Monday, November 04, 2013

The Washington Craft Show

(Above:  The loaded rental cargo van.)

Before Steve and I left Columbia, I posted the photo above.  We were ahead of schedule, packed, and ready for the road to the Washington Craft Show.

Steve was in a good mood behind the wheel!

Once in DC, we were in a long line of other cargo vans and vehicles pulling trailers of artwork.  It stretched around the corner and down 9th Street ... slowly creeping toward the convention halls entrance to an underground world of loading ramps and busy artists wheeling booths into a Hall A.  Unfortunately, I didn't snap any photos of this ... mostly because there is a time limit to unload.  Before long, however, we had our ProPanel 10' x 10' space erected and arranged.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn storage space was free and easily available behind our booth.  The area was shared with several different artists whose booths backed up to the roughly 10' x 20' enclosure.  We tried not to occupy much of this space ... as "first timers" to this show and actually "first timers" to any retail show ... we didn't want to step on the toes of more experienced people.  Some of the others have been doing this show for over two decades.  Many were nice and helpful.  A few were simply tense and terse.  It is an interesting lot but the talent and creativity is definitely a common factor.  Just walking through the aisles is a visual treat and probably a good reason why most people attend.

Fortunately, we were among the first to complete our set up.  From the top of the entrance escalators, this was the view over the Washington Craft Show while being put together.


Although we were very, very new to the world of craft shows, we are not novices to travel!  It was almost embarrassing to talk to many of the experienced artists ... who were spending more than twice our costs for parking and three times our costs for hotels.  We know DC!  We know where to book reasonable rooms with kitchenettes!  Our parking was under a 24-hour Safeway grocery store.  Dinners were in our room ... much more leisurely and much less expensive than downtown restaurants!

Although we know how to travel, we are still learning how to set up our booth.  Some artists really do stack framed pictures from top to bottom ... even some of the decorative fiber artists.  At first, so did we; but, then we decided to rearrange ... try the "less is more" philosophy ... and this was the result.

Before going on to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, we will be stopping by a hardware store to pick up additional lighting.  Fortunately, one of our neighbors (who has been doing shows for decades) loaned us extra bulbs and made suggestions as to how to hang our work.


 This was the result on the left side.


Here is the right side.

Pinned to the outside of one of the panels I included my step-by-step example of how this work is made.  People were fascinated.  By the way ... the only reason why there are two pieces on the floor leaning is because a lady wanted to see the "smaller version of the larger piece".  It was nice to have a back storage area from which to grab additional work ... a behind the curtain sort of thing.

As much fun as we had, the three days came to an end very quickly.  By 5 PM on Sunday night, many of our neighbors were grabbing boxes and bubble wrap from the common storage area ... which looked like the photo above ... and, yes, a few of the other artists really did "spread out" back there!  It was time to pack up! 

Steve and I work very well and quickly together.  We were broken down before many others.  Yet, some of the veterans knew how to get their vehicles into the long line for loading dock entry even before their booths were dismantled.  We still haven't figured that out! LOL! 

While waiting for Steve to get his 45-minutes in a loading dock, I had time to snap some pictures of the vast amount of work being done all around me.  It really is AMAZING!

 Every type of fine craft work requires different containers, different sorts of booth arrangements, and different ways for packing, hauling, loading, unloading, and even shipping by air!  We were just down the aisle from artist flying in with their wares from California and Wyoming!  The work involved in selling unique art in venues like this is more than just rare, creative talent!  It takes a little brawn and lots of specialized know-how in marketing, management, paperwork, and transportation needs!  Overall, it is fun and very rewarding to be among such a high end group!

(Above:  Peter Shepard packing up some the the nicest furniture imaginable ... our neighbor for the last three days ... who will be our neighbor for the four days of the upcoming Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show!)

So ... now we are packed and headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show ... where we will be in booth #123 ... hilariously right beside Peter Shepard, a great furniture maker, whose booth was beside ours here in Washington, DC.

I am updating this post from the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show ... which is a stellar event, one of the nation's top ranked fine craft shows, and has been like stepping into an entirely different and better world.  I'll blog about it later, but I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.   


Margaret said...

Boggles the mind! Our wee Lacombe Art Show and Sale taken to the power of 10! Hope you are having good sales as well as fun.


Wanda said...

Really fascinating to see how a Show works from the other side! I could only imagine how it was going to be. Now you guys have some experience and, knowing you two, you'll have it down pat for next year without a doubt! Plus you've got Philly to set up in just a couple of days now. I really hope DC was all that you hoped for and dreamed of!!

Sylvia said...

What a wonderful experience! I have helped a quilt shop vend at a quilt show, it is a lot of work! It helps to have a system in place, looks like you have a good one! I hope that both shows are successful for you!

LA Paylor said...

so sorry I missed it but glad you had a good show. The booth looked good, so did the wine and salads!
LeeAnna Paylor

Bruce the Great said...

I am doing this pair of shows for the first time this year. In 1981 I did the Philadelphia show but have few memories about it. I would love any thoughts you may have to help me make a better time of it. Thanks.