The Krasl Art Fair
Wow. That was something!
This time we rented a dodge caravan “stow-and-go” where the seats tuck into the floor leaving it flat. It was WONDERFUL! We brought both the kids and they were on one side, one behind the other and then there was room for all the long pieces of our tent and display. I will say we really crammed that vehicle to the gills!
Once again, the trip was in rain, but light rain and a much shorter trip and the skies cleared up in the end.
We got there mid-afternoon, checked in and set up. Let me say, load in is very easy – we had good access and the fair is very very organized.
We were utterly delighted with our site as we had an unobstructed view of one of my favorite things in the world: LAKE MICHIGAN. We had a lovely cooling breeze off the lake both days.
This was the first time with our brand new tent and because we had practiced in our garden, it went pretty smoothly. It took us about 2 hours to get the tent and all the shelves up.
Both kids helped. Of course I didn’t set out the pottery – that would go up the next day- I asked another potter setting up and she didn’t either.
I went to the artist reception- good food. There was a fair amount of good, FREE food for this fair, again making it a really easy fair to be in.
Saturday morning as I lay in bed, I heard thunder and thought, “OH, NOoooo!” But as we drove back to St. Joseph, the light rain stopped and the skies cleared. It was a beautiful day!
We arrived and I put out all the pottery, unzipped the tent and was open for business. It took just over an hour.
I was awfully tired; I had slept really badly the night before and I had a head cold so I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I heard a baby crying nearby and looked across at a booth nearby and saw a younger couple setting up with a baby in a stroller and she had a cast on one leg! There is always someone else who has it harder than you. On talking to her, I learned she has THREE children under 8!!
Still, I was sitting too much and sales were slow until the artist next door came over and gave me a pep talk and some tips and really energized me.
I tried to do everything she told me and things improved from there on.
I also realized many many, many of the patrons walk the entire length of the fair (216 artists this year!!) before they buy a single thing. One woman told me she would come back on Sunday.
Now that’s stamina! Because, let me tell you, after it got started, it was just a steady wide stream of unending humanity going past the booth.
Most people were lovely. Even if they didn’t buy, they were complimentary.
The only annoying experience I had was a woman who was going to buy two mugs and when I told her 70 + tax she was shocked. She thought they were 5$ apiece! That was certainly one of the themes of discussion among artists. So often, people have no idea nor appreciation of the amount of time we put into our work. All the mass production, like at Pottery Barn, Ikea, etc. make people balk at paying the little that we do charge.
One the other hand, I had a couple of WONDERFUL customers who made the entire fair worthwhile. One of my students drove all the way from Chicago to see me and I was so flattered and happy to see her!
Another couple came in just loving my work, making me feel special and bought up my nicest things without batting an eye. They were from Chicago too and even invited me to their house. They also had a wicked sense of humor and there was much laughing and wittiness in my booth at the end of the day I can tell you!
For the night, we took all the pottery off the shelves and stacked it back in the bins, zipped down the sides and changed into our bathing suits.
At the beach I staggered into the water and just floated there until I got too cold. It was SO great to not be on my feet! We ate at the beach and watched the sunset. It was WONDERFUL.
In the morning, better rested, the pots went out again in roughly 45 minutes.
The baby across the way was in a better mood, All the artists were spiffed up and it was a gorgeous day. Sales were less but a little more steady.
I took some time in the morning to look around the fair- here are some artists that caught my attention:
First of all Dragon clay was there again and I got to meet him. He was so nice and answered all my questions. I’m still not over his work- so exquisite!
I also kept revisiting Weaver Tile (www.weavertile.com) lovely people, fellow Morel Mushroom hunters and eaters!
Gene T. Brown whose work we’ve bought in the past at the Port Clinton Art Fair; great little paintings usually involving animals. Lots of lovely solid colors and simple shapes and images. He told me he is easing into writing children’s books and illustrating them. I wish him luck!
I was also quite taken with Terrel Powell’s paintings which were large “naive” or perhaps I should just say whimsical paintings of birds and other animals in bright bold colors. (Sadly, he has no web site)
A couple from Argentina came up here to do art fairs for 2 months. Their work is really cool. www.artejuela.com.ar I was quite drawn to their work- it looks a bit mosaic-y and a bit early 60’s hip to me. Intricate and jewel-like.
Greg Jordan- jewelery I was crazy about but didn’t allow myself the splurge JordanFineArtJewelry.com My favorite is a blue “egg” in a cage and house earrings.
My daughter was quite taken with David Conroy’s work; someone who obviously spent way too much time in the tool shed as a kid- all his jewelry is made from nails and hardware- and it doesn’t look it! (also no web site)
Last, but certainly not least, was my guardian angel (best) neighbor (ever) Judy Zeddies who clearly, wanted me to get off my butt so she could draw my chair.Really cool prints although a little “dark” (just kidding! Inside joke!)…………Check out the etchings.
Everyone around us was delightful. Warm, friendly and helpful. One artist gave the kids a coloring book of her work and another came looking for my son to show him the Cecropia moth she had found at the beach. Luckily, I knew all about them from my childhood hobby and even more luckily, there was a black walnut tree RIGHT behind us that the moth could lay her egss on! Then my son was called upon to extract an inchworm from another nearby tent. He was in bug-heaven.
Finally, it was time to pack up. The rushing river of people dwindled to a trickle and we all started to take down art, displays and tents. It took us about 2 hours, I think the hardest was fitting it all back into the van! and I had one less bin!
I can’t believe how hard people work. Remember, they all spend the weekdays MAKING the work and then on the weekends trek to art fairs, set up, sell all day and take it all down again. One woman in the artists hospitality area had 2 kids both under 11 and said they do THIRTY shows a year! Another couple had a double tent and were still packing up long after we had packed up and were done with dinner but they didn’t even need to speak to eachother to coordinate the taking down of the tent. They had a routine.
We had to go to the beach to empty our sandbag tent weights so we stayed for one last sunset (sigh)
And headed home arriving at 11 and THEN unloading the van again. How do people do it?
All in all a really positive experience and a good fair.