Last week I had a fantastic day at a local elementary school's annual "Fine Art Day". I was asked to be one of 7 creative people sharing about our art.
At first I wasn't sure if I would have the needed energy to complete a presentation for each grade level- turned out to be 7 in one day! But the kids in each grade brought their enthusiasm and many questions and I had a blast!
Here (above) I am letting the kids "knock" on a hardshell gourd.
Answering some questions while demonstrating weaving a rim. They had great questions! They wanted to know what my favorite gourd was, what I liked to do most on a gourd, what I planned to do next, how many gourds did I make.... they were really engaged and that was encouraging!
Here I am demonstrating some pyrography (burning). They were impressed that the pens can get to 1,000 degrees, and some commented on the smell right away.
It was always funny to me that some gourds have an odor when they are burned while others not so much. And some even smell kind of like melting chocolate....
Thanks kids for making my day so much fun!
Booth design is challenging. You would think a creative person would have no problem with it.
However, there are more obstacles to consider than just how the booth looks- which yeah is totally important.
1. Cost. (will it break my budget?)
2. Ease of transport (ie. My husband’s greatest concern- will it fit in the car/trailer?)
3. Will it allow for a good traffic flow of customers? (don’t want anyone getting trapped!)
4. How about sturdiness? (Will these shelves keep standing on unleveled ground, or fall if a customer bumps it?)
For the artist or crafter that does shows, this is an ongoing concern. I have countless aerial sketches of possibilities, only to find that what works on paper might not work in real life. There is still much to learn and much room for improvement.
Even though I did shows every year for a while, I took a bit of a hiatus and now feel ready to slowly transition back into them. That means new juried photos for me! Choosing 3-4 pieces that best represent my work was a challenge in itself, but the booth shot- that is the real kicker.
My booth was 8 years old. Collecting dust in a closet. Even though it did still look pretty good, it was definitely time for an upgrade.
Here is a picture of my very first emerging artist booth from 2003. My little fold up table top shelves were awesome (my dad made them!) and I loved how easy they were to store and fold up. But they did not leave much room for variation. The 5” tables were heavy and clunky and my table coverings were ok since they did not wrinkle at all but didn't quite fit right. And what was I thinking with the swoopy red transparent fabric???
After that my husband made me these free standing shelves. Got rid of the heavy tables (plus) but the shelves though looked nice were a bit tippy. I was always nervous of someone bumping them. Plus, they always needed these clamps on the back to keep them steady and I thought they looked unfinished. This picture was taken last year.
Recognize that drapery on the left? That was my old table covering! Recycle!
Now after not having tables, I found I wanted to go back to the tables! The greatest advantage is that there is great storage space under them. Here I changed out the 2 big metal and wood tables for 3 smaller lightweight ones. This way I have a little freedom to juxtapose them into the space in different ways. I can even still use my shelving- happens to fit perfectly around the smaller table which also gives extra stability.
And, my darling devoted husband built some beautiful wood pedestals to give a variety of heights. Plus a new little stand for my ornaments. This year I invested in table covers that are made for trade shows- fire retardant and fitting right over top and fit perfectly! I know, I know- they still need to be ironed!!
So the next thing to do was set up in the driveway and take pictures!
Still always a work in progress, but still progressing! What do you think?
I am Jenn Avery, of JRA Gourd Art. I have been an artist all my life, and my work has taken many twists and turns and many directions. Gourd pyrography is my specialty, but I love to try all kinds of art and crafts, and am excited to share and teach what I learn anyone who is interested!