Well we are coming to the end of another show season, just a few more shows left for the year. I have enjoyed meeting all of you guys at the fairs this year. Hopefully we provided you with some entertainment and a quality cutting board as well. Just wanted to take a minute and remind everyone that Christmas is fast approaching. Since Cathy and I enjoy Black Friday shopping every year, although we buy stuff for ourselves that day, and this year we cannot do it since we have a show on that day. We decided that we still wanted to take part in the Door Busters Bonanza that is Black Friday. So starting on Sat Nov. 22nd at UW Parkside, we will be having a Door Buster at every show. I'm not sure what they will be from week to week, since I want there to be enough items for multiple people to be able to get them, I'll have to make sure that I have enough quantity of whatever particular item from show to show. As I am no longer making items for the shows, since I have promised quite a few custom pieces by Christmas. At Parkside on the 22nd we will be offering what I feel is a crazy price for all of our Red Gum End Grain boards, All of our Door Busters will be cash or check only sales, since I will basically be selling these items at my cost to make them, there are several reasons why I will only take cash, one being transaction fees, other reasons may have something to do with this is a business and my least favorite Uncle (Sam). I think you can see where I am going, and exactly why it is fair to expect cash for these transactions. I will be listing the upcoming Door Busters on the "shows" page of our website, right next to the listed show. All of these Door Busters will be available for people that like to come to the house and shop the Monday thru Friday preceding the show, but not after. Ok then, I have used my blog to shamelessly promote myself, and now I am off to finish a custom checkerboard that has been driving me nuts by not behaving as it should, wish me luck!!!
It's been awhile since I've posted on the blog, for my 3 regular readers I do apologize for this, but September and October is my craziest stretch of shows and it got even crazier recently. But I'll talk about that later. As the header reads, rather cryptically I hope, a simple $2 object can sometimes make all your hard work worth it. Cathy and I just got done with a 3 day show in the Wisconsin Dells, the Wo Zha Wa days festival. Of course as my nickname implies, Brendan the Rainbringer, it rained, basically washing out the first day. It was colder than normal for this time of year so sales were slow. No matter how much this is a hobby that has blown out of proportion, no matter how much I enjoy doing shows, in the end I always have a somewhat of a "business approach" to shows. With the investment of show fees, gas, hotel rooms, restaurant meals, travel shows can get rather expensive and it requires a decent amount of sales generated to cover those expenses. So with a rain day already taking one day of three away, then Saturday starting out so slow I could count the number of sales at noon on Saturday on my thumb, (yes, one, lol) And from all I was hearing Sunday is always a bust due to a parade that takes up the whole day on Sunday. Needless to say I was a bit in a panic.
Along comes a couple of the members of the Festival committee with a box and they say to Cathy and I "congratulations you have won a First in show ribbon". They pull out a ribbon and it indeed says, First Place. Well that just changes everything. I think, and I may be wrong that it was Sally Fields at the Oscars who said, "You like me, you really really like me" when being presented with her Oscar. This was exactly the emotion I felt. It really was a liberating feeling. As a woodworker, and one who does Functional pieces as well, it can be hard to ever win ribbons at an Art Show, simply because, by definition we are fine craft, no matter how fine of details, no matter how much work can go into a piece, it still doesn't qualify as "Art" to the majority of judges at these shows. Which can get a bit frustrating at some shows when photography is the winner. I'm not bashing photography, but nothing is being created, a moment in time is being captured, and it may be powerful, it may be beautiful, it may evoke an astounding amount of emotions, but it still wasn't something created, it was something captured. And it is the only discipline of the arts that doesn't have to have a component of creation to it. But I digress, So here we are at a show, sales below what it cost us in gas, let alone anything else, but we have our ribbon, and with it, a sense of acceptance. And we have one hell of a big smile on our faces as we proudly tape our ribbon to the outside of our display. And 6 days later Cathy and I are still high fiving each other each time we sit down late at night to watch a bit of tv before we go to bed, as the ribbon sits on the sofa table staring back at us from where we sit on the couch. So that my friends is how a simple $2 object can really brighten your day.
Not to mention that whether it was timing or not, once we put that ribbon up, sales picked up. Sunday turned out to be a decent day, and there was a cash prize along with the ribbon that, in essence, refunded our show fees, thus lightening the burden of expenses a bit.
Now as to why my schedule just got crazier as I alluded to in my opening remarks. We have nothing but multiple day, out of town shows in September and October. My nephew who was born with a heart defect, (he is now 16) needs an open heart procedure in the beginning of October. And loving my family as I do, and being a nurse by trade, there is no way on God's green Earth that I will not be there before, during, and after his surgery to assist in his recovery. So I will be spending several weeks in Minneapolis if need be to assist my sister and my nephew in his recovery. Thus, here I thought I had time to consistently make product and now I don't. So if I run a bit behind on anyone's custom work, I do apologize for that, but family will always come first. So Cathy will be at the shows we have scheduled in October with a helper, but I will most likely not be attending as I will be applying my true craft to an ornery 16 year old.
As always, thank you for reading my random thoughts. I'm not sure there is any real reason for this blog other than catharsis for me but I did warn you all from an early point that by reading this blog you would be wasting your life 5 minutes at a time, lol. Have a nice day and see you at the fairs.
Just wanted to make a quick note here. I've had several people contact me via the website regarding projects or purchases recently, but the email that they left was somehow misspelled. So if you would like me to actually be able to respond to your requests, please double check your email address when typing it in, or leave a phone number. Trust me, I'm no telemarketer, it's not like I'm going to be calling you daily trying to sell you a newspaper subscription, lol. So if any of you read this, and have tried to contact me, but haven't heard back from me, this is the reason why. I'm pretty smart, and I do try several common mistakes (inverted lettering) on email addresses (I've probably accidently spammed a few people), but psychic powers to this day still elude me.
Wow, after a stretch of like 5 weekends in a row with just a tremendous amount of rain we finally got some nice Saturday weather. I figured I'd come on here and ramble for awhile since I'm waiting for the owner of Woodcraft to come out and help me get my new table saw working, have had nothing but problems with it since I decided to spend $4000 on a new saw. Silly me, thinking that a nice cabinet saw would make my life easier in the shop. Oh how I miss my old saw. At this point I'm really not believing the old adage that "you get what you pay for", at least not in this case. This is one of the reasons I have been a little lacking in the variety aspect early on this year. Normally I make all the Red Gum boards that I think I'll need for the year first, since they take so much longer to get cured properly. Then I start on the exotic wood "patterned" chopping blocks. Well, I decided to buy a new saw and that thing just refuses to give me a straight cut. My choice seems to be a tapered cut or a rounded end, neither of which are good when you are trying to make a certain pattern and if one piece is just 1/16" off the pattern doesn't work. Thus the reason for mostly our "random" exotic wood chopping blocks being the ones available lately. I have just a ton of ideas for some really cool mosaics, but cannot get to them until I can get my tools to function properly. I also plan on doing some 8 bit pieces. For those that are not familiar with these, it is "picture" boards from the old 8 bit video games. Like a Pac Man or Ghost, etc. They have been around forever but I haven't seen any woodworkers doing them in our areas, so I figured there are a lot of old school gamers that would enjoy something like that. If you are interested in something like that let me know you favorite characters. If there is enough interest in a certain one then I can always put it to the front of the list. They will have to be made in blocks of 9-10 so I'm starting with the Pac Man ghosts, Blinky to be exact, the red ghost, then if they are popular i'll do the yellow ghost, or Pac Man himself.
Anyways, I'd like to thank everyone that has come out the last two weeks to Cedarburg's Strawberry Festival and Baileys Harbor July 4th Craft show. Almost perfect weather both shows. I really appreciate all the people that stopped by and chatted and/or bought a cutting board. The square antique coffee grinder peppermills were really popular the last few shows, thanks for making me feel that I wasn't crazy making a square peppermill. I wasn't too sure of myself on that one since I had never seen a square peppermill before, but I'm glad that you guys seem to like them.
It has been a long two months, 7 of the 8 weeks we have had 2 day travel shows and boy are we tired. I feel like an "upscale carnie" when travelling to these shows. Such a transient lifestyle. For the next 4 weeks or so we are doing shows much closer to home, including this coming week that is literally 5 minutes from my house. I am so looking forward to sleeping in my own bed for a whole weekend.
We will have a show special at the upcoming Lake Country Art Fair in Delafield this weekend. It will be one of our large end grain cutting boards styles that I will be pricing at my cost to sell a large board at a show. I promise that it will be a ridiculous price for one of my boards. And there will be some very basic end grain boards that I will not have out on display but will have with me that will be literally at material cost. So ask me to show you those as well.
You may notice that there was two different statements of cost there in that last paragraph. For those who may not understand what I meant I'll explain. My cost of selling a board at a show includes all material costs, but also factors in show fees, travel expenses, and income tax when recognizing the revenue from the sale. (yes, the total sale is income on my taxes) Material cost is just that, the cost of wood, waste, glue, sandpaper, tooling and finish. That is why I won't have the latter out on display. I'm literally losing money when I sell those, but in all fairness, I am not that excited about them so I'm just moving on. It's like the "yellow dot" clearance sale at Boston Store.
Well, I'm going to sign off for now. Hopefully Chris from Woodcraft shows up soon and I can get back to work. I'm sure it is something stupid that I haven't thought of, but since I cannot think of it, I'm bringing in the experts. And that is the reason I recommend Woodcraft to all woodworkers out there. How many businesses will the owner come out and help you figure out a problem. The customer service is above top notch.
Hello again to my loyal 3 or 4 readers of my completely senseless blog. This time, unlike normally, my posting here is meant to be informative. I just placed a wood order with my supplier and got some news on wood prices. They have gone up considerably. And it wasn't just the exotic woods this time, all woods, domestic and imported have really taken off. I have eaten the last few small price increases into my costs, but moving forward when I cycle through to the product currently being sold, (the items I made over the winter), once these are gone, the prices will be going up, by probably 10%. And that will only cover the increased cost of materials, I won't be making profit on that increase, it just means I cannot eat any more of these price increases into the cost of the boards any further. As with any business, I must replace tooling, pay taxes on sales, pay the travel expenses to the shows, pay for the shows themselves. So for now, the only boards that you will see a price increase on are the exotic wood large endgrains, as I am currently out of them and making new ones with the latest wood shipment. But there may come a point in time where prices may not look like they "jive" with the boards being offered, and that is because I will not just arbitrarily raise the prices on everything now because wood prices have gone up. (I'm not a gas station) I have all my boards costed and priced so that I can make just enough to make doing the art fairs worth the time. So I won't have to raise prices until those boards are sold. I can warn you now that Black Walnut is by far the worst offender of them all. It is hard enough to find decent material in it, but now it has gotten as expensive as the imported exotic woods. So if you were on the fence at all about a purchase I encourage you to make your purchase soon as I probably will have enough to keep prices where they are until mid July.
Hello again, time again for another installment of you just had way too much time on your hands and decided to waste it with me. (ha ha) Wow did we end up with picture perfect weather this weekend. By Friday of last week I was ready to rip my last remaining hairs out because the weather men or women at google weather kept changing the forecast for the weekend. First it was clear weather, then it was T-storms, then it was clear weather, then it was chance of storm, back and forth it went all last week. So finally the weekend came and our weather in both Madison (DeForest) and Oshkosh was just perfect. There really is nothing worse than waiting all week for a show, planning just exactly what mixture of your artwork you will take, driving the 1-3 hours at completely ungodly hours of the morning to get to the show, setting up your tent and art, just to have it rain and no one comes out to the show. You then get to spend the next 7-8 hours being wet, watching your artwork get rained on, and selling nothing. So basically you spend your own money for the privledge of going to someone else's backyard to spend a day in miserable weather, feeling rather, well, miserable. (reminds me of a couple of vacations I took, but that is a story for another day) But the projected rain never came, it was warm and sunny both days.
We really had a good time at both fairs this weekend. In Deforest there were lots of people, and everyone was engaging with us, which is always the best. Even if they don't buy anything it makes the day go by so much quicker when there is fun people to talk with. Otherwise it is Cathy and I just talking to ourselves, and me opening my mouth up to my wife can only lead to trouble, lol. In Oshkosh on Sunday I won and "Award of Excellence" ribbon. So that was very cool. Working in wood, especially with a functional item like cutting boards, it is sometimes hard to be recognized as an artist, as by the very definition of "functional" I am more in the fine crafts category. So winning a ribbon at a show means a tremendous amount to me. Almost as much as it does when you guys actually give me your hard earned money in exchange for one of my boards. But that is what I feel is the ultimate compliment. That you trust me to deliver you a quality product and that you find it both useful and appealing.
The downside of having a very good weekend is that I am now a little more limited in what I have to offer the good folks of Minneapolis this weekend. My "Random Bits and Pieces in Technicolor" series was next up in the queue to make after I got home from Minn. I had what I thought would be enough, and was out of the exotic woods for the last couple of weeks. I'm currently waiting for a truckload as I write this. But with my normal breakdown of what I sell, I figured I had enough to get by. Of course, that means that everyone who liked my boards this weekend, liked that series. I ain't complaining, but isn't that the way it always works? So for everyone that reads this and was interested in one of our "random" large endgrains, they are coming, I promise, they are the next thing I am planning on making. And I have some really fun ideas for them. I think I have come up with a design that is still my "over the top" loud and colorful designs, yet will have that "simple, elegant, comfortable" feel to them. I know that sounds contradictory but I think it's true, or at least as true as my limited descriptions can make it. I have it pictured in my head, all I have to do is execute that design properly.
Well, Cathy just got home from work and is looking at me like, "it's time to go out to the shop now" So off I go like a good little husband should. Thank you again for wasting some time with me. "Tune in next time for more exciting adventures with
Hello again. This may be a very boring and quite random posting. Every year us nurses must go through a dozen or so videos as part of our continued education. Sadly, it is the same videos year after year, so I really don't know just how "continuing" it really is. So while I am waiting to "click the next button to continue" so I can be "edumacated" I figured I'd post on the blog here. So as always, I do apologize for wasting your time when you read this, but you voluntarily read this so you share part of the blame.
I spent this past weekend up in Sturgeon Bay at their annual Fine Art Fair. I thank the people that stopped buy and spent their hard earned money on my art. Sadly there just wasn't enough of those people. I'd love to do this fair again, it was in a beautiful setting, and the promoters did the best job I have ever seen in mixture with Fine Art and Fine crafts, but hopefully there will be more people buying next year. Such is the life of an artist, sometimes you just don't tickle the fancy of those who attend. But if you are ever in Door County during Memorial Day, check out that fair, there really was some spectacular artists there.
We debuted our "Mini" this weekend and from the comments, it seems a success. Over the years I have always had one or two small "cheeseboard" sized endgrain cutting boards available. Basically because my math was off and I was left with a few extra pieces. People have always asked if we have this smaller size or would make them and I have always had to politely say no, since end grain cutting boards, whether they be large or small take about the same amount of time to produce, since the numerous operations remain constant. It just wasn't viable to make any quantity of them. This year I spent the whole winter trying to get ahead and built up a decent inventory, (it helped that it was a brutal winter and who the heck wanted to go outside and do anything anyway) so I was now in a position to make some of these "Mini chopping blocks". These "Minis" run 8" x 8" to 8"x9.5" and are $35 each. I started with our Red Gum species of lumber for our first "Minis" but some of our "Random Bits and Pieces in Technicolor" designs will be made in the mini size as well. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
In two weeks we are doing our first show in Minnesota at the Stone Arch Bridge Art and Music Festival. I am looking rather forward to this show, since my sister lives in Minneapolis area, so I get to spend a few days with her as well and doing a show in a new area. And thus starts our crazy show schedule this year. Where we basically have an Art Fair every weekend until,, well, basically Christmas. Hopefully I'll still be able to stand upright by the time this year comes to an end. I'm already feeling a bit battered and bruised and we haven't even been busy yet.
We hadn't planned on doing so many shows this year. Both Cathy and I have a real job as well. She is an accountant and I am a nurse. I like to apply to Fine Art Fairs although I am well aware that I am more Fine Craft. I am trying to make pieces of art that are functional. This is why almost all of my cutting boards are one of a kind. I want you (the customer) to be the only one to have "that" piece. Even if it is only a $25 cutting board. I don't want 50 boards just like it running around. You sure can find cheaper boards, there is no doubt of that, but you won't find someone who makes even their $12 board unique and makes them all one at a time. But anyways, I digressed, sorry about that, I told you this would be random. As I was saying, I hadn't planned on doing this many shows, I basically applied to all the Fine art fairs that I could, figuring that I would be turned down quite a bit, since I am not exactly in the category that they are looking for. Well I only got turned down by the Spring Green show. Which was good, since I hadn't noticed that that was the same weekend for Strawberry fest in Cedarburg, don't know how I would have been able to do both of those shows. So Cathy and I are naming this year as the "year of exhaustion"
Alright, I've had just about enough of sophomoric videos teaching me basic things that any 4th grader should know, let alone a trained nurse. So I'm giving up on my training for now and going to head out to the shop. I doubt you really got very much information from this posting, other than that I have a very disorganized brain. But I warned you that these postings were going to be random. At lease I delivered on that. And hopefully, I have delivered you with a quality cutting board that will give you years, if not a lifetime of use and enjoyment. See you all at the fairs.
Hello again everyone, time again for my rather run-on random thought idea of a blog. This weekend I'm heading up to Door County for the first time, and sadly my beautiful bride is staying home so I'm going this one alone. It ought to be a real learning experience for me. I depend on her more than I realize for all of the "little" details that when not addressed, become rather big details. We spend last weekend at the Marshfield Art Fair and Baraboo Fair on the Square. The weather turned out to be real nice, that is a first. The rain held off on Sunday until we got loaded up and on the road. If you ever get a chance to be in Marshfield on Mother's Day, check out the Art Fair. There were some seriously talented Fine Artists at the show. It probably was the best assortment of Fine Art and Fine Craft I have seen at a show. The promoters did a very good job selecting the participants. Sadly there were too many lookers and not enough buyers, but that is the nature of the beast. I always figure that if you bring me the people and I don't sell, then I didn't have what they wanted and the failure is on me.
If you were wondering why Cathy isn't coming with me this weekend, it is because she will be doing a separate show in Oshkosh on Saturday. My 7 year old roof needs replacing on the house, (so glad I got an inspector before purchase) and we needed a cargo van to replace the minivan, which just couldn't handle the weight of our cutting boards. (boy do I envy jewelers at times) So between those bills and paying upfront for all the shows and wood, we needed a little bit more revenue at the beginning of the year, so I doubled up on some show dates that weren't going to be "big" successes, so that these bills could get paid. She will be at the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh on Saturday. The garden center there has a really nice plant sale along with a nice craft fair. It isn't a highbrow Fine Art fair like Holy Hill or Marshfield, but they do have a lot of talented crafters with a wide selection of craft and price points, which makes it a fun show to visit. The summer Paine Art Center brings out some serious Fine Art, but this one is more of a "craft fair".
Well, I suppose that is really all I have to say this week. Although all the previous could probably have been said in two sentences, but what fun would that have been. See you all at the shows. Or if not, then, "Stop being so cheap and go out and support the arts", haha, almost everyone can afford $10 to spend on a Saturday. Go out to a Craft fair and buy yourself something. Not only will you get a unique handcrafted item, you will also ensure that quality crafters will continue to do the shows in your area. If they don't sell, they won't come back, and then all you are left with is "Walmart at the Park", which doesn't seem to me a very fun Art or Craft show to attend. I'm pretty sure they call those things rummage sales or flea markets. (just so you know, my tone there was more funny than chiding, although maybe a bit of chiding, lol)
Thank you once again for reading my random thoughts. I'm sure you all have heard the expression "A penny for your thoughts", well if you paid me a penny for this, you might have ove