There’s a bumper sticker I’ve seen over the years that relates to my current life. It reads, “A bad day fishing is better than a great day at the office.” For me fishing is the process of making. I feel free, invigorated, excited in my studio - a bad piece is a learning moment, a good piece is satisfaction, a great piece is why I do this,
The office is everything else, the paperwork, the shopping for materials and supplies, the sales process, talking to galleries, going to shows, the travel, the hotels, the list goes on. None of that gives me the enjoyment that making does. I’m getting ready to head off to a show in a couple of weeks, that means that making is taking a backseat to getting ready. Here’s some of that process.
The process of getting ready for the next show begins when I get home from the last show. I review inventory and make lists of items that need to be replaced, new items that I want to make, following-up on inquiries and leads. My inventory usually arrives a few days after I get home and I open the shipping containers and make sure things came through all right. Hopefully this does not add to my “to do” list.
I check out the logistics of the next show. Usually I shop for airfares after getting accepted and finding a reasonable hotel. I hope it is within walking distance of the site as I don’t want to add the expense of a rental car. I establish a ship by date, allowing at least five work days for unexpected shipping delays.
As the next show comes closer a sense of excitement begins to grow at the same time a sense of anxiety grows alongside. I scurry to finish items, the shipping date for my inventory always comes too soon and invariably earlier than I thought it would.
Prior to shipping comes the “polishing party”. Silver and copper tarnish. This is a result of exposure to the environment, particularly from touching. Obviously selling my work is made harder when the pieces are dirty and tarnished. About once a year I polish all of the silver and copper in my inventory. (Note: while the pieces are exposed at shows, they are wrapped in acid free aper which decreases tarnishing the rest of the year.)
My wife dubbed this experience the “polishing party”. She looks forward to it much more than I. I bring all my inventory into the kitchen with silver and copper cleaners and set to work. Each piece is cleaned, dried/polished and repackaged. I do the cleaning and my wife does the drying and polishing. When all is done, a big sigh is had by all.
The final step is packing my inventory. Each piece has its own box. Pieces are grouped by type, i.e. kiddush cups, havdalah, candlesticks, etc. and the placed within a corrugated box. There are then placed into larger shipping boxes. I try to put the heavy items in the shipping box first, while at the same time keeping an even height across the box. I try to get everything into two boxes, one large, one smaller. This week there is a 22 x 22x18” and a 18 x18 x 15”. The sizes will vary due to the inventory I ship.
When the boxes are sealed and the shipping documents prepared its off the the shipper and adios to the work until I get to the shows location. I monitor the shipments through use of tracking numbers and when they arrive I breathe a sigh of relief. I have never lost a shipment (I do carry insurance) but a return shipment of goods from a museum gift shop never appeared on my doorstep. The loss of inventory and the reimbursement were frustrating, but not nearly as much as the loss of a couple of really good, “museum quality” pieces.
Next weekend I head off to my show and the next blog will discuss being on the floor and the selling experience as well as having a new piece of the month.