Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Back to Work

We had to get right back to work as soon as we got home from New Hampshire. There were orders that needed to be fired and thankfully the pots were already bisqued and some were even glazed. After a day of glazing I was exhausted. I thought I was suffering from travel lag, but then the sneezing started. The next day I realized I had a damn summer cold. A big thank you to Jeff for giving me a break and loading the kiln on his own.

Yesterday we unloaded. I was pretty happy with how these mugs turned out. Jeff already claimed one for himself. The rest you will find in my Etsy shop.

And I finally fired a sheep that I made many months ago!

I have been doing light duty for the last few days and I am mostly feeling better. I dislike being under the weather, but at least I have gotten a lot of reading done. I will be back to assembling piggy banks tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Seafood Heaven

Jeff and I took full advantage of being in New England and enjoyed lots of fresh seafood. North Carolina has a beautiful long coastline, but we live three hours away from it. While the seafood is delicious, it is different from what I grew up with.

We had two lobster feasts, one on Bow Lake with our friend Roni, the other in New Haven, CT with Danielle and Jason. The Connecticut feast included steamed clams and crab cakes. The lobster this year was just $5.99 a pound! We cooked a couple extras to take home with us.

It was hot and humid in Connecticut. It felt like home, minus central A/C! No A/C meant dinner on the waterfront. Shell & Bones was the choice, cool inside with a beautiful view. 

More seafood was consumed, this time it was a filet topped with crab, bernaise sauce, and other delectable things. Fancy cocktails and great bottle of wine rounded out the meal... don't worry, we take advantage of Uber when going out on the town. It's was fun to go to a swanky place, something Jeff and I rarely do. Thank you Danielle and Jason for a wonderful treat!

It seems to have become a tradition that we visit a winery when we get together with the family. This year it was Chamard Vineyard in Clinton, CT.

The grounds were quite lovely, as well as the tasting room. The service was "meh." The server doing the tasting seemed rather uninterested in talking about the wines. Danielle's observation from her first visit there 4 years ago to now, is that it has become more of a wine bar. We probably would have been better off ordering a bottle of wine at one of the tables.

I fell in love with this fire pit! During the summer months they have music outside. This thing must look pretty cool with a glowing fire inside of it. There were a few smaller versions of it scattered around the patio.
The next morning Danielle and I went to Rocco's Italian bakery, walking distance from her home, and picked up some yummy breakfast pastries and a couple of mini stuffed breads for the ride home. We hit the road at 11:00 am and were home by 11:00 pm. A long drive, but it was smooth sailing with few delays. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Recap of the Big Show

Another year at the League of NH Craftsmen's Fair is behind us. After the abysmal show of last year we had to rethink our strategy and our set up. When you couple poor sales with breaking down and packing a booth in the rain in two hours (a booth that took two days to build) your spirit and body are feeling broken. When applications for 2016 were due last fall, we decided to pay extra for a corner booth. The decision was also made to skip building the wood walls with attached pedestals and shelves. This would make set up a breeze and break down in two hours much less stressful.

The booth mimicked our set up at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters show. Our tent frame with the top removed, defined our space and allowed us to hang our lights with zip strips. We hung our tent walls in the back and covered them with inexpensive sheers from IKEA to soften the look. No need for spendy curtain rods, conduit from the hardware store is 10' and costs only a few dollars. Our table covers were purchased from an online supplier. They are only about $12 a piece and have velcro on one end to access hidden storage underneath. This show juries your booth each year. Your score can do three things:

1. Win you an award which will reduce your booth fee by $275 the next year
2. The higher your ranking, the better your chance of receiving your first choice in booth placement.
3. If your booth totally sucks, you receive an "needs improvement" warning. If your booth isn't better the next year, you won't be able to participate in subsequent fairs.

Overall, we were happy with our booth. The jury process is subjective, so who knows what the score will be. When you are working in a small space for four days you quickly learn what you need to change. This is our plan for next year:

1. Purchase a rug or ground cover. We are considering a tarp like cover that looks like an industrial carpet. It's made specifically for trade shows. It's easy to roll up and not too heavy. Our booth neighbor had one and it looked good. Since we used tables with cream colored covers, the bottoms of our covers got dirty VERY quickly. A ground cover would help eliminate that.

2. Attach some extra velcro to our covers to keep them hanging straighter. I was constantly adjusting them.

3. Place a piece of plexiglass over the end of the table that we use for wrapping pots. Even though we are under a "circus" tent, we are still in an outdoor environment. By Tuesday it was looking a little dirty.

The most important thing that happened this year is that we made money. Probably our best 4 day fair week ever. Jeff and I attribute the better sales to bringing just three color schemes of work, and having a corner booth. The corner really gave us much more visibility on the days that the fair was very crowded.

When we pack out mid-week I always enjoy the quietness of the fair. There are only a handful of us that split the week in half (it's a nine day show), so there only one or two booths in each tent that are tearing down or setting up. The grounds look so different when the sun is setting and the crowds are gone.

The pots were packed and the booth was down by 7:00 pm. Just in time for the woodworker, who was taking our space, to set up her booth. We moved everything to the outside of the tent and packed the trailer. At 8:55 pm we were back on the highway.

Exhausted, but pleased with our time at the fair.