back from balitmore

i returned from baltimore on monday and it has taken until now to catch-up on sleep and to get back into some semblance of a routine. ouch. who knew it would be so exhausting?!? ....... well, here are some random bits of information and reflections on my experience....

1) this is the suitcase that carried all of my jewelry to baltimore - the perfect carry-on for flying! so lucky that i make small things.
2) i realize now that i'm back home, that i really failed to get a good collection of images that captured the full experience in baltimore. my mind was so busy trying to remember and process everything on less-than-adequate amounts of sleep each night caused me to neglect the documentary portion of the trip. this was the sign as you entered the convention center in baltimore and gives you and idea of the graphics involved with the show.
3) i learned so much about doing big shows like this - but also about the American Craft Council and the role it serves for its members. having received an email-invitation to apply to the NEW WAVE CRAFT section, without much clue as to how i got the email - i must admit i was somewhat clueless about the council. the NEW WAVE section was new to the show this year and was received with mixed-feelings amoung the other exhibitors. the goal, as i understand it, was to bring some new energy to the show and to give a new "generation" of artisans/crafters a chance to experience a show of this maginitude. some of the more seasoned crafters seemed annoyed that we were allowed in for a discounted rate - or perhaps felt threatened by the thought of the show changing or trying to get new types of artisans to apply. however, the general public was quite excited about the section - as many people from the east coast come to the show every year - and this is exactly when the Council was hoping for - creating some excitement in order to inspire new shoppers to attend the show.
4) the section itself was physically different from the rest of the show. the 750+ exhibitors each had their own boothes and there was a SEARCHLIGHT ARTIST section that had tall white walls and really felt like a gallery setting - juxtaposing the work of 2 different artists in each "cove" of the SEARCHLIGHT area. the NEW WAVE section was much more casual with low pole&curtain partitions and a series of 2'x6' tables. it was intended to feel like a cohesive section that was different from the rest of the show - and it did achieve this - but i can't help but wish the space was a little more refined with more prominant visual and physical ques that told people that the section was different without being "cheap." i am sure they will refine the section for next year and then again each year after that.
5) i tried to keep my table as simple as possible. it is really easy to convince oneself that you need special display tricks or trinkets - but i really believe that work can/should be allowed to speak for itself with elements that support without being distracting. i layered 3 different white fabrics over my table - the first was a simple and smooth fabric, the second narrower piece was a cool sort of webbing and the third smallest piece was a white fabric with white rubber nubbies on it. the texture created a very subtle depth that kept it simple, while looking intensional.
6) i met some really awesome people at this show and was able to talk to several exhibitors who have been doing this show for many many years. i have gained an immense amount of perspective and really feel like i have a better sense of where to go from here. i sold 25 pieces over the weekend - (not as bad as my worst fear and not as good as my biggest hope - but pretty much in line with my realistic expectations for the show) - 80% of my customers had some sort of connection to the design/architecture world - go figure! i also received some great compliments from experienced exhibitors encouraging me to try to do more whole-saling.
7) and then there are the personal connections - meeting margaux lange for the first time in person, eli from alchemy who makes awesome messenger bags out of bike tubes and recycled banners from wholefoods, megan auman who was a search light artist for the retail show (and who traded some jewelry with me!! so much fun!) and catching-up with old aquaintences who i haven't seen in years: karen gilbert and her husband paul & new baby girl! ... to name just a few.
8) and then there are the people who held me up at the end of the day - my friends patricia & tony who let me and my sister stay with them the whole weekend - driving us to and from the show each day, feeding us each morning and night -- so much more than i ever expected or planned on. i am soo very grateful! .....and finally, i don't think i could have done this show without the help of my sister, brit. she is 9 years younger than me and somehow is able to remain calm in ways that i have yet to master. she is supportive and a hard worker and POSITIVE without being sickening (if you know what i mean?) and basically was the perfect person to help keep my attitude in check, my spirits up and my anxieties down .... there is much to be learned from that sister of mine! THANK YOU!
and thank you to YOU...for reading my blog. thank you for the words of encouragment from places far and near. i'm learning it takes a lot to put yourself out there and it means so much that you receive me so graciously.....