Saturday, December 13, 2008

Flying corn, craft sales, etc.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of having a booth at the Arkansas Craft Guild Christmas Showcase. It's a lovely craft show with folks from all over Arkansas participating. It got me thinking a bit about the attitudes of artisans at shows. And about those special orders we all have from time to time.

First, my special order from that show was from another craftsperson- flying corn. Sounds kind of odd, yes? But when I talked to her and she looked around my table to get an idea of what might work, I got kind of excited. She saw a bead that resembled a conceptual ear of corn. My sculptural beads tend to get a bit too realistic, so that is something I was interested in pursuing. You can see what happened from the picture. The one on the bottom was the conceptual corn, the other two more realistic. I love the one on the bottom, but was not convinced it looked enough like corn to please my customer. So I made a couple of more realistic ones. We'll see what she likes. And what will I do with the leftovers??? Corn chowder for dinner, I guess!

OK, and a couple of things about working these shows. It is a lot of work to get ready- at least for me. I take the opportunity to beef up my whole display, as well as making a lot of new product. Actually, I am lucky enough to have a partner for this- he takes care of revamping the display while I make product. Keeps me from being totally worn out before we even get started. Otherwise, I'd have to start on everything a lot sooner. So, it's new fabric where needed, checking the old stuff and washing it, new signage, re-covering anything that's covered in fabric, etc. Then the house is torn apart to find what will work best for display- I need the board from under my bed, tables that we eat and work on, all available folding chairs, the little table from the kitchen, the clamp that holds my torch in place, the list goes on and on. Obviously, those of you who have a whole extra set of everything for display don't have to worry with that!

Then it's off to the show- a rug on the floor of the booth makes it look more finished, especially in a semi-industrial setting with concrete floors. I am fortunate enough to live quite close to the show site, so I bring extra stuff, even some display choices, just in case. I go to set up as soon as we're allowed, just in case there are problems or emergencies. Again, my partner helps make this all go much quicker and smoother. We try different options until we find the look we want, then figure out how to make it work. As you can see from the photo, it's nothing fancy, just a basic black and white background to, hopefully, make the beads visible.

It's show time! The best advice I can give here is, I think, act like you're working for someone else- a good job that you'd like to keep! Dress neatly, try to be rested when you arrive, be good to the customers, stay within spitting distance of your booth, and be on time. I've worked craft shows for others, and I wouldn't want to give myself less energy than I give them. Ok, I think I'm done for now, unless I think of something else I think is helpful!