Monday, July 27, 2009

Ann Arbor '09 - July 15-18

It's been a week since I got back from the Ann Arbor show. It was slow getting back in the swing of things, for sure. A four-day show, plus one day for set-up, and another for travel, made this a 6-day excursion.

Just on the heels of the Krasl Art Fair - I was home for one full day, grabbed Mike, and headed out to Ann Arbor, MI. The drive was about 4 hours, but we had to allow an extra hour for the time change (I've been burned on forgetting the time change before, and I know I'm not alone). It was a pretty smooth, uneventful ride, with the exception of passing a long flat-bed truck carrying 4 of these HUGE bears. Pretty hilarious.

We drove into town in the early evening and set up the tent without a hitch. My location was pretty awesome - I was in the State Street Area of the show on Liberty Ave. (there are 4 different art fairs that make up the weekend, I heard nearly 1800 artists altogether). It was very near the Michigan Theater, which is an old, gorgeous movie palace, where the bathrooms and artist break area was. Also on my breaks, I could do some fun shopping (which I always thoroughly enjoy). There were many sidewalk sales (Urban Outfitters has a huge one - everyone knows about it), along with cute vintage stores, etc. I found an awesome ottoman/foot stool that I traded for.

But I get ahead of myself.....we headed over to the University Hotel for the artist's party after setting up the booth on Tuesday. They have an INCREDIBLE artist party. A large table of cheese, fruit, and veggies, a bar area, another large table of main courses, and even a carving station. The room was set up with large, round tables, and Mike and I took some empty seats at the nearest one we could find. Little did we know, we had sat down at the MAYOR's table, which had other interesting characters and a few of the show's directors (pretty funny). The mayor eventually got up and said a few words....interesting to know that Ann Arbor is one of the greenest cities in America, and he discussed current projects, etc. Anyhow, after having a blast, dessert, and maybe a little too much wine, we went back and checked into our hotel, Weber's Inn. This place is really awesome, and I'll stay here every time I do the show. It has pretty cool decor - stained glass windows, very German feel - great service - great restaurant. Our friends, Weener Ware, stayed in the room next to us, so we hung out with them every evening.

The crowds were out all four days in full force, didn't find there were any slow times. The show hours are brutal (10am-9pm). If you figure in waking up, getting to the show in time to set up, and also packing up at the end of each day, they were about 12 hour days. Thankfully, the weather was not too hot, and it was even chilly at times. This was a HUGE contrast to last year's show, when it was about 100 in the shade with dead, heavy air, and my darn back went out on the second day. I did most of the show in massive pain on top of dealing with the intense heat. Needless to say, this year's show seemed like a breeze to me.

Many, many of my artist friends were at the show too, so when I had time and the energy to fight the crowds, I tried visiting with them as well. One of them was Kathy Frey, who makes really intricate and stunning sculptural wire jewelry. She is from Chicago as well, but is making a big move out to Nevada City, California - actually probably as I type this! I wish her much luck and fun on her new life out is a picture of her in her booth at Ann Arbor, and be sure to check out her website.

Other highlights from the show include "The Michael Jackson Guy," and Zingerman's Delicatessen, but I will give them their own blog posts (they deserve it - check back soon!) All in all, I have to say, even though this show is probably the one of the hardest to do, it has been my most successful to date :) I end with a photo of break-down time, 6pm, Saturday evening - aahhhhhhh........

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Krasl Art Fair, July 11-12: I love you.

I'm back at home and a little shell-shocked from the success of the Krasl and Ann Arbor Art Fairs, both in Michigan. I have finally dowloaded my pictures, so first I will write about my Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff experience in St. Joseph, MI.

This is only the second year I have been to Krasl, and this year was even more pleasant than last year. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the setting didn't hurt either - a view of Lake Michigan from my booth. This year I requested a corner spot, and they gave me a corner with a large paved walk-way next to it, which was VERY nice. First let me say that this show rocks for many reasons, but one being their booth spaces are about 14x12 (as opposed to the barely 10x10 spots most shows try to squeeze you into). So even if I didn't have a corner, I would have had plenty of space.

My good friend, Marie (pictured above working the booth), went with me this time because Mike stayed home to attend a librarian's conference at McCormick place. It was great to catch up with her because we never seem to spend enough time together due to busy schedules, so although the show was work, it was also kind of like a girlfriend getaway too. We stayed at the Silver Beach Hotel (which I stayed at last year with my intern, Erin), that was within walking distance - so nice! We left the car parked in the hotel parking lot the whole time. This is huge.

Patrons of the Krasl art fair come out in abundance, and are there to spend. Some are St. Joe residents, and many are Chicagoans on vacation at their summer homes. The Krasl Art Center runs the show, and they do a FANTASTIC job. They say they are here for the artists, and they want to be every artist's favorite show, and they seriously deliver on that (not like some other shows that will remain anonymous, ahem). Coffee and pastry stations in the morning, a great artist break room with food and water, an artist party (which I missed due to setting up late), and a nice artist round-table on Sunday morning with breakfast. Besides all that great stuff, they have a ton of friendly helpers, great promotion (billboard on I-94), great communication, and just sweet and concerned all around.

I had a great day for sales on Saturday, and we went to dinner at Schu's (where we also went last year), and I met my art fair friends Judy and Mimi at an outdoor table. During dinner, I checked my voicemail and had a message from someone at the art fair saying that they hoped I could come to the artist breakfast for the awards ceremony (hint, hint) - so needless to say I was ecstatic, and nervous, to be receiving an award the next day! We also took a walk after dinner through quaint, dowtown St. Joseph, where there are a lot of cute chocolate and coffee shops. We found a guy making fudge in a window.....

I got up Sunday earlier than usual, which is already way too early for me, but was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as they would say, and hopped on down to the artist breakfast and round-table discussion. They had a large tent set up outside on the front patio of the art center, with a nice breakfast. The director of the show took the microphone and began the "round-table discussion," where she introduced all the helpers, did an overview of the show, and addressed any concerns. Then the artists where invited to pass the mic around and voice any questions/comments, which was very nice. Then they gave away the awards, which were by category, and I got a nice big ribbon for best of jewelry, non-precious, (and also a cash award, which was great)!

Sunday's sales ended up being good too, the weather was great
again, and I also have to mention that my booth neighbor was super nice as well - Josh, a painter from Indianapolis - I forgot to get all his info, but his paintings were great. Can you tell yet by this post how I can't say one bad thing about this show? Anyhow, Marie and I packed up the booth, and were on our way home! Looked forward to seeing Mike, the new kitten, and had to get ready to leave in a day and a half for a 4-day show in Ann Arbor.......

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

F*** YEAH!

Can I have a drum roll please?


It's been YEARS working up to this - replacing my base metal hook and eye system with a stainless steel tube/slide clasp. I just got 3 samples Fed Exed to me today. The clasps are super strong and heavy, which keeps the ends of the bracelet at the bottom of your wrist, and the main part of the bracelet on the top of your wrist, where it belongs ;)

I don't want to hear any more complaints about my clasps, OK now? ;)


Monday, July 6, 2009

Fountain Square Art Festival

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July holiday! I was able to relax for about a day, but I even brought work home with me when I visited my family. It's early July, and that means I'm prepping for 2 big shows back to back. I leave this Friday for the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff in St. Joseph, MI, drive back Sunday night, then leave Tuesday morning for the Ann Arbor art fairs, which runs from Wed. the 15th to Sat. the 18th. It's a completely insane venture - 10 days on the road for 2 art fairs with one day at home in between.

But before all that craziness, I have to back up and report on the last show.....

Sat. and Sun. June 27-28 was the Fountain Square Art Festival in Evanston, IL. This show became somewhat infamous last year for having a microburst run through the show, destroying tents and artists' work, and causing some injuries....not to mention scaring the bejesus out of everyone there. It just so happened that I had applied for Highland Park and gotten accepted last year, so I was a few suburbs away when all this happened, dodging a MAJOR bullet, because my tent would have been in its usual spot at the intersection, where I hear most of the damage occurred. Highland Park got some high winds and scary clouds, but not nearly what Evanston did.

Needless to say, I was not so happy with how Highland Park had gone for me last year, so I decided to return to my Fountain Square, where I figured - what are the chances for lightning striking twice? (almost literally). Saturday was lovely - a bit hot, but not too bad. The crowds were good, had good sales, things were looking great for the weekend's outcome. However, towards the end of the day, the word on the street was that a possible storm was going to move in over night, so we decided to batten down the hatches. Tired as we were, we decided to lower the tent to discourage any wind from picking us up during the night. You can see in my pictures that I have 2 weights on each leg of the tent that are strapped to the top corner of the frame. In order to lower the tent, we had to detach each weight, adjust the length of the straps, and reattach the weights once the tent is dropped. The height of the tent is reduced by about half, and stays lower to the ground, therefore less chance of destruction (we all hope).

Walking from the parking garage to my tent Sunday morning, I saw a fair worker dragging a mangled tent frame along the ground. He must have seen the look of horror on my face, because he said "Yep, used to be a tent!" Thankfully, when we got to my booth, everything was intact. We set everything back up, and went about our day. The temp was a little more bearable, and it was still sunny, but the WIND. Ugh, the wind. The wind is my nemisis. Although I have about 55-60 lbs weighing each leg of the tent down, the wind still rocks the tent back and forth, which is very unsettling, and it can knock some of my displays over. I learned a few shows ago that I could C-clamp my tall bust necklace displays to my shelves/tabletop, so that is a GREAT feeling knowing they aren't going anywhere. But there are other things I haven't quite figured out how to secure.

Anyhow, probably about half-way through the day, a HUGE gust of wind came out of nowhere, and lifted the tent right in front of me straight up in the air, and it landed upside down on the tent 2 booths away. In the meantime, I grabbed the closest leg of my tent, while other random people grabbed the other legs (thank you!) to hold everything down, while you could hear chaos from other areas of the show - breaking glass, etc. A second huge gust happened about 30 seconds after the initial one - and I yelled "heads up!" because you never know what's going to fly and hit you in those situations, and I was fully expecting something to land on MY tent, since I had just seen it happen in front of my eyes. Now, I have heard many horror stories of booths being destroyed at shows, especially last year, but I have never seen anything in person (somehow I've been lucky), and I'll tell you - my heart was beating so fast, and my hands were shaking for about 5 minutes afterwards. I was going to take a picture, but my poor neighbors - they probably would have punched me in the face taking a picture of their misfortune. I felt so bad for them, their work was scattered everywhere.

So scary. There were various other wind issues - other tents blew over, friends of mine had their tents either destroyed or they simply couldn't use them....and lots of the ceramic/glass artists packed up early and left to prevent any breakage/loss of inventory.

All I can say is - I am so thankful my tent survived! Another bullet dodged....and the weekend, although a bit trying, ended up to be a successful one.

And so here are a couple more pics of my booth......

A friend said my tables looked like the bow of a big ship! I've never set up like this before - it was an unusual arrangement of booths, with a row down the middle (where I was), and since I was open on 3 sides instead of 1 or 2, I set up my tables more like a "V" instead of an "L" - I liked it!

My mom took this picture of Mike and I - her and my oldest sister, Jennifer, came out to visit for a few hours, and I took a break and went shoe shopping with them - nice!