Time to get back on track!
Posted by C Scheftic on 2011/07/14
Please pardon my slipping out of metal-clay / artistry mode for a moment to publicly offer here a lifetime of best wishes to the oldest grandson and his bride, who “got hitched” (their wording) late last week. It was raining as everyone arrived: but if you’re getting married in the Baltimore harbor, maybe you should just accept water as somehow a part of the event?! With lots of umbrella-toting escorts, everyone got into place safe and mostly dry. Thankfully, the skies began to clear as the ceremony began, and the sun emerged in full force as the couple exchanged the vows each of them had written. The sun’s return, of course, was taken as a good omen! (Oh, and, since I’m writing about you, my dear: Happy Birthday too!)
And now it’s time to get back to “work”! I had gone on a making-binge in the spring so I could get a number of pieces out for sale at various new or special venues. But then, in the last six weeks or so (as I’ve at least tried to catch up a bit with various reports I’d intended to write for this blog), all I’ve made are some pre-class samples and in-class demo pieces, plus a small handful of commissioned items. Sort of a feast-or-famine routine. What I’m hoping I can do over the next few months is to find a better balance: continue to teach workshops and make the items associated with that; try out some new pieces I’ve been thinking about, make more variations on my favorite designs, and get some of those out for sale right away; but also gradually build up inventory for the winter holiday sales season.
In preparation for more making, one of the things I did as soon as I got back from Maryland was to review in detail the sales statement that had arrived from Koolkat regarding the pieces of mine that had been their Gallery Booth at the Three Rivers Arts Festival last month. And I learned two major things.
 This I had suspected but (because I didn’t have to be there the whole time) had not been able to confirm until my statement arrived: the vast majority of my sales came during the first five days of the ten-day event. Now, partly, that is to be expected in any year: even if people stroll through the market a number of times for various events (e.g., the different concerts), when they see an item they like in a collection of one-of-a-kind pieces, many know it’s a get-it-while-you-can situation. So I’d bet that accounts for part of the early-days boom.
But this year I suspect there might have been another aspect to the huge drop-off in the second half: jewelry-saturation. I had been feeling particularly honored that Koolkat had asked if I wanted to be represented in their booth this year because I’d heard that the organizers of the festival had put a strict limit on the amount (%) and types of jewelry that that Koolkat could exhibit. What I had not realized until I got to the festival was how many individual booths in the Artists Market would feature jewelry as well. Mind you, jewelry has always been a part of Three Rivers: I love jewelry, and “art jewelry” in particular, so over the years (from long before I ever started making the stuff myself!) I have enjoyed a lot of “window shopping” as well as a good amount of actual buying of it at this festival (and others). This year, there did seem to be a good bit of it in the first half, but a nice mix, certainly not quite what I’d call an overwhelming amount. But, in the second half, the amount of jewelry was even higher: something like one in three booths featured it! As a visitor myself, I know that after I have looked at some number of booths with any particular kind of work, I just reach a point of overload and can’t process any more through my brain, no matter how interesting or unique the work of the remaining artists may be. (I love museums too but, for example, often reach my “limit” on a single visit there as well!) And I know I’m not alone in that. Oh well, at least I did fine in the first half!
 Luckily, the second thing I learned was really good news. In addition to having a few of my silver items go to new homes, I also sold a lot of pieces made from bronze and/or copper and/or steel: basic pendants, more complex necklaces, earrings, etc. As I’d been working on those this past spring, with the idea that I would “introduce” them at Three Rivers, I had been wondering if they’d turn out to be worth the effort I was putting into them. Apparently, the answer is “Yes!”
So, as I said above, now it’s time to get back into studio and try out some more ideas, and to do that across the whole range of metal clays. Well, at least I’ll do that once the plumbers have finished fixing a few problems I’ve had at home, and in between sessions with the rototiller as I attempt to move and expand my garden beds, plus whatever other surprises crop up as life goes on….