Home again

Jul. 5th, 2018 09:56 pm
offcntr: (live 1)
It seems like it's been ages since we've been home, longer since I've been in the studio. Two out-of-town shows in a row, followed by a fast trip back to Wisconsin for a family reunion. Finally got home Tuesday morning, spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping, as we'd gotten up at 3:30 am in Minneapolis to catch our flight.

We seem to have been missed: I got two emails and a phone call from customers who'd been looking for us at Saturday Market and couldn't find us. One of them stopped by the morning of the 4th to pick up an elephant bowl for her sister in Montana. The other two will look for us this weekend. Also, can't seem to do anything anywhere in the house without one or the other cat glomming onto us.

Most of Wednesday was spent unloading the van, sorting the restock boxes, choosing what to put back in and what to put in the shed. (And what to take to Art & the Vineyard this weekend.)  Wound up with four boxes of pots going to ATV, two going into the shed, two or three emptied out or consolidated. I guess we had some sales, huh?

This morning, I started throwing again. We recycled clay before this whole ex-travel-ganza, so I had lots of soft clay waiting for me. Threw about 80 lbs. worth, between four large platters and sixteen dessert plates. I've also got a special order for eight dinner plates in the next firing, in addition to replacing ones we sold, so that'll probably be tomorrow's project. I also have orders for a stick butter dish, small covered crock, covered casserole and a covered pasta bowl. That last one's gonna be an interesting project.

(I also have someone who really wants a spoon rest, but he hasn't sent the follow-up email yet, so I may be off the hook.) 

One more show this weekend, but it's kind of low-impact. Club Mud traditionally has a group selling space during Art and the Vineyard, Maude Kerns Art Center's annual fundraiser. I'm one of fifteen potters who'll have work there, so I don't need to be there all the time, just to set out my pots, pick up unsold ware Sunday, and do a workshift or two in the meantime. I'll be doing demonstrations, mostly throwing, though I may bring a set of paintbrushes and demo paper as well, Friday from 5-8 pm.

ETA: I shouldn't try to math at 10 pm. Threw 52 lbs. of clay. Will try to do better today.

En route

Jul. 10th, 2017 08:18 pm
offcntr: (be right back)
So Denise is home from our vacation already, back in Eugene. I'm taking the long way around. Driving.

She inherited her mother's car back in January, and was also in Wisconsin in February; neither are good times to drive a nearly-new car cross-country to Oregon. So here I am in Billings, Montana, two days out from Milwaukee, with another two to go.

Didn't expect to run into anything ceramic to write about (though this little fella, found at a rest area just into Minnesota, has a fairly convincing raku copper luster).

But a little past Jamestown, ND this morning, I answered the call of excess hydration, and found this at the rest area. The display inside is devoted to the building of North Dakota's stretch of the interstate highway system, which apparently they finished ahead of everyone else (possibly because they had to do so little earth-moving to achieve a level grade).

The facade of the building continues the theme with this lovely, carved-brick relief sculpture featuring crane, jackhammer and the first piers of a highway overpass. I suspect the bricks were made in Hebron, ND (self-proclaimed Brick City), just a short drive west. Denise and I camped there once on a trip west, and were surprised to find that the very red gravel roads weren't granite (as in my home region of Wisconsin) but clinker, naturally fired chunks of red clay. They're created when layers of lignite--soft coal--ignite in the ground, and fire the surrounding strata of mudstone, naturally occurring clay.

You can see this writ large on the landscape at Painted Canyon, part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a little further along my way. Red tops of the mounds are the fired clinker, which resists erosion better than the still-water-soluble layers of clay underneath.

offcntr: (chinatown bear)

Took a little time away from the studio last week to restock my galleries: the one on Orcas Island was down to three pots; the one in Forest Grove had more, but also has their annual Artist's Event coming up this month. They're celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, so I want to be well-represented.

Crow Valley Gallery is too far for me to deliver in person. Fortunately, a friend of the manager was coming down to Portland to celebrate his birthday with friends, and was willing to be a courier. Even better for me, he was willing to meet me in a hotel parking lot just off Kruse Way, in the south Portland suburbs, the last point on I-5 before I turn left for Forest Grove (saving me from the perils of Portland morning traffic). I met Christopher at 10 am sharp and transferred my four boxes of pottery into the back of his hatchback, then continued to Forest Grove, arriving just a few minutes before the gallery opened at 11.

Valley Arts Gallery is in the middle of a renovation. The facade has been stripped off (and asbestos removed), preparatory to a still-to-come facelift. The inside remodel is complete, however, and I was surprised and pleased to find a cubby entirely devoted to my work, complete with an artist's quote I vaguely remember writing.
offcntr: (radiobear)
Less than a week left until Ceramic Showcase, and we're counting down. Sunday being the only day Denise and I could both work on preparing, we dodged rain showers to sort and box pots, loading up the van.

We had a couple of shortcuts figured out. First, we still have a pretty accurate inventory of the van, starting with our Beginning-of-Market list, with sold items crossed out. Second, we reversed the packing order of the van when we loaded up from Market on Saturday.

Normally, I load the restock boxes in first, so the load-in booth pottery is immediately accessible. That way during set-up, Denise can start unboxing pots as soon as I remove them, while I continue stowing restock boxes under the counter in back. Keeping the two segregated also means I know where everything is bound without stopping to read the labels.

As we were packing up, however, I realized all our work on Sunday would be in the partially emptied restock boxes (plus whatever ware we added from the storage shed). Thus it made more sense to stack the load-in boxes first, so everything else was reachable one box at a time. And since they'd already been inventoried, we didn't have to unload and count everything, a huge help on a day of chilly, intermittent showers.

So all the pots are now in the van. Today I need to switch out some display hardware, figure out how to box and load my sculpture, print out my road shows checklist and start ticking off boxes, make up a folder with motel confirmation and move-in packet. Go down to the bank and get some trip cash. Call the cat-sitter.

I'm hoping tomorrow's weather prediction holds--sunny and warm--so I can repaint my shelves and load them up on the roof rack. Pack my clothes for the weekend, bake cookies. Gas up the van. Wednesday I'll pick up Denise at noon and we'll be off to Ceramic Showcase. Wish us luck...

Final rest

Feb. 12th, 2016 04:04 pm
offcntr: (maggie)

So Denise's mom asked me to make an urn for my father-in-law's ashes. I did a little research--did you know you can Google "volume of crematory urns" and get a range of answers, based on size of the deceased? Turns out Del would fit in one of my medium cookie jars. Of course then there's the problem of what to paint on it. I thought about reproducing one of his photographs--there are thousands to choose from--but worried I couldn't do a good enough job. Painting his picture would just be creepy. I asked Mary if she had any preferences, but she said she trusted me, whatever I came up with would be fine.

They've lived for fifty years in a suburb of Milwaukee with big yards, lots of trees, and a surprising amount of wildlife. They'd watch through the picture windows, and report what they saw, so I decided to incorporate that view into the urn. On the front are the goldfinches that visit the birdbath by their front window; on back a cottontail rabbit and a doe and fawn that browse the back yard.

I delivered the jar when we visited earlier this month, carefully eased the in bag of cremains--fit perfectly--and it now holds pride of place in the living room. Mary's very happy with it, and I think Del would be too.
offcntr: (berto)
Still a week before Halloween, and I just delivered my first holiday sale stock to a gallery. Valley Art Center's annual Artists Event runs November 7-22, and they needed the art before Oct. 26, so I took a day off while the bisque kiln cooled to run up to Forest Grove and back.

The trip always takes longer than I expect. If I take the interstate all the way up to Portland, the last leg consists of 30 miles of commercial strip, 40 mph speed limit, with frequent stop lights. On the other hand, if I leave the interstate at Brooks, it's 50-odd miles of rolling hills and small towns, with the likelihood that I'll be caught behind farm equipment on a long stretch of no-passing-zone. Not to mention having my GPS trying to put me on a ferryboat.

This time, I planned ahead. Looked up my route on Google Maps before I left home, so I knew to take the right turn before Wheatland Ferry Road, so I could find the only Willamette River bridge in that part of Oregon. After that it was a leisurely drive through nurseries and vineyards, getting to the center just in time to unpack the pots, grab a lunch down the street, and head back home again.
offcntr: (vendor)
The last day at Salem, and we're already planning for leaving. Brought the hand truck, empty pottery boxes, bag and case for the EZUp sides and canopy up to the booth last night after closing. Today we'll hide them between the back of the booth and our loyal shade tree. Take down the front wall panel instead of just rolling it up, and use it to cover the stack of stuff. I'm a little concerned about take-down; if everyone comes in by the main path, I foresee enormous gridlock.

Weather breaks a little cooler today, though still hot. We're doing okay in our booth--with half the back open, we have a little breeze running through, and the big oak behind us gives shade pretty much all day. Some of our neighbors across the way aren't so lucky: south-facing booths and variable shade. The metal artist has an enormous neck cooler and a basin of cold water to rest her feet in; the hat-maker has a patio umbrella she moves from one side of booth to the other with the sun. The stone mosaic folks have abandoned their booth entirely, set up in the middle of the way with camp chairs and beach umbrellas.

Traffic is definitely up today, and we make almost as much in sales today as Friday and Saturday combined, transforming this show from "maybe" to "definitely" apply to again next year. Some folks who buy are coming back after looking all weekend. Several have already bought pottery and have come back for more. And many plan to look us up in August in Silverton as well.

A young couple with two tiny blond girls stop in the booth. The one who's walking is fascinated by my "anyone can pet the pottery" policy. I encourage her to touch the hummingbird painting on the pasta bowl, tell her it has a pink chin like her (and tickle her chin). She giggles, then delicately strokes the rims of pasta and platter--one with each hand--while I talk to her folks about my work. At one point she spins around and says to her even littler sister, in the stroller, You can touch them!

Around 2 pm, a member of the board stops by to tell us that they've decided to let people on our side of the show load out via the soap box derby track, about ten yards away. We'd need to park on the track and carry or truck our boxes down the slope and over the curb. I say thanks, but would rather wait and bring my van in to the booth. Hand-trucking stacks of pottery boxes over uneven ground is a recipe for disaster, in my experience. In the event, enough people take advantage of the alternative that, by the time we've boxed the pots and started taking down the shelves, the main path is clear and there's plenty of room to get in, park and load directly into the van. We're packed and out in under two hours.

Sales. Really, really good.
Weather. Hotter than Friday, but definitely more bearable than yesterday.
Owl attacks. Well, you know… no more than usual.
offcntr: (window bear)
Saw a hot air balloon this morning, rising over Corvallis as we drove up I-5 to the Salem Art Fair & Festival. It was just before 8 am, sun up but air still cool and calm, a lovely sight as the orange and red envelope caught the morning light.
nom nom nomelet
Salem's only an hour's drive, so we're commuting to the fair, sleeping at home every night. We spend an extra tank of gas and a couple hours driving each day, but save hotel bills and getting a cat sitter. Not saving any money on food. With the show going 'til 7 pm, by the time we got home 8:30ish, we'd be too cranky and tired to figure out what to eat for supper. For the sake of our sanity, we pack a lunch and buy an early supper from a food booth at the fair. (So far, BBQ brisket sammies and gyros, both excellent.) This also makes me a much safer driver on the road home.

This morning, another reason why this show is so popular with artists. They're cooking omelets made to order, and pancakes with marionberry sauce, free for the vendors. Denise and I both order ham, cheese and mushroom, and share a big berry-laden pancake. They'll do likewise tomorrow morning, and have snacks, fruit, trail mix and beverages available in the hospitality space all day.

It's a very organized show--the hospitality is a case in point; also the level of supervision in the parking area, even the little red dot.

This red dot mysteriously appeared on my booth sign yesterday afternoon. At first we speculated that it indicated new vendors, but it seemed everyone in our row had one. I finally talked to a board member who was circulating through the show, who reminded me that I'd seen a volunteer with a clipboard coming through earlier. I noticed her consult what looked like my ZAPPlication form, complete with jury photos. Turns out she was checking to see that the work on display was representative of the images sent to jury. I've never been in a show that organized.

All the organization in the world can't do anything about the weather. It's hot today, in the high 90s, and though we're shaded by our oak tree, and even have a little breeze in our booth, out in the sunshine, it's brutal. The stone mosaic artist across the way spends some time this morning laying out a silvered mylar space blanket over the roof and one side of his booth canopy, hoping to create less radiated heat inside.

Oddly enough, traffic is slow in the morning; you'd think people would want to come out before the hot part of the day. We finally make our first sale about 11:30, a mom with two kids picking out a set of soup bowls for themselves and dad. Grandma is with them, and picks out an extra bowl for herself to use when she's visiting, so that's $120 in the till to start the day.

Sales. Glacial, but eventually they add up. Denise makes one last sale just after closing to bring us within $50 of yesterday's total.
Weather. Not glacial. I offered someone to fill her tall mug with ice water if she bought it, but she passed on the offer and the mug. That actually worked in Roseburg…
Owl attacks. Too hot to tell. Some may be mistaken for heatstroke.
offcntr: (bella)

First off, Jen's bells are fine. I was a little concerned during load in, because strings of bells and metal prayer flags make a lot of noise as they come out of the box and up on the walls. On actual selling days, they make the occasional ding and clonk as people handle them (or buy them), and a pleasant tinkling in the occasional breeze. Lovely, in fact.

The day starts with a parade, a high school pep band and a good hundred pre-schoolers, all in tie-dye, marching and dancing and, in one case, cartwheeling along the path. The bears and we are out watching, dancing and waving, and getting a lot of "Hi Bears!" waves in return. Afterwards, it's quiet, for a longish while.

People finally start coming through around 11:30, and we make some sales, mainly in the $20 range. Lots of people recognize us from the Silverton show, some from the Eugene Saturday Market, and one actually picked up our card at Ceramic Showcase in Portland. We meet the owners of the Off Center Cafe in Salem, whose establishment is decorated in chickens, and totally fail to sell them anything. (Though they promise to come back tomorrow after they've looked what space they have to display in.) I also have at least three visits from a woman who really likes the bunnies platter, but can't decide if the colors match her kitchen remodel, and though she's brought samples of the cabinets, curtains and floor, hasn't remembered the counter tiles.

Best moment of the day: a little boy, five or six years old, tows his mom into the booth to show her the hummingbird pasta bowl he's spotted. When she asks him his favorite animal, he devotes a good ten minutes to examining everything in the booth in his sight line before deciding he really likes the snowy owl batter bowl, and asks if she'll buy it. She says they have to ask Daddy, which probably means no, but I give her a card before they leave anyway. I love when kids like my work.

Next best moment: I ask two little girls with their dad what their favorite animal is, and they don't hear me, but the twenty-something fellow in the booth does, turns around and we have a nice conversation (he thinks bear, though wasn't sure). He wound up buying a fox mug.

Late in the day, I get a visit from a member of the jury that selected artists for the fair. Says he liked my work in the slides, but it really has a presence in person. Though he didn't vote me in--he's a painter, and so only reviewed oil and acrylics--he did wind up buying a coffee mug. With a bear.

To sum up:

Sales. Respectable, about $100 less than Friday in Edmonds or Roseburg.
Weather. Gorgeous, sunny but not too hot, though that may change tomorrow. Think we're gonna appreciate our shade tree.
Owl attacks. None so far.
offcntr: (vendor)
It's days like today that I really appreciate how much Denise does for me.

Today is set up day for the Salem Art Fair. It's a new show for us, supposedly the biggest art fair in Oregon, and it's close enough that we can commute and sleep at home. But Denise has a long-term client who she always meets Thursdays, and since we're commuting, Denise can stay home and work with her while I set up alone.


It starts out okay. The line is very short for registration, and I can park almost right in front of my booth, give or take half a car-length of the car-and-trailer down the row. But everything just takes longer. I'm used to Denise doing stuff while I do other stuff. I unload the booth and she hangs the sidewalls; she pulls out shelving ladders while I haul out boxes; she sets out stands while I move the van. Some jobs we do together; it's just easier to set up shelves, shim and level and stake down the display with more than one person.

It takes me a bit over an hour just to unload the van, with time to raise the roof so I've got somewhere to put the pots. There's a pronounced drop from back of booth to front, nearly four inches over eight feet, so it takes another hour and change to set up and stabilize the bench and shelves. By the time I get all of the display hardware, bowl stands and pitcher blocks and grid panel out and sorted, it's nearly 5 o'clock.

Fortunately, the fair provides a dinner/supper voucher on set up day, so I take a break for a salmon burger and chips before I risk handling pottery.

Once I start setting out pots, everything goes much faster. We've got a system for packing up pots that means we don't have to stop and think about what goes where; everything comes out of the box in the order it's shelved. On a typical Saturday Market morning, it'd take us about 30 minutes to set out pots. By myself--you guessed it--another hour. All told, it's four hours between the time I check in and the time I hit the road. Not too bad.

I'm liking what I see of the show so far. The layout seems simple and well thought out. I'm not far off the main path, not far from the portapots, far enough away from the stage, uphill, that I sound shouldn't be a problem. Too early to tell what the food is like, but the salmon burger wasn't half bad. My neighbors all seem nice, though I wonder how I'll feel about Jendala's bells by Sunday.

The park is nicely wooded, with a big oak tree shading our booth. Just one thing though? What is up with this sign?
offcntr: (bella)
The weather finally breaks today, temperatures down a good 20°, mostly cloudy and breezy and people come out in droves. Busier and more populated than Friday and Saturday combined. A brief spatter of rain around 3 pm doesn't make a dent in the crowd, and when the show closes at 4 pm it's sunny and clearing up.
Denise plays it cool
Everyone else is finally selling, and we do okay too, though not as well as either Friday or Saturday. Still having regular repeat customers dropping in, some new folks as well, including a woman from Montana who bought some things Friday, came back today with her husband to get more. If anything, he was more enthusiastic about the work than she was, made sure to take a card and note the website. I expect I'll be mailing pots to the mountains one of these days.

Sold a running rooster pattern teapot late in the day to close with a bang. Wound up selling exactly $1000 less than in Edmonds last weekend, which is more than respectable for a show and community this size.

The only sad thing is, we don't sample any of the festival food, beyond a couple scoops of ice cream. We normally pack a lunch, then buy supper on site, but it's just too hot to think about eating, so we wait until the show closes at 8 pm and look for someplace with a tolerable menu and serious air-conditioning.
offcntr: (vendor)
Continuing hot, though sales are still pretty good. With no neighbors, I move around my booth, inside and out, looking for the best combination of shade and breeze. The neighbor across the way, selling dog treats, has traded yesterdays' chef's full whites for shorts and a polo shirt. Still had the toque, though. We're relieved; she's not young, and we were worried about heat stroke.

Denise noticed a gourmet salad dressing vender to sunward of us had closed early yesterday, at 6 pm. This morning she was gone entirely, packed up and left, we assumed, as was a gel candle seller and and b&w art photographer. I later discovered that Mama Celia had just moved her booth to a vacant shady spot. She told me her dressing bottles were overheating and bursting in the heat. The other two, however, are nowhere to be seen.
We're graduates of the Eugene Saturday Market, where nobody quits early, no matter the weather, and we've both got a big dose of Midwestern Work Ethic. Bailing on a show we've paid for is just unthinkable. On the other hand, if you find the the show isn't a good fit for your work, and you don't intend to ever come back, I guess I can kinda see the urge to cut losses and go. After all, what's the worst the show can do to you at this point?

Had a visit from a Talking Guy today. This is a person--I can't call them a customer--who comes into the booth, makes some complimentary comments about the work, but really just wants to talk. This guy turns out to have been from Wisconsin (as am I), which was enough to set him off with his life story. I'm polite, occasionally respond, but as he goes on and on I'm desperately hoping for an interruption, customers, Denise's return. No luck, if anything, people are passing the booth by, thinking I'm busy with a customer. I don't want to be rude, but I really want this monologue to end. Finally, as he takes a breath, I break in and say "Well, it's been nice talking to you, but I have a business to run," and miracle! It works! He moves along, though not before taking a card and commenting that he often comes up to Eugene. Oh, god…

I love when kids bring their parents into the booth, because the while parents notice banks, kids notice the animals painted on the pots. Today a little boy spots the blue-and-white rooster bowl, so I can show him and his parents the running rooster pie plate, teapot, little covered crock. I also had an older girl who's just taken her first pottery class, so I break out the handmade brush and practice paper and find she's got a very nice hand at drawing. I tell her she needs to learn to make plates so she can paint them, and give her some tips on how to do it.


Jun. 27th, 2015 12:48 am
offcntr: (spacebear)
I hate vendor badges. No, I exaggerate. I hate vendor badges on lanyards.

They flop and blow in the wind. They flip over so nobody can see your name or vendor status, and nobody ever thinks to make them read from both sides. On hot weekends, like this one, the sweaty, clammy ribbon rubs and chafes on the back of my neck. Hate them.

So it is with great pride that I debut my new invention: the lanyard-free vendor badge.
Yeah, I just took it off the ribbon and clipped it to the neck of my t-shirt. Hey, that's inventive, right?
offcntr: (vendor)

That's going to the watchword this weekend in Roseburg. 100 degree temperatures predicted Friday and Saturday, "only" in the 90's on Sunday.

Set-up is Friday morning, with the show opening at noon. We usually try to arrive around 8 am, after the first rush; the Art Center cones off the right lane of Harvard Avenue for us to park and unload. Our booth is right on Harvard, so with the right parking spot, we can unload right into our space.

This time, Denise and I are both eager to start early. We're out of the motel lot just at 7 am, parked and unloading ten minutes later, and it's already 70° out. Traffic is light at the curb, as it turns out. Every second booth space along Harvard Ave. is vacant.

The Umpqua Valley Summer Arts Festival has been shrinking in recent years. Last year, a large swath of booth spaces to the west of us went unclaimed. This year the preliminary map showed a good 20 spaces fewer than last year, but when we arrived, we found that half the spaces in our neighborhood didn't sell. The every-second-booth trick is actually rather clever. It doesn't make the show look empty, unlike last year, and every booth gets to be, effectively, a corner booth.
Not that I want a corner booth. My set-up faces inward, and doesn't look that good from the outside. I compromise by putting a couple of platters on the outside of the grid panel, so customers coming from the west have something to see. It's the best I can do.
my hero
Denise and I deal with the heat as best we can. We've got a big Coleman contractor's thermos that we filled with lots of ice and water this morning. Salt tablets. We move the booth sides up and down (and tie the back panel to the fence) to make sun shades. We take turns leaving the booth for the bench under the big fir tree, whose shade is pretty impenetrable.

As we sweat through set-up, we wonder why we do this every year. But then the first customers spend $150 on bunny pots half an hour before the show opens. Long-standing customers return to say hello and add to their collections (one of them bringing a list to help her remember what she has and hasn't given her granddaughter). A ten-year-old girl proudly picks out a pig bank to add to her collection, and pays for it herself. By the time the last sale, a pie plate, happens half an hour before closing, we've sold almost as well as last Friday in Edmonds, at least in the same hundreds range. The rest of the weekend won't be nearly so good. But maybe it won't be so hot, either.
offcntr: (rocket)
passers by
Day three at Edmonds is more of the same: sunny, mild, moderately attended. More adventures with Spot, who climbs up on Denise's lap at one point. More returning customers, including a couple that have been coming to see us since our early Best of the Northwest days. And more overheard conversations from the back of the booth, leading to more grumpy exodii by Denise. But one of them leads to her finding and buying some handsome pencil cases, so it's all good.
lap, er, dog?
We sell all right, fewer transactions than Friday, but slightly higher average, so we wind up within $50 of Friday's total. Our sales curve is a classic bell distribution; other vendors say sales were heavily skewed toward Friday, with Saturday less, Sunday even worse. Don't know what that says about the fair over all, except that going from low booth fee and commission to a flat (and higher) fee is going to be hard on a lot of folks. I don't know what last year's booth fee was, but my wild-ass-guess and back-of-envelope calculations suggest that I would have paid just about the same either way.

Take-down is as tightly monitored as set-up, with volunteers confirming you've dismantled your booth before they give you a permit to get your vehicle into the queue. We're fortunate that three of our neighbors, including the ones between us and the traffic lane, are all done and out early, giving us space to stack our pottery boxes and shelves and pull down the booth without worrying about blocking traffic.

I get my permit around 7:30, dash off to catch the shuttle and drive my van through the prescribed route, to find that the line runs two blocks south and a further half block west, and the end is a very steep upgrade, where I pull up, put it in park, and turn off the van. And realize it's the warmest part of the day, I'm in for god-knows-how-long a wait, and I didn't grab a water bottle from the booth.
almost done
Fortunately, I have my phone, and Denise slogs uphill with not only a water bottle but the cooler with our sandwiches, so we settle in for a restorative turkey-and-cucumber while we wait for our turn. Which comes much sooner than expected. Volunteers on the radio have confirmed that there's open parking in our area, so I don't even finish my sandwich before we're pulled out of line and sent to load up. There's a big panel truck blocking the front of our booth, but I park and load from the back. I have to shift forward a few feet and wait in the van at one point to allow two other vendors to get around me, but we're packed and away by 8:08.

We're staying one more night, driving back in the morning, since neither of us are up for six hours of driving after a ten-hour day.
offcntr: (spacebear)
I had to send Denise out of the booth this morning.

I'm one of six children, so I'm good at ignoring distractions. The guy at the corner selling CDs noodling on his keyboard, music from the main stage (thankfully far away at this show), conversations from our neighbors coming through the walls, it's all pretty much background noise to me.

Denise is an only child. Worse, women are socialized to pay attention in ways men aren't. The voices coming through the back of the booth were driving her crazy.

It's two women, right on the other side of the wall, with carrying voices. Complaining about the food, the sales, booth fees, vast swaths of their personal and professional lives. I'm tempted to have a word with them about it, but I'm already that guy for asking them to move a chair and dresser that were projecting into my back booth. (Canopy walls are not rigid.) So I'm doing my best to ignore them, and sending Denise on frequent sanity walks.

Even the best days--and today was pretty good--have slow moments, and we were entertained this afternoon by a visitor.
This is a bold jumping spider. They're fuzzy and black, about the size of my pinky tip, with three white spots on the abdomen and iridescent green mouth parts. I happen to know this because one of them showed up a few weeks ago in our backyard where Denise was making paper, playing hide-and-seek among the pulp containers on the tabletop. I greatly fear we may have brought her along with us, as we were using the same canopy for shade, and had left it up for over a week before folding it up and putting it in the van.

In any case, long about the slow part of the afternoon, she shows up, strolling across my phone and down the length of the bench, before losing herself among the soup bowls. She must have climbed to the top of the mug shelves and leaped onto the booth frame, because several minutes later I felt a tickle on my neck and when I brushed at it, discovered a spider hanging from my hand. She dropped to the ground and crawled under the pie plate shelf where I figured she'd be safe.
explorerTwo minutes later, she was exploring the pitchers on the top shelf, having apparently climbed all the way up the back of the frame. By this time, she'd attracted a crowd, Denise and I and several customers and a neighbor (the nice one, with the hand-sewn bags) all trying to photograph her. She was hanging from a stew mug in my hand when she made a jump for my camera, startling me, and wound up rappelling to the restock boxes under the counter, where I figure we'd finally lost her.

Five minutes later Denise spotted her climbing over the soup bowls and mugs again. At one point we saw her try three times to jump from the top of the mug to the underside of the shelf above. Twice she bounced off, but the third time, she made it. When we closed the booth, she was curled up for the night inside a moose mug.

If we're going to have a booth pet, think we should name her. Denise suggested "Spot."
offcntr: (vendor)
opening up
Showers overnight, with more predicted for today, but the weather gods smiled and the clouds broke open, sunny and mild all day. It's been seven years since I did this show, so I don't remember the rhythm, but traffic seems steady, and sales aren't bad. First sale is actually at 9:30 am, half an hour before the show officially opening. Always nice to open in the black…

Edmonds used to be a commission show--low booth fee, but you tracked your sales and paid a 15% commission at the end of the show. This year they went over to a flat fee (much higher, of course), which probably squeezed out less experienced, or at least less confident vendors. Based on my past records, I'll probably do as well or better under the new system. In any event, I more than paid my booth fee on Friday sales alone.

Several visitors this morning are returning customers, I assume from my mailing list. I have about 80 names and addresses from various Seattle shows I've done over the years--Best of the Northwest, Edmonds, Fremont Fair--and I sent them all postcards. I used to get the information off of checks, but these days people either use cards or cash, so it's harder to add names to the list. I've never felt comfortable putting a sign-up in the booth, though I may need to do so. People are more comfortable giving email addresses, so I may have to finally join the last century.

It's still bright out at 8 pm when the show closes these longest days of the year. My last sale of the day happens at 7:30, but my neighbor has been complaining genially about how slow the evening has been. Poetic justice seems to be listening, as we have to track her down at 5 'til 8 to help two customers in her booth, both wanting to buy high-end items.
offcntr: (spacebear)
The last time I did the Edmonds Arts Festival was in 2008. I'd gotten in off the waiting list in 2007, had a good time and good sales, so applied again in '08.

Haven't been back since. Not by my choice--I keep applying--but never got closer than the waiting list until this year. Set-up was rigorously organized: vendors with trailers come in one two-hour block, then north-facing booths, south-facing, corners. We arrived right at 10 am, the start of the south-booth block, and parked in the queue down 9th Avenue. Gave our booth number to the volunteer with the two-way radio, and settled in to wait.

Right behind me was another potter I know, from Albany, who was annoyed by their micro-managing. Me, I was just happy to be here on a sunny but cool morning. Turns out the vendors had scrambled their best-laid plans, so instead of orderly ranks of loaders-in, they had volunteers all over the grounds checking what spaces were available to load into. After two or three others pulled in to the site, I got pulled out of line and waved through to 231 Monet Blvd. We were the first on either side of our block, so we opened up the canopy, then shuffled out all the booth hardware and pottery boxes. I left Denise sorting out the booth walls while I moved the empty van to offsite parking and caught the shuttle back. Drove in at 10:15, out again before 10:45, and all the shelves were up, shimmed and leveled by 11:30. It took a little less than two hours more to set out the pots and organize the restock. Even including a lunch break, we were out by 1:30.

Too bad we're not youngsters anymore; with all afternoon free, we might have gone to the zoo, or downtown to Pike Place Market, or some other tourismal activity. As it is, we went back to the motel and flopped on the bed.

Deja vu

Jun. 18th, 2015 03:12 pm
offcntr: (bella)
On our way up to Seattle area yesterday, for the Edmonds Arts Festival, we took a little detour to Tacoma to stop at Clay Art Center. I was returning some kiln shelves for Club Mud, a batch of fifteen that were behaving weirdly, bowing up or sagging down. Clay Art offered to take them back and credit the co-op, and since I was driving right past, I offered to save us shipping.

Pulled into their lot, opened the side and back van doors, moved my booth sign out of the way and started taking out shelves. I'd filled every available nook and cranny, stacked them on top of my pottery boxes, separated by cardboard scrap and bundled together to keep them from sliding around on the trip.

It took two hand-truck loads to shift them all, I slammed and locked the doors, signed off on the return form, hit the rest rooms, and in no time was zooming back toward I-5. Coming around the last curve I heard a thump, a thud and a slidy noise.

What was that? asked Denise. Oh crap, I said, I left the sign on the roof again.

This has happened before. Long about the last time I did Edmonds, give or take a year, I managed to lose my booth sign driving down I-5 with it still on the roof. This time I was luckier. I could see it in the rear-view mirror, and there was room in the lane for me to pull over, turn on my flashers and dash back to collect it before someone else ran it over. Then back to the freeway and on to Edmonds.
offcntr: (vendor)
I had all the best intentions. I'd brought my computer along, and my camera. I was going to live-blog Ceramic Showcase 2015 in our new location at Memorial Coliseum.

Yeah, right.

I took two pictures. The first is from the top of the ladder, hanging lights as we set up the booth. The second's the next afternoon, once the booth is completely finished and filled. The rest of the weekend is kind of a blur.
overheadour home for the weekenddid I say blur?
Some things I remember:

Loading in was surprisingly painless. I was concerned about the bottleneck, a narrow ramp and restricted parking space once inside the building, but with help from the Coliseum staff, getting in and unloaded went really smoothly. We timed our drive up to arrive a little after 2 pm, were in the building just after 2:30, unloaded and out again by 3 pm. They had a queue of vehicles waiting alongside the driveway, with overflow parked in order of arrival in the one-hour free spaces. You could tell these guys were professionals, and they were happy to teach our parking crew the ropes.

The show looked really good. I was concerned with the pillars and low ceiling when we toured the hall, but Charlie Piatt, our building chair, did a really creative job of arranging the layout to hide pillars between rows of booths (giving booth holders an extra couple feet of storage), and once the show was set-up, your attention was drawn to the pottery on display, away from the ceiling.

That said, the layout was certainly different. Saw a lot of people trying to figure out which rows they'd been down and which they hadn't, and I think a couple of the longer aisles could have benefited from a cross-corridor or two. We chose our space to be analogous to our usual spot in the old Convention Center layout: right turn a the entrance, down to the corner and turn left along the wall and Hi There! You found us! Had a number of returning customers comment on the fact that we were right where they'd expected us, so that worked. Another nice thing is that one of the cross-streets led right into our booth, so you could see us all the way down from the gallery. (Of course that meant we were dazzled by gallery lights all weekend as well, but you know, win some lose some.)

The approach to the show was was attractive and welcoming--a wide, well-lit hall with room for benches to one side, Plates of Plenty display all along the other, and a carpet runner connecting the main hall with the Georgia Pacific Room where the visiting artists exhibit, high school gallery and demonstrations were. Since that room was carpeted, we moved the Adult and Kids Clay spaces out into the hall on either side of the central axis, and they seemed spacious and well-lit.

They both down-sized and increased the demonstrations this year. No huge stage with sound and video, rather two intimate spaces at floor level with seats close-up so the viewers got to see the fine details and ask questions. I did a brush-making and decorating demo Friday afternoon and had a very good response, even made a few sales afterward from my audience. They also down-sized the hours, closing at 7 pm instead of 9 Friday and Saturday, which may have been the most brilliant innovation of the entire show.

I kinda miss the other guilds--woodworkers, glass, metal, fiber arts. I'm not sure whether they affected our sales (though I suspect we affected theirs), but it's nice to escape our show every now and again, and once you'd been through the Mashiko Potters gallery, there really wasn't anywhere else to go. The Coliseum is in the middle of a complex of parking lots and sports arenas, with a stiffish hike to anywhere offsite, so we basically stayed put all weekend.

Speaking of parking, they set us up with a weekend, in/out anytime pass in the structure closest to our back door for $24, which was a great deal as far as Denise and I were concerned.

I don't have any sense of overall sales for the show, though I saw my numbers for Friday and Saturday, and I think they were pretty similar to last year's. I'll know more in a week or so when I get my check. I do know I sold a ton of plates, twelve (six dinner, six dessert) to one customer alone. And two teapots.

Load-out was a little frantic; I was on a sales work shift until 20 minutes after the show closed, so Denise had to start without me. In addition, they wanted our row packed and gone first, so they could open up more parking spaces for vendor vehicles. Fortunately, they gave priority load-out to the U-Hauls that carry gallery, group booth and holding area hardware to the OPA storage units, and Denise and I were packed and dismantled when they pulled out the big trucks at 6:30. Being in the reserve parking lot meant I was third in the door, backed up right to my booth, and we were loaded and out again by 7 pm. After a leisurely supper at an exclusive restaurant (okay, Burgerville. Because the Red Robin's parking lot was full, I couldn't face Dennys, and we were too tired to go looking for anything better) we were on the road by 8 pm, home with the plaintive kitties (Where were you? Where were you?) by 10, and in bed not long afterwards.

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