Monday, December 14, 2009

Art-fair verdict: My brain pays more than my hands

More than 7,500 people swarmed into Crafty Wonderland yesterday, where I was one of 200 vendors offering creative wares for the holiday shoppers. A few of them even became my customers. I made a small profit, which in this economy makes the event a success, no? And people asked for hundreds of my cards. I also soaked up the praise: The Postcard Writer's Companion, for instance, was routinely proclaimed "a great idea!" and captured many folks' attention. Others made a point of saying how nicely done my work was, and how beautiful.

But when you take into account the number of hours it took to prepare, and the number of sales, well, there's a reason I went to sleep last night dreaming instead of an "Artisan Wonderland." I think back to my most successful outings, chief among them the annual juried show at the Japanese Garden, where I almost always sold everything I made. The crowd was probably one-tenth of Crafty Wonderland's, but it was well-attuned to fine crafts, and willing to pay for them. Of course, it helps that I cover everything in exquisite Japanese chiyogami paper.

So the search for my niche continues. In the meantime, I have a big editing job that pays more than what I earned yesterday at the Oregon Convention Center. It's time to put away the bonefolder and crack the dictionary.

above: a letter & bill holder covered in Japanese paper and Rohhalbleinen bookcloth. Beautiful, useful & durable — but worth it?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Watch how it worms its way into your heart

Every time I think I should stop making A Postcard Writer's Companion, I make more — and fall in love with the form all over again. For Crafty Wonderland I made a fresh batch, still thrilled with this book that fits right in your hands and the chiyogami that beams back with its brilliant pattern.

Manufacturing analysts take into account the number of times you "touch" a product, with the usual implication that the more touches the more time, and the more opportunities for risking its destruction. The Postcard Writer's Companion is quite a "touchy" item, well, that's the nature of hand bookbinding in general. But then there's all the little tweaks, the pockets, the structure of the pockets, the pasting, and then the final inlay of the seal on the back cover. No wonder I fall in love — I'm fondling this thing all day long.

BTW, here's a video on the Artspace show at TaborSpace, Southeast 55th and Belmont. It's up all month, so go and satisfy your coffee and art jones all in one surreal place. Oh, and the scones are money.