We've been doing shows of one kind or another for decades. We take great delight in getting out of the studio and coming into direct contact with the general public. Its always more than a little blurry as to what and who is on display - us, the work, or the cavalcade of humankind passing by. Likely all of the above.

All of us who have done shows, exhibitions and gallery openings have memorable experiences occasioned by the volatile mix of art and the general public. These experiences can be sweet, enlightening, inspiring, silly, hilarious, infuriating, insulting, criminal and people simply being stupid in public.

With all the weighty topics in these forums we're taking a short break. This is your invitation to pull up a chair and share some of your favorite show stories.

We were at a craft show last Saturday when a middle-aged woman walked up to the booth. Its an outdoor show and this is Southern California. So it is pretty warm and the woman is drinking a coke from a large container. She spends a fair amount of time looking over the pieces on the table, and finds a bracelet that catches her eye. Picking up the bracelet she slips it on and proceeds to admire it on her wrist. Turning her wrist over to get the bracelet's full effect the woman deftly dumps the entire container of coke she is holding in the bracelet hand all over herself and our display. Without saying a word she put the bracelet on the table and walked away. A classic example of singularity of attention.

Its odd how the same event can elicit amusement and anger.

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Thank goodness we didn't have people roaming around with drinks to spill. I was doing a national indoor furniture show and people did come through with cameras. I was amazed at how many people would walk up and take pictures of my work. Only one asked if he could - a weekend furniture maker so I said yes. However, when designers did it (of course without asking) I got the nerve to approach one and ask why she was taking pictures and what she was interested in. She was bold enough to tell me she was looking for ideas and she has her pieces made in China. Don't know how long my mouth was open before closing.
We, at twigs and Heather, cast organic objects like, of course, twigs, birch bark, acorns, and maple seeds. At shows people are always asking us if the pieces are dipped. I honestly don't even know what people mean by that. Electroplated perhaps.

My favorite comment of all times is " These pieces are cast so well, they look dipped."

I've come to realize that people do not like to be corrected when they turn to their friends and say, like it's a fact, "these are dipped" . Sometimes I will correct them, sometimes I won't.
This also reminds me of a conversation I had with a crafter who had a list of "types" of customers at a craft show.
One was the "eater" ( I often joke about, in my next life, I'll sell Kettle corn, since the line is ofter 100 people thick at some craft shows)
Another, the "professor" you know, the guy who knows all about what you do and needs to kill some time while his wife shops...
And one of my fav's. The "you know what you should do..." guy. (insert nodding and fake smile here).

Cool topic, 2Roses.
My favorite moments are when the attendee has no idea what they are looking at and ask me the price. Usually I say "Sixty" without the dollars word. Once this happened in Portland Oregon and the guy had a group of little girls (about 6 of 'em) and said, "Great! Okay kids, everybody can pick one out!" It took me a minute to realize the guy was NOT that rich and I said "Dollars!" He visibly shrunk. Ha Ha!
Hi. I was participating in a Caft Fair titled, "100 American Craftsmen", one June years ago when a well-heeled woman (hat and all) came to my booth. She stared intently (for approximately 15 minutes) at a jewelry case filled with rings that were fashioned in 14K yellow gold bedecked with precious stones that were held in place by carved figures that were used in lieu of commercial prong settings. There were , perhaps, 12 rings situated on ring pedestals.

She cleared her throat (for attention) and said: "Excuse me, are these rings?"

I looked at her and had to bite my tounge to not say "are you joking?"

Needless to say she didn't purchase anything but ,boy, was she well dressed...

Steve Saracino
ONe of my favorite "Show Stories" is actually from Picasso. Seems he overheard a woman @ his show saying: "Well, it certainly doesn't look like a fish to me!!!!" - and he tapped her on the shoulder and said: "Actually, it isn't a fish, Madame - it's a painting."
I was sitting in my former gallery in Cleveland, a space filled to the brim with bright shiny objects, when a friendly, chubby police officer comes in and starts to look around. After a few minutes of inspection, he turns to me, taps his finger on the police badge displayed on his shirt and says in a high pitched, funny voice: "Would you have anything to highlight my badge?" to which I responded: "How about some feathers? The guys in the department will really like that." His eyes start bulging, he stares at me for a bit, then starts coughing and says: "Well, yeah, how about them Browns ?" (Browns = Cleveland Football team). We were both in stitches and he left laughing.

Another story I could tell is of the couple who came in, he remained standing at the door while she flutters about the gallery like a deranged butterfly. Finally, she turns to me and says (picture big bright eyes and an insane smile:) "I am looking for a tiara - do you carry tiaras ?" I wasn't sure if she was pulling my leg, or if she was just simply insane, I decided it must be the latter so my response came as: "Sorry, I am fresh out of tiaras, but I can make you a new one." The woman sighed heavily and then fluttered out the door, her companion looking at me apologetically, or at least that's my interpretation of that look.

You cannot make up that stuff.
Hahahahahah. Good stories all. Twigs, its remarkable how spot on those "types" are. We've had them all at our booth. We'd love to see the full list. Pat, the topic of people taking pics and copying work could be a whole topic in itself. We get this a lot too, and have had people come back to show us the copy that they've made. We're always flattered by this and will usually offer some tips, as it is usually a beginner or hobbyist. We'd like to hear more about how concerned all of you are about people coming to your booth with cameras and sketchbooks. We generally don't concern ourselves with it because there is no way to control it (at least that we've found).

Speaking of stealing ideas, we were helping a friend man a room in Tuscon one year when a young mother with an 6 year old boy in tow came in. We were selling cut stones and rough. She proceeded to look at the cut stones, some particularly expensive faceted tourmalines. The boy was just wandering around completely disinterested and bored. Out of nowhere the kid throws a fit, screaming that he wants to go home. The embarrassed mother quickly grabs the boy by the hand and the two scurry out of the room as she mumbles an apology. We notice that the tourmalines she has been looking at are gone. As we come around the corner yelling at her, the mother and boy take off like jackrabbits - right into the arms of the Arizona police who just happened to be walking by the room at that exact moment.

Turns out they were professional thieves who had hit up a number of dealers in the last two days. Bet that kid is going to have issues when he grows up.
Haha, the same thing happened to me, except it wasn't an interested customer it was a 'wanderer' who was very dirty and smelly, and acting intoxicated, but I was still in my 'every one is equal' idealistic age so I talked to him. The whole time eyeing his teetering cop of coffee, with no lid, swaying side to side in his shaking hands.

Finally the whole cup tottered and drenched my PURE WHITE display with coffee, and STILL I had trouble asking him to leave. :(

Oh well, I still think we are equal....but at craft shows, I maybe need to grow thicker skin, and a more threatening smile. :)

I have had alot of interesting experiences at shows. For instance; I notice that usually when a couple comes by my table it's the woman who is interested in buying something and the man is the one who puts the cabosh on the potential sale by saying things like, "Honey you already have plenty of jewelry. We don't need to spend any more money on that!", but one time a couple came by at a show I was doing just about a week after the September 11th disaster took place. The woman was dressed in what appeared to be artisan clothing and was tall and looked like a model. I have a line called Rainstick Necklaces that run about $250.00 and up that are hollow and rattle with long luxurious strands, and she and her husband were looking through them. The wife pointed out her favorite (which would have looked great on her) and without any hesitation her husband said to her, "Do you want that one?" His wife replied, "Oh, no, that's OK. It's very lovely, but..."

When I heard that I just about fell off my chair. Here it was her husband was ready to buy it for her on the spot and SHE was turnung it down! Most women only WISH their husband or boyfriend were that generous!

He actually kept asking her if she was sure, and told her it was not a problem for him to pay for it, that he wanted her to have it. She gave him no reason, but stuck to her position. That is the first time I've EVER seen THAT happen before!


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