Refocusing on the Art

One of my gifty jewelry boxes available on ruthsartsandletters.etsy.com

 

It’s cyber Monday.  The Christmas season is upon us, whether we are ready or not.  (Personally, this past year went by entirely too fast, but that’s another thing altogether.)  The thing is, I did a couple of craft shows this fall, so I worked like a demon to crank out stuff I thought would sell well as Christmas gifts.  But, I overdo everything.  I made way too many cards and ornaments and jewelry boxes, and even worse, the work – and the holiday preparations – stopped being fun.  

It was time to refocus my efforts.  I reminded myself why I’m doing this — how good it feels to create something that others find beautiful or evocative.  The best compliment I ever got was from a young woman who told me my collages were like treasure hunts — you kept finding little things hidden here and there.  I love being able to create meaning for people — or more precisely, helping people create meaning for themselves.

So, it’s back to the artistry and away from giftable gadgets.  I decided to spend the holiday dabbling in something new — encaustic art.  I’ve ordered some supplies and look forward to experimenting and learning.  This may not be proper proceedure, but I like to experiment a little first, before I learn actual techniques because it frees me up to see all the possibilities.

Once this decision was made, that glorious feeling came back.   I don’t know that my encaustic work will be masterpiece-ful.  But the process of learning it will be.  Plus, Christmas can be Christmas again!

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What to Do and Not Do at a Craft Festival

I’m no longer a craft show virgin.  I did my first show last weekend in Nashville.  Most of this week has been recuperative.  There is a lot of physical work involved in doing a show.  Everything has to be priced and labeled and packed up, then brought to the festival, unpacked, and displayed.  Then there’s the money thing – you must have money to make change and you must have money to each crappy festival food because you forgot to pack something healthy. 

It was freezing cold and rainy on Saturday and hardly anyone showed for the festival.  We vendors – troopers that we are — trolled each other’s booths in between rain showers and complained about how our hands were too cold to work properly.  Sunday was better, but by then we were all worn out from Saturday.

For all those festival goers out there, I have a few tips for booth etiquette:

*Never look over an artist’s wares and state, “You have too much time on your hands.”

*Never tell a collage artist that you and your mother used to decopauge stuff when you were a kid.

*Never congratulate an artist for having figured out a useful purpose for Guatamalan Worry Dolls (or any other small and colorful item the artist scoured the internet and flea markets to find.)

 *When examining carefully altered tins, never say, “Are these Altoids tins?”

*Never tell an artist who was proud of finding a lot of genuine cigar boxes for a really good price that you recall with you could get cigar boxes for free.

*Never ask an artist if she can re-cut a picture frame to make a light switch plate.

 

Lest I give the impression that the festival was not a positive experience, here is some advice about what to do at a festival:

*Do ask the artist if there’s a story behind a piece.

*Do tell an artist that her art is like a treasure hunt because you’re always finding something new hidden in a piece.

*If you’re a kid, do ask an artist if you could do art like that.  They will love giving you hints and incouragement.

*Do engage the artist in conversations about the artistic and creative process.  Get their card. E-mail them or call them after the festival and make a new friend.

*If you are another vendor, do quietly offer the newbie advice about interacting with potential customers.

*Do tell an artist she does great work, even if you’re not going to buy a thing.  It’s amazing how much compliments are valued by artists!

So, as all you artists get ready for the holiday season – and the endless parade of craft and arts festivals that go with it – may your weather be fair and your customers polite!

First Craft Show

I’m getting ready for my first craft show. Being from Music City (i.e., Nashville, TN) it seems appropriate that my first show is the “Music and Molasses Festival.” Don’t scoff!! We go every year. We buy a five pound bag of freshly stone-ground yellow corn meal and a gallon jug of sorghum molasses. That’s supposed to be a year’s supply for us, but last year I found the ultimate recipe for sorghum cookes and we discovered that sorghum tastes good on fresh cornbread. We were out of both by January.

I seems like I should be nervous about my first show, but I’m not (yet!). Nervous is almost a state of being for me, but since I’ve been doing my collage art, my confidence is stronger. I’m really feeling more excitement than nervousness. My studio is a wreck and there are new pieces all over the place in various stages of completion.

In any case, where better to be in the Fall than outdoors (even if it is next to the sheep exhibit) listening to bluegrass music and munching molasses cookies (and hopefully, selling my art!).