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Wednesday, April 30

view from the mail slot

So, let's see. What did we get in the mail today? 10% off coupon for Macy's. Yeah, like that helps afford anything there lately. LL Bean catalog. Again. There is a collage of thermal underwear and rubber shoes there just waiting for inspiration. Cable bill. Why do we have so many channels when we hardly watch any of them? Make a note to review cable requirements. Oh. What's this? It's addressed to me in my own handwriting. That can only mean one thing. A decision from a show. And it's from Chautauqua.

Now let me explain why I seem to care so much about this particular show. Yes, the Roycroft wait list thing blew a cannon ball hole in my schedule, but I was on the hunt for a show or 2 to replace it. And the Institute has to be the most perfect place to sell jounals! But that's not the whole reason.

See, back when I first started, maybe 10 years or so, I was blissfully naive about shows and which ones were harder to get into than others. So, I applied to anything that seemed to be in a fun, artsy place and I got rejected. A lot. Eventually I learned to research the shows and I also improved my work. Most of the shows that didn't choose me back then did so with a certain morsel of charm, but not Chautauqua. A half sheet of paper, torn by hand unevenly. The 2 shows--July and August--with 3 choices beneath them: accepted/declined/waitlist. That slash of yellow over "declined"...twice.. (I remember it as "rejected" but I may be wrong) was so cold. I remember that I almost thought about giving up the whole idea. I didn't, obviously, but I never had the nerve to apply to Chautauqua again.

Today, the envelope felt almost empty, which means no show info, no payment info, no info at all. Not good. The only people who get no info are the people who have no need for info. But I was cool. I had tried. I slit the envelope and there it was. The ragged torn slip of paper. "Accepted" smiled at me from under yellow hi-liter beneath the July show. The one I truly wanted. August sat on a blue hi-lited "wait list" which was absolutely fine.

I now have been accepted to every show that once rejected me. This is like a milestone or something!

The work at this show is so awesome, I am thrilled to be a part of it. They have a slideshow of some of the artisans from last year on their site. Where can you find it? Why, just click on the link in my list of scheduled shows. ---->

And, Chautauqua? You can send those accepted letters on pages torn out of the LL Bean catalog for all I care. :) You probably have as many of those hanging around as we do.

Tuesday, April 29

bliss & bejewelled for Hospice

Well, it was a lovely event in an amazing home with some truly talented artisans. The only thing missing was people. We had hoped for a better turnout, but we still managed to raise a very decent sum for Hospice and that felt good.

I have to say there was a lot of publicity, thousands of postcards and emails. But perhaps it takes more than that to get people to come to a show on an early Spring day. We had better attendance on Sunday, partly due to a tour of homes that was happening nearby. And if you wanted to tour a home, this one needed to be on your list. What a treasure.

You can see a slideshow of the show and the house by clicking on the link to the right under "Show Photos"

On the plus side, I got to visit with people I truly love...Anne and Michelle and Mary and Chary in particular. Paul Morgan entertained us all weekend. I got to schmooze a bit with a budding entrepreneur, Mary Stephens, who has designed a line of cards that is current and artful and she is growing her business with smarts and art. Not always an easy combo.

People liked my little matchbooks, so I am making more for Virginia. I also saw which frames sold over others, which helped me focus my last minute frame making. I can't believe we leave Friday morning!

Back to the attic with me.

Friday, April 25

the eve of the season

Well, here we go. First show of the year is tomorrow. A benefit sale for Hospice organized by the ever lovely Anne Bliss and Mary Czajkowski of Bliss & Bejeweled. It's at the Gillespie home at 190 Bryant. This is one gorgeous residence and I'm looking forward to seeing it. I know it will make me want to torch my place, but it will be lovely to be there.

So, as is always the case before the first show, nothing went right. My printer...oh it was lucky to survive my rage today. It chewed up my vellum paper like a gerbil on a corn cob. Card stock couldn't get fed through at all for some reason. Sometimes it spit out blank sheet after blank sheet. It was mocking me, I tell you. Like that old Twilight zone episode when the household appliances revolted and conspired to take over.

Then the guy who is painting our house finally showed up, right in the middle of the chaos. He needed me to find a roller. He needed iced tea. And, gee, lunch would be nice. Lunch? You've been here 25 minutes. But I'm a softie and off I went to Burger King. Without money. Came back for the money. Back to Burger King. Back to the painter. He snatched the bag and trotted off to his place around the corner. I swear I heard the printer snicker.

Russell came home, all jazzed and happy about seeing Ralph Nader, wearing a big green Nader for Peace button. I growled at him. The printer sighed with disapproval. The painter came back from his 2 hour lunch.

Sent the painter home, grabbed fish fries from The Towne and off to Mom's in the 'burbs to help her with some paperwork. Don't ask.

Back home to try to get something, anything, done for tomorrow. First had to stop at Russ' studio to get our display stuff. Settled for tagging the books and putting little stickers with our name on the back covers. Had to print the little stickers. Price tags. Got the knuckle buster and charge slips and pens. Russell put our cards in the windows of the frames. I cut the business cards and blog postcards.

I have nothing to wear tomorrow. My fingertips are tacky from glue. I'm not sure I have everything I need. I forgot to get change.

God, I love this!

Sunday, April 20

strike a match

So, I wont have my cases of paper for the book pages in time for Virginia. Usually I buy a case of parent sheets and have them cut to my specs. It gets me about 6-7000 pages. But I can't get it done for 2 weeks. It was stupid to wait so long, I know. Somehow I thought I had enough left over from last year to get a good start. Not quite.
I have bins of covers waiting and no innards. So, I bought a couple of reams and brought them to Kinko's to be cut. I was pondering the 4 1/4 inches of that beautiful heavy linen paper going to waste and an idea came to me. Matchbook journals.

Matchbooks have been around for a while but they never appealed to me because of the tiny size. They are cute, but impractical. But if I made them 4 X 4, now you've got a little purse or pocket-sized widget that has some purpose. Ah ha! I had them cut the "waste" in half and played around with the idea. This is what I have so far:

I'm going to go with just a button closure and no other decoration, but I'll use more interesting papers. And better buttons. I like them. And they are still cute. I think. I have enough paper to make a bunch and see if people actually buy the little guys.

And no waste! Al Gore would be so proud of me.

Saturday, April 19

those snarky art show folk

I was trying to tame my iPhoto albums into some sort of logical files when I ran across a shot that cracked me up.

We were doing the Letchworth Fall Art and Craft Show last October, enjoying the crowds and the scenery and the gorgeous weather but not selling very much. Across from us was an amazing photographer, Jim Saba, who uses only his camera to make works of art, no digital anything, no photoshop. Stunning. His wife was set up next to him. She is a painter, but for this folksy kind of show, she had made really charming, whimsical clocks.

So, we are watching the thousands of people who walked right by and between us every hour.."walking right by" being the key phrase here..carrying candy corn on a stick, witches on a stick, bird feeders on a stick, copper bowls, glass balls, straw pumpkins- all on a stick. The second day, in the afternoon, we were observing the phenomenon and I made the comment that if I could figure out how to put a book on a stick I might do better. We snickered, whined, use choice expletives and went back to work.

A little bit later, Russell cracks up and tells me to check out Jim's booth. This was next to his browse bin:

"Photography on a stick", he explained, "maybe it will sell now."

We loved it. It didn't sell.

Now, this is not to dis Letchworth or the artisans who make garden art. It just shows how choosing the right show for your widget is the secret. October in upstate NY is all about Fall color and Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and snow and snowmen and Christmas gifts and witches and door wreaths for the new season. Traditional craft. And Letchworth delivers that in abundance against one of the most glorious backgrounds in nature. Nothing wrong with that, but totally wrong for us.

We had fun and Jake the wonder dog got to tag along, but we won't be doing that one again. I'll miss it.

Friday, April 18

Buffalo Indie Market update

Good news! According to a comment posted on this blog, there IS an elevator in the Pearl St building. Perfect. I think it would be very cool if there was good signage next time with a notation about the elevator.

I belong to an online discussion group of NY State professional artists and artisans. One of the members runs a respected full time art market in Rochester that has vendors (I hate that word but I've run out of synonyms) setting up weekly or just on weekends or when there is a special event. I believe there are also permanent members. Anyway, she claims that a lack of committed participants has forced her to include imports and folks who sell them. I hope the Indie Market will be able to avoid that. You get a feeling that this venture is truly a celebration of handcrafted work.

And there is an elevator! :)

Tuesday, April 15


That's sort of what it feels like when you get a letter from a show you always do and your check falls out and the letter is printed on the cheap paper.

Roycroft. One of my best shows last year, one I've done for several years, one I enjoy, that actually throws us a picnic (!), is so happy to have so many artists applying. So many artists, in fact, that this year I am on the WAIT list.


Now, I do not consider myself so terribly special that a rejection is unheard of. But this one was unexpected. So, I did the usual pissing and moaning and pouting and wondering if so-and-so with the boring unimaginative widgets was wait-listed, too. That took about 10 minutes. Then I hit the computer to find June shows that might still let me apply. It's gonna be tough. It's very late in the year for this.

But I found one that I had dropped because it conflicted with 100 American Craftsmen and saw that this year it didn't..Fairport Canal Days. We always did that one and enjoyed it until the conflict happened. They take late apps and I sent an email to see if they would still consider mine. They may or may not. I hope they do, it's a nice one and fun to do.

This is the tough part. You pin your season on being able to do enough good shows to keep body and soul together. It takes years to find the right shows for your work, the right audience. Trial and error. You finally get to the point where you can visualize your season and you begin to count on certain shows without really counting on them. And then you get whomped.

I am prepared to get whomped by Chautauqua. I have girded my loins. Roycroft caught me with my loins ungirded.

I hate that.

Monday, April 14


Took Jake, the wonder dog, to the park this morning. We walked at a leisurely pace, Jake sniffing every blade and twig, me taking pictures. Russell did a speed walk, his form shrinking to a dot in moments, Jake whining to keep up. My family cannot understand why we live in "the city". They watch the evening news in their quiet suburban neighborhoods and hear only the bad things. Well, here's one reason. This is my neighborhood park:

Can't wait for the ice to be gone.

It hasn't been all Indie Markets and walks in the park, though. I've come up with a new design for the photo frames I make. The frames have really evolved since I started. The first ones were square with a small hole in the middle and you dropped the photo into a space I made between the frame and back using popsicle sticks. Really. Ya just shake your head sometimes. Once I found these great door back easels, the whole thing changed for me. They have an offset design which really lent itself to my embellishments. Once I started to add words and phrases to them, they became a bigger seller than the books.

But you cannot just stay where you are and expect to be ahead. I notice that a lot of the people who complain about their sales at art/craft shows have been bringing out the same stuff every year with nary a change on color to distinguish them from last year's show. Don't think the customers don't notice. I can't count how many times I hear "Oh, look what you're doing now!" It makes me feel so good that they remember.

The problem I had with the design I used last year was that it was dependent on some embellishments I picked up at craft stores. That is bad for many reasons, not the least of which is limiting your own creativity. So, I've been mulling it over and I came up with an idea to do a raised collage piece like I use on the books. That decision led to the benefit of being able to utilize poetry and longer phrases on the frame, not just evocative words. I like that idea.

I did up a couple of quick ones, just to see. I like the possibilities, but they've got a way to go yet.

Much to do today. My first show is in 10 days and a week after that we leave for VIrginia. Suddenly the season is upon us. Yikes.

Saturday, April 12

buffalo indie market

We did the "busman's holiday" thing today and visited this new venture in the city. It is on the second floor of a huge restaurant in the type of room you would book for a party. Nice room. Exposed brick, hardwood floors, mood lighting. Oops. Yes, that was a problem. Lighting or lack thereof. I was trying to look at some pottery that seemed really interesting but the artist was set up away from the windows and when she asked the proprietor for light, they brought her tea lights. Leetle-tiny candles. Almost funny. Unless you were hoping to sell your pottery.

The best thing? Lots of new, young faces and lots of interesting work that is different from what you usually see out there. There is concern in the art show community about the graying of the artists. The whole phenomenon of art and craft shows really exploded with the baby boomers and they/we are slowing down, looking to travel for fun instead of tracking the mileage for the IRS. So, it was good to see some youth.

Then there was the music. Loud rap/hiphop with an actual performer, mic in hand, trying to get the shoppers to sing along...or is that rap along? hopalong? Am I really so old? He was very talented, a lot of fun, but so very loud. There would be little or no conversation between artist and shopper and that is very bad for sales. I find that people shop at festivals in part for the connection, they want to talk to the person that threw that pot. It will become part of that piece's history whenever she uses it. The music has to go.

Another problem is that the show is on the 2nd floor and will next be on the 3rd. A recent re-injury of a bad knee that hampers my ability to go down a flight of stairs (but oddly does not hurt climbing up) made me very aware of the fact that this show was going to exclude a lot of shoppers. I don't think they plan to use the restaurant permanently, though, so it's probably a non-issue.

All-in-all, a fun hour. Saw some old friends and some new art. Witnessed what can happen when someone gets an idea and follows it through.

And I learned that I, a woman who used to think that a concert was not good unless you were deaf for a hour afterwards, now has to fight the urge to shout "turn that damn music down!"

God help me, I've become my mother after all.

Wednesday, April 9

location, location

So, last year at Allentown, we set up in the wrong spot. It was a lovely spot. Under a tree. And in front of a driveway. We are not totally crazy, the spot had a number on it. 105. My number. Well, it should have been my number except that my number was 015. It is not my place to wonder why a number was painted in front of a driveway or why dyslexia suddenly became part of my life.

Sure enough, 5 minutes into the show, a flotilla of officials with clipboards and walkie-talkies came to stand before me and declare me brain dead. I had to move, they said. This was not a space. I looked down at the bright yellow "105" I looked at the clipboard that said "015". I looked at the cars stranded in the driveway behind me. I sighed.

(whatever you hear about the heavy-handed Allentown officials, know this. They were kind and patient and have a sense of humor.)

I schlepped down to 015, a spot that had no tree. A spot that was near the noisy corner of Allen. I schlepped back and told Russell we were being sent to art show hell and we began to dismantle, even though the folks said we could do it at the end of the day. I knew we would be hot and tired then. And then Russell had an idea. He pointed out that a spot just 2 tents down had gone unclaimed, could we go there? Under the tree? Clipboards were consulted and the OK given. Yes!

We unattached all that had been attached and with neighboring artists each holding a leg of the tent, marched it down 2 spots and set it in place. They helped us drag racks and shelves and the whole thing was done in 10 minutes. HIgh fives all around.

I made sure to note the number of that spot so we could ask for it the next year. It was perfect. On Franklin Street which we love, across from Troop I where there is breakfast in the morning and a row of porta potties tucked into the parking lot. Under a tree. Art show heaven. On the app this year, I gave the number, described the area, asked to be near Virginia, not Allen, etc, etc. I was so sure....

The envelope comes. It is thick, a good sign. When I open it, a red ribbon falls out. "congratulations" . Perfect so far. I pull out the card with my space number. 017. What?? No! I know that 017, Mister, and you are no 107! Expletives ensue. We live in the neighborhood, we go to check it out. (the painted numbers from the art festival are a permanent part of the landscape).

Just what I remembered. No tree. Close to Allen. Broken curb to encourage law suits. Slanted sidewalk that will make my tall artist chair feel like a ride at Darien Lake. Grumbling happens. Acceptance follows. We will make the most of it. That's what you do. No tree? Bring your big umbrella. Hole in the street? Put down a rug. We will be near Cafe 59, a familiar haunt for us. A place with good food and better coffee. There is a parking lot we can use near the spot. I will try not to set up in front of the entrance.

It's all good.

Tuesday, April 8

with a little help from my friends..

I was adding a list of fellow artists to this blog and learned that Cheryl and Don Olney from "Louise's Daughter" are bloggers, too. Love these guys. Every year, I hit Cheryl up for some of her tiny wooden or paper figures..I call them the celebrating use in my own work. I use them sparingly, I treasure them, they perch on my work bench all year, making me smile, until I pluck one from the group and use it. Every time, it adds joy and whimsy to my own little creation. I just finished a book that needed a little dancer and I went to my little stash of Olney ladies...

Visit their blog, you will be inspired and you will smile. Actually, you'd have the same response if you met them in person.

bliss and bejewelled

Anne Bliss and Mary Czajkowski are two talented women with heart. Over the years they have grown their jewelry businesses with creativity and a professional marketing approach that many of us could learn from. Early on I tried to form a traveling troupe of artisans willing to bring a show to a public space near you. I called it "Art Gypsies" and I was really bad at it. Anne, one of the original gypsies, is good at it. She and Mary added a charity component and they run their shows like a business. (what a concept). Their artists have contributed to Gilda's Club, Literacy Volunteers, Planned Parenthood, Ronald McDonald House and Hospice.

B&B now have one of the most successful stops on the annual Open Studio tour here every Winter. No small feat.

They have had to make tough choices as interest grows within the arts community. They juggle the wishes of the artists with the needs of the venue, often making someone unhappy in the process, but they understand what needs to be done in order to keep it going. All the while, continuing to make exquisite jewelry.

To the right is a clickable link to the first B&B show of 2008. I am happy to be part of it.

Friday, April 4

one down

Syracuse has "invited" me. That is good. 2 others due today but no word from either.

There is a lot to wonder about as you wait. Were the pictures OK? Was the work good enough? Is there room for a paper person at this show? You have to submit slides or photos or a CD of images for the consideration of the jury. The jury can be art professionals, seasoned art show organizers or someone's Uncle Phinneas who has a fine eye for arty stuff. You just never know.

These are some of my jury images:

Hope Uncle Phinneas liked 'em.

cue the "Jeopardy" theme

You know, the one they play while time runs out? doodoo doodoo doodoodoo.

That's all I've been hearing in my head this week as I wait for answers from 3 shows. All of them are among my best. All promised an answer by today. None are easy to get into, so this is truly a wait and see. The problem with rejection is only 10% of it is expletive/pout/tirade about the incompetence of people who wouldn't know good stuff if they rolled over on it, 90% is about trying to fill that weekend with another show after most of the deadlines are gone. And while I'm waiting, 2 more apps went out. One in the mail and one online.

(This is why I get nothing done. That 4 hour "The Office" marathon last night has nothing to do with it.)

Some people apply to several shows for the same weekend. The problem with that is the show may not refund your fee if you cancel, so that's hundreds of dollars donated to the promoter or organization running the show. No, I send my money to Katrina victims when I'm feeling charitable, thanks.

So, I wait. And the theme song plays over and over.

I'll take Grumbling & Whining for 500, Alex.