Friday, July 27, 2012

Eighteen Yards

There were four of us old guys over sixty-five, one about seventy and his young son and Ruby, also on Social Security.  We were waiting for the concrete trucks to arrive.  There would be two of them, each carrying nine yards, enough to pour a slab about 24 feet by 34 feet long.  This will be the foundation for the new house.  It is in the countryside but not really the country, five acre parcels fenced like city lots. Enough room for dogs to roam and chickens, a barn and a garden and the big house.
  It is a scenario that could become Reality Television although it is not the children moving back home, it is the parents, fresh out of bankruptcy and living in a small trailer next to a drained and very dried up pond on the five acre parcel owned by the daughter and her husband.  Multiple housing is not allowed on this property so they got a permit to build a "hobby room", 816 square feet, the new little house one hundred feet from the big house.  Families pulling together in these difficult times.
   My friends were caught up in the American Dream.  They are very interesting people, the hardest workers that I know.  He has been in construction all of his life and his wife hammering and painting along side him. Years ago they built a yacht in their backyard.  Just like that, a steel hulled fifty footer with teak and holly trim and big blue sails.  Then they set sail to unknown places and search the world for five years, this boat their home.
   Still years ago they sold it, too much of paradise they said, and moved into a little fixer upper house not far from my own house.  They remodeled it and improved it step by step and it became a pretty remarkable 900 square feet of perfection.  That is the way they are.  A little more effort than most of us, everything they build is perfect.
   The housing boom or bubble was going on then and their house increased in value with every improvement made, from the initial 45 thousand dollar purchase to over $100,000!  This was their sole asset and it increased in value monthly.  Maybe, they are thinking, they could build up a retirement nest egg?
    Five blocks away an opportunity came up.  An 8,000 square foot Church, long abandoned and in disrepair came up for sale!  $75,000 for a half city block and a falling down 8,000 square foot Church!  How could they go wrong?
  To make a long story short, they sold their little house and bought the Church.  They worked on it for over five years, every single day.  It became one big glorious residence with a beautiful shop with eighteen foot ceilings!  It appraised at over $460,000 and they had $275,000 in loans against it.  Certainly not a get rich quick scheme but a profit, or pay back for their labor of almost $200,000 for the five years they enjoyed working on it together.  It was just too nice to keep and now they wanted to retire, maybe get their little house back and some money in the bank!
   I think you know the rest of the story.  Timing is everything.  Almost overnight the housing bubble burst.
Oh the Church sold all right but it took two years to sell it and the final price?  $260,000!!!  Wow.
So, bankruptcy became the only path out and garage sales and scrounging for the money to buy a used fifth wheel and move it onto the daughter's property.
   If this were a Reality Television Series there would be many more seasons and we could meet their friends.
The six of us old people pouring concrete, it was quite a sight!  We all left after the concrete was laid, screed, floated and fresnoed.  Pretty flat by most eyes.  Edwin and Ruby spent hours on knee boards, hand troweling to perfection, after we all left. That is what they do, you couldn't stop them.
   Next week will be fun.  It will be like a barn raising.  Friends and family working together, also a part of the American Experience.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Bill is in the Mail

How horrible!  What a horrid thing that happened in Colorado, getting shot in a movie theater!  Like being struck by lightening, no accounting and no protection from it.  Insane, of course.  Gun control is really not the issue although it is doubtful why someone might require 6,000 rounds of ammunition and a magazine that would hold a hundred rounds.  That might have been an indicator, maybe.  It happens everywhere, Canada earlier at a shopping mall and England, Norway, other places with strict gun control laws.  Bad guys have always gotten guns.
   No, this was all a lot of bad luck.  What is horrible to me is yet to come.  You get shot and survive in this country and you will get a bill in the mail.  or if you get killed, the bill comes anyway and someone pays.  The medical expenses must be horrific.  We have no National Health Care in this country.  Our victim's assistance, a welfare fund of sorts is pathetically underfunded.  Those who got shot will get a bill in the mail.
   We are a shoot 'em up Cowboy kind of Country, I admit that.  In the ten years we have been in Iraq and Afghanistan, more people have been shot in Chicago than on the battlefield.  Ten a night is not uncommon.
The deer in Chicago are in the zoo but people roam the streets and make for moving targets or the shooters move and do "drive byes".  Sport.  They have found abandoned guns with notches cut into the handles. Pride of marksmanship, I presume.  If you get shot in Chicago you will get a bill in the mail.
    Osama bin Laden single handedly doubled the price of an airline ticket, created Homeland Security and caused the economic collapse of the Western world and this Joker Guy who shot up the movie theater will double the price of a movie ticket.  The ticket takers will become trained armed guards and there will be secret guys, like air marshals, watching the movie over and over in the audience.  Terrorists and crazy people will control our behavior because we cannot control theirs!  Crazy world and they will send us the bill.
   It is all nuts. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

One or Two is Good

...and sometimes even three can make it perfect.  Wow, I always get an education when I visit my local Giant Hardware Store.  This is over 100,000 square feet "under one roof" and they have everything you might ever need to build or refurbish a house.  My kind of store.  They also have a "Junk Room" although they do not call it that.  It is their "up to 75% off" Room, pretty big too, maybe 60 feet by a hundred feet, all discounted, some damaged but mostly in perfect condition.  The kind of place where I can find mismatched paint for $5 bucks a gallon!  Today was "China Day" and not the normal import stuff, this was "China Art Day," or more exactly, Chinese Metal Art and they had over 100 feet of it, stacked up on tables and leaning against the walls, piled deep.  Like a garage sale.
     Chinese Wall Metal Art by the box load.  Trellis's by the rail car load and even row after row of little creatures (Chinese, I presume) with spring necks so their cute little heads bobble!  And about a million leaves from two inch to two feet, nicely shaped and powder coated!
    Everything 75% OFF. Such a deal.  This would be discouraging if these were the wares of an individual Chinese Artist but I would bet money these are from a Chinese Gulag, the work of beaten prisoners or the labor of factory workers at two dollars a day and they have to feed themselves.
   I know people buy this crap. I have seen them walk out with armloads of it at the Spring Home Show where vendors are allowed to sell anything that people are willing to buy.  I just do not know why?
I wonder if there is a book on compulsive buying?  or the buying of crap.  Stuff that will fall apart before you get it home.
   The funny thing is even at 75% OFF the store is still making a profit.  That should tell you something right there.  Like buying jewelry I guess.  The value is in the idea.
   This is the reason that I am not a fabricator and seldom make the same thing twice.  Three times and I am out of there and on to something else for sure!
   It was discouraging to see it.  I have seen paintings at Walmart, thousands of them against the wall, all imported and churned out like making butter.  Same kind of thing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Steel Easels

My garden trellis easels did well at the "Art in the Garden" show but what really perked people's interest was the steel easels that were really meant to be used for artists to hold their canvas.  Funny, how I could be so wrong (like it has never happened before!).  I didn't even bring my very best easel to the show, just thought it was the wrong environment.  We talked a lot about easels and plein air painting and the flimsy aluminum easels that blow over in a small puff of air and can't hold a canvas steady.  So in the back of my brain I am thinking all of the time about this.  My goal is to eventually build that thousand dollar, perfect and detailed custom easel but maybe along the way there is some room for a really nice strong and portable easel?
   So I made one!  It comes in three pieces for easy shipping but is assembled with only two bolts.  I think it might weigh about 30 pounds but the mast is a separate piece so each section is about 15 pounds and there is no assembly to install this mast.  It just fits!  I think it could survive a sixty mile wind and probably 20 miles with a decent sized canvas.  It is adjustable and can hold a canvas as large as 56 inches tall and most any width.  It has a nice brass medallion to lock in a canvas to the mast.
   This won't be a get rich quick scheme but I can sell these for $200 as long as they remain fun to build.

Shipping should be around $30 so that is doable also.  It is not an item that could ever be retailed, too many fingers in a retail pot for that to happen.  Did you know that, on average, for every $100 you spend at retail the product costs $15 to manufacture?  Everything else is "value added" because of wholesaling, shipping and handling, profiteering all along the way.
   I will make five of these and take them to the next show and see what happens.  I think this is an idea for someone younger with more ambition but I know there is a market for these.  I enjoy making the prototypes.
I like the research and development part, then I will leave the manufacturing part to others.
   This one does not lay flat, Sherry, I need the bench model as a counterweight for that to happen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Topics

As you might know I am really almost never without something to say.  My problem is to limit and focus. In the world of things there is much to talk about, a bit to reminisce, and so many things that I wish to explore.
The only time in my life when I knew everything I was only seventeen.  Now as I get older, with each passing day, I am discovering that I know less and less.
   There are several reasons that I blog.  I can.  That is one for sure.  I am alive and well and strong.  Two years ago I was about as close to death as one can get and still be able to creep back from the edge.  So, blogging is in celebration of life, living.  Screaming into the fire with the notion that I am not ready yet!
   Blogging is a journal for me.  I can look back to see what was consuming me in the past.  I can hunt for inconsistencies, attempt at discovering a pattern and examine my garden from year to year.  I can look back and discover the eggs of ideas that could have been incubated. 
   I like teaching and clearly attempt that from time to time and it is not all about politics.  I have written extensively on tomatoes, on my steel creations and offered a detailed description of my stone posts, enough to allow for easy copying if anyone should want to.  Clearly I like discussion and comments and disagreements always lead to a better understanding.  I don't know any truths whatsoever!  Except maybe it is nicer to appreciate a night sky than to attempt to understand it.
    You can meet people from all over the world in the blogging universe and a few will become your friends.
Some, I could end up at their front door one day and they would feed me and that is a wonderful feeling.
People from all over the world have the same concerns, the same pains and frustrations, similar interests and aspirations.  The Beatles had it right:  We Are One!
   I get ideas right out of the newspapers and always want to know, as Paul Harvey used to say, "The Rest of the Story"?  I am pretty convinced we are not told "the Truth" about anything.  Some is by design, the truth would destroy profit and in other cases we just don't know the truth and mostly don't care to find out.  We are a lazy lot and wish not to investigate any consequences.   I am a "list maker", have been all of my life.  School teaching demanded it, the lesson plans, goals and methods to achieve them, contingencies when things went astray and the necessity for alternative plans.  The construction industry was the very same except when things went wrong I lost money.  That is the source of my "conservative side".  Any mistake I ever made cost me money and sometimes a lot of it.   It costs the employer about $20 dollars an hour to pay an employee $12 dollars per hour.  I had sometimes nine employees, $180 dollars per hour. A mistake would cost me $3 dollars per minute until I solved it.  You learn fast.
   Some of you reading this blog may think that I am a flaming liberal and I am not.  Oh, socially I may be but fiscally I am about as conservative as you can get.  I am not in favor of a Government that gives everything away.  I think that rewards laziness and I hate lazy people.  I think we should all pay taxes equally, what ever that might be.  If every dime of the working man is taxed for Social Security, then I think every dime for everyone should be also.  I am not after the money of the 1% but I want them to pay the same taxes as I have all of my life.  The same.  Equal.  I want "Capital Gains" to be taxed as wages.  Some may say oh they won't invest and risk their money if that were to be the case!  That is garbage.  Everyone, even you and I almost always invest any surplus money that we may have.  That is what a bank account does.
   I Blog because I don't write letters and I seldom use the telephone.  I don't have a cell phone but if I did 100 minutes would last me over a year for sure.  I am about the worst there is on the telephone, quickly get tongue tied and run out of things to say.  Me?  Yes, for sure, I am no good on a telephone.   There are some people I care about though and keep in contact with them through this blog.  If you want to know what I am doing, how my garden is doing, the weather in Oregon or what I am thinking, this is the place to find out.
     The blog world is interesting and slightly mysterious.  The cyber world is way beyond me.  Somebody or something is always listening, noting key words and phrases, hunting for something.  I get advertisements on my screen that theoretically are geared toward me.  I don't know why.  I couldn't afford a "Hot Russian Babe" and my wife would laugh at me!  I go to the grocery store, the hardware store and the local steel scrap yard and that is about all of the shopping that I do.  Sometimes I buy sanding disks or ornamental iron on line and I use my Amazon credits from my credit card to do Christmas shopping.  That is about it for on line shopping.  I have never set foot in a Target Store or Best Buy or Sam's Club or most of the big box stores.  I have been caught in the local Walmart, "China Incorporated" from time to time and always sneak out, guilty as hell.
    I get "hits" from Russia, sometimes over a hundred in a week and it always leaves me curious.  Why?
Did I say something interesting and why would they never leave a comment?  In any given year I have more visitors from Russia than here and they have never left a comment.  Maybe they are not allowed to?  Maybe Hot Russian Babes in search and quickly moving on to more desirable waters?  One of the mysteries of life.
I have had hits from Arab countries and would love to have them stop by for a chat!  Are they really after Democracy or do they want flat screen televisions?  And us?  What do we want?  If we can get 50% to turn up in an election we consider that pretty good!  Newspapers used to be "The Fifth Estate" telling us the truth in a deceiving world and that has all changed with the times.  We don't seek any truth anymore.  Sound bites.
   My world revolves around my little one third acre near the downtown of my little city.  I have control here.
I can turn the water on or off and almost control the weather.  I have my garden, my tomatoes and flowers, the shop and my little studio.  One day I can bang steel together, grind and make fire and on another I can dig and work in the dirt, putting my hands deep into the Earth.  On some occasions I may paint, work in my quiet studio and apply color to canvas just for the hell of it.  Because I can.
   I am always thinking of the next project, inventing something or improving on what I did.  I always get up early and still make lesson plans, list of this or that, what things I may need, how to acquire them, what to do.
The difference now is that I am retired and I know these lists have no importance and I can toss them at a whim.  Like going to Seattle on the spur of the moment to help a friend.  That was simply great.
   Now you know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seattle and Back!

A friend of mine is retired like I am and struggles to survive on his $1,000 per month Social Security check.  That used to be a lot of money but a part of this Monopoly Game Plan is as more players are allowed into the game, the money is devalued.  So we do what we can.  This guy knows about trucks and can tear them apart and put them back together.  He knows a good value when he sees it.  He buys them, fixes them and turns them over for a profit.  The American Way.
   These trucks are always someplace else.  You never find a good deal next door or down the street.  I am often the driver that gets him there.  Yesterday we took off for Seattle, Washington, a little over 400 miles from here!  The total trip was close to nine hundred miles, there, running around, and back.  I have my "TOM-TOM" and absolutely love it.  Figuring out where you are going is not stressful at all, TOM-TOM will always get you there and let you know when you are going 3 miles over the posted speed limit during the trip.  We left at about 4am and found his truck by 9am, bought it after a short test drive, had some lunch and were back in Springfield by 4pm!  I have not done that much driving since I was 21 years old and, like a fool, drove from here to Washington DC in 54 hours! I think that might be some kind of world's record!
    It is nice knowing that I can drive 900 miles in a day but I sure wouldn't want to make a habit of it.  I am not one of those Americans who love to drive or find my ego behind the wheel.  My little truck is a work truck and looks the part.  The good news is the mileage I got!  It is a 1998 Nissan, although I still think of it as a Dotson, and it got 38 mph on the freeways, going a "little over" 70 miles per hour all of the way!  My truck is dirty and has its share of dents and nicks and scratches.  It is not the kind of truck that people would buy as an investment to resell at a profit.  The truck my friend bought is a 1996 Dodge, 3/4 ton diesel with the contraption in the back bed to haul a fifth wheel trailer.  Not a ding on it, not a single scratch!  I have never understood why someone would buy a "work truck" and then not use it, afraid to scratch it or put gravel in it, treating  it like a fine car, an ego truck?  Mine's a tool and we have a good relationship.  I change her fluids, put gas in her, toss crap with abandon in her back bed and she gets me to where we need to go.
I'll keep her until she is just too tired.  She is not for sale.
   The advantage of being retired is lack of schedule.  My friend thanked me for the ride and I let him know that I was so happy that he asked me!  That was the best part of all.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Bankruptcy is like beginning a whole new game of Monopoly but with slightly different rules.  The I-O-U's get thrown out and the "Get out of Jail Free" cards are dispersed with a great hope that the game can begin anew!  Individual people do this all of the time.  It was our solution to over crowded jails due to debtor's prisons.  It has been the answer to overwhelming medical expenses and other unforeseen events and just careless spending above our means.  Now it is the wave of the future for entire cities!  Stockton, San Bernadina and a third city in California have recently filed for bankruptcy and there have been other cities in the United States doing the same.  California itself, the entire State could be headed that way!
   Why are they doing this?  and what does it mean?
   Simply, there is not enough money on the board.  Money needs to circulate for the system to work.  As you "Pass GO" you collect and land on certain properties, you pay.  If you can't pay, they cannot collect and the game is over.  The money is still there.  The fat cats have it or the bankers have it but it is not being circulated.  You bought Park Place for every single piece of value you could scrounge only to discover it was not worth so much!  So you begin to skip some payments.  Then the banks don't get it, the grocery stores don't get it, the worker at McDonald's doesn't even get it and soon the game is over.
   What makes the situation a little worse is past games.  In past games the winners were awarded with a kind of annuity, a lifetime income for a game well played.  Not everyone got this, just the winners, but they did pretty well, receiving lifetime payments as much as their yearly salaries while they worked and lifetime health insurance for a game well played!  This debt to past players (the winners only!) amounts to Trillions of dollars and with no money circulating on the board, it is difficult to come up with.
    This means that school teachers, city and government workers, policemen and firemen and others thinking they had won the system and could live out their retirement years with a good pension and benefits have all of a sudden found themselves with nothing!  Bankruptcy.  No more checks.  This initially solves the problem for the City, the debt has been wiped clean but it has taken even MORE money OFF THE TABLE!  This is how Greece is attempting to play this game and it has not worked well for them.  California cities and others are following failed states in a feeble attempt to play this game.
    There is another solution but it would require all of the players to agree and to put forth the best interests of the Nation as a whole and not individual players.  We could create more jobs!!!  The world is in such a dismal economic turmoil that people, corporations and countries will loan us money at NO INTEREST!!!!
because America is still the safest place to bank.  Now would be a perfect time to rebuild our infrastructure, our waterways and highways, our bridges and airwaves, our transportation and airports.  We used to devote 7% of our GPD towards this rebuilding and now it is less than 2%.  More jobs is more money in circulation, more for everyone.
    If we do not do this now maybe we should be thinking of a different game to play?  Maybe "Prison Dodge Ball"?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

30 Times

Yes.30 times the House Republicans have voted to repeal Obama care and not once for the job creation bill.Voted against getting health insurance if you have preexisting conditions. Voted against adult children allowed onto their parents insurance until age 26.  Voted against reduced priced reduced prescriptions for Seniors. Voted against women. and kept their own Cadillac Insurance policies!!  Voted against cost reducing insurance for everyone and provided no alternative policy!
   So, here is my proposal:  If you vote against Obama care why not be consistent and vote against Medicare also?  There are too many people in the world, we all know that.  The sick, the frail, the weak and the poor are deficits to society.  They drag us down and contribute nothing.  Maybe Hitler had it right, round them up and get rid of them!  People struggling with minimum wage jobs, working hard and complaining?  Throw them on the wagon too!  What is the Republican plan?
   Frankly I am in favor of Obama care because I am a conservative!!!  It was an idea initially started by the Republicans and implemented by Romney himself in Massachusetts and contains the thought that if we all contributed then medical care would be less expensive.  Obama care will SAVE a trillion dollars over the next ten years.  There are government subsidies for those who cannot afford the cost.
   As it is now emergency rooms are used as the primary care for poor people.  This can cost thousand's per visit and we are paying for it now.  What is the Republican Plan to improve this situation?  Maybe all people who visit the emergency room who don't really need it should be shot?  I rather like that idea and it would create more jobs!
   50% of Americans don't even know about the Supreme Court decision on health care.  Probably 80% don't give a crap.  Pretty sad for a country that spends trillions of dollars fighting for freedom (?) and we don't even follow what is going on, don't give a crap.  More interested in sound bites than understanding.
   The Republicans will do NOTHING to make Obama look good, certainly no infrastructure rebuilding, certainly no jobs bill and they won't even entertain their OWN idea on National Health!
   I wonder what will happen?  How we will vote next November?  More years of the failed Bush policy?
A Nation lead by its Corporations?  Oh boy!  We will get what we vote for, what we deserve, that is for sure.  Cutting government programs and austerity?  Yes, let's be like Greece!!!  Or Ireland or Portugal or Spain!  They will show us the way!  I am amazed how easily we are persuaded to vote against our own interests, how easily we can be led and how lazy we have become.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Secret

The "Art in the Garden" show was a terrific success, I think for everyone.  I have discovered that this was their 29th year so next  will be huge!  They have had years to practice, problems to resolve and seemed to run this show effortlessly but a lot of work went into it.  I think there were about 30 artists in this garden section and we all did well.  The pieces that were there, mine and other's do not display well in a booth and we need this garden setting, an environment that encourages walking through a magical garden and finding treasures that can be purchased.  There were no ten by ten plastic tents, no carnival or food court atmosphere.  Just fun and open space and about a million flowers!  Seriously, they transformed an open field into a beautiful garden over night.  Elves working around the clock.
   I have been invited to other summer garden exhibitions already, but different ones.  With booths and the plastic canopies where I should be selling cotton candy. One booth indistinguishable from the next.
My hat is off and fair organizers should be flocking to Maude Kerns Art Gallery to discover their secrets.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Thousand Dollar Easel

One more day of Art in the Vineyard, this art show I am participating in.  I am amazed that I have not done this show before.  I have been invited many times but it is always in July, my busy season, and I just didn't have the time.  Now it is different.  I am retired and have all the time in the world but I don't have the strength that I used to have.  I am not after the big jobs, nothing too heavy.  I could have sold a lot of benches at this exhibition, there were none there.  My benches are serpentine, curvy and heavy.  I seldom make them any more because of the effort at moving them.  I can make butterflies and saw some great ones there, made from spoons and forks and drill bits and stuff of imagination but I leave that to others.  If I make three of one thing that is a lot to me and I am on to something else.
    I brought three truckloads of stuff to this garden show and will probably bring about a half truck back to my shop, not bad by any measure.  My main attraction were the easels.  Easels.  Art.  "Art for the garden", get it?  I brought a total of five and one real one, the very nice bench model that, at Sherry's direction, lays flat for horizontal painting.  They all sold and two went to California, one to a local winery and I am not sure who bought the other two.  The "painting stations" were popular too with their steel palettes and cup holders and places to put brushes.
   When I introduced my arbors years ago everyone told me that arbors didn't sell well.  Too much competition from imports and they were pretty inexpensive.  So I studied arbors.  The first home show I introduced them and had one as my entrance to my booth.  A $550. dollar price tag, pretty pricey for an arbor.  I sold it twelve times before I quit taking orders!  Each year I would make the arbor bigger and better until the last year I did the home shows and had a model, pretty extravagant with a price of $3,500.
I sold it twice!
   You can find easels on the internet, e-bay has over a thousand of them.  I studied them all and most are pretty cheap.  Why would I want to compete in that market?  I think there must be people out there who would like a really nice easel.  It is just a challenge and I have the time.  I am not there yet but one sold for $200 at the show and the Gallery itself wants my $500 dollar model, the one I thought too good to bring to a garden show.  I wonder what a thousand dollar easel would look like?  I wonder if I could make one?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What is Hot?

I am so tired, I had forgotten how much work these shows can be.  To top it all off I lost a filling and had a toothache from hell.  Over the weekend of course.  Why doesn't Anbesol come with a little paint brush applicator?  Luckily I have a lot of paint brushes!  The first day of this show is over and I made it until about five o'clock before I collapsed and went home.  Nice to be in the "Garden Section", a fenced in section with other artists and not a booth that needs attending.
   The area was transformed overnight and magically decorated with potted flowers and shrubbery.  Seriously, maybe a semi truck load of them, creating wandering paths and encouraging people to investigate what treasures they could find.  I think this is the twenty-fourth year of this event and they know what they are doing.  This garden section has quite a reputation and as people enter the main grounds they head straight for it, knowing if they don't get there soon the treasures will be gone.  I think there were 30 artists in this section and most of us did pretty well.  About a third of the inventory was sold at five o'clock when I was just too tired to continue.  There was an artist there who made globes for candles on a steel frame, all pretty simple and clever.  The globe was from 2 glass light fixtures, one on top of the other with the candle inside.  He had, at the beginning of this show a triple row of these, maybe thirty of them and they were gone by 4 o'clock!
   There was a steady influx of people and it seemed as though everyone was buying something.  The dragon flies and butterflies on a stake went flying out of there and all of the clever creations made from spoons and forks and knives went as well.  Anything at $30 or less disappeared pretty fast.  My little pieces of slate on a steel stake, a place to put your morning coffee all sold also.
    Before the show opened the Art Gallery people walk through the exhibit checking things out for themselves.  When they found my lady holding an easel they stopped and we had quite a conversation about easels!  She is now a permanent fixture at Maude Kerns Art Gallery!  And they are interested in seeing my very best easel which I didn't even bring to this show!
   Someone from California came to the show with a truck.  Seriously.  Apparently they do this every year, combining a vacation to Oregon with a tour of this garden show and they know from experience that they will want to take home some of the bigger stuff.  They bought my bench model easel and it is on its way to California now.  That is such an honor.
    I sold some other bigger pieces too and still have some left.  The glass topped table with vines is gone and the wooden garden table on its steel frame is also.  Maybe I sold about a third of what I brought and for having a tooth I would like to rip out that was not a bad first day!
    It is a different world at these shows.  You would never know that these are difficult economic times.  Thousands of people paid $7 to get in and some bought three day passes for $15.  There must be over a hundred food vendors there and lunch at all of them is about $10.  Nine really but you always put the buck in the tip jar.  I do anyway.  It is hot and nasty in those kitchens.
   I am ready for day two!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cool Stuff!

I have not displayed in a garden show for over five years and that was seldom how I displayed what I do. I consider myself a "Home Show Expert" having done them twice a year for twenty-five years.  In these shows I displayed my creativity but I was always after the bigger jobs and just brought the little things to show what I could do.  Sometimes I would get $50,000 worth of work from a single show.  I am retired from that now, no longer have a crew and am not after these bigger jobs.  I'll leave them for the younger people.
    Now what I bring to a show is what I am trying to sell and there isn't much more.  Oh, it is a lure a little bit; I would like to be commissioned to build a custom gate or something really cool, but basically what I am bringing is what I have to sell.

   I moved in yesterday and on the spot sold three pieces to other vendors and that is a good omen for this show.  I got the opportunity to look at their work also and I have to admit that I was impressed!  Their art is different from mine and that is good.  We are not really in competition with each other.  It is apples and oranges and they have worked hard.  I see a winters gathering of gleamings out of their work and they have turned common tableware into magical dragonflies.  Whimsical, fluttering, with the strength of steel. Clever!
   I haven't got a photo yet, perhaps today, but there is an artist there who makes creatures.  A life sized giant sea turtle, a dragon that must be 15' tall, butterflies, of course and other animals.  They are incredible, perfect workmanship, amazing details.  They will bring the crowds.
   I think artists always compare themselves to other artists, steal ideas a bit, incorporate concepts.  My art is different because it is all designed to be used.  I make tables and pedestals and places to perch a cup of coffee, cucumber trellis's and structures for bigger climbers.  Used by people or used by plants. Functional Art.
    There are lots of vendors at this show, some in the "Garden Section" where I am and others in booths packed together along a serpentine walkway with over a hundred vendors.  Artists from all over the Pacific Northwest.  The show is a big to do and is supposed to attract over 25,000 visitors.  I wonder if the public realizes all the work that goes into such a production, renting the park for an entire week for a three day show.  Lots of security, just lots of people working to make this a success.
   Some artists have been here for 15 years in a row.   Months of labor for a three day event.  I am a little embarrassed.  I churned my stuff out in a three week frenzy.  Next year I will do a better job.  I am already thinking about it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I am Ready!

I am ready for the outdoor art show.  I have 47 pieces made, ranging from $15. to $325, mostly things people have never seen before.  It will be interesting to see what happens.
These photos are of a painter's table/palette that I just completed.  I splashed some paint on it so that people can get the idea that this is to be used.  It is a tool.
I have two truck loads and a friend to help me move.  that is a good thing, I am tired!  couple days of rest and then the show begins!