Thursday, August 11, 2011

thoughts on set up, baskets and a gang of dogs standing on the lawn

Now anyone who has followed my blog knows that I don't really like setting up for a craft show. Sure I look forward to the show itself with nervous anticipation--will the customers come, will they like my new work, what will I learn from my neighbors. But set up itself can be a nerve-wracking experience no matter how well run the show is and how much help the promoters offer.

Such was the case this morning setting up for the Berkshire Craft Show. Now this is an absolute gem of a show that I have done periodically throughout the course of my career.  It is set in a wonderful public high school in Great Barrington, MA and sponsored by the teachers at the school to raise funds for different school functions--they actually included a list of all of their accomplishments in the info they gave us during check-in but I confess I have not yet read it thoroughly. Trust me though--the funds go to worthwhile causes.

The students at the school volunteer to help unload your van--they have to do a community project before graduation and this counts. What could be easier?

Of course the "problem" is that instead of standard 10 x 10 foot booths--all booths are nominally 10 x 6 feet. Now you can't really object to this--after all the school is not that big and if they did not have smaller booths they couldn't attract the diversity of fine crafts that they offer. But this is always the dilemma of this show--how to convert one's booth to the right size. Habits can be hard to break. And I haven't done the show for several years so I forgot how I resolved it in the past.

This time I just made the booth 10 x 5--that worked. But then what will fit into my booth? I don't want it to look too crowded. I decided I still wanted a large quilt hanging in the back--the promoters did give me a booth with a wonderful view down the aisle. Just look at the location--sweet huh? You can see it down the entire aisle.

Then I do want to get reaction to my newest piece--so that hangs on one of the side walls. What do you think? Nice combination.

Lots of my other quilts are folded up. You can see them there--hopefully I will have lots of customers who want particular colors and sizes. I can easily pull them out and make the booth look "busy". That is always good isn't it? I brought pillows--they get tucked underneath--not bad. Tomorrow I will put out the eyeglass cases. Not too many potholders--they take up space that I don't really have. Hopefully I will have to rearrange the booth several times during the show.

Meanwhile I am delighted with the quality of work at the show this year. It is always nice doing a show with other artists whose work I admire.  As luck would have it, my booth is next to Joanne Russo. Now for those who don't know her work--she makes wonderful very elegant looking baskets with great attention to detail. Just look at the sophistication of this woven wall hanging. Lovely, isn't it?

Look at all of the textures and materials she incorporates. I also love this tall elegant basket.  Consider the lines and rhythms that are formed in its design.

When I examine it closer I see that some of the shapes are actually hooks and eyes that she carefully incorporates into the design. How clever is that? If there are slow moments in the show, I know I will be studying her work more closely. There are lots more fun elements in it.  For more info check out her web site HERE.

Then finally as I leave the fair, I glance at the lawn in front of the school. Now I had read that they were going to have some of Dale Rogers steel dogs on the lawn but I hadn't expected this. A whole pack of dogs standing there in seemingly natural configurations.

Yes, those really are dog bone shapes cut out of them. Even though I am a cat person, I can't help but smile at this grouping!!! It must be a good sign.

Already  I am excited about the show. It runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10-5 in Great Barrington, MA. There is so much wonderful work here. I haven't seen the entire show yet--but I can't wait to walk the aisles.

And you, do you have mixed feelings during set-up? Do you check the show to see who your neighbors are? Do you anticipate the excitement of shows? And did the dogs bring a smile to your face?


  1. You can see more of JoAnne Russo's work along with the top basket artists in the US at 2 current shows in the Boston area this month. Mobilia Gallery has "The Vessel Redefined" running through 8/27 and the Fuller Craft Museum has All Things Considered VI: National Basketry Organization Biennial Juried Exhibition up through December 11.

  2. Thanks so much for the suggestions Brian. I do love her work and hope I can make it to these shows.

  3. I agree with you that set up is the worst part of any show. It's tiring and nerve wracking. Of course, once done, everything looks wonderful. Never did a show with 10 x 6 booths. Hope the show is going great for you. I'm hoping to be there tomorrow.

  4. Thanks Jennifer--hope to see you. And yes, the show is going great.