A big thanks to Wheaton College in Norton, MA for inviting With Care to be a part of their Alumni Weekend celebrations!
I wasn’t sure what to expect since, according to my foggy memory, Alumni Weekend-type events were never a very big deal at my State Liberal Arts College (an agreeable apathy towards school spirit was one of the things that I appreciated about that place.) On the other hand, I knew that this would be a great, safe, dry-run for getting into the magical world of show selling. I had been meaning to throw together a reliable display system all year and this was just the thing to kick my ass into gear. I spent all my free time this week working on this project; a feat that, admittedly, also was not part of my college experience.
In the end, the booth looked good. Sorry-not-sorry, Wheaton cheerleaders and Habitat for Humanity, but it must have sucked being next to this awesome display:
I’ve left it real big so you can zoom in and snoop around. I’m looking at you, Mom.
I was really psyched out by coming up with a display scheme and avoided it, pretty successfully, for almost an entire year. In the end, putting this together took, seriously, about an hour. An hour!!!
I knew that I wanted to anchor the space with two large things so my old Craftsman toolbox from last year’s Brimfield was an obvious choice. The trunk on the right is a thing that I have had since I was at least 16 or 17. I think that it came from a yard sale and cost me no more than $5. At first, I sat my TV on top of it. Then, when I went to college, it became my art supply box. It followed me up to Providence where it was being totally under-served in a hall closet: it was the place where I put my clothes that were too gross to wear but too sentimental to throw away.
Sad to see the old contact paper innards go but I was more than happy to spend some time building up coat after coat of chalkboard paint on the inside. The paint was free- a cast off from a work-project that Dave did a few years back. I outfitted the inside with a small mirror, an old tie hanger, and some cup hooks from CVS- all to the tune of $7 or so dollars.
After that was made, I started to fill in the area with things that I had grabbed from around the house. Luckily, I have tons and tons of old crap and now I feel nicely justified in owning it. The 48 state flag was bought off Ebay in a moment of vintage-bandana-fueled weakness, the chalkware Pieta came from my grandfather’s house(?), and the white bowl came from the garbage. The boxes are a good touch because they not only add levels to the display but are useful for carrying things.
The toolbox side featured stuff almost exactly as it had been taken from my desk. The small cork board was made years back for my show at Kafe Lila- With Care’s unofficial debut to the world! Those circular things are small, framed prints of birds. I bought them from Saver’s but they had been shifting around on my desk, unused, since they came into the studio. I should start selling those pheasant feathers. So many people asked if they were for sale! Apparently Harry Potter has something to do with this. Damn you, Potter.
I’m really happy with how the fixtures for the collar bars came out: little paper collars!
I “sketched” out the space on my studio floor. In retrospect, I can see how I am actually applying things learned in my Installation Art class of 2006 in my professional life of 2012. Everything is important!
And then crammed it comfortably into the 4 boxes that were in the display. Only the trunk was particularly heavy. No one popped a shoulder. So… that’s good.
Last night- that is- the night before, I even hand-painted a canvas sign to hang on the front of the table. First, template. Then, sketch. Finally, paint. I used all things that I already had so, again, economy is king. Many folks had Vista Print-y style signs. Kind of a buzzkill if you are trying to advertize yourself as an artisan, no?
Everything unloaded pretty quickly. Thankfully, I had some help. I was able to add some finishing touches that I really enjoyed. Gold price tags that fluttered in the breeze. A bamboo rod to display necklace back stock. Red quinoa and lentils to hold up the rings. Hand-written signs.
In the end, I didn’t clean up the place, if-you-know-what-I-mean. I expected to make no more than my $25 table fee and I was thrilled when I exceeded it. Most people were there for food and some kind of mystery sporting event that wasn’t football. I can’t imagine that many folks would feel their purse strings loosened enough to buy a few necklaces from a 10 person craft show under these conditions. However, I feel super positively about how everything went down, even if I did forget half of my necklaces at home! As a reward, I’m going to spend the next week rearranging the studio so that it is more conducive to metalworking, accessing tools, economizing space, and maybe even keeping my photo box out 24/7.
But, for now, sleep.