next year".... she whispered in my ear, "Oh the irony".  Took me a minute but yes so far this had been a lot of work for $40 and a free booth and 6 days out of the studio.   Honestly, I was truly grateful for the award! 

Friday sales did pick up, Saturday the front gate ran out of gingerbread and sales slumped.  As we walked to the parking lot the mitten lady said; tomorrow will be family day, they come for the gingerbread.  Oh great the gate ran out so there will be angry people.  The gate set records and it was the 2nd time in 50 years the show had 4 sunny days in a row.  The red shirted ladies were giddy!  Me........ I sold mugs like it was my job.  I sold two slipware pieces and two dustables but both of those had to be shipped, the fun never ends.  I ended up selling very close to $2,000.  Guess what I'm taking next year........ lots more mugs!   I will take a few dustables,  and the booth will have a banging mug display, sprinkled with a few other things like colanders and tiny ring bowls.  Small things people can tuck in a bag........ like a mug with a bird, bunny or bee. 

My neighbors did well; eternity scarves that I just could not figure out for love or money.  But she brought 125 scarves and sold all but 9 for $65 each.  Yeah, do the math.  She pointed out the scarf costs her $18 and the leaf prints were about $2.  A tidy profit and the booth was super simple and she was gone before I had the stuff off my pedestals.  The beach glass lady sold out...... beach glass glued on craft lamps..... or glued on a pendant hung on a chain, who knew?  Also gone before my stuff was off the pedestals.  The floral lady...... sold out and gone before I turned my lights out.  I'm still picking sweet annie out of my nose.  Yup, I got schooled in craft fair 101.   

My award for best story of the show....... 
A young couple walked around the booth the last day of the show.  Finally said; we love your work and were opening a gallery, would you be interested in putting work in our gallery?  My inside voice said; nope.  But not wanting to be rude I asked them what type of gallery they were opening and what they were going to carry.  Well they had been taking glass blowing classes for two years and just started pottery so they want to make it a teaching gallery.  I started doing the math in my head; equipment for pottery and glass blowing, gallery fixtures, just the set for book keeping and tracking sales, deposit on building etc my head was spinning.  They were going to teach all the classes but you just started taking pottery classes.  Oh the young with trust funds and encouraging parents.  As they walked away I said: Hey, whats the name of your gallery??  wait for it ....... Throw'n and Blow'n  and with that I said; wow am I busy, I can't possibly think of putting work in another gallery.  

I honestly don't know what the hell I'm doing anymore....... 

I've been off the blog for a while but buckle up everyone because while I've been away I've been keeping notes and will be updating my adventures weekly until I'm caught up.  
The adventures of Kirby the wonder dog continue next....... 


  1. makes me tired reading about all that work...and reminds me why I haven't done a fair in ages!!

  2. You are brave and amusing! It would have to be a truly amazing show for me to do another one!

    Toes crossed that all is well with Kirby!

  3. gz! Good morning...... or afternoon for you :). I keep thinking there should be another way but it seems to be part of what we do. Besides what would I write about 😘❣️

  4. Suzi! I can't stop making work and need to move some of those pots along..... until I figure out another way I'll keep throwing up the sleezyup 😂

    Kirby had a peaceful night and is putting a little weight on that paw. His appetite for treats and handouts is un-phased ......

  5. When will you write your first book. I never tire of reading your words. What a wonderful honor to win best of show, but I know you should probably win them all. You are so talented. Keep on, keeping' on.

  6. Good Morning Joanie G! There must be someway to weave all these mindless observation into something called a book.... but gosh there are those SQUIRRELS ..... again! How about I print off the blog post and put a big ole' staple in the corner 😂
    ❣️❣️❣️😘 Thank you! I'm honored you took time from concert tour to read the blog..... love watching your travels and joy of my favorite musicians!! Abby and Rachael just saw the Indigeo Girls in Alaska!!

  7. Thanks for sharing all the fun you had ! The tents are lined with silver so you no longer have to wear a tin foil hat at these shows. I have been next to the train whistle guy and 15 ft from the speakers blasting music for a 40 acre show. It's always something unless it's something else. Look forward to the next installment.

  8. Good Morning Dennis!! I will miss my tin foil hat.....maybe that's what kept people out of the booth 🤔 Oh Dennis the music, I totally blanked on the music part of the festival! We had a DJ..... I went an hour early everyday to hang out in the peace of the garden. I asked the birds to poop on those huge speakers that blend into formal gardens so well 😳

  9. Ha! I was just looking at EZ ups online. I have always avoided outdoor shows. Perhaps I will continue this trend.

  10. You know what- never mind, now you do know what- I just can't do the shows anymore............I am learning to live off less and less and it's not good. Because less is the new black.
    We need some customers who understand what it is we do and want to own it.
    Come on in, bring your check book, we are waiting.

  11. Hey Melissa!! I have heard from so many getting out of the outdoor show business, mostly due to weather, crowds and pottery not bouncing very well. Had an opening at the gallery on Friday and we all stood around talking about the many ways to see work...... other than the show circuit.

    That said; there is something about setting up with kindred spirits and listening to customers. It does help to keep my ear to the ground and listen to trends, wants, needs etc. Or blow it all off and go to the studio and make the things I want to make and be eternally happy LOL! Yeah........ leave me my illusions!

  12. Hey Meredith!! Love it; Less is the new black!! I'm giving that a try and finding there are a few things that need upgrading like the old computer, printer, etc. The stuff we need to do business........ yeah, the rice and beans are on the stove! I realized yesterday I was wearing a 10 year old shirt to an opening ....... eeeeck!

    Still working alone so no real help and have completely redesigned the booth so it is much lighter, smaller and manageable ....... now I just need to get a handle on inventory!

    Went to a workshop yesterday at the local guild and listened to an upcoming rock star in the ceramics world. She talked about pricing and I listened intently as her mugs were going for big big bucks. Yes, they are hand-built, have gold luster, fired numerous times and she's a student. I'm wracking my brain trying to remember how much they were and I want to say $83.00 and she is thinking of a price hike because she can't make it on the $83.00. I'm selling mugs for $20-$35. The Cleveland market will not bear $83 mugs ...... although other potters bought them for sure.

    She was asked where she saw herself in 5 years and she is hoping to land a university position.

    I drove home with mind reeling ..........

    and I'm not buying we're too old, we who have been doing this for so many years throw some damn good pots so we need to adjust the sails. I'm not ready to retire to wayward home from old craft farts yet :)

    In other news....... the entire last month I had one check and a myriad of credit cards. Friday night at the opening the internet server was spotty at best and crashed all night. I had customers who were buying........ I sold for $125 pots for $100 because they had cash. So again the paradigm is shifting....... online sales may become dicey. Sure as hell freaked me out!

  13. 83.00 mugs.........makes me see red. Why.............ours run much less and still the best seller. I can't make it on 83. Mugs either, no one would buy them.
    Sigh, we are not done yet.
    Keep walking the walk, and enjoy those beans.
    I like beans...:)

  14. Meredith, not sure who can! Ya, put your fork away, I'm not done yet either :) Even the new dog likes beans :) And the season is upon us so pedal to the metal!!

    Already thinking about the garden next year and what will be on the menu :) !