Turning Archive 2007

Survived my first craft show (long)

David Breth
>Long but entertaining I hope.

It was interesting, Ill give it that. Fun too, but every bit as exhausting as I expected. I was comatose on the couch by 9pm both nights.

The results were kind of mixed I guess. I sold about a dozen bowls, and walked away in a less-than-break-even state - but I felt it was a good start all the same. Met some very interesting people, some wood workers, newbie turners, etc. This is something I look to do a couple times a year to offload excess, I just hope to develop this into at least a break-even proposition.

Here are some stories and observations:

Notes and conclusions:
1) This was probably not the show for me. My stuff is a long way from high art, but I was near a make-a-custom-newspaper-headline booth, the woman across from me takes the glass blocks you use for basement windows, puts a decal on them, sticks a light in there and calls it a nightlight. The only other wood guy I saw there did stuff like glue up a wooden golf cart kit, put zero finish on it, and ask $18. The bowl audience is going to be more a little more artsy than crafty.
2) I sold the 4th bowl I ever made, for $5 to a woman who I think planned on using it as a salad bowl. It was a white birch bowl, with a poor sanding job encapsulated for all time within a half-inch thick layer of spray-on lacquer. I took it on the thought that somebody would have a compulsion to drop $5, and I should accommodate that. Glad it is gone.
3) Had an extremely artsy woman examine bowl after bowl until she settled on two or three, and we made a deal. She was very sweet and engaging, and very precise about what qualities she did or did not care for in a bowl, which we discussed at length. She was pretty neat.
4) The pieces that more or less flew off the table were little burly and/or healed over branch cutoffs from a willow tree. I think Willow is easily the most underrated wood there is. Abundant, rarely turned it seems, but the results are pretty slick. I turned them semi-green, let them move and get little cracky fissures, sanded them somewhat, and oil-finished them bark, inclusions, holes, sides missing, but they were extremely unique, so they sold except for one, which I priced dearly, which is fine with me. It survived the show, Im keeping it now. MINE.
5) Men dont by bowls, women do. Guys are dragged along, and are hoping that their wives go easy on the outlay of cash. (I know my biorhythm drops every time my wife stops at a booth). So, when a woman is there without guy, youre in better shape. He isnt hawking over her shoulder trying to check her off.
6) Had a girl who showed up with her mom. She took my card, telling me she wanted a giant salad bowl for her wedding. Her mom told her she should get engaged first. That was pretty funny.
7) Part of me felt like a caged animal doing this. You are there, and you are there for a lot of hours, so you better enjoy looking at your turnings and people watching. You also need to make sure that you have physically manageable product with limited material investment. Im sure that the lady with the giant painted rocks didnt pay very much if anything for the giant rocks, but she has to transport them until they are dropped on top of her casket. Bowls at least stack within each other, dont weigh much, and youre good with a couple of Rubbermaid bins.
8) Day one the temperature got to 95. Ridiculous. It took some effort to keep the sun from blasting the bowls. Day two was more moderate, but brought a late afternoon thunderstorm which effectively closed the show before the weather got crazy.
9) A lady showed up, wrote her name in my tablet, and invited me to call because a large silver maple had just been taken in her yard, and I can come and get the trunk if I wish. I do. That woman just got herself a nice bowl.
10) It is strange to look at my work as possessing a monetary value. I give it away, or I keep it. Now I sometimes sell it apparently, and I worry that people to whom I give a gift wont view it entirely as just a heartfelt gift, but also as wow, Ill bet he could have sold that for ___, and he sacrificed that money for me. I dont want to lose the purity in the gifts I give people I will never think of those in terms of what I might have gained financially from it, and hopefully recipients wont either. At the table, with people, friends in particular, looking over the bowls, Im half-tempted to say Just go ahead and take it home with you enjoy it, and have a great day, but I guess that kind of defeats the purpose.
11) In discussion with one lady, I mentioned that it was my first show, and she flipped around on her heels. You mean this is the first showing of your work? It was a funny moment to me. I did not say this, but I thought Yes, the 2007 Southgate Plaza arts and crafts show is the first opportunity ever offered to the public to own a piece by the new artist David Breth. Just think of the value of that coin dish after Im dead. .
12) The ratio of work to reward was quite low, but the enjoyment factor and learning factor were pretty high. Ill do this a couple times a year, zero in on what sells, locate more appropriate shows, and keep the vast majority of my weekends free for the wife and kids, and Ill keep my day job.

Thanks again to all who offered advice. Now Im a jaded professional and can offer a little advice of my own, right?????

David B

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