Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bellevue Arts Museum ArtFair

Wow, what a show! Yeah, there were some hitches, but overall it was kind of amazing. This show is in fact staged under a parking garage and it is in fact one of the best craft shows in the country. (Last week I had my doubts... remember?) The only other time I have seen work of this quality was at the American Crafts Council show in San Francisco. I mean, it's hard to believe that the jurors think my work should be shown beside the AMAZING craftwork in this show.

Here's my gear placed in the booth space, ready to set up.

And here it is with the booth mostly assembled. There's no merchandise in this shot because I was lucky enough to have "back room" space behind my booth.

Right after I snapped this photo the fire inspector came by and asked to see the flame-retardant certification for my drapes. Well, it turns out that I should have carefully read the paperwork where it told me that this was required. The bottom line is that those drapes had to come down and be replaced with a fireproof version at 4:00 PM on the day before my most important show yet.

When life hands you lemons, dilute them and pile on the sugar, right? I knew that there was a company that rented pipes and drapes to other artists in the show. I called them, but they were out of drapes. Well, thankfully the onsite wifi was up...

Bingo! Because this company wasn't lucky enough to land the contract with this giant show, they had plenty of drapes left. Two phone calls and one cab ride later and I was back in business!

Why the cab, you might ask? Well, there are so many artists in this show that we all park at a high school a few miles away. There's a shuttle every half hour or so, but it just didn't make sense to take two shuttle rides, waiting upwards of an hour to use my van for a 10-minute drive, possibly arriving after the rental agency closed.

I got the drapes, swapped them out, and went on with my setup.

I'm afraid that the show was so busy that I just did not have time to shoot more photos. Here's one shot of my booth early on Friday...

...and here's the next time I thought to take a picture. After two 12-hour days and one 9-hour day, I was exhausted! I had the booth packed up in an hour and went out for dinner with my booth neighbors while we waited for the long train of bedraggled artists to dwindle. This is the photo I snapped before loading it all into my van.

Would I do it again? Oh, yeah! (If they'll have me.) I'll do it alone one more time and keep track of the busy times of day so I know how to manage the time of a sales assistant. It would be really nice to have a little downtime and see more of the show myself.

As an aside, this is the first time that I'm staying away between shows. It's totally weird. Monday was spent mostly sleeping. When it got too hot to sleep in the van I went to a park and watched the waves lap the shore of Lake Washington for a while. I had a very refreshing shower at the Y. It was a welcome day of silence. No small talk. No crowds. No work. And really, no thinking.

Today I'm ready to sit at a table in a cafe, balance the books, and catch up on correspondence.

And, learning my lesson from the last couple of shows, I've read all the paperwork for the next show. And it's a good thing, too! It turns out that they've placed me in the center of a space with three sides open. This is a new configuration for me and requires some serious thought about how I'll handle it.

Remember when I said last week that I was done building new booths? Ha! Three open sides means that I need three awnings instead of just one. It's another new configuration. I'll let you know how I solve that problem in the next three days...

Update! Canopies By Fred is the answer. They were referred to me by another vendor in Wilsonville, and it turns out they're based in Seattle. They're making my awnings today so I can pick them up tomorrow afternoon. They clamp onto my regular canopy frame and give me three more feet of shade.


Pickyknitter said...

Time to make some more green!

Blossom Merz said...

Great double entendre! And yes, there are 8 more boxes of green yarn waiting when I get home.