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Posted: October 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: fluff, technology, WordPress | 3 Comments »

I’m most of the way through composing a new post about my fun new techno toy (“toy” being tongue-in-cheek, because this little iPhone just might be the greatest thing to hit my desk in the last dozen years or so), but I wanted to give the WordPress app a whirl since I had a moment to spare while I’m between tasks today. So, if all goes well, here’s a picture of the last of the fall leaves.

tidbits: “now where did I put that?” edition

Posted: July 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: jewelry, shows, tidbits, web, WordPress | Comments Off on tidbits: “now where did I put that?” edition

A quick roundup of random thoughts between tearing up the house to find where I left my brain…

A new giveaway is up on the Cleveland Handmade page, a very pretty fused glass necklace from glasfuzion. Entering is really simple, so go do it!

I did end up having to change my WordPress theme after all. I loved my time with Adam Freetly’s widgetized version of DePo Clean, but it got really glitchy after my latest WordPress upgrade, and I never was able to figure out how to make the photos do what I wanted them to do, so it was time to move on. I present you with my own customized version of Clean Home by Bryan Helmig. Please let me know if you notice anything weird about the way it acts. Several users have posted on WordPress forums about problems with comments links, but I haven’t come across any in my testing. I’m not thrilled about the text button used to submit comments, but that will have to wait for another day.

Our Cleveland Handmade appearance on Kickin’ It with Kenny on Fox 8 has been confirmed for Friday, July 31, sometime around 7:20 a.m. Just waiting for a call back from the intern to figure out the exact details.

I’m glad to have the rain, but please make it stop before my show on Saturday.

sm01Speaking of the show, I was beyond thrilled to see a full-page ad for the Avon Lake Summer Market in the WestLife newspaper (and I’m assuming it ran in the Avon Lake Press, too), complete with all the participants’ names and a brief description of what they have. This show just gets bigger and better every year.

And why is it that I always get new ideas for products and displays mere days before a major show, when there just isn’t enough time to pursue them?

highly opinionated advice:
buying a show tent

Posted: August 18th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: art, highly opinionated advice, WordPress | Tags: | 3 Comments »

As we near the end of the summer here in the northern hemisphere, frugal crafters want to know: “Are any of these end-of-summer-clearance tents/canopies in the outdoor aisle of the discount store good for shows?”

The short answer is “no.”

The longer answer is “no, but with a few exceptions.” Let me explain.

A 10 x 10 foot space is the standard in the outdoor show circuit; it is rare to find anything different in midrange or high-end shows. The majority of the discount tents you find in the outdoor aisle are not 10 x 10 — or if they are 10 x 10, the canopy measures that but the legs splay out wider (thus creating a situation where you take up more than your alotted space, a particulary bad foul when the organizers lay out spaces cheek-to-jowl, and a tripping hazard besides). Or the footprint is 10 x 10 but the actual canopy is smaller, giving you less room under cover than you’ve paid for. And in most cases you don’t know what the footprint will be until you take it home and set it up.

If you aspire to do high-end shows, keep in mind that most require standard white festival tents for a uniform look. Yeah, it’s somewhat fascist and maybe even a little elitist, but that’s the norm, and you have to follow the rules to play the game. However, think about color in another way: the color of your tent affects the way your wares appear to customers. Your dark blue tent might stand out among the crowd, but it throws your items into shadow, especially when you have a few customers in there, too. A white tent acts like a giant lightbox, highlighting your goods and showing their true colors.

In four years of doing outdoor shows, I have seen countless other vendors struggle to set up discount tents. At one show this summer, I watched two people across the way take more than an hour to piece together and set up their tent. My Caravan brand tent takes less than 10 minutes to set up with two people, and although I don’t prefer to go it solo, I can put it up by myself if I have to.

The sturdiness of the tent should be a consideration, too. The worst of the discount tents come with a dozen or more poles that fit together and are held together by friction. These are generally pretty wobbly and don’t offer a good way to secure the tent to stakes or weights — and you will need stakes and/or weights. A one-piece frame is very sturdy and a good support for a quality waterproof canopy, one that won’t easily rip.

Height is important, too. Most of the discount tents are relatively short and not adjustable at all. Tall people will not come in to shop if it looks like they might bump their head or feel claustrophobic.

I personally don’t use sidewalls anymore, but lots of people like them, and they usually aren’t an option with discount tents. Sidewalls offer protection from the elements and provide a backdrop for your display. (They also block the breeze and can act as huge sails in a good wind, but I have the option if I ever want them.)

The most subjective aspect of tent selection is the impression you give your customers. As a shopper, I’m more drawn to vendors who look like they’ve put some thought into their displays and presentation, and like it or not, the tent is part of that package. While the type of tent you select won’t prevent me from buying your wares, it will affect my overall impression of your business. Fair? Probably not. But that’s how it is.

So, to sum up, here’s my shopping checklist for a show tent:

    • true 10 x 10
    • straight legs
    • white
    • easy to set up
    • sturdiness/one-piece frame
    • quality canopy
    • tall height, adjustable even better
    • sidewall options

Super-high-end tents can cost in the thousands of dollars, but there are a number of decent standard tents out there for right around $225. I bought my Caravan tent at Costco about four years ago for $200, and it came complete with four sidewalls and a rolling case. Current price is $224.95, delivery included (you have to be a Costco member, though). EZ-Up is another popular manufacturer, and if you Google “festival tent” you’ll get a bunch of other options. A plus to purchasing your own tent is that the resale value of show tents historically has stayed pretty close to original purchase price, so if you decide that doing shows is not for you, you can recoup much of your tent investment assuming you’ve taken good care of your tent. When the left side of my brain compares that with spending half that on something that will not be as nice and has little resale value once I decide to upgrade my tent or stop doing show altogether, a good tent comes out a winner every time.

Other options include borrowing, sharing, and renting. If you belong to a local Etsy street team or other artist group, you can put out a call to see if anyone has a tent you can borrow or rent, or see if anyone wants to go in on the purchase with you. If you opt for the latter, make sure you write up an agreement that spells out who is responsible for keeping the tent and how you will decide who gets to use it if you both want to use it on the same day. A clear agreement will help prevent disputes later. FYI, renting festival tents from commercial rental places is almost as expensive as buying one outright.

When is a discount tent a good idea? If:

    • you have no ambition to do midrange or high-end shows
    • your items are big and bold and the color of the tent won’t affect their look
    • you are doing mostly funky little shows where the conformist look doesn’t go over well
    • you really, really, really need a tent on next to no budget right this minute and have no options for borrowing or renting


Posted: July 18th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: art, editing, jewelry, learning, wedding, WordPress, work | Comments Off on miscellany

The weekly entertainment update I get via e-mail from the New York Times featured Mamma Mia today. I am ambivalent about Abba — it’s pretty much just fifth-grade nostalgia background music for me — but now I have “Dancing Queen” stuck in my head. It’s not good.

I have been nose to the grindstone in an avalanche of freelance projects. A few were running late from the publishers, one was running early, and one was a peach of a rush project that I couldn’t turn down, so I started out the month with eight projects in various states of completion. I’m still trying to figure out if that was a good or a bad thing, but the paychecks will be nice once they start to come in. I slugged through it and managed to return everything on time, and even a couple of them a day or two early. It was a good feeling. I’m on the last one now, then I’ll have a bit of a breather before the next slate is due to arrive on my desk. The break will be welcome, since I have a couple of upcoming shows and classes to prepare for.

My biggest show of the year and my favorite to do is the Avon Lake Summer Market, which is coming up next Saturday, July 26. Erin and Kristen do a fabulous job of putting together a beautiful show with a wide variety of vendors. The setting couldn’t be more lovely, and they do a nice job of publicizing it. It’s a fundraiser for restoration of the Thomas Folger Home. I hope to see some of you there.

My August show will be the North Olmsted Juried Arts & Crafts Show on Sunday, August 10. This will be the second year for this show. They do a really terrible job of promoting it, but I stick with it because I think it has a lot of potential. I wrote a long feedback letter last year giving them some pointers for promotion, but so far they have not taken them to heart.

This year I started teaching some classes, too. I’m teaching bead classes at Grand River Beads. The May and June classes were bracelet variations on a kit design using large borosilicate beads. On July 31, I’ll be teaching a necklace version, then I’ll be retiring that class for a while. For August, I’m working on an original design using furnace glass and crystals. I’m also teaching etching classes at Bead Q in North Olmsted (8/17) and Chagrin Falls (8/4).

all hail…

Posted: December 10th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: web, WordPress | Comments Off on all hail…

the K2 template. I think it’s going to make my life a lot easier. And the blah green of the last template was bringing me down.

%&^*ing spammers

Posted: March 7th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: bitching, web, WordPress | 1 Comment »

I’ve turned on comment moderation, which I hope will stop the comment spam. Sorry for the inconvenience.

still testing

Posted: January 31st, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: WordPress | Comments Off on still testing

Ala MoanaStill trying to figure out this template. A few annoying problems remain: the sidebar is pushed down on permalink pages without comments; I can’t figure out how to get margin around my posted photos without throwing the little icon next to the comment line way out of whack; and for some reason the text is starting at the bottom of the photo instead of wrapping (I do have the text alignment set to “left”). But I’m sick of messing with it for now, so we’ll all just have to live with it until I have time and energy to tackle it again. If you have a suggestion for any of those problems, or any other comments to make, please let me know. For now, I’m just going to bed.

RSS change

Posted: January 31st, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: WordPress | Comments Off on RSS change

If you had bookmarked the RSS feed of the non-WordPress virtuallori site, please change your RSS bookmark to feed:// Thanks!

double pfffft

Posted: January 29th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: WordPress | 2 Comments »

I *knew* I should have migrated to WordPress long before now. Seems there is no easy way to migrate posts from new Blogger to WordPress, and the one set of (many-stepped, convoluted) instructions I found online won’t work with the current iteration of new Blogger settings. Oh well. I was tempted to burn the existing archives to a CD and start fresh anyway. Looks like my decision is made for me.


Posted: January 29th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: WordPress | Comments Off on migrating…

Patience, please, while I figure out how to migrate six years’ worth of posts to WordPress.