Studio Musings

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Uptown Art Stroll

My corner of the booth
Leah and I definitely went for overkill.  Since this was the first festival for either of us, we wanted to make sure that our booth didn't look it.  We went as far as setting up everything in my backyard two days ahead of time, 'just in case' there was something we'd forgotten.

The trickiest part were the hanging display ladders - ended up making them out of dowel rods and ropes with wrapped wire to hold it all together.  And while they look great, the first one took me almost three hours to make. 

Leah setting up her workspace
I don't know how those of you who do festivals regularly manage!  True this was my first, so there was a lot of work tracking down or making displays and booth components, but even still there's an incredible amount of prep time involved. 

So yesterday morning we showed up bright and early, grabbed a prime spot and set up.  Even with the trial run in the backyard, setting up took longer than expected.  Amongst other things, my hands were shaking so badly I couldn't seem to thread my papers in between the little dowels.  With help from Joe, it was finally accomplished.

And then we settled in to work.  The Uptown Art Stroll was a little different from most festivals I've attended in that every artist participating was expected to be creating a piece of art work throughout the day with judging and an awards ceremony at the end.

My piece at the end of the day (nearing completion!)
I'd worried about this beforehand.  I could make little rings, which are quick, but not particularly judge-worthy.  Or I could work on a larger piece, but wouldn't get very far.  The festival organizer suggested that I bring a piece in progress.  Bless him!  My last post shows my piece going into the festival.

I didn't know what the judging would involve.  As it turns out, it was a lot of fun.  The judges, Susan Jane Russell and Jacqueline Barnett, were fascinating women who asked a number of questions about my background, how I got into beading, etc.  Jacqueline's last question threw me for a moment "what is the most technically difficult part of what you do?"

Staring at my piece I realized anew that none of the stitches, in and of themselves, are particularly difficult; in fact they're all rather simple.  Its the freeform combination, the willingness to step off that path and believe that it will work that adds the complexity.  So that was my answer, but it felt like a personal epiphany as well.  Reminding me of why I do what I do.

Wondering about customers?   Well, the attendance was light, as were sales, but it was a good chance to test out a number of things, including price points.  And I truly enjoyed the chance to talk with people in person, see what they liked, which colors and designs appealed, and why.  The light turn out gave me more time to talk with those who did come.  A number took the Fusion Bead class calendars, so maybe I'll see some of them in my classes this fall.

t-shirts for everyone, ribbon for me! 
To top the day off, to my surprise and amazement, Leah and I both placed in the 3D art category.  I took first!  Woo Hoo for jewelry!  So now I have a two-night stay at the Mediterranean Inn and a gift certifcate to TS McHugh's, a great Irish pub, just in time for our anniversary. 

Do I think festivals will become a regular thing for me?  No.  Do I think I'll do them again upon occasion.  Almost certainly.


  1. What an exciting event! And a wonderful learning experience. Congratulations on first place, you truly deserve it. Of course you will have to do another at some point, cause now you know how! :)

  2. I really enjoyed being out of the studio. It was a picture perfect day, blue skies and warm breezes, creating and sharing art. And the festival coordinators and volunteers really took care of their artists; I couldn't have felt more coddled. It was a great first foray into the festival scene. :)

    And yes, I do expect I'll do festivals again, every once in a while.