Boy, was that fun.
Drove up to Hood River yesterday to participate in the “Art Walk,” this time as artist, not tourist, and I had a blast. I now see why people do these things, even if they don’t get rich.
Meg, Scott and Ramona, who run At Home on Oak Street, were understanding, helpful and terrific, in turns. They’d set aside the best table in the store for my work, spruced things up with a great tablecloth from their stock and added a blue-green lamp for extra lighting (a lamp I’m still thinking I need for the master bedroom….never mind).
What was cool about the lamp was that I’d chosen pieces to fit the cool tones of the store, mostly Tuscan greens, and that lamp was the exact color of the sky blue and spring green glass I’d used in one of my bigger pieces:
Looked like we planned it. How cool is that?
Anyway, after a despairing beginning (left an hour early so I could look around before the show started, then got caught in a horrific traffic jam on I84 and wound up almost an hour late), Ramona and Scott and I unwrapped my glass, arranged it on the lucite pedestals I’d bought, and things started hopping.
As a market research tool, it was fantastic. Crystals, Sand, Shards encompasses frit-and-cuts compositions (crystals), textured powder pieces (sand) and recycled tempered glass (shards), and I had samples of each on the table. The store was in a great location with lots of traffic (and the fact that they were serving white wine and had a great guitarist probably helped), so in a two-hour period I had a bit more than 100 people come to the table and see my glass.
Crystals, Sand, Shards Collection, by Cynthia Morgan
I learned a lot by watching which pieces people were automatically drawn to, which ones they lingered longest over, and which seemed to be completely ignored. I got a first-hand look at placement/proximity (all the things I check when doing customer research), and came away with all kinds of information that would help if I wanted to set up a booth in an art fair.
Was kinda hard to stay on track with the market research, though, because I just had so much darn fun talking to people about glass. They were intrigued by the thought of using recycled tempered glass (the Shards), stroked and stroked the textures of the Crystals and were somewhat disappointed that it, too, wasn’t recycled glass, and expressed the most interest in the Sand works, which was interesting.
But mostly, we talked about how the glass was made, what kinds of experiments I’d had to do to get the glass to hold together, whether it was possible to do different colors, sizes, forms. I’d expected a lot of “is this glass?” and “my daughter has a pottery kiln, so she could make one of these for me, right,” remarks, but this was a very knowledgeable crowd. Most knew the basics of kilnforming and knew that this stuff was reasonably unique, so we jettisoned the preliminaries and got right into the good stuff.
I was surprised–although I probably shouldn’t have been–at the number of questions about my background, where I lived, what I thought of the Hood River arts scene (and since it was only my second time up there I got a LOT of suggestions of other galleries and studios to visit). I spoke with an engineer torn between a lucrative job and the conviction that she was, at heart, an artist. “Thank you,” she said, “Everyone else tells me I’m crazy but your example confirms what I’ve been thinking–I need to just go ahead and follow my bliss.”
I mentioned that 90% of my income still comes from my day job, and that it probably wasn’t a great idea to abandon engineering all at once. Not sure she heard that part…
Anyway, went through about half the flyers I’d made (and several of the gift cards, which was odd), and many people read the flyer on the spot, then asked for further info. Kinda felt like a quiz. 😉 Gary, since you asked, I’ve uploaded a PDF of the flyer and a PDF of the signage minus some contact info since this is, after all, the Web.
Afterwards, a bunch of us gathered at the local Mexican restaurant for dinner and discussion. They were all experienced crafts fair vendors, got a lot of tips about selling glass retail. Also learned a LOT about running a BBQ smoker for catering, and about Oregon’s sustainable agriculture, which was fun. Mostly just had all kinds of fun decompressing with some very nice people. Thanks again, Linda, for setting this up!
Didn’t sell much, but the glass will be there in the store window all month and I’ve got a couple of commissions from it as well as an appetite to do this again. Not only is it fun, but there’s a certain amount of ego gratification when you hear the word “exquisite” applied to your glass a gazillion times in two hours. Even discounting 60% for the blarney factor, it’s still an indication that–at least in production work–I’m on the right track.