Category : General Crafts

The state of craft in the state of Vermont

As I mentioned in this post, I resigned from my full-time job of 4 1/2 years. I am definitely going through a period of adjustment, trying to figure out what it means to be a full-time artist (what it seems to mean so far is that I get to clean my studio and sort through the evil piles that accumulated during the holiday season. Meh).

An obvious concern of mine is how the timing couldn’t be worse for a career shift – as you all know, the economy sucks right now. On top of that concern (for me) is how the nation’s financial picture is affecting the world of craft. In general, artists tend to live close the edge, financially-speaking. It must be even harder now for artists to stay in business. As much as I would love for artists to be eligible for bailouts, it just ain’t gonna happen.

On a local level, I’ve become very aware of how not just artists are struggling, but arts-related businesses are as well. Yesterday I had to drive to Shelburne, VT to pick up my inventory from the Shelburne Craft School Gallery, which recently closed after five years in business. I really loved the gallery’s visual presence…very elegant. With their skill, they could make an old sneaker look good.

Frog Hollow also closed their Manchester gallery last year. Their Burlington and Middlebury galleries were hit hard by declining economy and they are in danger of being closed as well. As a frequent visitor to Church Street, I can attest to the significance of Frog Hollow’s presence there – they are a highly visible representative of the amazing talent of the residents of this state. That’s the thing that really breaks my heart – when a gallery closes, it’s not just one business that’s impacted – all of the artists exhibiting their work there are affected as well. Frog Hollow alone claims to represent over 250 Vermont artisans in their galleries – that’s a lot of businesses losing income.

Now if only the state of Vermont would invest money in promoting Vermont craft in the way it has for the maple industry…

The Paper Place and their rocking giveaway

Pile of Chiyogami papers

Sakes alive, that’s a lot of dreamy paper.

Mine mine mine please.

Everyone is talking about this giveaway…but can you blame us? The generous folks at The Paper Place are giving away a super fat sample pack, which includes an 8.5″ x 11” sheet of every Chiyogami paper they carry – 637 patterns in total with a retail value of $1911.

You can enter the giveaway on The Paper Place’s website.

If you’ve never worked with Chiyogami paper (a.k.a. Yuzen) before, it’s just fabulous. I’ve often referred to the stuff as the butter of paper – it just behaves so well.

Compliant paper makes me happy.

The Paper Place is located in Toronto, Canada…luckily within driving distance for me. In addition to their fabulous Chiyogami selection, they also offer workshops, art & papercrafting supplies, and gift items. You can even shop online if you can’t tolerate a trip out of the country. So if you don’t like what you got for the holidays, now you know what to do – return that crap for cash and go shopping for paper.

Not that I’d ever do that…

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth…part 2

Geez, can you see a pattern here? I have a craft show this weekend and I’ve been in the studio, again, for something like a gazillion hours. My hubby and I are leaving for New York City in about 24 minutes, so I have to keep this brief.

Plus we’re driving all night for a 6:00 a.m. load-in.

And there’s a bit of a snow storm going on.


Artrider logo

Artrider will be holding its Holiday Crafts Park Avenue Show on December 12 – 14 at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City.

Here are the hours:

December 12: 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
December 13: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
December 14: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Artrider puts on a really impressive show. Exhibitors come from all over the country with the most fabulous work. I can’t really come up with a better word for the show than sparkly. It’s a really sparkly show. Perhaps it’s all the jewelry…

Tickets are $12.00 and you can print out a $1.00 off coupon on the Artrider website. Click here for directions to the Armory. I’ll do a full report on the show early next week…after I’ve recovered sufficiently.

Oh crap, now we’re leaving in 14 minutes and I haven’t packed my clothes yet.


Vermont Hand Crafters show wrap up

It’s been a week since the end of the Vermont Hand Crafters Fine Craft & Art Show and I’m finally getting around to doing a recap.

With the economy the way it is, I expected to have fewer sales than in previous years. I did, however, hit my anticipated income so there weren’t any surprises. I am not good with surprises.

I really enjoyed myself this year. I have been in the same-ish spot for the last three years and my neighbors have been pretty consistent. My booth location has become a craft show equivalent of “home”. It’s so nice. Another bonus this year was that I got to eat contraband cheese. I’ll just leave the details to your imagination.

Here are a few shots of my booth.

From one angle…

Blue Roof Designs craft show booth
…and from another.

Blue Roof Designs craft show booth
This is what I saw for four days from inside my booth (that was a quiet moment in the aisles – it was more often crowded):

Vermont Hand Crafters craft show
And yes, the Sheraton’s carpet is really that ugly in person. New to my booth were some acrylic display pieces. Here are some shots of the risers:

I love how such a simple thing as acrylic can make for a seamless presentation. I had previously used wooden cigar boxes for my display. I got more comments on the cigar boxes than on my books. The boxes are now retired.

And now for my favorite shot, which I affectionately refer to as – “Death of a Booth” or “Craft Show Carcass” (note the collapsible crate I mentioned in this post):

Picking it clean and packing it up until the next show…which is in 1 1/2 weeks. Oy. Back to the studio.

I’ve been tagged!

I have just finished the third day of my craft show [so tired] and came home to find that I’ve been tagged by Jackie at Stitchworks.

The last time I was tagged, and was “It”, this was not considered a good thing from what I recall. Now being tagged feels quite nice and I’m honored to have been chosen as an “It”…thanks Jackie!

So here’s the scoop: I have to tell you eight things about myself and then name 8 artists. Each artist I tag is to do the same (hopefully they also like being “It”) and then leave a comment.

So I go into TMI territory:

  1. I have a problem with self-control when it comes to Twizzlers. Especially the chocolate ones. I will happily eat them until I get sick and then eat some more.
  2. I used to have an African Pygmy hedgehog for a pet. Cutest.thing.ever.
  3. I worked as a costumed character at the Philadelphia International Airport in the early 90’s. Meet Jerry Bellbonger.
  4. My favorite band is They Might Be Giants. I’ve been a fan for over 20 years and have seen them so many times in concert that I’ve lost count.
  5. The thing I dreaded most about the first day of school was wondering if my teacher was going to pronounce my name correctly (like Melissa with no “M”). I never had the courage to correct them, thinking that it was rude to correct a teacher.
  6. Even though I’m not a super hero, my super power is spotting typos.
  7. I love working in my studio in my pajamas.
  8. For years I’ve wanted to take the SAT’s over again to see if I’ve gotten any “smarter”. Or at least to see if I could still get into the college I went to (University of Pennsylvania).

So there you have it. Scared now? Here’s my list of 8 victims artists:

  3. Deckled Edge Bindery

Last minute crazies

This evening I packed up my van for the Vermont Hand Crafters Fine Craft & Art Show. I have a packing list that I’ve developed over the years and it has proven invaluable.

Right now my van seems to have a lot of extra room leftover. And I have more stuff now than I did last year. Something magical is at work here. And I like it.

Now I’m working on all of the last minute details, like printing business cards. I feel like I’m running around like a crazed wackadoo, but my husband actually told me that I seemed calmer than I have in past years. Was he wearing his glasses when he said that?

I have always had a love for plastic tubs of all sizes, but have a special fondness for plastic shoe boxes. They are the basis/rock of my organizational system in my studio and are great for packing up craft show inventory. The Rubbermaid SnapTopper is my most most most favorite shoe box of all time. It is the perfect size for my large journals.

I also have these collapsible plastic crates that are over 20 years old – I got them when I went away to college.

Yes, you can get a rough idea of how old I am now.

Anyway, these crates have held up really well. When you have limited space in your booth, it’s helpful to be able to break them down. The majority of my inventory is in those four crates in the image at right – probably around 55-60 photo albums.

And now, a crate-related story.

One day when I was on Church Street in Burlington, I happened upon an art fair. I had just dropped off some inventory at a nearby gallery and was carrying one of my crates. I visited Dug Nap’s booth and he offered to trade me some of his artwork for the crate. His work is great, but there was no way I was parting with my blue foldy baby.

Sorry Dug.

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth…

Vermont Hand Crafters logoI haven’t written a meaningful post in a while. Bad me.

I’ve been in the studio for countless hours getting ready for my first craft show of the season, which opens this Thursday. Vermont Hand Crafters will be holding its 56th annual Fine Craft and Art Show on November 20th – 23rd at the Sheraton Conference Center in Burlington, VT. I have been a juried member of Vermont Hand Crafters since 2004 and this will be my fifth year doing the show.

If you come to the show, I’ll be in the Emerald Room, booth number 7.

Needless to say, it’s been a tough few weeks. I’ve been working very late nights and have been sick on top of that.

Getting ready for shows is hard when you work full-time. I hope to write a post later tonight about the work I’ve been doing.

We’ll see…the best laid plans…

Art-o-Mat is way-o-cool

I had fully intended to resume blogging upon my return from the CERF board meeting. Unfortunately, I got sick. I’m not going to go into the details, but it über-sucked.

As I mentioned in this post, the CERF board meeting was in San Antonio, Texas. We were hosted by the Southwest School of Art & Craft. The school is just beautiful. Definitely on my list of places to take classes in the future. I plan to talk about my visit to the Paper & Book Arts department in my next post.

While taking a tour of the campus, we walked through the Navarro campus, home of the Russell Hill Rogers Gallery. Just down the hall, I discovered an Art-o-Mat.


The Art-o-Mat was developed in 1997 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina by Clark Whittington. Clark rehabs cigarette vending machines into art-dispensers, with pieces costing only $5.00. The Art-o-Mat at the Southwest School contains the work of 20 artists, many of them local to the school.

To see other Art-o-Mats that have been released in the wild, click here.

I was enamored with the contraption. Then I noticed that there were handmade books for sale. Now I had to buy something.

Off I went to get my token.

Here’s what I got:

Art-o-Mat book

Art-o-Mat book inside

So now I have a sweet little book made by P.J. Waldrop. The weird thing is that the book has a website printed on the back, but it isn’t active. Bummer.

I’m thinking that I might try to create some work to sell in the Art-o-Mats. There are lots of rules and you don’t earn much, but I don’t care. I want my work in a vending machine.

Maybe in another life I was a candy bar…

Deep in the heart of Texas

Texas welcome signHowdy y’all!

I’m in San Antonio, Texas right now for a board meeting of the Craft Emergency Relief Fund. I’ll be back in Vermont on Tuesday. Our meeting has been hosted by the Southwest School of Art & Craft, which has been great.

We got a very brief (can I just say not fair) tour of their Paper & Book Arts department. I took as many pictures as I could as we breezed through and I plan to write a longer post when I get home.

Craftcast (a.k.a. get your butt in the chair…)

When I work in my studio, I usually have iTunes playing one of the following five things:

  1. 80’s music. I am a total new wave freak. My favorite station is Radio Nigel (note: no longer exists).
  2. If it’s Saturday or Sunday and between the hours of 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., I listen to The Playground on WERS. What can I say, I am a fan of children’s music – it’s just so darn cheery. Love love love Disney musicals.
  3. If it’s Saturday or Sunday and between the hours of 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m., I listen to The Secret Spot, also on WERS. Gimme some Aretha and I’m a happy duck.
  4. My “100 Songs”. After a song ended once on the radio, the deejay remarked that he’d put the song on his list of 100 songs for a desert island. Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with compiling the soundtrack of me. I’m almost done – I have 91 songs selected to date (I’m actually listening to this right now).
  5. Last, but not least, I listen to Craftcast.

Craftcast is a weekly podcast hosted by jeweler Alison Lee. Alison interviews professional artists, authors, television personalities, among others. She has interviewed artists working in a wide variety of media including polymer clay, jewelry, and fiber. I find her interviews to be so inspirational – you are given the opportunity to hear about another artist’s creative process – their struggles, triumphs, and their quirks.

Why artists do what they do.

After each podcast I feel so…understood.

Her podcast from June 2nd was particularly enjoyable. Alison interviewed Diane Maurer-Mathison, a fabulous paper artisan from Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. Diane has written a number of books, including Art of the Scrapbook and The Art of Making Paste Papers (I have both of them). She talked with Alison about her newest book, Collage, Assemblage, and Altered Art.

I could so identify with her as she talked about having to save every single scrap of paper because you never know when you’re going to need it (hey hubby, are you listening?). Or when she talked about her paper problem (it’s not a problem if it doesn’t bother me, right?). So all you paper junkies out there (who, me?) – if you’re looking for validation, this podcast is for you.

You can subscribe to Craftcast for free through iTunes and each new podcast will be automatically downloaded for you each week.

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