Winterfair 2012 Wrapup

Winterfair Columbus 2012 was my first real show. As a newbie I had a lot to learn and still do! Since this was my first show I was lucky to break even, especially since the number of attendees was lower due to good weather.

I have to thank my husband, Bob, and my daughter, Maggie, for all of their help getting things ready, setting up/tear down and encouragement. A big thank you to my friend, Michelle, who first suggested I apply to Winterfair and then helped work my booth Friday and Saturday. And yo Kim and Constance for sharing their experience. And another big thank you to my fellow vendor, Mikelle Hickman-Romine, who was great at keeping my spirits up and completely redesigning my booth. She is also a fantastic jewelry artist and you should totally check her out!

Booth AFTER Redesign

Booth AFTER Redesign

Here are some if the things I learned:

Budget early and expect to spend more. There is always something else you are going to need at the last minute. Plus supplies to make 200 scarves are not cheap! And budget your time as well. Life happens and will put you behind where you want to be.

Plan your lighting. It is a good idea to do a dry run and set up your booth with lighting to know the length of the extension cords needed. And buy cool, color-corrected light bulbs. It makes a difference in the colors in your booth.

Weather is something you can plan for but not control. Hope for cold, clear days for a winter show. We had 60 degrees in December which reduced traffic by a large factor. People were putting up lights instead of shopping.

Have something small and inexpensive in your booth. I did not and that reduced the amount of traffic I had. I am adding some hair clips to my product line, made from shibori-dyed ribbon. Hopefully that will help.

Hair Flower Clip

Hair Flower Clip

Customers don’t like white walls. We redesigned my booth Saturday evening to change the heights of my racks and cover as much of the walls as possible. The result was more traffic on Sunday.

Food and water will be waaaaay overpriced. Bring as much as you can. I had a hungry teenager helping me and I swear I spent more feeding her than I made!

iPad and the Square Register app is the bomb. Really. It makes it easy to make buttons for your products and discounts so all you have to do is click. I am giving serious consideration to an iPad Mini with a data plan for next year.

Don’t expect to make a profit your first show. You will have a lot of expenses to recoup and breaking even is an accomplishment. I about broke even. Shows in the future will be easier to profit from (in theory) as I will not have as much investment needed aside from booth fees, supplies and travel expenses.

I broke even. That was an accomplishment. And I reached my dream of being an artisan at a major venue. So there is that. While I was a bit disappointed at first, I realized that both accomplishments are something to be proud of.

Winterfair Columbus

This has been a long time in the making. Really. I grew up in a place called Baycrafters, in Bay Village, Ohio. I spent time there from the time I was in utero (literally – my mom volunteered there when she was pregnant with me) until I moved to Columbus in my twenties. I remember working at the art fairs from the time I was wee small. I was a runner for Barefoot in the Park when I was ten – running and fetching food for the artists. I worked as a booth sitter and then in various roles as a character, a fighter and as a juggler as the fair transitioned into a faire (a Renaissance Fayre, to be precise). But I always wanted to be in a booth. I wanted to have my own booth with art made from my own hands.

Now I have the chance. It is coming true.

I and my arashi shibori scarves and woven shibori scarves will be at Winterfair in Columbus, November 30-December 2, 2012. I am in booth #1036. I am nervous, excited, panicked, jazzed all into one. Winterfair is held at the Ohio State Fairgrounds/Expo Center, Bricker Building. Wish me luck. Or stop by and say Hi.

Thank you, Alton Brown

Alton Brown, host of Good Eats and Iron Chef, wizard of words and spices, I must thank you.

You have made me a better artist though your Thanksgiving Good Eats episode. While I watched you in thrall with the brining and temperatures and stuffing, it was the turkey trussing that arrested my attention. In that moment you altered my weaving forever. You demonstrated the surgeon’s knot.

I was a Girl Scout (briefly) in the 1970s. We did not learn knots; instead, we learned camping, not to bring jello on camping trips and making “sit-upons” from Charlie Chip cans. I missed out on important information.

I could have asked about the surgeon’s knot from my dear husband who was an Eagle Scout at 13. However, it was a case of not knowing to ask. So I learned from Alton how to tie this knot.

Why is this simple knot the object of my devotion? It is a variant of the square knot: right over left, right over left, then left over right. Simple. The reason that I love this knot is for warping my loom. Wrapping the yarn right over left twice keeps the yarn from loosening as I adjust the tension across the warp. I can adjust the tension and not worry about warp bundles coming loose before I put the left over right into place. Which is so important, particularly on wide projects.

My warps are evenly tensioned saving many headaches and allowing me to weave perfectly even fabrics.The interesting thing is that so many weavers I have spoken to in the weaving community, learned the surgeon’s knot from the same episode and had the same epiphany.

Thank you, Alton.

PS: Alton, if you want some handwoven towels for your test kitchen, contact me.

Time Travel

I am a time traveler.

It is 1400 BC in Egypt. I taste the flax as I spin it into linen yarn. My yarn is fine, the moisture from my mouth smoothing the fibers as I spin the yarn for the pharaoh’s shroud.

It is 1100 BC in China and I listen to the hiss of my silk cocoons as they bobble and unwind their filaments in my pot of water. The silk travels to my reel where I wind the strands together and I dream of the lustrous fabric that will appear under my hands at the loom.

It is 100 AD in southern Ohio. The mounds have yet to be built. I feel the sticky sap of the milkweed stalk as I peel the long fibers from the skin of the plant. The fibers are rough on my leg as I thigh spin and ply the white fibers hoping I have enough to twine a bag to hold food for winter.

It is 1100 AD in England and I smell the fresh fleece shorn from my lambs. The scent is an intoxicating blend of sweet hay and warm life. I wash the fleece and comb the best parts anticipating the feel as I draft the wool between my fingers onto the spindle.

It is 1700 in Colonial America. I see the yarn change from cream to green to blue as I dip the wool in and out of its indigo bath. I see patterns appear under my hands at the loom as I dance on the pedals to the music of my shuttle.

It is 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. I spin my flax, reel my silk, strip milkweed for its fiber, and prepare my wool for the spindle and the wheel. I dye my fibers in indigo and use plants for other colors. I weave fabrics on the loom of silk and wool in patterns from the near and distant past.

I am a time traveler and fiber is my time machine.

Copyright 2012 Joy Selby Cain