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Tribute to Bubba     15 February, 2008, 06:57 pm
Our dear friend and colleague Douglas “Bubba” Fast died at a craft show in Ohio last December at the age of 56. His passing was noted in the craft show business. Word spread during the week through personal email lists from artist to artist. Many went to his snowy funeral in Akron and hundreds of others attended a memorial service put together by Sugarloaf at their Chantilly, Virginia show.

Bubba was as big as his name, in stature and in heart. You could hear his shrieks and bellows across the hall greeting others, way before you ever saw him. Standing over 6’4”, he was built like a defensive lineman with big arms that would enfold any friend or acquaintance that happened by his booth. Everyone knew Bubba and he knew everyone. He seemed to be as much rock star as the leather handbag artisan listed in the show program. He drew in a wide range of friends spilling across gender and racial lines.

Bubba believed in unconditional love so that it took a lot to rile him up. One time when I observed him being wronged by a friend, he simply turned the other cheek. He told me that he might have a booth near them next week or see them at dinner that night. “We’ll just ...
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Adventure at Jacob Javits     28 November, 2007, 01:38 pm
In addition to arts & crafts festivals and flower shows, we also exhibit at selected professional meetings for librarians and teachers. One of our favorites is the National Council of Teachers of English, or NCTE, headquartered in Illinois. Their November convention rotates annually to different locations across the United States. Over the past 14 years we have exhibited with NCTE at various convention centers in San Diego, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Atlanta – to name a few. It was a mix of excitement and trepidation when I learned that the 2007 convention would be in the Big Apple, at the storied Jacob Javits Convention Center. This would be an adventure.

Anyone who knows convention centers has heard of Javits, the massive I. M. Pei-designed structure that stretches for eight Manhattan blocks along the Hudson River at one end of the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s said that this place was once so tough that you had slip someone $50 to even get to the loading dock. Those days are thankfully gone, but the workers still can make it plenty rough on a Ford van full of Literary Calligraphy from Bedford County, Virginia.

I timed my arrival at Javits for about 11 a.m., ...
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The Rise of Craft Shows     20 September, 2007, 11:58 am
The 70s saw the expansion of the arts & craft business and with it, a lot of new show opportunities for established and emerging artisans. Established shows were expanded (and copied) while totally new venues, including malls and newly-minted craft promoters, rushed in to make arts & crafts more available geographically and culturally. Crafts were part of the back-to-nature movement that was so important in the 1970s. That artists and promoters could make money in it was so much the better and word spread quickly.

There were long-established shows like Greenwich Village or guild shows including New Hampshire and the Southern Highlands (discussed in an earlier blog) that artists plugged into. Alice and Chuck Hollander were at Greenwich Village in the mid-70s, selling macramé wall hangings and necklaces. She was a kindergarten teacher in Long Island and the setting must have seemed very exotic for her. This show is still going strong today.

Add to these established shows, a list of college-sponsored (however loosely connected) venues and the list expanded. Jeff Nelson, the artist behind Hudson River Inlays of New York, did his first show as a student in San ...
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Setting Up in Ripley     25 July, 2007, 11:10 am
Susan and I arrived at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center for the Mountain State Arts & Craft Show near Ripley, WV at about noon on July 4. This was our first foray up the West Virginia Turnpike (I-77) pulling our travel trailer. The mountains near Beckley were very steep and I was nervous that the van would make it. We still haven’t weighed the van and trailer, although we have done the calculations on van pulling capacity. So we used trial and error and math on our mountain-climbing adventure. Actually it all went well, and the trailer only added about an hour to our driving time.

The show is arranged around Cedar Lake and we were near the end of one of the large tents. We are able to drive right to the 8’ x16’ booth, which is a big deal for exhibitors. The festival organizers provide pegboard backing, one of the last festivals to do so. We put down plastic on the ground, and covered it with our grey carpets. We only began using carpet outdoors last year after being told that a grass floor makes you look like a flea market. It does look nicer and cuts down on the moisture. It adds another step to set-up, and more to carry in the van.

Once the floor is
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Susan & Ron buy an RV     4 June, 2007, 02:10 pm
I write this blog at the Woodstock-New Paltz Arts & Craft Fair at the table of our new (used) travel trailer that we have owned for the past three weeks. Susan and I have been exhibiting at art shows for the past 20+ years while staying in motels and hotels. What caused this sudden switch?

First were the rapid increases in hotel rates in the past few years. We particularly noticed this last January in Florida, where we ended up at some cheesy hotels, costing more than $100 per night. Our hotel options are also limited by the need for the hotel to be “pet friendly” because we travel with two small dogs. Another consideration was that there are many shows where having a nearby RV is a luxury. And besides all that as Susan says, change is good.

We settled on a 21’ travel trailer so that we can still carry our display in our van and be able to maneuver around show sites. We started shopping for the trailer, first on the Internet, and then on our way home from the Sugarloaf show in Chantilly in early May. We stopped at several dealers before we found a great deal at a lot in our county. The trailer was barely used and was ½ the price of a new one. We bought it ...
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