Thursday, November 24, 2016

First Time Venture Being a Vendor at the Texas Christkindl Market

First let me say that I hope you have had the opportunity to have a Happy Thanksgiving with those you care about. Personally this has been the nicest Thanksgiving I can remember in a number of years. Hopefully it will help fortify me for the next four weeks when I am participating as a vendor at the Texas Christkindl Market which opens tomorrow at 5pm on the north side of the baseball stadium in Arlington, TX.

My alter ego, 817ArtsAlliance, has as part of its mission, a goal to empower small local artisans so they can bring their creations to market. Towards that goal, I was permitted to secure a hut at the Texas Christkindl Market this year in order to showcase creations from such artisans who otherwise would not be able to participate for a variety of reasons. I have arranged for fourteen local artisans, including myself, and one international handmade fair trade member to be a part of the 817ArtsAlliance hut this year. (Post update: Photo below taken by a friend on our second night.) While many of the artisans have limited stock available, their talent is far from limited. They are passionate about what they create. For some, when their stock is sold out there will not be any more coming. Some others will likely be restocking but with the nature of many of the handmade items, exact replicas are not expected in all cases. What does this mean for you? Come out early for those one of a kind OOAK pieces that speak to you and check back now and then to see what new items may be on display through the end of the market on December 23. Unique, handmade treasures for a variety of people on your gift list or yourself can be found by thoughtfully browsing the 817ArtsAlliance hut. If you don't find what you are looking for in our hut, there are many other wonderful things to be found in the remainder of the Christkindl Market.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Indian Summer Clouds of Butterflies

Here in North Texas our extended Indian Summer came to an abrupt halt yesterday. The weather during the prior week was spectacular though and the butterflies took advantage of the sunshine, warmer temps and plentiful nectar in a patch of blue mistflower and a lantana bush in my backyard. Many varieties of butterflies were attracted to both, including some very late Monarch butterflies on their trip south.

The lantana bush seemed especially popular with the sulphur butterflies. It was alive with a cloud of predominantly yellow butterflies flitting from flower to flower. How many do you see in my photo? (Click to enlarge to make your job easier.)

Queen butterflies flocked to my patch of blue mistflower. A cloud of orange erupted when I walked too close to this area of the garden. In this photo they share the nectar bounty with other butterflies and insects.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Craft Show Booth Design

An important part of having a successful craft show is knowing what your set up will be before arriving at your show. There are some important questions you need to have answered in order for you to properly prepare. What is your allotted space for your booth? Does that size include access around your space or do you need to provide access behind your tables from within your space? Will you have vendors on both sides or do you have an outside corner space? Will you back up to a wall or another vendor? What is the lighting like in the hall or are you outside? Is there electricity available and if so is it free? How much time will you have to set up and tear down? How close can you park to your space? Are tables and chairs provided for free or a fee or not at all? All of these questions and possibly others will determine what you want to pack in your vehicle in addition to your priced product that is ready to be placed on your attractive pre-planned display.

You will need a base for your displays. For most products that means tables and then some props to create different heights to show off your product. If you have larger artwork or quilts your bases might be walls of some type. This post will assume that you either have or are using the design step to figure out the elements that you need to acquire to be the foundation for your products.

The most important part of your pre-show design is to figure out what pieces will fit in your space in an arrangement that gives good access to your products and a secure checkout and out of sight storage for things like your lunch. You can go low tech and use graph paper, assign a scale and cut out scaled pieces to represent your tables, etc. that you can move around or use software that allows you to do the same thing. I use Adobe Illustrator to create my plans. You don't want to haul more stuff with you than you can fit in your assigned space. I was at one show where it appeared that a vendor had set up at shows with a booth space of at least 10x10 but failed to notice the one they were attending only had a 6x8 space assigned to them. I don't know what would have happened if a nearby vendor had not been unable to attend, which allowed them to spread out into what was now a 6x16 space.

In addition to knowing the size of your booth space in which you can set up your tables and other things, it is important to also know whether that space has any buffer area around it or whether it bumps right up to your neighbor's space. In my experience, most bump right up against your neighbor so any access to behind the table space must be included inside your footprint. In addition to your tables and/or walls that are your basic set up, it is a good idea to know where your major smaller product props will go. I have included an image of one such layout utilizing my tables and props for a 10x10 outside corner booth setup as well as a picture of part of the set up at the show. Having this print out with me at set up helps me, and especially a helper if I have one, quickly get my layout in place.

For those of you that use walls of some type to hang art or other large items, it can be handy to set up the wall and mount your items on it at home. It can take some time to figure out where each piece of your product puzzle goes and when you are setting up, time is not a luxury. I take a picture of each wall set up and take note of where each hook is placed. I label a print of the picture with where each hook goes and place the hooks for a specific wall in their own labeled baggy for quick assembly at the show.

A bit of time spent on design and organization before a show will reward you with a smoother set up and also hopefully help you pack everything you need without hauling a bunch of extraneous stuff along.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

More Photographic Art to Debut at Funky Finds

I recently finalized additional photographic art prints I have been working on over the summer. I have some additional matted images of Penelope the Flying Pig in which Penelope and her twin become part of a mountain rescue squad. Shown in this post is a sneak peak of a new blank note card offering and a mythology themed matted print that will both be added to my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop. The new items will be available in person for the first time this weekend. You can check them out at Funky Finds this coming Saturday and Sunday at Cattle Barn 2 in the Will Rogers Complex in Fort Worth.

This new note card expands my popular psychedelic gazelle with flying pig earrings note card line. Ms. Gazelle models my flying pig earrings for my EclecticSkeptic shop. I enjoy creating fun photographic art images from these product photos. My new matted print will become part of my mythology offerings. This photographic art creation shows a dragon emerging from a lightning storm. I created this image by combining one of my lightning photos with a photo I took of a blinged out dragon that hangs from the ceiling in my husband's office.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

First Time at Funky Finds - Nov. 5-6, 2016

Find me and my creations at Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in Cattle Barn 2 at Will Rodgers Coliseum on Nov. 5-6. Saturday hours are 10am - 5pm and Sunday hours are 11am - 4pm. There are lots of things to see and do at Funky Finds. The event is free and pet friendly, however there is a charge to park at the Will Rodgers Complex.

Each of the over 100 makers participating in Funky Finds donates an item for the charitable raffle that goes on both days. My felted flying pig model will finally be making her debut in my donation. I will also have some matted prints of Penelope available in my booth. I will have an outside corner booth (#409) at the intersection of the middle north/south aisle and the cross aisle for door 3. I would love for you to stop by and say hi. All of my photographic art and handmade jewelry and accessories will be making the trip with me.

This show is a great opportunity to get a head start finding unique gifts to match each and every person on your holiday shopping list.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Artist Spotlight - VanArtLife

Scale models and miniatures have always interested me. I appreciate the skill involved in reproducing something many times smaller than the original. I suspect this interest is part of the reason I appreciate the miniature paintings of VanArtLife so much. Sometimes people don't have a lot of space to bring home new artwork and display it. It is easy for wall space to run out, especially in dorm rooms or nursing homes. Van's mini art pieces are a perfect way to be able to bring home some wonderful art that is a pleasure to look at and does not take up much room.

I first met Van at a local craft show. She was showing her paintings on very small canvases, placed on mini art easels. While the subject matter was rendered in tiny detail, it was accurate and visually pleasing. I let her know about a show I was putting together later that year and invited her to be a vendor. She took me up on my offer and she has participated in several of my 817ArtsAlliance produced shows since then. Van has also opened an Etsy shop so that when she is not at a show, you can find at least some of her work online. She will be participating this year in the 817ArtsAlliance Happy Holidays Hut at Christkindl for the duration, unless she sells out before the show is over.

If someone asked me what type of images I was most likely to seek out, pictures of fruit would not be my first answer. I'm not sure I would even think of that response. However, for some reason I was very drawn to Van's cherry paintings. Van also paints lovely things on clothes pins. These become functional pieces of art. They can be clipped on a lapel instead of a pin, or with a magnet attached to the back of the clothespin, they become a fridge magnet for holding lists, messages, etc..

To see more of Van's work, check out her Etsy shop and mark your calendars so you can stop by the Texas Christkindl Market this year to see her work in person.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Photo Frames - Picture Props

A couple of weeks ago, a few of us were firming up plans for a fun family fall evening out that the Dalworthington Gardens Historical Committee, with help from additional citizens, is hosting. We will have Trunk or Treat for the kiddos, giving them an additional opportunity to wear this year's costume. And speaking of costumes, there will be a costume contest for kids 13 and under and for dogs (on leashes please). Attendees can paint a pumpkin and play a version of musical chairs. Hot dogs, popcorn and nachos will be available beginning about 5:30. There will be a short Halloween Charlie Brown video inside the community room after the awards are given out for the costume contest and the first Harry Potter movie will play on the big screen in the park as it gets dark. In addition to all of this I wanted to have a picture taking area. We will have some seasonal decorations to provide a nice backdrop along with props that can be used to create some great photo opportunities. Bring your camera or phone and someone will help you capture memories for you if you need assistance.

One of the other people helping plan this event suggested that some large picture frames would be a great prop for the photo zone. I remembered a couple of old, in need of a bit of love, partially covered with burlap very large wood frames I had been given in case I needed them for something. I decided this project was the something they were destined for. I shopped for some fall themed ribbon
and fabric fall leaves. I covered the inside edge of each of the frames with a different ribbon. Then I divided the leaves up and attached half of them to the larger frame. I had a little bit of ribbon left after covering the inside edge of the smaller wood frame so I made a couple of bows out of the left over piece and added leaves to the corner of this frame. I did not need all of the half I had reserved for it.

It was getting late so I used a flash to take a quick picture of the frames to share with one of the other volunteers. When I looked at the photo, I decided it would be nice to use the leftover leaves from the smaller frame to fill in the gaps between the leaves on the larger frame seen in the first photo. The second photo in this post shows the completed frames that we will have in our photo props at the picture zone overlooking the pond in Gardens Park. Costume contest registration and goodie sack decorating begins at 5:30pm. The Harry Potter movie begins at 7:15pm.