Highs and Lows

   This weekend, while we were driving and setting up for the Webb School Art and Craft Show, I started thinking about the pros and cons of this setup we have. Some parts are so fun and amazing and others are harder than you'd think.

   David has always wanted to be a full time artist and for him to stay home doing what he loves is a dream come true. But doing festivals can be grueling and exhausting. You're either traveling and staying somewhere for the weekend, or you're driving each day to set up. For the Webb show, we chose to drive the hour and a half each way instead of getting a hotel. The drive was pretty easy and it's beautiful in this area. But it meant getting up at 4:30am to make it here. We arrived in the dark and saw the sunrise as we set up. 

     This life also means being self-employed so we have the taxes and the budgeting issues that all self-employed people have. When you're sitting at a show, you're generally aware of your bills that are sitting at home. It always works out, but there's a lot of hustling going on as we grow our business and I work 2 part time jobs. There is also the constant awareness that as we age, this way of life could become more difficult. We're planning to jury for Bonnaroo next year and the thought of being open for sales 11am to 2am for 4 days....that's daunting.  

   None of this is meant to be complaining. I'm so thankful that this is where we are. I love sitting here meeting people, watching them discover David's work. I am aware though that this is a lifestyle with its own issues, good and bad. I don't think I would want to live any other way. Today I am tired and reflective so thanks for reading :) 

   Thank you to the Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce and the people of Bell Buckle who allow their little town to be taken over for the weekend. And thank you, ALWAYS, to those who support what David does with your kind words and your purchases. I didn't take many photos this weekend and this is my favorite. 

 

~~Elisabeth

Donuts and coffee (and hardcore hair) first thing in the morning

Donuts and coffee (and hardcore hair) first thing in the morning

Storytime- The Best and the Worst

   Another story with no pictures, mostly to protect identities. We've done many festivals over the last 10 years and most of them have been great. Each one has unique characteristics that make it stand out. For example, Huffines was a festival north of Dallas and it took place in a shady park with a path through it. There were hay bales set up everywhere and we arrived at dawn to make our way through this beautiful magical setting. Hermitage Fest in Tennessee has a fantastic artist lounge and they provide lunch. Again, a beautiful park-like setting. These are the pleasant memories I hold on to :) But sometimes....there is a show.... a show that will forever have a place in the dark recesses of memory....

   I won't say where this took place except to tell you, we were FAR from home. Like 15 hours away. We traveled that far because many people told us it would be a good show for us. A "great fit" and we would "sell out!" Where should I begin. 

   It was HOT. And the booths were set up back to back and side by side so there was little to no air flow. The festival was on a main road in a major urban area and also happened to be on the strip with all the clubs and bars. So not only was there a constant stench of urine, but the bartenders came out regularly to dump the leftover beer ONTO THE SIDE OF THE STREET. So yeah. Bad smells.  

     This festival also had no amenities for artists, as in no bathrooms to use, nowhere to step into to cool off. Not even really an office if you had a complaint or a need of some kind. So....port a potties all weekend with no way to wash your hands. Did I mention the heat??? So David got hot at one point and almost passed out due to lack of a breeze and no escape. He ended up having to step into a bar and order something just to be able to sit and cool off. 

    So we're dirty, hot, exhausted, nauseous from the smells and there's no way to make it better. Might be worth it if the sales supported this kind of weekend. But no...we BARELY broke even.  It was truly the festival from HELL. I was walking around looking at work and mentioned to someone that we were also there selling. They asked where we were from and when I told them, they said, "Wow...You're far from home" and in that moment it hit me. WE WERE SO FAR FROM HOME FOR THIS TERRIBLE FESTIVAL. I think that show was kind of a turning point that made us realize that traveling that far isn't necessary and that we have other options. Other people do really well at this show and I'm glad for them. But I personally will never go back there. If David decides to try it again, I'll probably have him drop me off at a spa on his way out of town :) 

    Thanks for reading- 

~~Elisabeth  

I want to add- on the way back from Huffines, our son got the stomach flu. So we spent the whole drive with him puking into a bag while I tried to write a college paper on Teddy Roosevelt using books that were published in the early 1900's. We've had some trying times. 

Process- Boxed and Named

   If you read the last 2 posts, then you've followed the process from a block of clay through the boxes being made and lined. So then we end up with this:

Each one seems to be waiting for a friend

Each one seems to be waiting for a friend

Doesn't Nixon just grab your eye? (Bottom row, second from right, for you youngsters)

Doesn't Nixon just grab your eye? (Bottom row, second from right, for you youngsters)

Sad little guys, especially the one looking at the camera

Sad little guys, especially the one looking at the camera

Each head is matched up individually to a box. According to David, "Sometimes it's because of color contrast. Or contrast with the background subject matter. Sometimes it's an inside joke. It's a variety of reasons". 

 

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   Then there's drilling and hot glue and a big pile of polymer dust. And finally, each piece has a home. They're titled on the back and if they're going to a festival, added to a price list. 

 

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 Each festival is months of preparation. We have one in Nashville this coming weekend and there will be about 100 new pieces going on the shelves. (Stop by if you're in the area-Tomato Art Fest in East Nashville. Saturday, 9-6, booth 427)

    I'll be blogging all about the festival for the first time ever. Check back next week! 

~~Thanks for reading, 

Elisabeth

 

Dallas-The Beginning

Photo Credit- I got this from Google Images years ago.

Photo Credit- I got this from Google Images years ago.

In 2008, we finally decided to take a leap and do a festival. My brother and his family live in Arlington, TX and they said they thought the Deep Ellum Arts Festival would be worth trying. So we juried, got in and in April, we loaded up our minivan (including stuff strapped to the luggage rack!) and made the 12 hour drive to Dallas. Our kids were 10 and 13 and we were paying for braces and life and homeschooling so sinking $1500+ (travel, loss of work, kennel, etc) into a 3 day art festival felt...terrifying.

Early days of the booth

Early days of the booth

We really didn't know what we were doing. Our booth was cobbled together. We forgot things and had to drive in a new huge city to find a hardware store for supplies. It was very stressful, but our kids were seeing a new place and we got to visit with family. And we just hoped that we would make back our investment.

 

 

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The show started on Friday evening. The kids and I alternated between walking the festival, eating festival food, going into shops and we even braved driving to some shopping areas (I was terrified, but determined!) We also had our first experience with the dogs of festivals- one of our favorite parts.

Wilbur. His butt looked like cinnamon rolls :)

Wilbur. His butt looked like cinnamon rolls :)

People came in and looked, carrying their beers. Someone bought a $30 head. Yes, those used to exist. At the end of the evening, we had made $39. Needless to say, we were scared and a bit discouraged. If you're an artist or you are close to one, you know about the times of self-doubt that can happen. I think most (if not all) artists have those times of wondering if their work is relevant, especially if you're trying to make your living from your art work. It's compounded when there's been a financial investment and you're also raising a family. David had been dealing with some of that before we went to Dallas and I really felt that this trip would be a turning point for good or bad.

Comic relief for this serious part of the post

Comic relief for this serious part of the post

I will forever remember the next day as THE BEGINNING. People came in and...it was amazing. The booth was PACKED. And it stayed packed. People were smiling, laughing, buying. It isn't just about making money, although that was important. There's this thing that happens that I love to witness. People see David's work and their faces change. I see them light up. There were older women laughing and pointing pieces out to each other. Young men and women in groups, couples, teens, families. No certain age range, no specific demographic. And they bought and laughed and brought their friends back to look. 

    We made our expenses. But we also developed such a love for Dallas. For the trip, the place and most of all, for the people. We've made friends there. David remembers people, their families, their names and the heads they bought. We have artist friends, people we trade with, people we look forward to seeing every year. He has a following there and the people are kind and gracious and encouraging. We've gone back every single year since then. Our kids are now 18 and 22 and they don't travel with us much anymore. Life is different and we know we won't always be driving to Dallas. But Deep Ellum Arts Festival will forever be where our festival life began. Thank you, Dallas♡ 

 

Thanks for reading~~

Elisabeth