offcntr: (vendor)
...but not enough to be blocked by the crowds at demo, or the mob line to checkout on Friday night.

This was the view from my booth for about an hour Saturday morning. These nice people are all waiting to go through the meander, out the door to the lobby, and on to a check-out station to buy their pottery. The line continued another 20 feet  or more down the aisle beyond my booth.

Wow. Just wow.

(The line actually moved pretty fast--10 to 15 minutes from getting in line to getting out the door. But they kept coming.)
offcntr: (vendor)

Clayfolk has a rule unique to the pottery shows I sell at, indeed most of the art shows in general: You have to choose a different booth than last year.

At Clay Fest, I've had the same booth the entire 20 years. Anacortes keeps putting me in the same (exposed, potentially gale-tossed) booth every year, despite my pleas to move to a more sheltered spot. The Clayfolks believe shuffling booths keeps the show looking fresh. (Personally, I think it just makes it harder for my customers to find me.)

This year, I have enough points to actually have a choice of booth spaces, so I pick one along the side, under the balcony, near enough to the front to have good sight lines, but not enough to be blocked by the crowds at demo, or the mob line to checkout on Friday night. If I were the type to hang out in the balcony and watch my booth from a distance, I could look right down into it. I'm not. I'd much rather be in the booth, talking to customers and pulling out restock. Even if we're not personally selling our pots--there's centralized check-out--I still think we do better when we show up.

As usual, I'm on the busiest sales shift, so Denise does the heavy lifting Friday night. I get several customers buying over $300 in pots on my shift, and the first three customers all have work by the same potter, Peter Alsen, who does amazing animal sculptures that he then subjects to raku firing. I sell a few of my own pots, including a set of four soup bowls to a nice couple with a sleeping baby. Later I learn that Ali Clark processed a sale with three baskets of my pots: plates, casserole, serving bowls, a total of $590. No wonder Denise looks exhausted when I get off shift. The show runs 'til 9 pm Friday, after which we stumble home to our motel, foregoing supper in favor of bed.
offcntr: (Default)
Clay Fest is usually a lovely low-ish impact show for us. To begin with, it's right here in Eugene: no overnights, cat-sitters, long drives. In addition, they provide pipe-and-drape, and the set-up period runs from noon on Thursday 'til the doors open at 5 pm Friday. We generally unload the van, lay out the carpet and set up the shelves Thursday, take time to vacuum the rug, repaint the dings on the shelves, then go home again, come back Friday to actually unpack the pots and put the extra boxes in the back.

Friday's also the day to check in an entry for the gallery. I usually try to have a new (or newish) sculpture, but as I've sold the last three I've made, went into deep storage to retrieve this one. It's called The Cape, based on a Guy Clark (and Susanna Clark and Jim Janosky) song that I've loved for years, and shows the protagonist in the first verse: Eight years old with a flour sack cape tied all around his neck...

Did a demo for my Saturday work shift, making paintbrushes and decorating bowls for a small but appreciative (and constantly shifting) audience, followed by lunch and some time in the booth talking with folks and restocking. Clay Fest is never a great show for us, sales-wise, too many folks just looking who'll eventually get back to us at Holiday Market (or not), but it's nice to catch up with potter friends, see all the new artists and new work.

 Unfortunately, around mid-afternoon, my back began spasming, so I left Denise in charge of the booth while I went home and crashed on the bed with a heating pad. (Clay Fest has centralized check-out, so she didn't have to actually sell pots, just talk to customers and restock the booth. Still a lot of work.)

Sunday morning I felt a bit better, so did my sales shift at the credit line. Three hours on a stool crashed my back again, so it was home for Tylenol and more heating pad, to get me recovered enough to help pack up. Fortunately for both of us, my very helpful choir director from church lives nearby, and was willing to come over at 5:30 and help haul boxes and shelves out to the van and especially hoist them in. I managed to help until about the last fifteen minutes, at which point my back froze up again and I ended up standing by the van and pointing for the last few bits.

So all told, less low-impact than usual. But still successful: my not-at-all-new sculpture still earned me second prize in the gallery competition, making it two years in a row.


Sep. 24th, 2018 07:58 am
offcntr: (vendor)
Corvallis Fall Festival's Central Park is probably the nicest of all the art fair locations where we sell. Interlocking walkways that create a three-loop layout, a gazebo, trees and shrubbery, playground, water fountains, lush green grass, that they actually keep watered through the summer.

That last can be a problem, though. Even though it's barely fall, we've had hardly any rain since, oh, May, the ground is so soft and boggy in our spot that I have to limit my hand truck loads to three boxes or less, and our chair legs immediately sink in. Fortunately, I have some 2-inch wooden disks at home, left over from when the insulators did the walls, and with the help of some duct tape, manage to give them rain boots.

We get a little rain overnight Friday, intermittent showers Saturday morning, but not enough to dent the crowds. Sales are quite astonishingly good, to the point that Saturday's total rivals our entire weekend's sales from 2016, the last year we were here. Apparently intermittent reinforcement actually does work. People are very glad to see us after a year's absence.

I'm used to hearing my pots discussed in different languages, but this weekend may be a record. Spanish, of course. German. What sounds like either Russian or Serbo-Croatian. A long, three-way conversation between me, a woman, and her husband in English and Chinese. (She's used to Chinese cooking, on stove-top, and wants to experiment with roasting and baking; ends up buying a small squared baker, after consulting at length with her non-English-speaking husband.) Most unexpected language experience of the weekend, though, was the three young men looking at pig and elephant banks, and discussing their merits at length, in Arabic.
bear and cat are friends
As usual, we have fun with the bears, mugging for small children, especially those who have their own plushies along. Also had a nice interaction with a black cat puppet and her owner.

One of the local high schools offers a pottery class, and the instructor assigned his students to visit the festival and look at pots, so I have three different students stop in over the weekend. The first is enthusiastic, taking pictures and a business card. The second is with her mom and in full teenage resistance mode, sullenly looking at the work and speaking in monosyllables. The third is also with mom, of the "let-me-tell-you-about-my-kid" variety, but seems really interested in pottery. I give her some tips about centering and throwing, refer her to this blog, and make her promise to send me a pic when she eventually--and I'm pretty sure she will--produces a pot she's proud of.

I actually have a lot of nice interactions with teens this weekend, always encouraging, as I sometimes fear my demographic is aging out of buying things in favor of downsizing. Sunday morning brings a girl with a big market basket, scouting items for her realtor mother to use as closing gifts. She winds up with four items, mugs and stews and glasses, and I tell her about my other realtor client who specializes in houses for big families, and will periodically buy sets of plates or bowls, one for each kid and their parents.

Because load-out is a little fraught, no vehicles on the grass, and the above-mentioned tangle of walkways, we treat ourselves to lunch at the food booths and save sandwiches for a break at take-down. Nice variety of choices: in addition to the hamburger/corndog/kettle corn axis, they have pierogies, falafel, shawarma, and Philly cheesesteak. Prices are lower than usual for a show, $7 for a basic entree, as opposed to the $12-14 we see everywhere else. We split an order of potato/cheddar pierogies with caramelized brussels sprouts and a chicken shawarma.
offcntr: (Default)

Just closed the books on the Anacortes Arts Festival for 2018, and I gotta say, I'm impressed. I knew we'd done well--five empty pottery boxes in the van coming home is a pretty strong indicator--but had no idea how well. We're up over $1400 from last year, making this officially my second best show ever. (After 2014 Clayfolk.)

Why so well? I have a few ideas, but no firm conclusions.

For one thing, the weather was perfect. Sunny, breezy, temps in the low 70s. No blistering heat and smoke, like last year, or rain, or (I still shudder to remember) gale-force winds. So the customers were out in force. As were my collectors--Friday was by far my best day of the weekend, largely due to repeat customers coming early for the best selection. Though we still had good business right up to the end, with two sales happening as we were packing up at 5 pm Sunday.

Probably the biggest reason, and the only one I could really control, was what I brought.

Octopuses and crabs.

Some sea otters, too, and that nifty new pelican pattern, but I really went hard on octos and crabs. Soup bowls, stew mugs, tumblers and tall mugs, plates and pie and dessert plates. Serving bowls in medium and small sizes, covered crocks, short and tall. A pitcher, a pasta (should have been two, but someone bought the crab in Eugene the previous week), baking dish and big oval platter. And almost all of it sold. I think I brought home two plates, a couple of tall mugs and a tumbler, and the octopus teapot.

Case in point: my first sale Friday morning--half an hour early, while we were still setting up--was a crab small squared baker and medium serving bowl. My third sale, to a young woman who's been working toward a full table setting--and themed dinner party, she promised pictures--was an octopus platter, dinner plate, soup bowl and two dessert plates.

Also big this year: banks. Sold both pigs, both elephants, both chickens, all four cat banks, a T Rex and both brontosaurs. (The second for a little boy who asked, Why's he look so derpy? His dad came back later, said he couldn't stop talking about the derpysaurus. Think that's what I'm calling them from now on.)

I'd think that means it's time to raise my prices on banks, but they still don't sell anywhere else, so for now, we'll stand pat.

Although I didn't see Arden--my youthful collector from Edmonds--this year, I had an Arden-like experience, a little girl, maybe 10 years old, dragging her grandma into the booth, saying Look! Cat! And fox! And... So I played my second favorite game (first favorite is getting little kids to put their finger in the elephant bank's trunk so I can make trumpeting noises at them) and asked her what her favorite animal was.

Well, I like foxes... but I think my favorite are horses. So I show her my horse-patterned soup bowl, with the Appaloosa, bay and pinto horses and she makes this big gasp and goes up on her toes and just goes speechless and and points at it and vibrates.

When she finally remembers to breathe again, she says, in one continuous exhale, that she brought a bowl home from the fair but her grandma had broken it but she promised to replace it for her. Grandma asks, Is this the one? and she nods like a bobblehead and after Grandma has paid and I wrap it up, she insists on carrying it herself and walks off hugging the bag. Saying This is my new favorite booth.

God, I love my job somedays.

In the bag

Aug. 6th, 2018 08:40 am
offcntr: (vendor)
Once again, Anacortes had us the first booth in the show. It's an advantage--we're clearly visible, easy to find, hard, in fact to miss. It's also a disadvantage. Because people see us first, and they don't want to carry pottery around all day. I'll come back on my way out, they say.

Some may; most won't. Our solution? Pottery bag checking. We keep their bags for them, all day if need be, and let them pick them up again on the way to their cars. All I ask for is a name and phone number written on the bag. I'm terrified someday I'll have a bag of paid pottery and no way to get it to a forgetful owner. I always considered this to be an unnecessary precaution on my part: nobody's gonna forget their bag, right?

This year, it happened. Twice.

The first time was Saturday night. I left a phone message, texted. Finally closed it up in the booth and went back to the motel. She texted back, apologetic, Sunday morning, collected her bank later that day.

The second time was a little dicier. She left a pitcher with her name, but couldn't remember her phone number. I did have her email, from sending a receipt, so when she hadn't returned by a quarter to five, I sent her a reminder. And again, at 5:30. At 6 pm, with all the pots in the van and us starting to take the shelves down, I was getting seriously concerned.

Finally heard from her at 6:30. She had forgotten, hadn't taken our card (good thing, as the card has our home phone number, not my cell), was coming back into town to get the pitcher. I reassured her we'd be there packing up the booth 'til about 7 o'clock, and she arrived about 20 minutes later, apologetic, just as we were taking down the canopy.


Jun. 24th, 2018 06:49 am
offcntr: (vendor)
If I had to choose one word to describe the UVAA Summer Arts Festival, it would be relaxed. Particularly as compared to Edmonds, last weekend.

Where Edmonds has regimented load-in and -out, complete with legions of volunteers with walkie-talkies, Roseburg simply blocks off the curb lane of Harvard Avenue from 7 to 11 am for vendors to drive up and offload. We time it perfectly: at 7:30 we park immediately behind our booth space, unload everything, and I take the van off to the elementary school parking lot and walk back.

Our space is mostly level, a minimal amount of shimming and blocking required, so set-up is fairly fast. Unlike most shows, they allow 11 feet square per booth space, with generous margins between, so we’re not bumping up against our neighbors, nor they us. We also have extra room behind the booth, so we can move our restock boxes back a bit, giving us some space to move around in.

Weather is gorgeous, cool and grey during setup, but the sun comes out around one, the customers even earlier—we make our first sale at 12:30. Some years the heat can be brutal—several times over 100°—but this year it’s predicted in the low 80s, and we have a breeze through our booth most of the time.

Sales are moderate to slow Friday, as expected, though I do sell both my. $70 serving bowls, which I hadn’t managed to do all last weekend. Saturday starts slow, and I go into my “I’m never selling anything again” funk, but things pick up in the afternoon, and we end up the day reasonably content.

Days are long—Friday and Saturday we close at 8—but Sunday’s a short day. Load out starts at 4 pm.

Memorable moments:

1. The customer who’s been buying a table setting a year for five years now (This year it’s a bear plate, bowl and mug). She’s apologetic about missing me last year, and I admit that I was gone too, back in Wisconsin for my 40 year high school reunion.

2. The family in to allow adolescent boy to pick a soup bowl to replace his favorite, sadly broken. While he’s deciding, I ask dad who autographed his straw hat; it turns out to be Asleep at the Wheel, when they played at the Stewart Park Band Shell. He’s the mandolinist for the local HotQua String Band, and we bond over my playing them on my radio show in years past. Incidentally, son Max eventually decides on a bear bowl.

3. The elephant keeper from Wildlife Safari who spends a long time in the booth before deciding to buy the happy baby elephant-patterned large pitcher.
offcntr: (vendor)
Favorite things from the first day of the Edmonds Arts Festival:

1. The little girl, maybe three years old, who spun the wheel at the Edmonds Community College booth and won a prize, delightedly showing off her LED flashlight keychain to any and all passers-by.

2. Edmonds police patrol the festival, in pairs, in uniform, night stick, gun, the works. Then, in mid-afternoon, I see a solo officer, still in full fig, shopping with his wife while pushing the stroller containing their tiny, tiny baby.

3. The family of four--mom, dad, two boys about 8 and 6--who have a prolonged conversation, in Japanese, examining every pot in the booth featuring a crab or octopus, with both boys finding more options to point out. Younger son also has a teddy bear on his shirt, so Yuri (the bear in the icon, above) has an entertaining several minutes communicating in sign language (waving, dancing) before his parents settle on the octopus oval platter. Whereupon I hand him the bear to hold while I dig through boxes to find it and notice him puppeteering it back, waving at me.
offcntr: (vendor)

It's always difficult to post during Ceramic Showcase, because the show is so exhausting. We've tried to mitigate this, a little, by spreading out our set-up over two days. We drive up Wednesday afternoon, unload the van and set up the carpet, shelves, grid panels, lights. Touch up the paint on our well-worn pine shelves. Thursday morning, we returned to put out pots and signage, organize and stow our many boxes of back stock. By noon, we're done, so we spend the afternoon of Denise's birthday visiting the World Forestry Center, and walking in Washington Park.

The show itself opens Friday morning at 10 am, with a huge crowd. Collectors and enthusiasts try to be first in the door, thinking they'll get the best stuff. They're right, to a degree, but I'm still finding new things in back stock right up till Sunday afternoon. Friday also brings busloads of students. Most of the local high schools arrange field trips for their art/ceramics classes, and they add to the hubbub in the hall.

I like talking to the students. They always have at least a basic ceramic knowledge--some are quite advanced--and are always interested in my process. Some want to know about the painting, some the throwing, some want to know how I assemble animal banks. I give out a lot of business cards with links to my blog, invite them to stop by my demo that afternoon. A couple of them do, which I find gratifying.

By one o'clock, I've talked to hundreds of people, restocked a bunch of pots, including a $60 serving bowl, and am ready to escape to a quiet hallway outside the show to collect my wits and prepare for my 2 pm demonstration. I've had a number of titles for this demo over the years: Making Art With Roadkill is probably my favorite, Brush-making and Decorating the most common. This year I reverse the focus and go with Decorating With Handmade Brushes. I talk about my history decorating pots as I set up my work station ("A long time ago, in a pottery far, far away"), glaze and paint three bowls. Then I talk about my handmade brushes, and make a couple of them. By this point, about an hour in, a new group of people have joined us, so I decorate the other three bowls, and give a high-speed recap of brush making. I end right on the 90-minute mark, though my voice gives out about two sentences early. (I've been talking a lot, today, in a noisy concrete space.) I have a microphone for the demo, but I'm still using teacher (/radio host) voice, which is wearing.

And back to the booth, and more customers--Denise is just selling an $85 octopus oval platter, and trying to remember if we have that pattern on anything else. (Yes, a medium serving bowl, but we're too tired to bring that fact to mind. There's always next year...)

Saturday morning, we're still dragging a little from Friday. I take first shift in the booth again, as I have a work shift from 1 to 4. Showcase is entirely run by the potters, so we all take turns doing work on the show. As not everyone has an engaging, professional spouse (is she reading this?) to mind their booth for them, we have a central check-out where everybody's pots get sold. There's an elaborate, step-by-step process that makes sure everyone gets paid for their work, and allows us to track and correct errors.

At quarter to one, I show up at my cashier station, with my high stool (gives me a better angle on my adding machine and card processor), my computer/glazing glasses (ditto. Bifocal line is at just the wrong place for this job. Unfortunately, this means I can't really see my customers, but they don't know that), and my water mug. I've got a good wrapper, not too fast, not too slow, and willing to help pick off labels when a big order comes through.

We work steadily for the entire three hours--I think we got one ten-second pause between groups of customers. The lines are never huge, unlike on Friday, but they're constant, always about three or four people waiting. They've put me on a busy station, which I enjoy. Furthermore, it seems to be the only one at the show that processes MasterCard Debit, so we get a steady trickle of customers who've already been processed and packed at another station who get to jump the line to actually pay us.

The show was originally scheduled to close at 5, but due to a communication snafu, some of the vendor information says 6 pm. As the crowds are still fairly good, they announce an extension. Apparently, no one tells the venue, as they start turning lights down at 5:15, and we experience Showcase After Dark for a few minutes before they turn them on again.

It's always Sunday morning before we finally feel rested again. We've packed up and checked out of our lodgings (AirBnB this year, nice people, killer stairway. Sigh.), ready to be done.

Sunday is always the quietest day, but we're still busy, still selling the occasional high-end piece--we sell two more large serving bowls (for a total of four out of the same spot in the booth), and run out of large squared bakers entirely. I see a lot of familiar faces, people who come back year after year, and today we actually have time to talk. Another sales shift at one, more relaxed this time, except for one particular customer--more about him later--and we finally get done 15 minutes past closing, when my credit/debit machine runs out of tape (for the second time).

Load-out is more concentrated, thus more hectic, than load-in. I bring in my empty boxes from the parking lot and we concentrate on packing and disassembling the booth. I’ve got three empty boxes, so let Nicole fill them with her pots. (She had a friend bring up more stock on Saturday, and now can't fit everything in her vehicle.) We belong to the same co-op in Eugene, so I'll drop them off tomorrow. She says she owes me, but she brings us baked goods, day-olds from her husband's workplace, so I think we're more than even.

Once everything is stacked, packed or otherwise dismantled (Is the process of setting up "mantling?") it's time to get in line. Get the van in line for the loading dock, get in line for a cargo cart. Denise and I take turns waiting, then everything happens at once. I back the van up the ramp, she scores a cart, and a few loads and a bunch of creative stacking later, we're ready to pull away. It takes three hours, in all, but we're on the road by 7:30, home by 9:30, feeling ready to sleep for a week.

offcntr: (vendor)
Packing out after a very successful Clayfolk 2017.
packing up

ID, please

Nov. 18th, 2017 09:12 pm
offcntr: (Default)
Back on Clayfolk sales this busy afternoon, and a couple of women came to my station to pay. They'd been shopping together, took a moment to sort out their basket, and I processed their purchases.

As it happened, neither had signed their credit card, so I asked for picture ID. 

The first woman showed me her Massachusetts medical marijuana card. 

The second got out her Jackson County (Oregon) concealed carry handgun permit.

What did I do? Said Thank you, and processed the sales.

offcntr: (snoozin')
I always get the first work shift at Clayfolk. Friday night is crazy busy; the line to get in runs all around the building.  First customers to checkout go to the cash/checks side, but pretty soon we're busy on credit/debit as well. We've borrowed a trick from last year's show at the old Walmart building in Talent: setting up a back-and-forth meander to control the sale queue. They've added a clever bit: it's a double queue, cash on one side, cards on the other, with a host guiding people to the correct check stand. Other hosts are keeping the folks waiting occupied, surveying them about how they heard about the show and handing out Hershey's kisses.  The whole operation seems to be running very smoothly, and the VISA machines are even running a little faster than at Clay Fest.

After the shift, other checkers and wrappers tell me how many of my pots they sold. I only saw three come through my station, but when I get back to my booth, there are two customers each with a shopping basket full of my pots just leaving, so I'm doing pretty well.

Denise is exhausted. While I've been crazy busy on the sales line, she's been crazy busy in the booth, digging out restock and requests from our fans.

About 7:30 the frenzy passes. The aisles are mostly empty except for a few browsers, the sales line finally catches up, and small clusters of slightly stunned potters compare notes in the intersections. The show remains open until 9 pm, but by then it's mostly just us grazing on the leftover cookies and punch, then going back to our homes or hostels and falling into bed.
offcntr: (chinatown bear)
Just a few photos from last night, of Clever Girl in her natural setting: the Clay Fest gallery. She looks good on a pedestal...

put on a pedestalreading over her shoulder
Oh, and did I mention? She won Second Prize.
we're number two!

offcntr: (be right back)
3:30 pm on Friday afternoon. Clay Fest doesn't open until five, and a few potters are still sorting, pricing, stocking their booths. Far more are talking, wandering the show, grazing the remains of the lunch potluck, or filling out last-minute ballots for Best Booth or Best in Show.

I'm exhausted, of course, from finishing up my booth, hearing sales training for the umpty-umpth time, hanging previous year's posters at the information booth, dashing home to print up gift certificates for the garden club ladies who do flower arranging for us. This is the point where I normally fidget, walk the aisles checking in with friends and checking out pots. This year I'm sitting down and writing; hopefully, I'll have some energy back when we finally open the doors to the public.

Who persist in trying to get in early. But the flyer said Friday through Sunday. Yes, and it also said "5-8 pm." Can't we just go in for a minute to see the show? No, really, you can't. We're still concentrating on getting our work out of boxes and safely arranged or hung, without tripping over each other, much less spectators. It's amazing how many people asked to come in, assuming, I guess, that they were the only ones--about 20 so far. Not to mention the ones who just stroll through the open door (past the sign that says, in 5-inch letters, "Clay Fest opens at 5 pm Friday and closes at 8 pm") and make themselves at home.

I've gotten tired of being polite and appealing to their sense of fairness and appropriate behavior. I tell them that our insurance won't permit non-participants on-site outside of open hours.

Who knows? It might even be true.
offcntr: (rocket)

Day two of Silverton Fine Arts Festival dawns, and I've yet to see the predicted hordes of eclipse-chasing art buyers. The show invested heavily in its timing and location, the weekend before Monday's total eclipse. Silverton is well inside the area of totality, and the whole town marketed itself to eclipse tourism. They warned us to book our lodging early, as local hotels and campsites were expected to sell out. Don't know about the hotels--it's only a ninety minute drive home, so we're commuting--but word is that, while Silver Falls State park is booked solid, the three parking lots that the Oregon Gardens designated for overflow camping are seeing only three or four patrons each.

Crowds are light but steady at the fair, sales are about average for this day at this show. I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces, including a the daughter of a potter friend who drove down from Vancouver, WA to pick up two more items for her octopus pot collection. Fortunately, I didn't take everything I had in that pattern up to Anacortes, so she was able to score a dinner plate and pilsner glass.

I've seen a lot of eclipse-commemorative artwork. Several of the painters have themed paintings and prints, including the young artist who did this year's poster image. Nicest is probably the cold-cast aluminum (aluminum powder in a resin base) steam-punk styled pendants at a booth across the way. Tempted to pick one up, as they're only twenty bucks, but that's balanced by my aversion to souvenirs. Time will tell.

Potter Dave Parry has eclipse mugs in his booth. Wait, is this a thing? Should I have done that? His decorating style is much better adapted to the subject matter, featuring abstract, vaguely astronomical colored orbs and scribed black lines. The eclipse pattern fits right in. No idea what I could have done; perhaps the Rabbit in the Moon from Chinese folklore?

Nah. Last time I tried to jump on event-based patterns, for a Rhododendron Festival, I ended up with two boxes full of unsold mugs.
offcntr: (vendor)
Highlights of our second day in Anacortes:

  • Having two customers in a row who knew what potica was. (It's a Slovenian nut bread, served at holidays like Christmas and Easter.) Coincidentally, both of the were originally from Wisconsin, as are we.
  • Selling our last yarn bowl to a lovely Polish woman, who said it was the perfect size and shape. Right after someone else had told me it was too small.
  • A girl named Arden. Back in June, at Edmonds, we were visited by a little girl who loved our pots. I mean, it was like every time she noticed a new pattern, she'd squee, bounce a little, almost inflate a bit. I swear she was gonna float away if she saw one more bunny or kitty or elephant bowl. It was delightful. Sadly, she didn't have enough cash to get anything, and Mom wouldn't advance anything against her allowance.

    Later that day, I went down to my friend Shelly's booth to tell her the story, to find the same little girl there, equally enthusiastic about Shelly's animal sculptures.

    Fast forward six weeks. Late afternoon, I look up and say, "Edmonds." It's her and her mom. She's saved up her lawn-mowing money, and come to Anacortes looking for us. She found Shelly first, and bought a small elephant from her. Now she's trying to decide what she wants from me. Bunny toddler? Octopus dessert? Barn owl dinner plate? I'm going through the back stock box looking, for the barn owl dessert plate, when she finds the opossum dessert plate. That's it, we're done. She proudly paid out of her own pocket.


Aug. 5th, 2017 07:03 am
offcntr: (Default)
Back to Anacortes for their 56th annual Arts Festival, and things are unexpectedly ideal.

In previous years, we've set up in scorching heat, froze in the morning from chill drafts, or nearly had our booth blown away by onshore gales. This year, it's mild and calm, temperatures in the high 70s. Except for the smoky haze drifting down from forest fires in British Columbia, it'd be ideal. (And even that seems to have had its silver lining, shaving five or ten degrees off the predicted high temperature on Friday.)

First day sales were brisk--we sold our first pot 40 minutes before the show officially opened, the next one 20 minutes later--and ran overwhelmingly to octopus. Nine so far, square baker, pasta, pie, mugs, even the sugar bowl and french butter dish. (Still haven't sold the big platter or teapot, but I have hopes.) Running a distant second are hen and bunny pots, and I wish I'd brought more than two elephant banks, as they're both gone already.

This our first time staying at an AirBnB; I was very late looking for motel rooms, and even our usual place in Oak Harbor was charging extortionate rates. We're in a very nice house in Mt. Vernon, about 30 minutes out, sharing facilities with our host and another guest, in town doing genealogical research. Glad she's here, as I feel I'm being a poor guest. I don't like to socialize after shows--I've been talking all day, and just want to be quiet and decompress--which leaves Denise and Marcia, the other guest, the target of Dennis' volubility. Also, he'd really like to prepare us a fancy breakfast, show off his cooking skills, and I'm more of a cold cereal and berries guy. And we brought our own cereal. Sigh.

Had a bit of a surprise yesterday. Four years ago, when we first started getting into Anacortes again, our neighbor was an art photographer with a familiar name. Tracy Lebenson's uncle Keith was famous in ceramic circles for his handmade brushes, using such exotic fibers as wolf hair and such like. I drooled over them one at NCECA, but didn't have the money to buy one, particularly as I knew how hard I was on my brushes.

We had some nice talks that weekend, and I showed him one of my brushes--which he mistook for his uncle's--I was flattered. Apparently, selling photography wasn't working for him, because he's here this weekend as Lebenson Brushes. They look a lot like his uncle's; I haven't tried one yet for fear it would want to come home with me...
offcntr: (rainyday)

Weather continues weird and unpredictable. Friday became surprisingly sunny by mid-day, though occasional grey, cold fronts blew through. Saturday,  predicted sunny, was overcast all day, and turned to rain for several hours around supper. Today looks to be grey most of the day, though chance of actual rain is supposedly small.

And that's the other problem. The forecast changes from hour to hour, and from forecaster to forecaster. Everyone has a favorite source, sites or app, and none of them agree. Worse, the weather changes drastically in the five miles between our motel and the fair. Microclimates.

We have a lovely bunch of neighbors this year, unlike last time, when we had to listen to a pair of vendors complaining through the back of the booth all weekend. Only problem is that all of them--with the exception of the porcelain jewelry lady to our right--are art objects. Paintings, mural landscape photography, silk scarves, high-end fused glass. Harder to sell than painted pottery, especially when the potter has a head start--120 postcards and e-cards sent to previous customers before the fair started. I've said before how much I rely on repeat custom, and that was really evident on Friday, when I had a very good day while everyone else was dragging. Saturday picked up for them, thankfully, and while I had fewer customers, individual sales were slightly larger, so I ended up within $30 of Friday's total.

It's tricky having a good sale while your neighbors aren't. You want to feel good, celebrate it, but you don't want to be that guy, the one who brags about his success when everyone else is failing. So you go all Midwestern. Oh, we're doing okay. Not bad, y'know. Can't complain.

Hopefully, Sunday will bring sale to everybody. Us included...
offcntr: (rainyday) a lot like getting dressed inside a sleeping bag. You keep shifting stuff around until you find the next thing to put on.

Up at Edmonds, setting up in a drizzle. The show takes place on a baseball field, with one way in and one way out, so setup is incredibly organized. Regimented, even.

To begin with, it's divided into two-hour blocks. First in are the over-sized folks, people with trailers and so forth. Next come the south-facing booths, then north-facing booths, then all the corner booths along the main concourse. Last shift is a pick-up period for anyone who missed their time, and God help anyone who shows up with a trailer. You've got forty-five minutes, tops, to get everything unloaded and your vehicle offsite. We managed it in under thirty.

Even within this structure, there's fine-tuning. We figured there wouldn't be that many over-size, so arrived fifteen minutes before our time, got in line behind three other vendors and gave them our booth number. When they radioed ahead to volunteers on the field, they found room at our space, so pulled us out of line and sent us ahead. They do something similar at load out, necessary because the queue runs six or eight blocks at that point.

In any event, we parked in front of our spot around ten of ten, immediately set up the canopy, then I hustled in boxes of pots while Denise shifted shelves and stands. At 10:23, I was backing and filling to turn around and cut across a neighboring space to move out and make room for the next vehicle.

Setting up... well, on a dry day, we'd have put stacks of pots out front, or in the empty north-facing booths behind us while we assembled shelves. Today, everything had to stay indoors, so it was a lot like those sliding tile puzzles, or, as I said, like dressing in your sleeping bag during winter camping.

Still, aside from rain blowing on the edges, we managed to keep everything reasonably dry, and got things out and organized to the point where we could leave the rest for morning by a little after one pm, including a lunch break. Ran a few errands, gassed up the van, and had a leisurely afternoon in our hotel room, listening to someone's lonely doggie crying, down the hall.
offcntr: (vendor)
Two years ago, Ceramic Showcase, the all-pottery show in Portland, moved to a different venue. The costs at the old place were skyrocketing, the new place was in a nearby neighborhood, we wouldn't be competing with the other craft guilds...

Sales fell through the floor. Things were a litle better this year, but still well off of the old place, so much so that in 2017, they're moving back to the original location. And sharing the venue with the other guilds again.

So when it was announced that Clayfolk, another all-pottery show in southern Oregon, would be moving from its traditional location--the Medford National Guard Armory was undergoing renovation--no small number of us were a little worried. Especially as they didn't announce the replacement location until a little over a month before the show.

I've told about the venue before--the Brammo building in Talent, Oregon, a former Walmart. But I had never been there before setup on Thursday. Was a little concerned about the absence of power to the booths, and dithered for weeks about buying a battery and inverter to power my spotlights. Finally decided go trust there'd be enough light from the ceiling fixtures, as I couldn't see investing a couple of hundred bucks on a system I'd only use once.

Mostly, though, I worried whether our audience would find us. Clayfolk customers traditionally are lined up outside the doors Friday evening, but we were two exits down I-5, two towns away from our usual site. Would they find us?

Apparently, they would. At 4 pm, the line ran the whole length of the building (a former Walmart, mind you). When they opened the doors, it took fifteen minutes for everyone to get into the show. I timed it.

I guess they found us...

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