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Thread: Taking the Show on the Road

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM

    Taking the Show on the Road

    LOML and I are running out of display space at the house, so I've decided to get serious about selling some of my turned pieces, particularly the hollow forms. (Plus, if I can sell enough, maybe I can buy a real lathe.) I've had a few inquiries from friends and acquaintances, but I'm also seriously looking into getting into some of the juried art shows in my area of SoCal.

    Thus, LOML and I went to an art fair in a relatively nearby affluent area (Calabasas) last Saturday to do a little research. We wanted to check out the price points and get some insight from a few vendors. Long story short, it looks like the weekend market for $100 - $300+ turned pieces exists around here, and I got the green light from LOML to give the art show idea a shot. I need to be clear from the beginning...these are not craft fairs with $20 hand-painted signs for the garden. They are geared more towards the "art" crowd, with $800 dollar glass sculptures for the coffee table.

    I saw some nice turnings, and high-quality medium-sized hollow forms were selling for $200 - $300. (I saw two of them purchased while I was talking to different vendors.) The three turners at this show all had a typical range of things, from bottle stoppers and pens on up, but their emphasis was on the higher-priced artsy pieces. My stuff is approaching the same league as these guys' stuff. I could share a shelf with any of them and not be ashamed, although I saw a few carved and embellished pieces that were beyond my current skills. We also saw a lot of $500 - $5000 merchandise, mostly sculpture and ceramics, and people were buying it. This was definitely a moneyed crowd.

    Looks like I'll be gearing up to apply for one or two of the fall shows. All the vendors we spoke with said fall was the best time of year for sales. The shows I'm targeting right now are pretty picky about their vendors. I've got a lot of prep work to do before I can start...Canopy, display fixtures, business license, merchant account for credit cards, etc. I'll need to submit photos of my work (no problem) and my booth (gotta get busy on that) as part of the application, and the earlier I apply, the better are my chances of being accepted. Of course I'll need to stay busy building up stock (and hopefully improving my pieces along the way). I'll also whip up some small stuff just to round out the selection a bit, and probably even throw in a few high-end cutting boards, but it looks like I should be able to move some of the pricier stuff. We're also going to another show next weekend, although I suspect this one is more of a craft fair, but I'll be looking at it from a vendor's viewpoint and trying to get ideas.

    Since the jury selection also considers the vendors' booth and how it looks, one of my first priorities is figuring out how to furnish the 10 x 10 booth canopy I ordered Friday. At this point I have two small folding tables. (Three if you count the card table.) I'd like my whole set-up to fit in the back of a Lexus SUV. (I might be dreamin' on this point.) It needs to look upscale and I'm leaning toward a fairly minimalist, modern approach. Lots of black and white, to accentuate the colors and variations in the wood pieces. Any suggestions for affordable and attractive knock-down shelves and display pedestals will be appreciated. I'm playing around with some sketches of ideas, but I'll post them over in the design forum a bit later.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Tokiwadai, Japan
    Ahhh... looks like "Vaughn's Turning Tempations, Inc.) is going international.....

    Have you checked out any of the commercial display company's web sites for any ideas? I worked so many trade shows, including setup/take down, I have tried to forget about "booths"....

    Are you going to have any video of your process? A nice big screen, combined with a DVD player and possibly the sounds of almost finished bowls hitting the wall/floor would be interesting....
    Last edited by Greg Cook; 05-13-2007 at 12:22 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    If you use a smart phone or Blackberry or similar. Look at processing your card using a card reader and your phone. I looked seriously at that but the business level never justified it. But it pretty slick set up. Will try to find the company I talked with, I spent a lot of time looking into this.


    This is the company I settled on. I like them better than anyone else.
    Last edited by Jeff Horton; 05-13-2007 at 12:53 PM.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    Vaughn, this sounds like quite an undertaking. I wish you great success with it. Have fun, and make money!
    Cheers, Frank

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