Monday, August 24, 2015

Feast of Lanterns 2015

Last Saturday was my second show at Feast of Lanterns. I don't often work this festival, since it often conflicts with one of my favorite dance weekends, Sugar Hill. It's hard to be the dancing potter if I never get to dance!

Dancing at the end of the contra dance line at Sugar Hill, way back in 2001.
Luckily, the scheduling gods smiled and I got to do both this year. I was especially excited about my return to this festival, since my last time at the Feast was spent hobbling around in a cast. Not the most fun way to be a pottery vendor. But this year's Feast was fantastic! Beautiful weather, a great location for the double booth I shared with 3 other potters from Beech Grove Clay Works, newly built shelves for my pottery, tasty beverages, and fantastic music.

Setting up with John, Mike and Judy
Those boys from Beech Grove Clay Works up to no good
The great new shelves that I built the day before the festival
Feast of Lanterns is a wonderful festival just northeast of downtown Indianapolis, in Spades Park. It's in a lovely city park, it's FREE, things to do for kids, tasty food and beverages, and great vendors. Like Carrie from Celebration Henna, who was right next door to our booth. I couldn't resist and got hennaed up! Carrie has a great trick of be-glittering the wet henna, which needs time to dry and set up after it is applied. The glitter looks great and reminded me to not mush the wet henna while it dried. And also, everyone needs a little more glitter in their lives!

My glittered peacock still waiting to dry
My henna tattoo the next day, should last for a week or more

And we all sold lots of pottery. It was a lovely day, and then as sunset passed, the lanterns were lit.

And the bands continued to play, even as we started to pack up our booth at 11pm. Tear down is way more fun when done to the irresistible Pork and Beans Brass Band.

Thanks to all my friends, neighbors, and fans who stopped by! Hope to see you again soon! Lots of fun shows coming up for me through the end of the year!

Revamping the booth

At every show or market, I curse the muses that led me to my very heavy, breakable art. And I'm incredibly jealous of the vendors next to me with their easy-to-pack textiles. Sigh. So I'm always trying to try new ways to lighten my load and speed up the setup/teardown times. 

For the last two years, I've slowly collected all the parts for a full 10x10' market booth. Several folding tables and tablecloths with four sets of 3' tall folding oak shelves, big and little wooden crates to fill in the rest of the display space. While they look nice, the folding oak shelves are really heavy, a few of them are wobbly, and some of the shelves are starting to crack. And I've felt that the standard folding tables I use aren't effectively using the booth space. But since the shelves were something I owned before I started showing pottery, I've made do with them, since I wasn't ready to fork over the funds for new display shelves. 

But this weekend at Feast of Lanterns, I tested a new shelf system--one that I built myself!! Endless websurfing for possible shelf designs found me this site with instructions for a shelving system that would be reasonably lightweight and could be stored completely flat. An added bonus was that I could make the shelves as long as would fit in the bed of my truck, about 6.5 ft. 

Here's my sketch that I used to figure out what I needed to buy.

The blog post that helped me with this (Thanks, Blue Starr Pottery!) has step by step instructions. Based on some help from the Big Box Store employee, I upgraded to 1"x 3" boards for the support frames. This meant I needed to find longer screws than what was used in Blue Starr blog. And of course, I wasn't able to find 3.5 or 4" screws that wouldn't split the thin one inch boards that I was using. I could only find 3.25" screws, which added some extra drilling work. I ended up pre-drilling the screw holes through the vertical 6' frame boards--for two screws that would go through each end of the each 15" horizontal shelf support board. Then I used a larger drill bit on each hole, so I could counter sink the screws in another quarter inch. This allowed the shorter screws to get deeper into each shelf support and sank the screws so I could fill all the holes on the vertical frames.

The first of the hinged support frames took quite a while to figure out, measure, and assemble. But as soon as that first one was done, I could use it as the measuring template for the next 3 frames. Way faster!

One of the big things I worried about as I considered these new shelves was the stability. I was incredibly pleased with my initial set up in the garage once I had everything assembled. It was solid! No wobbling! Woohoo. Then I disassembled them (super quick!) and carried it all out into my yard to try it out in the grass. Even on my not-really-level-lawn, the shelves were solid even though they were tilting on the small rise on the lawn. With a few shims, I leveled the shelves and still felt good about how grounded they felt, even without the extra weight of pottery on them.

The new shelf system went on its trial run at the Feast of Lanterns. Take a look at the next post for a view of the new shelves loaded with pretty pottery. I'm pretty pleased The new shelves have a lot of pros--a more effective depth than the shelves on folding tables, one set of shelves for 6 feet rather than two sets on the tables, fits way more pottery than the old set up, and I can use my storage/transport crates on the shelves as part of the display. It does have a few drawbacks--some people don't like to bend down to the lower shelves, the top shelf is too high for some customers to get pieces down on their own, and I'm losing a lot of my "hide the ugly stuff" space under the tables.

I am considering making another set of these, which would get rid of the rest of the heavy wobbly shelves and two of the three folding tables that I have to use. I'll just need to find the time to make them!