I was a Trade Show Virgin

Let’s be honest from the start here – when I signed up to be part of Top Drawer as a part of the Design Factory team I had absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for.  I had not really thought about what a trade show is and I hadn’t really considered whether it was appropriate for my work or not.  As I catch my breath after my first ever trade show I find myself reflecting on what I got right and what I might have done differently if I had had the presence of mind.  So this week I thought I would share with you my post show feelings:

  • If you possibly can, especially for your first time, go as part of a group. safety%20in%20numbers1

You might get a little less space than if you went on your own but what you get instead is someone reminding you of all the things you have to do, organising the stand, supporting you before and during the event and producing a more corporate feel to the area – I think our area looked great because  it was so coherent in appearance.

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Our stand looked coherent.

 

  • Do not trust the public transport system.

I found travelling to an unfamiliar venue first thing in the morning discombobulating.  On the first day my journey took double the time that it was expected to and I arrived late and flustered.  The second day was better but still not perfect.

  • May friends with your neighbours.

cachedimage1Everybody needs good neighbours!  To look out for you when you need a bite to eat or drink, to boost your energy levels and with whom to have a bit of a laugh and to hold the fort for you when the public transport system lets you down.  Thanks guys!

  • Say no to nothing but promise nothing either  9c47ce60901c0e8e0aee74b0eced525f1

I now have a pile of interested parties to contact.  Potentially I have some very exciting opportunities to look forward to.  If I had promised something to the first person who showed an interest, I would have felt rather pressed to agree to some of the later ones.  By agreeing to things in principle and suggesting that I follow up later, both the potential customer and I have time to consider all the opportunities that the show presented and neither side is stuck with something that might not be the best for them.  I am hugely looking forward to making contact with the people who expressed an interest over the next few days and having more detailed discussions with those who, in the cold light of day, really do want to do business with me.

  • Take a goodie bag with you

I seem to have eaten rubbish for 3 days.  Next time I do a trade show I will make sure that I have plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge so that I can stock up each day and not fill up on chocolate and muffins!

  • Do not party until the middle of the night before!

On the day before Top Drawer I set up my stand in very good time in order to drive 150 miles, party half the night, eat and drink far too much and then drive back on the Sunday morning to man my post.  It was not a good look!  Party all night!

  • Be prepared

 

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The invaluable ‘little green book’.

Due to the fact that my wonderful daughter was left in charge until I could get back from Somerset on Sunday I thought it would be a good idea to give her a structure for her conversations with possible customers.  Throughout the weekend ‘the little green book’ was to prove invaluable.  I could never have remembered the detail of all those conversations if I had not had a structured approach to the notes that I made immediately afterward each one.

 

  • Don’t plan too much for the few days afterwards.

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    don’t plan too much for after the show.

By the end of day 3 I couldn’t feel my feet, my brain was in a complete fug and the only place that I wanted to be was my bed – for a very  long time!  So it was a bit of an error to have to go into the studio on the following day to work on 4 urgent commissions.  I need to think that through more carefully next time.

  • Get help

 

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Set up and Break down was a nightmare

The unloading, set up, break down and removing of the stands is a nightmare.  If it had not been for my strong, helpful, patient and tolerant husband I would not have coped.  Simple!

 

 

  • Smile

All the time, at everyone!  bc35526f361a06e4957a0716a80112761

 

Hard Hats, please.

It has been a while since I checked in on the work being done on our new home and so I was really excited when I arrived yesterday to find that, despite the apparent devastation, the corner of my studio has already been mapped out: particularly as it seems as though I might have space to get my friends round for making days – the space is about 4 times as large as the half studio which I began with only five years ago when I shared with Regina and we each squeezed into our part of a small space at Wimbledon.  Whilst I had seen it on the plans and knew how large it would be, now it is actually appearing on the ground this new space feels as if it is going to be sheer luxury!

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Its going to be sheer luxury!

 

Possibly even more exciting was the activity around the other side of the house.  We had rather expected that the crumbly shale close to the road extended down the hill and that, when we knocked down the existing terrace to make way for our bedrooms on the lower ground floor, we would have a major underpinning job to do.  So it was with huge relief (and much cheerful patting of our wallet) that we discovered that the builders had dug straight into wonderful, glutinous, golden yellow clay.  Not only does this make to construction of the extension easier – apparently this is really good for building on – but I can hardly wait to get making now: my very own clay pit!  It seems we need a large scale geological map of this place so we can find out exactly where the change occurs.

 

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My very own claypit

Of course I was always going to create something from whatever came out of our foundations.  After all, that is what I do.  But now the opportunities are immense.  Whilst I am not sure that I can make enough use of this clay to solve the issue of removing a few tonnes of material around (and away from) the site, I have been spent most of the night dreaming  of the experiments that I can do and the pieces which I can make from Watersmeet clay.

 

And as for landfill: well we have been drawing up plans to use as much as we can within our boundaries so watch out for a series of terraces and steps to get around different areas of the garden in order to enjoy our amazing view from various different angles.

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Where can we put all this subsoil?

 

 

Invitations to come and stay in Cornwall for making weeks will be forthcoming ‘drekly’!

Playing Catch-up

sold1I seem to have had the best of all problems recently – I do not have very much to put on the shelves at Klay and almost nothing at all for the Open Studios which starts on 10th November because I have sold so much work over the past few weeks.  This is a wonderful feeling in some ways but it does leave me with a problem!

I should be in the studio every day at the moment frantically making so that I can put something on the shelves.  Somehow that seems to miss the point of what I am trying to do though.  I want, more than anything, to enjoy my making.  I want to have time to experiment, to hone my skills and to learn new things.  So it really does not suit me to be having to work hard.  I am sure that it would suit my bank balance, mind you!

Actually it is worse than that because if I feel that I should be making it puts me off and I don’t want to do it at all.  So here I sit finding all kinds of excuses for not getting anything done and just letting the clock tick quietly on.

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Nothing looking very ready at the moment!

 

 

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Experimenting with monoprinting

That said, I have been getting a bit of experimenting done and here is lots of stuff wrapped in plastic which is half made and I do have a bisque firing on at the moment which will hopefully yield a few good pieces but finished work, ready to sell off the shelf is going to be in short supply in November!

 

So I have decided that I am going to do something completely different this autumn.  I have been making a number of pieces for Tregony recently and I know that they have sold at least one so this time I am going to make no bones about my activities over the four days that the studio doors are open.  I shall have my hands in the clay and, in tune with Poldark Series 2, I will be continuing to create more of my Cornish Mining pieces.  I am looking forward to showing people how I work and I can always give my hands a quick rub if anyone wants to take a closer look at the work that I do have ready to sell or to make notes for anyone who is after that very personal piece which reminds them of a time or place which is special to them.

The Gift of Giving

Beyond doubt the best thing about working on a commission is the moment when the client sees the finished piece.  That is when you know if you got it right or not.  So it was with my most recent commission which I had the pleasure of sending on its way this week.

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Ready for handover.

 

I was delighted with her reaction to her vessel.  It is a special birthday present for a member of her family and includes material from the woods on their land and details of the location and architects drawings for the house.

The colours which have come out in the patterns on the vessel apparently match those of the house, which is not surprising given the origins of the material but it is still gratifying to know.

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Surprises even on the base.

I am particularly pleased with the idea to put the drawing of the house on the base.  It is as if everywhere you look there is another surprise waiting for you, even when you turn it over there is something else to see.

 

But without doubt, it is the reaction of the client which gives me the best feeling.  She was really happy with it and it clearly meant so much to her – considerably more than it did to me as I have never been to that part of the UK.  Up until that point it felt like a job well done but as I handed it over it became so much more than that.

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The finished commission

I felt as if I was launching a ship or something.  I find that these vessels, which are so personal to the person who orders them, are so much more than any of the other work I am doing and I love the warm fuzzy feeling that the hand over gives me deep inside.

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One happy customer.