Craft Fairs: Setting Up My Outdoor Booth

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After a year of collecting the necessary parts, I finally set up my outdoor booth.

On a very hot day in March, I spent a day in pursuit of a booth picture. My hubby and I spent the afternoon pulling out my tent, grid panels, “S” hooks, tables, decor, and of course, artwork. I loved watching all the pieces finally come together.

After three years of dabbling in indoor art shows I decided I wanted to expand to outdoor shows. They are more frequent and have a lot more foot traffic than the indoor exhibits. After finally deciding it was time to make the transition, I began looking for shows to apply for. Every single one required a picture of the booth set up in order to apply. This wasn’t something I was going to be able to submit, and see what happens. I was going to have to invest a lot of up front money in the hopes of being accepted to a show.

Over the next year I spent hours on Craigslist, garage sale and discount websites. Slowly, but surely, the components came together. The tent came first, I finally gave in and bought one new. A few months after the tent was purchased a coworker contacted me about selling his booth parts. He tried selling his artwork for a year before deciding it just wasn’t for him. I was able to get six grid panels and weights from him. I then pulled tables from my indoor set up, two of the three panels I use to display work at indoor shows, and hanging supplies.

After getting all the pieces it still took months for me to work up the motivation to set it up. For hours I was running in and out of my house hauling artwork. I quickly realized I would never be able to do this solo. The tent is too cumbersome and the panels are too heavy. My first lesson in outdoor festival participation is making sure Nick is always available for set up and break down.

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I decided I wanted my largest pieces along the back wall. They helped fill the space, and would hopefully catch the eye of passerbys. The trickiest part I have to figure out is where to set myself up. I enjoy having a table to hide behind. I am a passive seller. Perhaps I would earn more money if I pushed my products on people, but I want them to purchase one of my pieces because they feel connected to it. My tiny little table is my comfort zone. My safety net, preventing me from getting my hopes up as people come in and peruse my work.

DSC_3750 I decided to hang my letter pieces on the right side panel, and my 6″x6″ silhouette paintings on the left side panel. My hope is these pieces will be more approachable as people walk by. They may assume the large pieces are out of their price range, but with $35 and $25 price tags, these are easy to pick up and take home.

I also wanted to set up a table with my letter prints, at $10 each these are an even better impulse buy item. I decided these would be best set up next to my letter encaustics and extending slightly out of my booth to break up the space.

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One issue that always lurked in the back of my mind was how my encaustics would stand up to summer Georgia heat. I got a little taste of it during the practice set up, the pieces that were directly in the sun began to melt. It was worse case scenario. After all the time and work I put into my set up, I was now questioning whether or not I was even going to be able to do this at all.

As soon as I discovered the melting pieces, I snapped my pictures, and began disassembling. As I carefully took each piece down, I examined it for signs of tackiness and liquid wax. Luckily, only the pieces in direct sunlight showed signs of the wax turning to liquid. The pieces with the sun hitting the backside of them felt slightly tacky and the rest of the pieces were fine. Although I felt a little better, I was still concerned. These were only up for 30 minutes, an hour at the most, what would happen at an all day festival?

After cleaning up I began doing some research. There are brave artists out there who display their encaustic in the dead of summer at outdoor festivals. You do have to play a game of rearranging as the sun enters your tent, but it gave me hope. A lot of the sunlight was coming in through the sides of the tent, but at a festival, in theory, there will be tents on either side. I decided I just needed to give it a shot, and I applied for my first show. The Chastain Park Arts Festival, opening the first weekend of May.

6%22x6%22 Oil Painting Studies

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To ease my mind even more, I have begun mini oil paintings. These will hang in the sunlight when my encaustics have to be moved. I am ready to expand my art career, and this is the next logical step. I will not let a melting work of art get in my way.

Today I find out whether or not I have been accepted to the Chastain festival. Whether or not I make it, I have a long list of other festivals to apply to. Hopefully I will soon have an opportunity to take my booth set up out for the real deal. Stay tuned!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my artwork by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


 

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Visual Journal Page 18: Printing

Visual Journal Page 18-Printing

For over two years I functioned without a printer in my classroom. In my class visual journals are a big focus. Every Friday my students get out their journals and make whatever they want. With this open ended assignment also comes a need to print images for my students to use in their visual journals. In addition to my weekly need for a printer, my students often used images as references for their projects. At the start of every project I had to reserve time in the only computer lab in the school just so my students had access to a computer to look up images and a printer to print them.

For living in such a technically advanced age it shocks me when schools are so far behind. We are supposed to be preparing these students for college and the workforce. Technology is an inevitable part of their futures and they need experience using it before they get there. Many of my students were fortunate enough to live in homes that could afford computers. However not all of my students are that lucky. Some of their only contact with technology was in school, and we had low availability of it.

By my third year I was fed up. I was tired of battling every other teacher for time in the computer lab and sending students to the library to print for 25 cents a page. It was time to find a way to get technology in my classroom. I decided to apply to a grant program in Newton County called the Snapping Shoals Bright Ideas grant, provided by Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation. To apply to the grant I had to provide a lesson plan and what materials needed funding for the lesson. I chose to submit a lesson for my Advanced Placement Art class that involved photo transfers. In order to print pictures to transfer they needed a computer and a laser printer.

The previous year I had applied to Snapping Shoals and was awarded grant money to help fund my sculpture program. I was one of 19 teachers selected to received funding from the surrounding counties. I was proud of myself and excited for the prospects this provided for my students. Because I was awarded money the previous year, I figured my chances were slim of being selected again. Despite this I put together my lesson and submitted my application.

The announcement day came and I couldn’t believe it when I found my name on the list. I was going to receive two computers and a printer for my students to use. I would finally have a space to allow my students to expand their ideas and create their projects.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Scissors
  • Laser printed image
  • Packaging tape
  • Book pages
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with a print out of the most colorful, vibrant picture I could find. I wanted to show off my printer’s ability, and loved this picture of the brightly colored pots. I printed it off on my fancy new laser printer and got to work creating a tape transfer. I carefully placed packaging tape over the picture, sticky side down, on top of the front of the image. After I had one layer of tape covering the picture, I trimmed off the white edges, leaving just the picture stuck to the tape. I rubbed the back of the picture with scissor handles (burnishing) to ensure the ink was well stuck to the tape. I then placed the image in water until the paper began separating from the tape. I carefully rubbed the paper away, leaving just the ink stuck to the tape and creating a semi-transparent image.

I wanted to emphasize my ability to now create image transfers easily (thanks to my new computers and printer) so I also layered tape transfers of text in the background. To create these all I did was lightly stick packaging tape on a book page, then ripped it off, so the ink from the text stuck to the tape without too much of the paper sticking. I layered these in the background, the stickiness of the tape was enough to adhere it to the page.

Because the tape transfer of the image was very ink heavy, the tape lost its stickiness. In order to adhere it to the page I had to glue it down with Elmer’s glue. Do not use rubber cement when layering tape, it creates a chemical reaction and makes the tape bubble. I wanted to emphasize the image even more, so I cut a paper frame out of a book page to outline it.

To complete the page I layered two pieces of book pages on the right page, then wrote “printing” on top with sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page using the two types of tape transfers I used. One where you layer tape on a laser printed image and wash off the paper. The second should be a quick transfer of text by lightly sticking packaging tape to a book page or newspaper and ripping it off.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journaling by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


 

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Craft Project: Baby Monthly Update Sign DIY

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Time goes by faster and faster the older I get. Now that I have a little boy it seems like time has hit warp speed.

Cooper is literally growing up before my eyes. By the time I wrap my brain around the fact that he is making a new cooing noise he is suddenly laughing, smiling, and wiggling more than ever. I can’t believe in a few short months he will be sitting up, crawling, and on the verge of walking and talking.

The time warp of motherhood has also overlapped into my projects. My spare time has greatly decreased and my productivity has gone down with it. I had no idea the amount of time this little guy would need. His unpredictable nap schedule was the only chance I had to work on my crafts, which is why this particular one is three months late. Better late than never, right? This is my new mantra.

While I was pregnant I began looking for the monthly stickers to use when photographing Cooper for his monthly pictures and update. Over the years I saw these stickers increase in popularity, and eventually they were clogging my Facebook wall and Instagram account. When it came time for me to select my own, I was over it. I had seen it too many times, I wanted something different. In my hormonal fog, pregnant state of mind I decided I would have plenty of time to put together a handmade sign to use for the photographs after Cooper made his entrance into the world.

Oscar

Once Coop arrived my time was gone. If I wasn’t feeding him or rocking him to sleep, I was half asleep trying to guess when he would wake up next and whether or not I had the energy to pick myself off the sofa and feed myself. This sequence would end with me ultimately deciding it was too much work to stand, I was more tired than hungry and the sofa was too comfortable to move. If I was too tired to eat, there was no way I was going to put time or effort into a craft project.

Once things began to settle down, and Cooper began to fall into a more predictable schedule, I started to feel like myself again. I was ready to do something other than binge watch TV. I started planning out his sign.

I had no idea what I wanted to create for his monthly updates. Everything I came up with I had seen before. I kept putting it off and putting it off out of lack of inspiration and time. One day while perusing Facebook I saw one of my friend’s post a one month picture of her sweet son, Oscar. Next to him was a beautiful sign with his name on it, made out of a tree trunk round. On the back she put chalkboard paint to allow her to change information about him has he grows. I was immediately inspired, and highly motivated. Coop’s three month birthday was on the horizon, and I was dead set on at least getting pictures for his 3, 6, 9, and 12 month birthdays.

Supplies

For this project you will need a wood round, sander, paint (the colors are up to you!), chalkboard paint, paintbrushes, chalk, and a sharpie (not listed and optional).  At the time my husband just happened to have three trees taken down on our property and he was hard at work chopping them up. I had him cut me a few rounds, approximately 1 inch thick. It took another week to start my project once I had my rounds cut, and when I finally set up to start I realized the rounds had cracked. I assume this happened because it was fresh wood. I chose the least damaged one and get to work.

Step 1 and 2

The surface of my round was pretty rough because of the way it was cut, so my step 1 was taking a power sander to it. I never got it as smooth as I would have liked, the chalk goes down a little rough, but I made it work.

Next, I painted the chalkboard paint on one side. I used the natural pattern of the rings as a guide for the edge of my shape, and I chose to leave a natural wood border around the edge. I applied two coats of the chalkboard paint, allowing it to dry in between layers.

Step 3

After the chalkboard paint dried I flipped the wood round over, and painted the back with a turquoise color. I wanted it to match his room, so I used leftover wall paint from painting the walls. Again, I used the natural ring pattern to create the edge of the shape and left a natural wood border.

Step 4

Using a pencil I lightly wrote out his name in cursive. If you are not confident in your lettering ability, all you have to do is print out typed letters and trace them onto the surface.

Step 5

I used a thin paintbrush and white acrylic paint to paint his name and outline the turquoise shape. It took a few coats to get the white solid enough to pop out against the background color.

Step 6

Initially I planned to outline everything in black acrylic paint, but the details were too small to easily add them using a paintbrush. I instead opted for a black sharpie, and it worked perfectly. Because I was able to control the application of the sharpie more than paint, I was able to clean up the edges of his name and add small details to the border.

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I used chalk to write “3 months” on the chalkboard for his first monthly photo shoot. I set up a white blanket over an arm chair and placed it near our backdoor where sunlight was coming in. I frantically shot picture after picture in between sticking a pacifier in his mouth, dancing around like a crazy person, and making odd sounds to keep him entertained.

Cooper 3 Months

I laid the blanket on the floor for a few of the pictures to allow him to move around more. I love that as he grows he will be able to start holding the sign by himself. I can’t wait to look at how the pictures transition with him growing and the wood sign staying the same size.

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Of course not every picture will be perfect, but I love this one just as much as the rest.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Keep checking back for more Cooper updates and hopefully more craft project how tos, as long as Coop and time allows. Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing on your social network site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!


 

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Visual Journal Page 16: Empty Bowls

Visual Journal Page 16-Empty Bowls

Empty bowls was an annual project hosted by the art department at my school. Every year the art students made clay bowls and donated them to a chili dinner hosted at school. Attendees paid to attend the event, and in return they get a hot meal and handmade bowl. The purpose of the bowl is to act as a daily reminder of the millions of people who are hungry each day. All proceeds from the events were donated to a local food bank to help the fight against hunger. Empty bowls began as a grassroots movement in Rhode Island, and has since spread to have an international following. Read more about it here.

When I began working at my school this was an event that was already in place. I loved the project, it was an assignment in sculpture as well as selflessness. Students had to put time and effort into a work of art they couldn’t keep. Many of them struggled with the fact that they couldn’t take their bowl home, which made the lesson that much more important. It was a big event and took a lot of time, planning, and effort. Months in advance we had to start making bowls to allow enough time to create, bisque fire, glaze, and glaze fire them. The kiln would run daily for weeks on end. The event had many moving parts that had to be coordinated and students had to commit to time outside of school to help out. It was a huge project in and of itself, but despite the effort it was all worth it for the good of my students and their community.

My last year at that school I was a solo art teacher, our department was literally cut in half when budget cuts had to be implemented. As I began planning out the year I realized if I wanted to continue the project I would have to go it alone. Many times I considered skipping it, and I honestly tried. However the dinner had become a regular event, something people looked forward to, and those were the ones that wouldn’t allow me to let it go. After giving a number of “maybe” responses to “when is empty bowls happening?” questions, I finally gave in. I was going to go it alone this year, this massive event was going to happen one way or another.

As expected my planning periods and afternoons quickly filled as my to do list grew. It was harder than ever to pull it off, but the night came and went, and was another success. We had a wonderful turn out, delicious food, and hundreds of handmade bowls in the hands of our attendees. My students had another year of learning another valuable life lesson. They are luckier than most. At the very least they get to come to school each day and fill their bellies at lunch. There are so many in the world who don’t always have the chance to eat even one good meal a day. Watching my students work together for the greater good of their community reminded me of the importance of this event. I required them to selflessly give away their artwork and I needed to step back and remind myself that I also needed to learn a lesson, that my time was worth the sacrifice to help out someone in need.

This visual journal page reflects my most hectic and final empty bowls dinner.

Check out my visual journal page about Empty Bowls 2009 here.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • To do list
  • Newspaper
  • Yellow notebook paper
  • Colored pencils
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started by ripping up and collaging my very long to do list. It felt good to rip up that list at the end of the event, and it felt even better reflecting on the event by creating this page. I used rubber cement to glue down the paper.

After placing the background, I brainstormed the best way to reflect this final empty bowls experience. It was a ton of time and work, I had tons of great help, there were so many hands involved, but one of the things that stood out most was the number of times I had to run the kiln. Everyday like clockwork I would rush to my classroom, unload the kiln, load it back up, and spend the rest of the day bumping the temperature, checking on the progress, and waiting until it shut off to leave for the day. This was an older kiln that used cones to determine the turn off time. Every day before I started the kiln I placed a cone, a cone shaped piece of clay, to support the latch and shut off for the kiln. As the kiln reaches temperature the cone slowly melts until it releases the latch which shuts of the kiln and allows the cooling process to start. I had piles and piles of used up cones by the end of the empty bowls process, and I thought it was the perfect imagery to use to represent the long process.

Using white paper and pencil I sketched out the variety of shapes the melted cones took. After I completed the outline I added color using colored pencils. I used a variety of red tones to give it a three dimensional look. Once I finished filling them in I cut them out using scissors. I glued them down using rubber cement in rows across the page.

Next, I ripped up a picture and story that ran on the front page of the local paper about the event. I was photographed for the picture that ran with the story holding some of my ceramic pieces that were auctioned off at the dinner. I was very touched when the newspaper reached out about covering our event, and floored when I realized they were running my picture on the front page.

I glued down one layer of ripped up newspaper, then layered a circle cut from the yellow notebook paper I used for the to do list on top. I cut out a circle shaped section from the newspaper story, then ripped it into three pieces, and glued it down. I drew the empty bowls logo on top of that with sharpie. Last, but not least, I added a small ripped up piece of newspaper to the bottom right corner, layered the yellow notebook paper on top, and wrote “2011” in sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page using newspaper. Find an interesting article you connect to and use it as a base for your next page or create a page about the story you discovered.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I hope you are inspired to start your own visual journal. Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


 

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Visual Journal Page 15: I Hate Testing

Visual Journal Page 15-Testing

Four years ago I made the decision to switch from public education to private. It was something I considered for a couple of years before making the move, and it was a difficult decision. I loved my eclectic public school kiddos and I felt like I was providing a much needed service to them. In a school day jam packed with academic after academic, with little breaks, and so much emphasis on testing, by the time they came to my class they needed something different.

In art classes students have the chance to breath. Instead of memorizing facts and how to better take a test, they learn how to express themselves, think critically, and communicate visually. This creative breathing space is a necessary part of a well balanced student’s day, and yet the arts continue to lose funding and standardized testing continues to hold ground.

This isn’t the first blog post that I have written against standardized testing, but it just might be the last. After three years of spending my planning period prepping to proctor tests I didn’t believe in, I made the move to private school. Although I still believe in the potential of our public education system, they aren’t there yet. Because private schools don’t have to fulfill the same requirements of public schools, they are free to put emphasis on the individual students rather than a test score. I wasn’t willing to wait out the public schools, so I abandoned ship.

This visual journal page represents my last day of proctoring a standardized test. Sitting in an auditorium full of students, watching them take a test that doesn’t test their knowledge, just their ability to beat a test, I broke proctoring rule #1. Rather than sit there and stare at the kids, watching their every move, on the lookout for wandering eyes, I doodled. It was my tiny rebellion, my last stand against standardized testing.

I love private school education. I love that the students are people, not numbers. They represent more than school funding, they represent the future generation, the next leaders, teachers, and parents. We need confident, well rounded adults to fill those roles and I am confident the students in my classroom are getting what they need because of the freedom of the private education sector.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Doodles
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Old book pages
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I cut up the doodles I created during my final day of standardized testing. After cutting them up I began playing around with a layout. I decided they needed a little something to make them pop, so I glued them down on old book pages, then tore them out, leaving an edge of yellowed paper.

Once again I began playing around with the layout, but I still wasn’t satisfied, it looked too bland. I began gluing down strips of bleeding tissue paper to add color and once again laid out my doodles. I decided to pull the drawing of the auditorium chair to the right page and emphasize it with a square of bleeding tissue paper to create a focal point. I then layered the remaining doodles on the left page, overlapping to the right.

To balance the chair drawing on the right side page, I added the text “i hate” with the yellowed book page and pink bleeding tissue paper behind it to tie to the look of the chair. I then wrote “testing” around the chair doodle to further emphasis it.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your educational experience. Good, bad, or ugly, whatever you think of first when you reflect on school.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!


 

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