Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breaking Down & Loading Out!

Here's your behind the scene views as the artists break down and load-out
the October 62nd Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands.

After all of the hard work that goes into preparing for the Fair (I detailed some of it in our "Count Down Fun!" posts earlier), everyone spent all day Wednesday loading in and setting up their displays.  The Fair opened at 10 AM Thursday.  We spent four days in the Asheville Civic Center selling our work and meeting some really nice people, talking to old friends and meeting new ones.

On Sundays the Guild Fair closes at 5 PM.  The 130 members exhibiting on the Arena level disassemble their booths, pack them up, and head for home.

Here's an overview from the office-side balcony minutes before 5.

The "Voice of the Fair" (aka Liz Spear) has made the final announcements, and reminded the exhibitors about the load out procedures.

The Fair is closed.

Break down begins.

David and Melanie Grant packing his pottery for their trip home. 

For it to be fair for everyone and for things to go as quickly as possible, the Fair Committee has everyone completely break down their display and booth.  A number of us are walking the floor with load-out passes in hand.  We double-check to make sure that they are literally ready to pack their vehicles, then we give them a pass and they get their vehicle and get in line.

By the time I made a couple of walk throughs Pat had our jewelry put away and was beginning to pack our display.

Just after 5 the vehicles for the two critical corners are brought in early and they are loaded out.  Once they are clear traffic will be able to flow much easier.

A little after 5:30 I was taking some signs up to the office
when the first cars where brought in. 

Connie Brown and her husband Ted are entrusted with running the main entrance door.  They do a great job of keeping track of which aisles are open and marshaling the traffic accordingly.

Peter and Keith man the rear exit door.  This year we were more aggressive about slotting vehicles into the back area to help folks that wanted to walk their packing out to their vehicles.  It worked very well.

Load out's in full swing now! 

This is what a booth looks like when you get in line to drive in. 

Yet another trip up to the office, Pat's taking a break before finishing up.

That's when I remembered I had to make two trips home!  So we walked our plants and the table for our spinner rack out the back.  I dropped them off at home and was back walking the floor and helping in about 30 minutes.

It's really opening up now, and the pipe and drapes are coming down quickly.

Another 71 artists are breaking down and loading out on the Concourse upstairs too!

We're almost done.

The pipe and drape is handled by NC Conventions.  They always do a good job, and this year it seemed like everything was coming down earlier and opening up the space faster.

I think this about sums it all up.
Alan Hollar, the Fair Committee Chair,
tired and very satisfied.

And he's finally free to begin to load up before driving home! 

3 1/2 hours after the October Guild Fair closed almost everyone is on the road!

Neal Howard and Liz Spear are almost done, 

Bayley Wharton's wonderful booth is packed. 

We live just a few minutes away and so many of our friends have long drives ahead of them to get home. So we like to stay and help with load out. This year I think everyone set a record. We left at least an hour and a half earlier than we ever have. And it was Fun and satisfying to be part of this amazing transformation: from a major craft fair to an empty civic center arena . . .

Pat and I headed home.

We picked up a couple of chicken dinners at Ingles.  Since the Civic Center staff had warned me to expect heavy rain in the morning, I went ahead and unloaded the car when we got home.  I was finished by 10, with all of our stock and display stacked in our living room waiting to be put away.  After I ate I washed three ibuprofen down with a very well earned beer.  We talked and cuddled Tha Boyz until it was time for bed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Long Slow Peek Behind the Curtain ~ Photo & Word Heavy

Our bench the morning after the 2010 October Guild Fair.
Monday, October 25th, 2010.

Fallen leaves after a heavy rain and, yes,
the Hummingbird Vine seedpods are done for this year.

I've always thought it would be cool to be able to share what it is actually like to be a working artist.  So I hope you'll enjoy this peek behind the curtain into the world of some very creative and very hard working people.  This is a just a little taste of what Pat and I saw and experienced Sunday on the last day of the 62nd annual October Fair of the Southern Highlands ~ the October Guild Fair.  After all, it really is a question of lifestyle . . .

And, please, follow the links out for a real look at some of the artists' work!

Sunday morning I was running a couple of minutes late for the Fair Committee meeting so Pat dropped me off at the side door and drove off in search of a parking place.  When I made it to our booth she was already well on her way to

setting up our display.

 Pat is my Balance.

(After adjusting the lighting of my favorite of these photos.)

April has a smile for everyone as she gives us each day's Fair newsletter. 
April Nance is the Guild's Director of Public Relations and Technology.

I think that April's hard work is one of the main reasons that attendance at this Guild Fair was only down about 5% compared to last year's (despite President Clinton making a campaigning visit in downtown Asheville Thursday)!  Attendance at most of the events held at the Asheville Civic Center have dropped about 30% compared to last year.  (I just might have to go "Staff Hunting" with the camera at next July's Fair!)

It didn't take us long to be ready for the last day of the Fair!

The last of our Seasonal Botanicals
for this Fair!

Stone Crop and Labradorite Botanical Ridgelines Pendant.

Phil and Gay Brown are ready to start the day!

The Brown's are a sweet sweet family.  [Hush Phil!]  You have to see Phil's amazing bird woodcarvings in person to really appreciate his work, and his original blending of the realistic and impressionistic into his own Appalachian style.

Gay is potter and a Guild member too.  We are lucky enough to have a small collection of her work in our lives ~ with her beautiful brown glazes that I think are only available at Cumberland Crafts or directly from her.  (The other Guild Shops seem to only carry her blue glazed work.)  Sunday Gay and I discovered that we had both worked for Ingles' Soup N Salad during the early 80s and had been trained by the same couple!

Sometimes you are blessed with the ultimate compliment . . . another artist wants to wear your work!  Last year Pat and I made a Bronze Fern, Sterling and Mountain Stream Pebble Ridgelines Pendant to celebrate our 25th Anniversary.  When Laurey-Faye Long saw Pat wearing it during the Guild Fair this July she commissioned us to make her a similar, but unique, pendant that would be her Birthday Present to herself!

"When's your Birthday?!?"
"The October Guild Fair."
"Cool!  We'll have it ready for you then!

Laurey-Faye radiant
just as another craftsperson came to talk to the her!

Laurey-Faye's Bronze Fern and Sterling Ridgelines Pendant
with a bezel-set "Wet" Mountain Stream Pebble.

Wine just tastes better in Laurey-Faye's goblets!

Much later in the day I stopped by David Grant's booth to visit with Melanie.  But, she was using her break to do homework for her teaching course,

"Oh Tom, I'm trying to study now . . ."

When I made another trip up to the balcony I discovered
this perfect view of Derek Hennigar and his booth of Ordinary Furniture.
If Derek's work looks familiar it's because one of his stunning walnut X rockers 
was featured in this year's Guild Fairs' advertising.  (The art glass in Derek's cases is by Michael Hatch.)

A little further along I stopped to talk with Steve Lloyd.  Besides being really energetic and neat people (with nice daughters that bake great cookies!) Becky and Steve make unbelievable sgrafitto decoration on fine English porcelain.  They, like Pat and I, are a true partnership collaborating on their work as it evolves.  They also designed and made a killer booth that really displays their work to great effect.

Here's a view that the public never gets to see!
You'll find Steve busy with the clay program at Haywood Community College.

Haywood was the first Community College in the country to have a degree program in professional crafts!  When Pat was in the metals/jewelery program at Haywood (then Tech) in the early 80s she studied under Arch Gregory.  (I don't know if I can even begin to count the Guild members that studied under Arch ~ whatever the media they work in now!)

I think that David Grant, Melanie's husband,
is a modern master of wood fired, and salt and ash glazed, pottery.
David became a Guild member in 2006, the same year that we did.

A number of David's pieces enrich our lives, but I am hopelessly enamoured with his jugs.  I love 'em!  There is just something about the traditional forms of jugs that appeals to me.  And there is something much more about a jug thrown and fired by David Grant that moves me in ways that I still have trouble explaining.  They are that special. 

 Melanie spotted me and wanted to know,
"Tom, what are you doing up there?!?"
(Isn't she going to make a great Teacher?!?)

This time I was on my way to listen to some great music!

When Ira is dancing
you have to smile as he lifts your heart.
(Video to follow later!)

You even have to smile
when he is at rest and listening!

Near the end of the day Liz Spear (among other things Liz is a.k.a. the Voice of the Guild Fair) was making notes for the final announcements of this year's Fair.  (Here's Liz's other site.)

That's a mighty fine pendant she's wearing!!!

Liz's Moonrise Pendant
features a bezel set Red Fern Agate
and a Black Fresh Water Pearl.

Among the many other things she does for the Guild, and to promote appreciation of  fine fiber arts, Liz is one of the moving forces behind the Guild's Annual Fashion Show of Wearable Art, held every Mother's Day at the Folk Art Center.

I may be addicted to pottery but, Pat and I are big fiber fans too and we both sew. But we're also, um, "fiber challenged".  Which might explain our fascination with, and enjoyment, of handwoven garments.

I guess it makes sense, but apparently women purchase and wear far more handwoven garments than men do.  I'm a man and I love handwoven fabrics and handmade garments!  Come on guys, wake up!  Wear handwoven garments, you'll love 'em!  Last year Liz made my first handwoven, and favorite, shirt (with "boy buttons" nonetheless!).  It's flattering that now she has one of our pendants and an earring to wear too.

Pat was really kind to me and I was able to add a vest made by Vickie Vipperman to my wardrobe.  (Vickie's other site is here.)

Tired but feeling oh so good in my handwoven vest!
With Thanks to Vickie for the photo!
I bought my very favorite hat from Julia Gaunt last December!

Late Saturday evening, as we flopped and recuperated, I told Pat I thought our Seasonal Botanicals needed a menu board.  Being the good natured, and patient, Lady-Wife that she is Pat actually thought it was kind of a cute idea and said she thought I should go for it . . .  So I did!

Years before our first Guild Fair, and before we realized that we had meet years earlier, a mutual friend gave us our first two Hamilton Williams' plates.  Every day we pour our morning coffee into Hamilton's mugs.  We're Collecting a ten piece table setting of Hamilton's "Moody Blues" tableware.

A couple of years ago Hamilton begin Collecting Guild jewelers' work for his daughter Ella.  She's 8 now and someday she's going to have a Collection of jewelery that any woman would envy!

Near the end of the show Hamilton came back for the new piece of ours that had caught his eye at this Fair ~ a pair of our new Hummingbird Vine Seedpod Earrings.  And we had one pair left for Ella!

So it only seemed fitting to write out a note for Ella to read someday, years in the future, on the last page of our day's "menu".

Doing a show is physically hard work and tiring but we always have a lot of Fun doing the Guild Fairs.  We had a great time talking with people and getting to see their reactions to our new work.  We're both fired up by the possibilities of our new Seasonal Botanicals and, even better, they were very well received. 

My next post will be scenes that only artists, their families, and the staff ever get to see ~ breaking down and loading out the Arena level of the Southern Highland Craft Guild's October 2010 Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands!!!

[Edited to add Vickie's photo.]