It's been two weeks since the ACC show in St. Paul wrapped up. I thought I'd have some down time after the show to write a recap (and take a rest!) but things have been busy.
Now, don't get me wrong, being busy is good news. But having down time is also important. I can get crabby when my mind and body haven't had a chance to recover from a big event or an intensive period of work.
This past weekend I was finally able to take some restful time off. Spending time outdoors in the sunshine, and also reconnecting with my family, has rejuvenated me a bit. I actually got antsy at the end of the weekend; inspiration for another piece of art has been nagging me. It is a challenge to put off a creative urge until there is time to devote to it!
So, here I am, two weeks late, taking a moment to write..
A Quick Recap of the Show
Here I am being presented with the award by ACC director of education Michael Radyk (left) and ACC executive director Chris Amundsen (right).
From the American Craft Council:
"A tradition established at the start of the American Craft Shows, the Awards of Excellence recognize and celebrate show artists ... From a pool of more than 200 incredibly talented makers, five were chosen to be honored with awards at our 2017 American Craft Show in St. Paul.
Taking home the award for booth design, which honors both quality of work and booth presentation, was textile artist Mary Pow, whose display highlights the clean lines of her striking, color-block work."
After floating through the rest of Friday with stars in my eyes, I didn't think the show could get any better. But Saturday proved me wrong.
We were anticipating a slow day due to the beautiful weather outside. And while Saturday may have been quieter; for me, it is a day I will never forget! I made my first-ever sale of wall art.
Of course, after I sold a piece of wall art, I had to scramble to figure out how to wrap it. I was not prepared for a sale! Luckily, my very kind booth neighbor, artist Amber Harrison, helped me out by bringing me cling wrap and felt. (She is the same person who, after I received the award for booth design said to me, "And you were so worried about your booth!" True. I was.)
Here I am standing next to my four-panel piece, The Interplay of Opposites, right after it sold.
I think maybe the best part of the show is meeting the artists. Since artists tend to work in solitude, gathering for a craft show is a rare opportunity. It forces us to get out of our studios and interact with each other. I think, although we enjoy spending time alone, we also like to find out how other artists work. I know one of my favorite things is to hear about the process behind the craft.
Thank you to the American Craft Council for honoring me with such a prestigious award. Thank you to my husband for his encouragement and assistance. Thank you to the show-goers and patrons who support fine craft. And thank you to the artists who inspire us all!
I didn't do anything with that one piece at the time, and it fell to the bottom of the pile on my side table. But the idea of creating wall art grew on me. Throughout the fall my mind was full of ideas. Color combinations I wanted to work with swirled around in my head.
I couldn't take action at the time; holiday shows and orders took precedent and I had to wait until the new year to start exploring my ideas. But once my time freed up, I went all in -- and for the past few months, I've been wholeheartedly enjoying the process of assembling textiles into arrangements of pattern and color.
Creating larger works, without the constraints of turning them into handbags, has allowed me to explore so many ideas.
I've been able to think about how to create the look of movement with arrangements of fabric.
I've been enthralled with exploring the idea of opposites, especially at a time of such polarization in our country.
There is a lot more that I want to do. In fact, it seems that I have an over-abundance of ideas for color combinations and patterns that I want to work with. I especially want to think more about how opposites can work together. And I don't want to stop making more.
I hope to see you there!
Months of prep, hours and hours of research, lots of designing, tons of sewing, hours of over-time, and yes, even a few emotional melt-downs... Plus, two days of show set up, one evening at the preview party, three days of the retail show, and a couple quick hours taking it all down...
I did it!
On Thursday afternoon, I leisurely put the finishing touches on my booth, got all my products displayed, and made sure everything was ready for the evening's preview party.
I was very pleased to see that women loved my handbags. They raved about the unique colors and designs, and the lightweight quality of the fabrics. Actually, men also loved the purses; several told me that if they were women, they would be buying from me!
It was surprising to find out what colors most people were drawn to. The pink sunset with a touch of gray was very popular, as was the gray ombré with a pop of red.
I was thrilled on Saturday morning when, first thing, a well-dressed man wearing a dashing hat and a long red coat purchased a pouch that matched his outfit (center photo, above). He immediately transferred his phone and credit cards from the case he was using to the new pouch!
My wrap belts were very well received! Several woman who thought they couldn't wear a decorative belt tried them on, loved them, and purchased one! Many people told me how great they would be when traveling: just add a beautiful belt and an outfit will look completely different from one day to the next. Great idea!
One woman exclaimed to me, "You haven't been here before. I would remember if I had seen your work here before. I know you weren't here last year. Such great work!"
At two separate times, men came up to me and said, "Your work is the best at the show."
A woman wrote, "Best new artist at the show! Fresh & fun & beautiful."
Other written comments included, "Beautiful!!" and "Lovely!"
What a show!
I want to give enormous amounts of thanks to my dear, wonderful husband. Chris, you are the greatest!
To my many friends and family members who came to the show to give support: Thank you! I appreciated seeing your friendly faces so much!
Many thanks to my parents for their support and babysitting efforts!
Thank you to all the fantastic people I met at the show: I had a great time! Keep in touch!
How am I feeling?
I'm proud of myself.
I'm scouring artists' blogs and Instagram to get an idea of what to expect.
I still don't know what to expect!
What's Happening This Week
I'm excited that I got a chance to set up my booth this week because now I'm not as nervous about the show. I even got to try out the lights, something I was very concerned about. I'm keeping it set up all week so I can add the finishing touches to it slowly.
Having an art show booth set up in my living room has transformed part of my house into a show room. (It also means I have to walk through a maze to get to the front door! What a strange experience!) I'm surprised how happy I am with how it looks. Perhaps you remember when I was so worried about figuring out how to create this booth in the first place? I have learned so much in these past few months!
Back from the Printer
One disappointment: I did not get the domain name I was anticipating for so long (www.marypow.com) in time to have it printed on these cards. But maybe that's good; it gives me plenty of time to figure out how to switch everything over to the new domain later, without feeling rushed.
Yet To Do
Pricing. Maybe that's a topic for a future blog post. But for now, I have a stack of half-finished purses calling my name!
- You can find out more about the St. Paul American Craft Council Show here.
- Purchase advance tickets to the St. Paul show here.
- If you are a member of the American Craft Council, your entry is free. I highly recommend becoming a member. The magazine alone is worth it!
In my new line of handbags and accessories I've been contemplating my education in architecture. Working as an artist for the past few years, I've realized that my creative style may be different from artists with other education backgrounds. I like straight lines. I like crisp, clean edges. I like structure. I like things to be tidy. So, my repetitive use of parallel lines and crisp edges in this work takes me back to my days at the drafting board.
Hello, my name is Mary. And I'm a DIYer.
Eventually I would love to hire a photographer, and a model, and a day in a photography studio. But, since the ACC show is just a month away, I really needed to get some photos taken quickly so I could send my promotional postcards and business cards to the printer!
So, I became photographer for a day (again), used myself as a model (again), and did all the editing as well (again). You do what you have to do when you're in a pinch. My printed postcards haven't arrived yet, but you can get a sneak peak of them below. (Did I mention that I'm also my own graphic designer?)
What I need this year is an actual BOOTH. Walls, lights, signage, display -- everything!
There is so much that goes into these big capital-A Art show booths, as I'm learning. I can't believe how much time I've already spent researching booth options. It makes me nervous that I'm not spending enough time making the items that will actually go into the booth! But, without a booth I will have no way to display my new work. It must be done.
- easy to assemble and disassemble on my own
- needs to fit in my car
- display my work in the best way possible
- needs to be cost effective
- must be flexible, so I can use it at different sorts of shows in the future
So, do I spend loads of time scouring the internet and local fixture stores to find the best deals for used display options? Or do I drop some money and just get new? It's tempting to buy new and be done with it and focus on the creating of my work. But, how much money do I want to sink into a booth? There is already the booth fee to attend the show in the first place. And part of the equation must also include the question: what if I decide I don't like doing this kind of show after all? I don't want to waste money on a display I'll never use again!
Ahh, so this is a journey, isn't it? Putting myself out there, trying something new; it can be a balancing act! Of course, for all the difficult decisions I need to make for my business, I wouldn't trade it for anything! I really do enjoy being a working artist. I'm even enjoying designing this booth ... though I wouldn't mind having a little more time. April's never seemed so close to January before!
It's tricky to try something new. You have to veer onto a new path and just believe that it'll be a good one.
Troublesome thoughts like to creep in ...
"What if it's a bad idea?" ... "What if nobody likes it?" ... "What if it is all a waste of time and money?" ... "What if it is too hard?" ... "What if it's too much work and I can't do it all?"
I tell myself that I can't think like that. Those kinds of thoughts are the rocks in my new path. I have to jump over them and keep going. If I don't, I'll be stuck in the path and I won't be able to move forward.
Here it is.
I am trying something new.
(Deep breath. Smile.)
However, as I learn and grow and work as an artist, I feel that I should sign it as my own, so to speak.
My plan is to debut my new work at the American Craft Council Show in St. Paul this April. It's a very large, very well-regarded show that I am extremely honored to have been accepted into.
And yes, it's freaking me out a little bit, too.
I would love to have you follow along with me on my journey!
Join my mailing list so you can be kept up to date.
Note: This post was transferred from my old website. Unfortunately, comments were not able to be transferred.
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.
I also enjoy reflecting on the human condition.
In my blog, I write about my musings and my art.
Find my bio here.
American Craft Show
Art & Craft Shows
In The Shop
Jerome Project Grant
Mary Pow Handbags